The dust laden streets were alive with the sounds of a band marching and the shuffles of dancing feet. They passed the hostel several times before bursting through opened steel doors. We and our dismantled bikes were greeted with confetti and streamers around our necks and offerings of beer, some for drinking and plenty for showering. They danced for carnival, a celebration strongly rooted in tradition. I was surprised, yet thankful, for their welcoming nature at the present since we (gringos) were invisible all other times.
We waited until the sun was low in the sky before heading out to the Solar de Uyuni. It had been dry since we arrived, following the dirt tracks out to the famous salt flats was our plan. Deb took lead, ambitiously cutting through a puddle, proving it was much deeper than it appeared. It swallowed her bike, shifting its gravity to much closer to the ground. Blood, from the collision with a broken again windshield, dripped down her nose splashing a much brighter red than the dirty water below. She’s a tough one, shaking off the impact, uprighting the bike and hoping back on track. We were not going to miss the sunset on the solar. We were not going to stick around another night.
The solar was much bigger than I imagined. And more crowded. The stillness of the water reflected the few clouds that hung in the sky. There was a quiet as the sun changed from gold to red to purple. It could have gone on forever, chasing itself, but the magic of the solar was revealed as it slipped below the line of the horizon.
It was mentioned to us the the amount of salt lingering in the air can mess up electronics, so it was only mild surprise when Deb's bike wouldn't start. Was it the Solar or was it the fall? It was just a push start away. We watched the sun set and as we got suited up to leave, I tried to start mine and nothing. Barely even a click, then silence. I couldn't help but laugh. Neither of our bikes wanted to leave, yet the miles in between said it was time. Another push start and we’ll figure it out in the morning. After tearing apart the bike in the courtyard once again, the bolts on the battery had shook loose from the washboard roads the night before. Deb had too much mud in her start button. Still in concern of too much salt on our machines, we headed to the Lavadaro to scrub our motorbikes as well as ourselves down.
Who knew that it would be so futile just miles down the road… But that’s another story…