(written 11/2 @ 5:45AM) I just watched an amazing sunrise over a desert after sleeping under the most beautiful sky of stars I have ever seen. I'm also typing this with gloves on so apologies for typos.
I think my bright idea of heading to Tagua then across the salt flats may have been a bit more ambitious than I thought. The roads here have been insane – ever since Chalapatla I have been fighting sand, immense rocks, huge potholes, and generally very inhospitable terrain. On top of that, parts of the road are under construction and are very confusing – especially since I decided to continue on at night. Apparently my current coordinates are a good 10+km south of the main road right now according to my map, woops – guess it's a good thing I stopped when I did.
On the other hand, what a day yesterday. Rob & Will and I left Oruro fairly early, with me deciding I would wait to get my jaumoto fixed until the next smallish town because Oruro was just so huge. We caravanned a few miles out of town then sadly separated ways – they decided to make a race for Asuncion while I was still destined for the salt flats. Even though I've been on my own a lot over the last couple weeks, I always knew someone was behind me to catch up to me – no longer, as no one is taking the route I'm taking from here on.
In Chapatla I found a mechanic who helped me out with my header – couldn't fix it the right way, so we literally wedged the header on with a welded bolt against the frame. Awesome fix, and it has really held up over some super rough terrain. We'll see how many days it lasts…
I can't really say a whole lot about last night as it's impossible to explain the experience. I will say that I felt really good about it and aside from getting lost (woops) I am very happy with what I pulled off, but bummed I didn't get to see the sunrise over the salt flats. Now I need to get in gear for a very long day of riding… hope I have enough gas in my gas can to get me out of here!
* edit added 11/12 @ 7PM in Uyuni: This day was pretty emotional and contained a lot of different experiences, from leaving Oruro, driving on nice roads, and saying goodbye to Rob & Will to getting stuck in sand, getting lost many times, driving on soul destroying roads, and thinking I might not make it after all. Then I spent the night wrapped in a blanket in a construction quarry at about –10 degrees F, constantly waking up due to the cold and staring at the stars until I fell back asleep (I don't know why I didn't get out my sleeping bag or other gear). It was very intense and this lackadaisical blog spot reflects that.