Gringos and Flamingos

I don’t know exactly where in Bolivia these photos were taken, but I think about them often.

I guess I could have taken more of an interest in the route we were taking from Tupiza, through the Bolivian desert, to the Uyuni Salt Flats.

But then, I really didn’t care, and quite honestly, I still don’t. All I knew before we left – after the tour office owner shook my hand for what felt like a long time and we drank beer at sunset on the guesthouse rooftop with all the laundry- was that I was going into the middle of nowhere for five days, and no one would be able to get hold of me.

Even then, seven years ago, it was a big deal. In my current mindset, I think I’d find it difficult to be completely off the grid for five whole days, with no idea where I was going.

I still think about how incredible that was.

For five days all I/we/the only person who could speak Spanish had to worry about was being able to communicate clearly enough with our driver, to make sure we understood anything important.

(Well, anything besides the reason why all the drivers from our 4×4 caravan took our bottle of tequila and finished it all on our first night after we went to bed and acted like it was no big deal the next day.)

I had moments when I thought about what would happen if something did happen, and no one could find me. But these moments passed, and there was more focus on chewing cocoa leaves and the random conversation that comes with sharing the inside of a car with strangers, and listening to their music (having got the only 4×4 with an auxiliary cable jack and no Reggaeton tape on repeat).

I often think about it when I’m driving down the N1 between Joburg and Pretoria, listening to Boards of Canada’s Geogaddi and feeling the exact same airy, liberating lightness of being out in the middle of nowhere.

Words & Photos: Jenna van Schoor

By | 2018-05-28T19:21:33+00:00 July 11th, 2017|Travel|