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07

Jan 2009

The Salar de Uyuni

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Bolivia southern borders with Argentina and Chile are reached by crossing the vast Uyuni salt flats known locally as the “Salar de Uyuni”. This journey shouldn’t be taken lightly; just getting to the start point involves a rough 5 hour bus trip over unmade roads from the “Silver City” of Potosi. The town of Uyuni has a wild west feel to it, it sits on a dusty and windswept plain bordered on one side by the Andes and on the other by a vast salt pan that stretches to the horizon – whichever way you go involves adventure and not a little hardship.

Patagonia Venture 26 arrived in Uyuni on 3rd January 2009 and after making the necessary preparations climbed into a pair of hefty Toyota Landcruiser 4WD station wagons that were to become home for the next 3 days. The first day took us over a flooded salt flat that reflected the views mirage fashion with perfect clarity. The wide open spaces at this altitude provide the most incredible visibility and the distant volcanoes seemingly floated on the horizon.

An ancient graveyard of rusting trains was like a playgound for grown ups and re-enactments of scenes from John Wayne to Indiana Jones were played before we continued across high desert to our fist overnight stop in a collection of mud huts. Day 2 brought us to flamingo filled lakes, Dali-esque rocked shaped by nature and a pink lake called lagna Colorada. By day, this part of the world can be scorching hot under the high altitude sun, by night the temperature can drop to -25C. With such a range of climate we were forever adding and subtracting layers to remain comfortable. The colours of the landscape blend into one another from blue to purple to orange to red creating a never-ending overload of scenery.

We arrived at the Chile border satisfied that this trip could never be erased from our memories. The dusty and bumpy roads had taken us to a place that is surely unique on our planet. Looking into to Chile we saw a ribbon of tarmac that would lead to the Atacama desert and the start of our next adventure

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10

Dec 2008

Did you know?

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Guinea pig or “cuy” is a traditional dish in the Andean region of Peru and Ecuador. The taste is compared to rabbit, thought delicious, and though difficult to accept for people in other countries who regard guinea pigs as pets, the cuy is a staple of Andean cuisine. They are called “cuy” for the sound they make cuy, cuy.

The cuy has a place in pre-Colombian Inca tradition. Consumed only by the nobility or used as a sacrifice and a means of foretelling the future via the entrails, there is a long History of the Guinea Pig (Cavia porcellus) in South America.

Cuys are today raised commercially and form a nutritious part of the Andean diet. An important part of the Novoandina cuisine, cuys are prepared in varipus ways according to region, but in Peru, they are usually served with potatoes or rice and a savory, spicy sauce. In the Huancayo region, the cuy is preferred fried with a sauce of pepper and achiote. In Arequipa, it is prepared baked as cuy chaktado and in Cuzco, it is baked whole, as a small suckiling pig, with a hot pepper in its mouth. In Huanuco, Tacna and Cajamarca, the preference is also for friend cuy.

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