As you can read here…
When I was living in Bolivia, I traveled to a part of the country called Uyuni.
To enjoy the amazing natural scenery of this area.
Well, there is more to Uyuni than just the Salt Flats..
As I made my way with a tourism company carrying other tourists and myself around this area of the country..
Where we visited different mountains, salt flats, lagoons…
And also a desert called the Salvador Dali Desert.
Also known as the Dali Valley.
Here’s a photo of the desert here.
Either way, the main attraction of this desert is this thing here known as the Stone Tree.
Now to give you an idea of why this desert is named after Salvador Dali and the importance of the Stone Tree..
I included a quote from a source here that seems reliable on this subject…
“The ‘Stone Tree’ in the high desert near the border between Bolivia and Chile has been moulded by weather erosion into a beautifully sculpted rock that collectively forms part of the Bosque de Piedra (‘Stone Forest’). This particular stone was said to have inspired Salvador Dali in painting his surrealist landscapes. The area of Uyuni and San Pedro de Atacama is also often refered to as “the desert of Salvador Dali.”
And so that’s the basics of it.
So anyway, we get to the Stone Tree.
The journey to this area where the Stone Tree was can be seen here in the photos below…
Quite beautiful, I think.
If you like the desert -- which I do.
And here is the Stone Tree here below in a photo I took.
In all honesty, the Stone Tree really wasn’t that inspiring to me.
Truthfully, it seemed pretty lame.
By far, I was much more fascinated by the general landscape and the diversity of this area as you can read about my broader experiences in the Uyuni area here.
We had a particular experience that was scary at this Stone Tree..
Sand Storm Coming
So once we arrived to where the Stone Tree was…
I really had to take a piss.
And I asked the driver if there was a place I could go..
Which, to be fair, seems like a very dumb question – would there really be a bathroom in the middle of a fucking desert in Bolivia?
But there was!
To my surprise, there was a building just some steps away that had a few urinals inside.
So I tell the driver that I’m going to take a piss…
And as I’m walking, I see this tourist guy running towards me and we cross paths..
Perhaps that was a sign I should have turned around..
Maybe he noticed something I didn’t…
Well, I go up the steps and inside the small building that has a few urinals.
Do my business and open the door to get back to the van.
Now not having ever experienced sand storms before…
Or anything that resembles them…
I wasn’t expecting something like this happening so quickly..
When, just a few minutes before, everything was fine…
But when I opened the door to leave the building…
I literally couldn’t see very far past me and there were intense winds.
“What the fuck?” I thought.
Well, keep in mind, like I said, the vehicle of the tour company I took wasn’t very far from the building I took a piss in.
Maybe 20 steps or something like that.
And I figured I could fight this out and walk to the vehicle.
So I began walking down the steps of the building and quickly realized this was going to be fucked up.
Therefore, I retreated back up the stairs and went inside the building.
But then I thought “what if they abandon me here? I can’t stay inside…”
So I get my hood of my jacket up over my head…
And I go back down the stairs…
Fuck You Bolivia!
So now it was a battle between me and nature…
I’m past the stairs and onto the sand again…
And am having some issues right away..
First, the winds are quite strong and pushing me around a little bit.
They weren’t so strong to make me lose complete control of my body…
But it was a challenge as they would push me around a tiny bit and I struggled a little bit to fight against it.
Second, the sand was a major issue.
It would hit my legs and even though I was wearing jeans..
It still hurt a little bit or was a bit uncomfortable.
Thankfully, I wasn’t wearing shorts that day or I would have been even more fucked.
On top of that, the sand was also hitting my face.
So I tried covering my eyes with my hands but then the sand was hitting my hands and that hurt like a bitch.
Therefore, I put my jacket sleeves up over my hands and covered most of my eyes with that while still being able to see a tiny bit through that.
Which worked as best as I could hope for but still uncomfortable.
Amongst all of that, I’m trying to find this fucking vehicle.
It was literally just a straight walk from the steps of the building to the vehicle and the distance was basically nothing.
But it’s not there!
And while stumbling around, I learned that it was helpful to hide behind the huge rocks of this area.
Not the Stone Tree but there were other rocks here that you can see here.
Basically, the wind would blow in different directions and hiding behind certain points of the rocks would give me less exposure to the wind and the sand hitting me.
And amongst all of that, I remember taking one or two trips back to the building to hide in there and give it a break before going back out to look for that fucking vehicle.
And I just couldn’t find it!
Before long, as I’m stumbling around in the little sand storm we got going on here..
I legit thought to myself…
“I’m either going to be abandoned here until the next tourism company comes by or I’m going to die by this fucking sand storm…”
And as I’m again stumbling around from large rock to large rock looking for that vehicle…
I’m now between a few rocks stumbling around..
My legs getting tired and almost having that feeling like they were going to cave in as the winds were strong..
Pushing me around…
With the sand hitting me hard on my legs…
There were a few points where I felt I would be forced to fall to my knees or trip…
Among all of that…
I’m really getting fucking annoyed now.
And I yell out in anger these words…
“FUCK YOU BOLIVIA!! FUCK YOU!!”
Now, to be fair, I really liked Bolivia but Bolivia wasn’t on my good side this afternoon…
Though, fortunately, among stumbling around looking for this vehicle…
Like I said, my legs were getting very tired…
I’m starting to yell out now my grievances with Bolivia….
And considering to take another break inside that building…
As I assumed that the vehicle obviously isn’t here…
When I hear a honk behind me…
I look around and start moving as fast as I can into the vehicle.
I get inside and off we went!
We got out of there and finished the trip checking out a few more spots…
Less dangerous in this case – less frustrating.
As you can see below here…
And also finishing the trip checking out some more interesting rock formations as you can see here…
Before heading back to the town of Uyuni.
Reflecting on My Time in the Sand Storm
In hindsight, I don’t think I would have actually died.
Granted, perhaps but I most likely would have just hid away in the building until the next tour company comes along.
Now, assuming no tour company comes again for a week or so and I never get picked up by my tour company like I did…..
Which I think would have been unlikely but possible given it is South America.
Then yeah, I would have been fucked as I had nothing to eat.
Also, the “sand storm” I went through looked a little bit similar to the ones like what you see below.
In all fairness, given I’m not an expert on sand storms, I’m not sure if it was a really dangerous sand storm or just a small to moderate one.
Regardless, this video below here shows not all sand storms are raging.
But either way…
Second, I’m pretty confident that the driver of the vehicle simply forgot me.
Even though I told him I was going to take a piss in the building that he pointed me to.
The fact is…
That the area around the Stone Tree and the building is pretty small.
So it shouldn’t have taken him so much time to find me or for me to find the vehicle.
And the fact that the vehicle was just gone from where it should have been – it was a straight walk from the steps of the building to the vehicle.
So I’m pretty sure he just straight up forgot about me..
Saw the storm and thought “fuck it, let’s leave.”
And probably someone in the group was like “yo, shouldn’t we not leave Matt behind? That’s kinda fucked up…”
Third, as you can read more about in this article here…
This general area of South America…
South-West Bolivia with the Uyuni Salt Flats, the Lagoons, the Salvador Dali Desert and more…
Is truly one of the most inspiring areas I have seen in South America for natural beauty and diversity of scenery.
I was all around impressed and would love to revisit someday.
And will when I can make it down there again.
Hopefully minus the sand storm..
Either way, I made this article separate from the other one here about Uyuni because the experience here was a bit memorable to a degree.
Just in terms of how intense the storm felt.
Anyway, here’s a video of the Salvador Dali Desert.
For those curious to learn more.
Got any experiences or questions about this area or my time there?
Drop them below in the comment section.
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