Many thousands kilometres and three countries later! -
Buenos Aires, August 20th 2002

The ticks probably don't have any viruses since I'm still alive. Arriving in the jungle we put our thermals in the bottom of our packs hoping we had used them for the last time on this trip. But we were proved wrong, heading down to Potosí in the southern Bolivia where it got cold again. We found a nice hostel with the luxury of heated rooms for once and a great hot shower - things which are very valuable after some time in the out-back. Potosí was a very nice cute colonial town where we could relax. We also visited the old silver mines - The mine which eats men - where over 8 million (about Sweden's population) mostly indigenous and black people, have had to sacrifice their lives for the welfare of Europe. This was once one of the most important towns in South America due to it's wealth in silver. Still people are trying their poor luck with the remainder of the ore but with no major success. The conditions are still extremely poor even if the workers work of free will nowadays. We went down to one of the shafts and met some of the workers who spent long hours in the dark, cold and wet climate underground. Here they sacrificed to the devil who rules the underground. The workers were chewing coca leaves all day to numb their tiredness and hunger, and end the weeks with 96% spirits. "The stronger alcohol the richer minerals". The youngest worker we met was only 13 and had been working for 2 years already. The oldest was 49 and a bit of an exception since most people die before the get 40 due to silicosis.

We then headed to south west Bolivia to Uyuni where we got a tour through some salt lakes. It was a fairly dull tour with a guide who I rather would call a driver. It was more of a transportation route with some extraordinary stops. We first hit the enormous salt lake which covered 13 000 square kilometres. The ground was white of the salt as far as the eye could see, and completely flat except from the slight bend of the earth in the horizon. We visited a hotel completely made out of salt, lakes filled with beautiful pink flamingos, geysers and lakes in green, red, white... It was a real wonder of nature out here in nowhere with temperatures down to -15 Celsius at night.

After three days of driving we finally made it to San Pedro de Atacama in the north of Chile. We hopefully also left the cold behind us for now. San Pedro was a great warm city for us to recover and just relax. We ate good and rented mountain bikes to have a look around at the neighbouring ruins and the scenery in the beautiful desert. Two days was enough in Chile with our jam packed schedule and luckily we got a bus to Argentina. The border crossing took ages which maybe had something to do with that they had the karaoke going and the vodka out.

Finally we met significant signs of civilisation again in Argentina. Hot water from the tap, drinkable water from the tap, you did not have to bin your used toilet paper outside the toilet, more people spoke English, "real" stores existed with "real" products and it was possible to pay with a credit card. It was nice to use these commodities after a long time in the rough. We arrived to Salta in northern Argentina and after a day of sight-seeing we flew - which was affordable in this very cheap country after their economical crises - to Buenos Aires the capital of Argentina on the east coast on the Atlantic Ocean. This was an incredible city with everything you can think of. I certainly have to get back here with more time and more money (hope to do my thesis here).

The day after arriving in Buenos Aires I took the speed boat to Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. I thought I was going to be met by the local guide,
Laura a very nice beautiful girl who is my father's ex-work's colleague's husband's brother's daughter. Instead of one guide I ended up with a whole family of very generous and helpful guides. They did a great job of showing me around in Montevideo and the neighbouring areas. Uruguay is a very nice and relaxed country which seems to be great to live in but less interesting as a tourist. I was fed very well with their extremely rich food - if not very fatty, very sweat, if not both. They also all tend to drink Mate all day. This is a very communal drink which is a kind of tea which is passed around after a few sips. Hard to explain but I did buy one, so you can try when I get back home. It was a lovely country where I only could spend less than three days.

Now I'm back in Buenos Aires to do some shopping before moving on. Since everything is extremely cheap it's only my backpack and the weight limit from the airline company which set the limit. So far today I have bought a suit, three pairs of shoes, a couple of shirts, a tie, a tie holder with cufflinks, a pair of pants, a jacket and soon a coat. There's probably more to come so I got to chuck all my old clothes from the trip which I happily can do since most of them are wrecked.

I will soon be heading north before heading north to Sweden. Catch you soon, if not, when I get back. Love Emil