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Southern Express. The train from Oruro to Uyuni, Bolivia.

Tiwy.com, photos by Rem Sapozhnikov (February, 2008)

After tiring tours of Oruro — under the hot sun at the height of 3700 meters — there is nothing like a soft armchair in the car of the «Southern Express» (Expreso del Sur). The train starts at 15.30 and at 22.20 it is to come to Uyuni station, the most exotic point of my trip around altiplano.

Apart from the «Southern Express», the trains «Wara Wara del Sur» and «Internacional» go via Oruro. We may say that all railroads of Bolivia get crossed in this town and that is why at the station one can hear the peculiar enunciation of Argentinians, Chileans, Paraguayans and sometimes Brazilians.

Before getting comfortable in the car under the cool breeze of a fan, I used to stand in line for boarding among local shuttle traders. I don't know what exactly they were carrying in their suitcases and bundles, but the amount of luggage was up to the limit, the capacity of a baggage car was hardly enough.

If somebody pictures himself a trip on a Bolivian train according to Hollywood movies — wild crowds of Indians, stuffed dirty cars or even car roofs, - then it is all wrong. Everything is quite civilised, even little sandwiches that are proposed on the way.

And for tourists to get an idea how everything looks in reality, here are some pictures on the «railway topic».

For some time the «Southern Express» was practically rolling along Oruro streets: no barriers or warning signs.

I thought this cholos married couple, which resembled me our Russian pensioners, to be very touching.

Here are some altiplano landscapes, made from the moving train window. Sometimes I had a feeling that the train was going on water — there are so many lakes in this area, and they are so picturesque!

I made a photo of the plate with the station name «Poopo» on purpose: some historians think that legendary Atlantida was located in these regions.

I would like to explain this picture with a lot of black spots. It is not a defective picture. These are local rather annoying insects that were attacking the train for 15-20 minutes while we were passing lake Poopo.

I made these last sunset pictures three hours before arriving to Uyuni.

The town - «capital» of the biggest in the world saline land — met the «Southern Express» by pitch darkness. The thunderstorm has just died down and the rain, once again, damaged the electric substation.

«Uyuni is a Bolivian Siberia or even Kolyma», - I thought. Only the most persistent and people of great endurance get there. Well, and one just can do without electricity...

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