The flight from Rio de Janeiro to Santa Cruz was dirt cheap and now we know why.
The layover in Saõ Paulo was a bit tricky as we quickly passed customs and boarded a bus across the airport, only to make it to our gate minutes before closing. Once in Santa Cruz customs we discovered we were 70% prepared for our visa. Sat at the border for almost an hour as we used their poor wifi (lucky to have wifi at all) to create make-shift hostel and bus documents and send to their official emails to print. We thought was all squared away until the security guard needed $160 US cash. Surprised at the cost of the visa we were escorted to the nearest ATM.
Finally out and took a taxi to our janky hostel in the small town. It smelled of mold and you could practically hear the bugs moving in the two twin bed boards. We took a quick coffee break down the pebbled side street and walked toward the bus terminal to map out our next bus.
Hundreds of people littered the terminal, selling odd half-cooked vegetables and large bags of cheese-covered pan. We were hustled by multiple bus companies all shouting “Sucre, Sucre”. We found the one bus going to Potosi, as were heard this UNESCORTED city was extremely colorful. Met a nice Brazilian named Louise Paulo who showed us where to pay the 2peso platform fee. In Bolivia you have to buy a bus ticket and another ticket to enter the bus gate… pretty obsurd!
The drive was long and cold, by far the worst bus yet. The seats were damp with dew and dust, and it was so cold we had to put on every layer we owned. Finally warmed a little at day break where we got off in Potosi.
Louis showed us the coca leaves and how they help with altitude sickness, which we were slowly acquiring. Jake was excited just to find American oreos and I bought a couple of bananas to hold us over for the next bus. We wandered the town as Louis helped us get toward our next connection. We were all headed to Uyuni for the salt flats. Even managed to score a large bag of peanuts; the locals laughed as I paid probably too much for them.