15th November 2003
To complete the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid experience we decided to travel to Uyuni via San Vicente, which is where the two outlaws apparently came to their bitter end. Exiting Tupiza by driving along a river bed we soon turned left for a long, slow, steep drive up to El Sillar, a saddle that straddles a narrow ridge between two valleys and two peaks. Great views of the "stone forest" below.
Having reached to top we then drove for hours across undulating and very desolate countryside. Great views in all directions. All day we only saw 2 other pickups, probably mineworkers travelling to the numerous workings in the area.
We reached San Vicente with the help of the GPS - we didn't have any topographical maps covering this area and it was so remote that we couldn't rely on finding people to ask for directions. San Vicente lies at an altitude of 4800m. It was once a mining town but the mine is now closed and the only people living there are military and mine security guards and their families. As you enter the remote town, a sign welcomes you "Here death's Butch Kasidy Sundance the Kid" (and no, my spelling is not appalling; that's exactly what the sign reads!). We had to give our details to the soldiers who came to check out the Weasel. They wrote them down in a scrappy little notebook - although it seemed as if they were only asking for the sake of it and didn't really intend using the information.
They must have thought we were very odd. We asked where the cemetary was to see where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were buried and they just looked at us blankly. They had no idea who the outlaws were and no idea as to why these strange foreigners wanted to see the local cemetary! We made our way up to the cemetary but could only peer through the gates as they were locked. The graves are unmarked anyway and no one is sure where exactly in the cemetary the two men are buried. No wonder they thought we were odd! Apparently you should be able to see the adobe house where the bandits holed up and were eventually killed, but after our failed attempts at asking about the cemetary, we decided not to bother asking about the house. As we walked back to the landy after visiting the cemetary about 10 of the military guys were in front of the Weasel taking pictures of each other. They looked pretty sheepish as we arrived and most of them disappeared promptly but a couple let us take their pic for the website.
Driving on from San Vicente we were back in the wilds again and drove along really rough tracks in the direction of what we hoped was Atocha. Shortly after San Vicente we arrived at a small mining settlement which was completely deserted apart from two small children who just stared at us and were no help in giving directions. The road seemed to end here apart from a track that was blocked by a barrier. With no one around we raised the barrier and followed the track, assuming that was the way and not private land. The track took us through a canyon, sometimes along a river bed and sometimes on a rough gravel, potholed track. This was a really interesting drive, so much so that we forgot to take any pictures. Eventually the track turned to sand and it was time to find a camp for the night. We found a good spot in an old river bed, well away from the road and surrounded by rainbow coloured rocks, which were fantastic at sunset/sunrise.