One the things I was most excited to see in Bolivia was the Salt Flats of Uyuni. Of course, I wanted a stereotypical picture of the reflective effect, but I ended up learning so much more. For one, I did not realize that this reflective effect was only able to be seen in a few areas of the flats. I had also underestimated just how empty the flats were. I was amazed that our driver was able to know which direction to drive. However, despite the vast emptiness of the flats, I was also surprised at how touristy some of the stops in the flats seemed to be. You could travel for miles only to come to a tiny collection of stands selling goods to travelers. I suppose the tour companies would follow the same paths and stop in the same locations, which meant an increase in locals taking advantage of the possibility of commerce.
This raised even more questions for me however. I began to wonder if the tour companies were the first to choose these spots, and the merchants were the one who followed; or, was had the tour companies made agreements with merchants to use these places? I noticed that many of the goods available in these markets were similar, but even more than that, they were always sold for the same price at every stand. I figured this had to be more than coincidence. Does a union exist amongst these merchants? The biggest question I kept finding myself coming back to though was “Where do these people live?” As I said previously, you could travel for miles and miles seeing nothing. I wondered if the merchants traveled great distances to work every day. I figured this was unlikely, but the only other option I was able to formulate was that they slept and lived in or in the back of their stands. I then began to question where they received their supplies from. Perhaps they had deals with some of the workers nearby to bring resources. Even many days later, I still find myself questioning what their daily life is like and how some things that are incredibly easy for us to deal with might be difficult for someone in their situation.