Deserts, Blue Sky and Chapstick

We were welcomed into Chile by paved roads and an air conditioned bus. The sudden sense of “civilization” was thrilling as we made our way to our next stop. San Pedro de Atacama is a small tourist town on the Chilean side of the Atacama Desert. It’s an interesting introduction to Chile, which I always pictured as lush, green and mountainous.

I was kinda right about the mountains, but in the north part of Chile is is dry as a bone. There were even signs at our hostel warning about overuse of water. Never in my life have I finished a tube of Chapstick before losing it. But I think Chile might drive me to it… Lately I do a three point check before going out – iPod, wallet/passport, chapstick. If all three are safe, proceed.

Anyway, enough about that. We stayed at a quirky hostel with a few other people we had met previously in La Paz so it was fun to have a little community.

San Pedro is a unique place because of the one storey adobe buildings. The streets were dusty and the empanada shops plentiful.

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Because of the almost constant clear skies in the area, San Pedro is a popular star gazing location. We did a little tour one night and looked through telescopes. Unfortunately our guide spent a lot of his time talking about constellations I already knew, but the folks who never really spend time looking at the stars seemed to enjoy it. We took some cool night photos, though the company never emailed them to is like they promised. Bummer!

Mike, John and I rented bikes one day and braved the cloudless sky and hot sun. We rode for over 15km to arrive at a beautiful blue salty lake.

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We heard you could float in it like the Dead Sea…. And it was true!

It was the weirdest experience. I understand the science of our bodies being more buoyant than the salt water, but it was so bizarre to float so effortlessly.

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We washed off the salt and headed back into town. We bought some beer to enjoy our last night together. John and I were both heading south but Mike was making his way into Argentina.

We played cards with our little international community until midnight when the hostel manager literally turned the lights off on us. We grabbed head lamps to continue the fun while he sighed loudly and hovered and counted our remaining cans. I’ve never been supervised while playing drinking games…. It was as awkward and funny as you can imagine. After an hour or so (and many invitations for him to join us), the guy offered to pay us 10,000 Chilean pesos (a little less than $20) for our remaining booze. He figured we’d go to bed once the beer ran out. It’s about this time his guilt trip started working. We finished our drinks and said goodnight.

The next day wasn’t too exciting. Bought bus snacks and ate one last delicious giant empanada before saying farewell to Mike and see you soon to John (we met up again a couple days later).

Back on to a night bus, which was actually good this time considering my seat was broken. I would fall asleep with the chair leaned back to 160 degrees and then wake up sitting upright an hour later. Ridiculous!

Until next time….

PS – sorry for being so behind in my updates! At this time of posting I only have 9 days left of my trip and I am a couple weeks behind! I’ll try my best to catch up while enjoying my finals days on this side of the world!

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