Leaving Chile.. ummm

Santiago Travel Blog

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AHH how cute!

So, as soon as we crossed the border from Peru.. things got a lot more complicated! I guess.. knowing that Feb was the low season for Peru, we ASSUMED it was the same for Chile.. Ok..Ok.. so I know you shouldn´t assume, but we didn´t have much time to do any homework.. we were winging it! Well, this happens to be the high season for Chile, so everything was just more complicated.

We started with a day in Arica which is a really cool little surfing town with a big beach. It was a nice stop over.. since we didn´t want to spend the night on the other side (Peru) of the border.. It is known for its crime (Tacna Peru).. We bought a plane ticket to fly to Calama.

Geysers
. the start of the Atacama Desert.. and unbeknownst (is that a word?) to us.. just the fact that we crossed straight south of the border to Chile.. the time changed 2 hours AHEAD! What is up with that!?¿ Anyway, so we leisurally head to the airport the following day and MISSED OUR PLANE by .. u guessed... 2 hours! Whoops... Luckily there are buses every couple hours (we had reserved the airline seat.. not paid for it!), so we paid a taxi ANOTHER 10.00 to take us away from the airport and to the bus station for a nice 4 hour bus ride.. (until 1 am) to A-K-K.. Again, that is not the right spelling (Iqueque), but that is how it sounds!

Well, we did eventually make it to the desert.. you go through Calama.. which has the largest open pit copper mine in the world (LIKE LOOKING AT THE MOON!).. to get to San Pedro - the small town at the National Park.
Salt Lake
San Pedro has maybe 400 people(just a guess based on size) or so there year round running tour agents. We found a hostel there for the going rate of 50.00 per night. That included one queen size bed and a dresser in a room just big enough for the two. Where is the bathroom you ask? Well, for 50.00 per night.. you have to share a bathroom with 6 others.. yep.. good rate eh! The people that owned/managed were awesome though. They helped us tremendously so every dollar was worth it!

We got on a tour to see the salt lake that day. It was pretty amazing! BUT, of course, to get there.. you had to ride in an unairconditioned bus with all the windows closed (to keep the desert dust from infilterating your lungs) - with 12 other people - riding over washboard desert ¨roads¨ (4-wheeler trails) for 3 hours! Ok, so was it worth it? Still debating.
Our View 24-7
. Cool, but was going to die of overheating.. Ben says sometimes it doesn´t matter how beautiful it is if you can´t enjoy the journey. We returned late that night to San Pedro town and were suprised to find.. there was NO electricity in the whole town. Seemings how our hostel was 10 minutes walk out of town.. It made for an interesting trip home! We made it alive, but I thought this stray dog was a monster and started screaming when it ran up to us!! Whoops! (LOTS of strays here!) BTW that tour cost 30.00 each.

Next day we went on another tour to the Geysers and the hot spring. It was sort of a repeat of the day before. No AC, breathing in dust because one of the windows was broken. Got up at 4 am to drive 2 hours up into the mountains where we realized AFTERWORDS that it was only 30 degrees outside and we were in T-shirts  and sandals. Our breakfast, which was included in the 30.00 price each, was a soggy piece of pilot bread with a slice of cheese.. Yummy! Quite filling! Anyway, we had another tour scheduled for the afternoon to see the moon valley, but I didn´t have the heart to go.. So, off Ben went.. and once he arrived for the tour.. they told him the van broke down! He really wanted to see it, but the other option was paying a taxi driver 80.00! That was sort of out of the question.

I forgot to mention.. San Pedro´s birthday was the day we arrived so there was this mass carnival of trumpet and drummers marching through town playing this same song over and over. IT was SOOO COOOL, for the first 5 hours.. We didn´t know it, but they play for 48 hours straight.. So, here we were.. walking home at midnight the first night.. realizing we had to be up at 3:30 for the 4 am tour.. and they were still playing.. and still playing when we laid down.. and stilllllll playing at 1 am.. and 2 am.. I´m not sure if I even slept that night... Maybe that was why I was crabby!

Ok.. so there were more problems not really worth telling the story about.. Like the hostel booking OUR room for the last night we were going to be there so we HAD to leave.. even though we booked it for 3 nights! But, we couldn´t leave town because there were no buses to leave.. but we couldn´t stay there because we no longer had a room.. but even if there was a bus to Calama.. there were not any rooms or hostels in Calama.. but we can´t sleep at the airport in Chile.. ok.. really really stressful!

But now we are in Santiago.. we fly out in the morning to Easter Island.. Really looking FORWARD to that! We don´t do well in the busy season winging things we learned.. Luckily we aren´t (I don´t think) going to hit any more busy seasons.. Most of the rest of the trip we have been able to plan ahead of time.. The Atacama was just sort of forgotten in the planning somehow.. I guess it is the red-headed stepchild of our trip! :)

The Atacama was REALLY REALLY AMAZING.. but we would recommend AGAINST coming in the busy season which is Dec to end Feb! Chile´s prices in the National Park are also pretty much slightly higher than the US, without the refined infrastructure and comforts that come with paying the higher prices. So, be prepared if you visit.. VERY VERY beautiful!!


Off to Easter Island in the am... Will post more pics.. but used another camera to take them.. and its buried right now!

PS: I interviewed for a job in Alaska via telephone.. Should know in 2 weeks-ish!


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AHH how cute!
AHH how cute!
Geysers
Geysers
Salt Lake
Salt Lake
Our View 24-7
Our View 24-7
Santiago
photo by: Bluetraveler