The Gringo Trap - San Pedro
San Pedro de Atacama Travel Blog› entry 24 of 134 › view all entries
¡Hola! Chile. We arrived tired and into blazing sunshine and heat. Bliss. Despite the bus taking 40 minutes to leave Bolivia (should have been a sign). We checked into Chile and spent a good hour trying to find a hostal. We finally found space in Hostal Florida and went into the town to explore. It´s another crazy place to set up home. The Atacama dessert is the driest in the whole world with a thriving tourist industry and residents. All pretty strange. We found the best place for empanadas ever for the bargain basement price of 800 Chilean pesos. The cheapest thing in San Pedro! That night we were invited by locals and gringos alike to the local party. When the bars close at 2am the town relocates 10miles outside the town to start their own party in the desert.
The next day was where we discovered the Gringo trap in all its glory. Trying to leave San Pedro is much, much easier said than done. We encountered "San Pedro Bitch" at the Pullman Bus Ticket office in town. The only bus company you can use to get out of the city on Monday. We "reserved tickets" and were told to come back and collect them at midday when the guys in charge would be there. Ok, I´m Jewish, I get the whole 12 o´clock means o´clock, i even get the Spanish mañana, but after three visits back to the shop the guys rocks up at 4:30pm and announces there are no seats on the bus and that there was no reservation and the next bus out was Friday.
So with that sorted we decided to get rid of some pent up aggression and go sand boarding in the dunes of the dessert. So much fun and after the initial shock of how fast you go i got into the swing of things. Well i say that, i managed to stand up, shriek and then fall down rather than just fall down which was pretty good going.
The absolute highlight of the time here though was a night spent with a Frenchman..... not what you think. A French astronomer has set up an observatory in the dessert at his home and for a measley 10GBP will entertain groups of tourists from 11:30pm each night until 2am talking to us about the stars, nebulas, galaxies, moon, zodiac system and how to pull as an astronomer. Was one of the best tours i think i have ever done like that, he was funny informative and really captured our imagination. Worth the bags under the eyes the next morning!
So tired and smug we took our private car and headed to Argentina baby! The road is one of the most spectacular i have ever travelled, the Andes jutting out of the landscape with the most incredible blue sky and clear road for miles.