Playing the trumpets all night!

Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
Trip End Jul 06, 2011

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Where I stayed
Same guesthouse as Sarah and James

Flag of Chile  ,
Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Continuation of Day 28 February 1 - Over the border to Chile we are still on dirt roads and the bus we are on is stalling every 30 seconds or so. The driver sits there for a bit, puts it in neutral then we're off again. After fifteen minutes of this we turn onto a perfectly smooth road and head into San Pedro de Atacama. No more bumps, no more drunk drivers, already we weren't sad to leave Bolivia. The border formalities in Chile are slow and the queues are long. In the final stretch our bus driver lets two full coaches overtake and are therefore ahead of us in the border queue, he must be getting paid by the hour. We form a queue and oh look who it is, my favourite Koreans are back!! Passport stamped, bags xrayed then back on the bus for a short ride into town.

We've gone from near freezing temperatures and snow to 30 C and intense sunshine in San Pedro de Atacama. Such a contrast in such a small space of land. We have dropped closer to sea level thankfully. Iris and Jenny turn on their phones to find messages and texts from worried friends and family. They didn't mention they might be out of cell phone and Internet access for a few days.

In town, we are dropped off at a random road, then everybody rushes off to whichever bus company they need for their future destinations. James, Sarah and I will go to Santiago at the same time, just a 23.5 hour journey down the coast! Iris and Jenny are meeting Jenny's Uncle in Santiago and so are going as soon as possible and have a 4pm bus booked.

Seeing as it was only 11am, we headed into town to grab lunch. We found a beautiful courtyard with shade and enjoyed a tasty lunch, I had a cooked cheese and ham sandwich, the ladies had salads. We sat there for a couple of hours, in that time I popped to my hostel to find they didn't hold my reservation so I would be going to James and Sarah's place to try squeeze in. It was during lunch we had a debate about what time it was. I was convinced it was still same time as Bolivia, Sarah wasn't sure and instead of finding out we just carried on.

We said goodbye to Jenny and Iris and headed to find the hostel. The owner picked us up and luckily had a dorm bed free for me. Place was only just out of town, but was a large courtyard area, with hammocks, a female cat and her 8 litter, dogs, grass, lots of space and a very relaxed atmosphere. I didn't mind a dorm, just a place to put my head down for the night. The place had free wifi as well, so it was good to catch up on a few emails. Spent an hour settling in, shower etc then we headed back into town, only a fifteen minute walk. We went to an Internet cafe first, some Premiership fixtures had just started on the live text, we also needed a place for Santiago, Mendoza and to sort out a wine tour. It was then that Sarah noticed the time on the PC, pants, it was one hour further ahead than we thought and it had just gone past the time that the girls needed to catch the bus. We hoped in their couple of hours of boredom wandering around the town that they would have gone to an Internet cafe and found out the time. I guess we will hear from them if they missed it?

We decide to explore San Pedro de Atacama and head straight for the main plaza. Here we find the local church, but hang on, I can hear trumpets, and drums. We follow the sounds down a road to find a marching band/carnival procession. It was the start of a 3 day religious festival, and we had front row seats!

Band after band walked by slowly, some were doing an unusual move forward, dance, turn around, move backwards, dance, a bit of swinging and the same tune was played over and over. The three of us allowed the procession to walk past before we were at the back following it into the main plaza. Then my phone went off, I didn't recognise the number and it was Jenny, they had missed their bus!! Told them where we were and they came to find us. Meanwhile the band continued playing and formed a display in the main plaza, continuing the same tune over and over.

Girls looked tired and annoyed. They managed to transfer the ticket for our bus the next day, but this involved some begging, crying and screaming in Italian! James had asked our hostel owner where a good and cheap place to eat was so we were heading there. Instead, we split up, I helped the girls try find a room and James and Sarah popped off to grab some food for the trip to Santiago. We would meet later for food. We must have tried ten hostels but all were either full or too expensive, all because of this religious 3 day event. We hit an Internet cafe, found one place but it was still pricey, we tried some other places, they even offered to share a single dorm bed but would pay for two. One place we did find an opening, it was the top bunk of 3 and the guy wasn't sure if it was strong enough, plus the person who had the bottom bunk may not be back for hours for the chance to swap. He then offered for one to sleep in the back seat of his truck, with a blanket. None of this was acceptable. The girls settled for the more pricey place, which meant leaving their bags at a tour place until we had dinner. The tour owner looked at me and laughed and then called me a horse...for carrying bags!

Finally, dinner! James and Sarah were there already with a cold beer for us, awesome! Set menu was cheap, salad to start, steak or fish then some dessert thing. Steak was great, beer was perfect and salad was good. We bumped into Perry again, he was back on the beer! Poor Jenny, she had lost her camera, missed the 24 hour bus to her uncle, had to call her uncle and apologise then traipse around town looking for a hostel, but still she was in great spirits!

We bid the girls goodnight and walked back in the dark to our hostel. It was pretty dark but luckily James brought a torch, we passed a couple of guys asleep on the road, and of course, the trumpets were still going. Checked football scores before my head hit the pillow.

Miles walked 1.36
Temp um from 4 C 40 F to 30 C 83 F

Day 29 February 2nd - Up early, bus was 810am, and the band was still playing in town, crazy! I moved all my crap outside of the dorm and packed and got dressed out there. I hate trying to pack and get changed when 5 others are trying to sleep, everything seems ten times louder than it actually is. Hostel owner was very cool and gave us a free lift to the bus station. Luckily we figured out the time the day before otherwise we would have missed our bus! I was very clear to the girls, if you're having trouble getting in, call me by 730am. No call so you assume they are OK. We're first at the bus station, I'm happy to stand and wait, seeing as I'll be sat on my butt for 23.5 hours. Ten minutes later, the girls arrive, all happy and smiling.

While leaving San Pedro de Atacama, Jenny mentioned that Lance Armstrong had visited and compared it to the surface of the moon. How would Lance know that? Oh wait, you mean Neil (although I was about to then type Louis!!)! The place is so dry, no natural water supply, showers are limited and water scarce.

Oh man, 23.5 hours on a bus. Some highlights, I sat next to a girl who slept the whole way, well inbetween playing some Kylie Minogue 'Locomotion'!! We had six films, first 3 in English, Time Travellers Wife (Sarah in tears, ahem, Tony not talking to anyone for 5 minutes!!), Skyline (utter rubbish) and Monster in Law (rubbish again!!) then 3 in Spanish with Spanish subtitles, now what is that all about?? 3:10 to Yuma (seen it already, great film), Kicking and screaming (a poor Will Ferrel movie) and Dances with Wolves. First stop for lunch, we're not fed but have a restaurant to eat at. Next stop, is crazy, no places to eat except for random food vendors on the street, I think James and I get a dog sandwich dripping with salsa and guacamole (he's a lucky man I have wet wipes!!) and when we get back on the bus, they feed us. We still have Jenny with us who speaks Spanish but the guy said nothing. Iris had a bad back so got a nice seat downstairs, I moved seats and kept Jenny company for awhile, then tried to sleep, but I find I'm so hot on these buses but everyone seems so so cold.

We arrive in Santiago around 730am, Jenny and Iris got dropped off 30 minutes outside of the city where her Uncle was there to meet them.

Miles walked 0.00
Temperature NA
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Di on


The Real Toni Border on

Always homey when there is cat around...when do we get the Coffee with legs installment?

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