Drive to Punta de Choros

Trip Start Jan 08, 2014
Trip End Jan 25, 2014

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Punta de Choros
Cactus in bloom

Flag of Chile  ,
Monday, January 13, 2014

We had planned to get up early so that we could catch a boat to Isla de Damas and see the wildlife from there.  Our first problem was that we didn't get up until 8:10 am.  We made it to breakfast by 8:30 but when we were ready to go by 9 am, the car that was blocking us in the parking lot was still there.  The hostel staff ran around from room to room knocking on the doors asking whose car it was.  When they finished, they still had not turned up anyone.  We said we had been told it was a neighbor, but that turned out not to be the case.  Finally, after a second round of door knocking, the culprit was dislodged.  When he came out, he said to me that if he moved his car, it would be on the street.  I reminded him that, if we were able to get our car out, he could have our space.  He was not apologetic at all and Astrid was justifiably furious since she had asked the staff about this all yesterday and predicted this kind of occurrence.

So finally we were on our way.  We had gone out of town for quite a way - over the big pass - when I started thinking about the gas situation and said that I thought we needed to get gas since we were down to half a tank.  We debated this for awhile and then Astrid agreed it might be safer since there were no other gas stations marked on the map except for the ones right in La Serena.  So we drove back and got some gas - this probably caused a further loss of half an hour.

After a drive along the coast where we could see a lovely bay at one point and some crashing waves, we passed quite a few cacti - different ones from the ones we had seen before and we promised ourselves that we would stop if we had time on the way back.  We arrived at the boat tour point shortly after noon.  I forgot to add that we had to drive over quite a bit of dirt road, but it wasn't nearly as bad as yesterday's even though there were one or two pretty steep hills.  It didn't have as many of those corrugated patches. 

Once we arrived at Punta de Choros, we went to check on the boat tours - when they were leaving and when they would be back.  When Astrid said the trips were 3 hours and, if we left now, the latest we would be back was 3:30 pm, I began to think this was not feasible since, in order to catch the bus to San Pedro at 6 pm, we had to fill the car up on gas, turn it in by 5 pm, get our bags and walk to the bus station.  It had taken us practically 2 hours to drive to Punta de Choros and there was roadwork on the way.  We debated this a bit and then Astrid agreed that it was too risky.  It was really a shame since we drove all that way to do the boat trip. 

We sat down on some rocks on the beach and had our goat cheese, rolls, tomatoes, and probably something else too.  Then Astrid started exploring the shore - she found some interesting looking sea stars and some anemones.  At first I didn't see all the anemones, but then saw loads of them.  Astrid had started by taking photos of a cormorant that was diving in the water in between the rocks.  Astrid then thought we had better start back or not taking the boat trip would have been a waste if we didn't make it back in time anyway.

We stopped at least 3 times on the way back to take photos of the cacti.  First, there was a fuller type, or was it the low-growing cactus, then there was something else - maybe a different type, finally Astrid saw a blossom on one of the tall cacti so we stopped again.  I did love all the different types of cactus and different little plants especially the flowering ones.  I can't think of anything else memorable from our drive back.

We made it to the hostel with only a few problems - I almost entered a one-way street - or major thoroughfare - on exiting the gas station, and then I missed the correct turn on the very complicated way we managed to get to our hostel on its one-way street, but after 3 tries we made it (this was fewer than yesterday).  We got our bags out of the bodega storage area.  The car rental man came and smilingly gave us the OK after looking over the very dirty little car.  We hefted our bags and walked down the hill to the bus station.  We were early enough to buy and eat all of the purchased snacks before getting on the bus.  We went out about 10 minutes before 6 and it seemed we waited forever.  I asked Astrid if the bus on the end could possibly be ours and it turned out to be - yes, the bus to San Pedro.

This was a semi-cama bus:  its seats half reclined to make sleeping more promising.  We got several snacks as part of the bus ride - some juice and a cookie for breakfast and a late night snack of a white bread sandwich and juice.  The snacks appeared wedged next to my leg in my seat.  We did get blankets - I wish I had asked for two but did survive and we got a pillow.  It was pretty comfortable and I went to sleep shortly after 9 pm when it got too dark to see outside.

For the first few hours, I watched the scenery and took some photos.  It was mostly desert -like hills, brown rocky with bigger mountains in the east.  It was pleasant.  No animals running around. I did get some glimpses of houses with their corrugated tin roofs held down with big rocks and bits of metal.  I don't think I took any photos of them though. 

Can't think of anything else and Astrid is already asleep and I need to go to bed too since I am writing this up a day later and need to get ready for Wednesday's trip to the salar de atacama.

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