To San Pedro - The long ride

Trip Start May 12, 2013
Trip End Jul 30, 2013

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Flag of Chile  , Calama,
Monday, July 22, 2013

So we got up at 3 in the morning, packed our stuffs and headed across the road to the bus company. The bus wasn't there yet and it was cold on the streets. The thermostat display showed -5degC. Since it was our last stop in Bolivia, went to buy some snacks to finish up my Bolivia loose change.

The bus came from La Paz at around 3.55am. We loaded our bags and got onto our seats. I was having a weird tummy during the ride which was made worse by the unpaved and bumpy Bolivian roads. We drove across the altiplano, with mountain ranges and deserts along the way. At around 8am, we arrived at the border crossing between Bolivia and Chile. The bus attendant signaled for us to get our exit stamps at a small house by the side of the road. It really didn't look like a proper border control. The house, or office, was supposed to be open by 8, but we stood in the open, unshielded by the freezing wind till almost 8.30am before the guy opened the doors. It was a simple house. There were 2 police officers who took our passports, collected B15 each from us, and gave us our exit stamps. By this time, there was a row of street peddlers selling food and drinks by the side of the road (god knows where they came from). Prices were high, and I paid B5 for a bottle of water.

More waiting continued, as we waited for other passengers to be done with the customs as well as their food. The road block lifted and we drove around 1km to a bigger customs office, which was Chile's. We waited almost 20 minutes for our bus's turn, and went into the office to get our entry stamps. After that, it was almost another 30 minutes wait to get our baggages checked as part of Chile's strict import laws. We eventually left the border around 1030am, a 2.5 hour delay there.

With the worst behind us, the bus drove along similar barren landscapes(spare a few nice mountains with icing clouds), and we arrived at Calama, the provincial capital at 2pm. The bus dropped us off at the bus station, and we bought onwards tickets to San Pedro de Atacama for 2500pesos each (us5). My poorly tied bandage on my left elbow started to hurt, and the dryness of the weather caused some of my skin to develop blisters.

The bus ride took 1.5 hours. The landscape was, the Atacama desert. Totally barren, with clear skies, and rocky hills as a backdrop. Upon arriving at San Pedro, it didn't take us long to locate our hostel, which was a 5 minute walk from the main street. It turned out to be a pleasant hostel, with good wifi, breakfast, clean rooms and towels.

We went out to explore the town and buy groceries for dinner. There were loose clouds in the skies and I witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets of my life. There was a faraway volcano which glowed in orange, and looked right off a oil painting. Clouds glowed red and orange all round town as well.

We went to a supermarket (it was rather, a mini market) to buy stuff. The worker could memorize all the prices and calculated the cost of our purchases just with a calculator, which I found kinda messy.

We went back to the hostel and booked some tours - the geysers, valley of the moon, and the salt lagoons. They gave us a bulk discount and we paid us68 for all 3 tours. We decided to go on the valley of the moon tomorrow.

Made dinner, and proceeded to bed to rest after a long long day.

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
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