The tour across the Salar de Uyuni was amazing but also very tiring riding around in a cramped land-rover. We took the shuttle from the Bolivian border at the end of Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa to the Chilean border which was about 3,000 meters downhill and an hour away.
The Chilean border was refreshingly organized and fast. First an entry stamp, then to luggage screening, and back to the shuttle to head to town - so different than the Bolivian border crossing. The shuttle dropped us off right off of the center since there are no cars allowed in the plaza and surrounding streets. We didn't have a reservation for the night and after walking around the plaza and talking to some locals, we found Hostal Hana. Every place in town is way overpriced but $50 for a room with a private bath and wifi was a good find. This room is actually 3 to 4 times as much in high season (which would be a horrible price). After cleaning up we headed into town for a ATM, food and an adaptor for these new Chilean outlets. (Henning ran off with our converter and he knows it and we’re after him.) The ATM had a $7 fee but it at least let us take out $350 at a time. On the main street we found an all natural Tierra restaurant which had great fresh food, good prices, and very different Pisco Sours (than Peru) and totally worth the price of $20 for lunch. There's also great service in chile! How refreshing it is to be back in modern civilization!!!!!
We were a little upset about having to purchase adaptors for the outlets, but they only turned out to be $1.60 for each. (Henning, you're off the hook) Last on the mission list before our nap was to find the bus "station" for tickets to Antofagasta. The long line of companies only went as far as Calama but we were guided to Turbus which was 2 1/2 blocks down. The office was closed for lunch so back to the hostel for a nap. At about 7pm we headed to the main street and came across the Export Restaurant for Chilean Cristal beer and grande glasses of red wine. Cristal turned out to be our least favorite Chilean beer. As we walked to find pizza for dinner, Raymie was very confused (eventually he’ll make up his mind) on what to do so an hour later we finally found Casa Piedra for a tasty pizza. While we where there, a comedic commentary show
for some Nordic country was filming eating and drinking many beers and whiskey. It was funny to watch them re-act the scenes and smoke their cigarettes. Unfortunately we didn't catch the name of the no-name show. The stars were sparkling at as they guided us back to the hostel. A quite early saturday night.
San Pedro day 2
It feels so good to sleep in late even at 8am. We didn’t make it to the bus station the day before so we headed to the Turbus office. We decided to take the 11:45am bus to
the next big city, Antofagasta, 6 hours away. So a quick breakfast by the bus stop and a stop off at a tienda for a gift or two before we frantically packed our suitcases. Time passes by so fast! The reception girl at our hotel was no where to be found and we only had 10 minutes to make our bus. Just as we were headed out she returned for payment and then the race down the dirt road pulling our suitcases began. We made it 1 minute to departure and off to the coast we go!
A pleasant oasis of sorts when tumbling out of the Bolivian antiplano. The reviews of this city suggest it is a little two horse town that is on the cusp of growing up (with no wifi, but don't worry there is wifi everywhere). We later find out that Chileans really don’t like this overpriced town because it is a conglomerate of European and American high quality businesses. The reality is the town is hip with trendy bars and great restaurants. Actually no establishment is legally allowed to sell alcohol without food but they have worked the system and make receipts with food whether you have ordered food or not. Comical for a country that prides itself on its lack of corruption. Be warned, the town is pricey. For the price of experiencing civilization for the first time we paid extravagantly and we arrived during low season. No matter. This is a really comfortable yet touristy crossroads that is much like an Arizona wild west theme park that got smacked down with La Jolla, California.