San Pedro de Atacama: Day 4

12/14/15

My final day in San Pedro de Atacama.  The weather has been pretty good.  Very reminiscent of a nice day in Los Angeles.  The best thing so far has been star gazing at night.  I’ve never seen so many stars before!  It seemed surreal.

Since SPdA has very little light pollution and almost no humidity, it’s one of the best places in the world to stargaze.  I didn’t take any pictures since my camera was not good enough to really capture the experience.

Altiplanica Lagoon

 

Back to the journey:

With my tour starting at 6 am and would last until 2 pm, I was up at 5 am preparing.  I packed my camera, jacket and my breakfast.  The hotel packed a breakfast for me since I was leaving before the breakfast buffet would open.  This was a nice service that they provided at the hotel since most morning tours would start before 7 am in SPdA.

At 6 am, the guide came into the hotel lobby to pick me up.  He asked if I spoke Spanish or Portuguese.  I knew neither.  He said he didn’t speak English too well and that I was the only one on the tour that spoke English.  Son of a bitch.  I just booked the tour the other day and asked for an English tour.  They knew if they said that they didn’t have one available that I would go somewhere else.

The drive to the salt flats took about 90 minutes.  The bus had giant windows and no air conditioning.  Even though it was freezing outside, it was extremely hot and bright during sunrise in ‘the end of the world’ bus.  The windows were closed and with the bright sun, the windows all over the bus amplified the heat of the sun.  The roads were rough and suspension of the bus wasn’t designed for comfort which led to me getting extremely car sick.  I almost threw up my breakfast when we finally got to our destination.

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When we arrived at Altiplanica Lagoon, I was very happy to be out of the bus.  He gave us a short tour of the area we arrived at, then informed us that we would walk 30 minutes to the next lagoon.  His English was better than he had previously led me to believe.  It was at an understandable level which was enough to get me through the day.

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At the lagoon, the guide and driver began prepping breakfast.  The truck was pretty awesome! There was a propane grill also attached to it and the made a fresh breakfast.  Homemade biscuits, eggs, and other assorted stuff.  I mostly went for biscuits and coffee.

On our way to the last destination, the salt lagoon with flamingos, the tour driver missed the road and sank half the bus in the sand. With no shovels, they started digging with their hands. I jumped in and got the metal serving trays used during breakfast to use as shovels. We were out of the sand in 20 minutes. I was preparing to build a ramp with pipes as plan B.

It was pretty rad to see flamingos in the wild.  I didn’t know what they did in the wild.  That rad feeling disappeared quickly when I realized they didn’t do much.  They just kind of stand around with their heads in the water.  We then headed back to the city of SPdA.

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I returned from the tour around 14:30 and went to the hotel to shower.  After digging out the truck, my shoes were filled with sand.  I was feeling pretty satisfied that I hit all the major attractions I wanted to see in San Pedro de Atacama and planned to take it easy the rest of the day.  

I went in search of pizza and found a nice little place that served a tasty shrimp pizza.  I was only able to eat half the pizza so I took the rest to go.  My hotel room didn’t have a fridge, but I took a chance and asked reception if they could store it in their fridge.  They were happy to oblige.  My flight to Santiago is tomorrow morning so I had to begin packing.  I also had to book a hotel!  I forgot to book a hotel cause I was getting to Santiago 3 days earlier than expected.  I initially had planned on going to Tierra del Fuego but none of the tour operators got back to me.  I wasn’t going to take a chance going there not knowing any Spanish.  Without a guide, that’s an automatic recipe for getting ripped off at the airport.  I’m glad I waited to book until the last minute since it gave me the freedom to go where I wanted.  Plus, there was an amazing deal on Orbitz that I ran into that only lasted a day.  $50 off any $100 booking.  Done and done.

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