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Day 16 (7-20): Chile San Pedro de Atacama

CHILE | Tuesday, 20 July 2010 | Views [532]

- For the second time, the bus conductor asked for our passports at the beginning of our bus trip. I knew Geminis is a reputable company, and with the previous experience, I was not as freaked out, but the fact that I had to part with my passport made me feel so vulnerable. Couldn´t keep my mind off it, and couldn´t sleep at all throughout the bus-ride.

- Arrived at Calama at 7 in the morning. It was mucha fria. Luckily, the first bus to San Pedro de Atacama leaves in half an hour. Timing was perfect.

- It was freezing when I stepped foot on San Pedro´s soil. Lonely Planet was great as a guide, but its pricing information is totally off. I walked around the hostels mentioned in Lonely Planet: either they are fully booked, or they do not have dorms (as advertised in Lonely Planet), or their asking price is double that of listed (in Lonely Planet). After walking for almost an hour, I walked past Hostel Florida and recalled a thread at Lonely Planet Forum mentioning it as the cheapest hostel at San Pedro. Rooms were tiny, but they provided internet access (though snail slow) during the day. That was a huge bonus considering (paid) internet access is pretty expensive at San Pedro.

- Dogs are one thing you can´t miss at San Pedro. At every corner, every street, there are dogs of various breeds, big and small, napping, walking, staring, fxxking (literally). I love dogs, but the thought that any of those perros could be a rabi-dog really scared me.

- Walked around the Plaza a bit, got a hiking/biking map from the Tourist Center, and rented a bike for half a day to the Quitor Pukara ruins. The Pukara (fortress) was constructed by the Atacamenos to self-protect themselves from their neighbors. During daytime (after 10 am), San Pedro´s weather is gorgeous.

- Checked that buses to Salta/Jujuy run on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays only. Original plan was to squeeze in trips in the next few days and leave on Friday until I felt my cramps. It appeared I would spend more days in San Pedro as I intended - not a good idea to sit through a 12-hour bus ride with cramps.

- The only bed available was the top bunk bed. The ceiling height was so low that I would hit my head at the ceiling when I woke up. As I was complaining (to myself), the three gals who stayed on the other beds came in and started packing. They told me how shitty the hostel was, how they got into an argument with the hostel owner and they were leaving. Sweeet! I guess I lucked out. I had the entire room to myself and I moved to the lower level. True though the facilities of the hostel was kind of shitty. Water was icy cold and I had a 2-min shower.

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