21 November 2013
Descending from the cold harsh heights of the Reserva Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa in Bolivia into the desert heat of Chile was bliss. With every layer of clothes that we shed, we also shed the dizzying and exhausting heights of the Andes which we were unlikely to encounter again, the strange and sometimes hostile ways of the Bolivianos and mostly the desperation of getting into the tent before sunset to avoid freezing to death. It was like we had just come off a rollercoaster and had lived to tell the tale…
San Pedro de Atacama was every bit as charming as Chileans had told us it would be when we finally made it down the mountain and through the thorough customs. Most all of the buildings are made using adobe (simple mixture of clay and sand) which gives the whole place a very artsy, earthy feel. Pity the prices of accommodation and food was anything but down to earth. It was such a shock after what we experienced in Bolivia that we rather disappointed in our supposed refuge. Finally we settled into a campsite and out of the final layers of Bolivian soiled clothes. We strolled through the cobblestoned streets looking at all the touristy stores selling every piece of craft you had ever wished you never owned. It was strange to see so many American and European tourist in a place which seemed to us to be on the other side of nowhere after driving through Bolivia. We stayed for two days and when we couldn’t negotiate a deal with the owner to stay longer we decided to head to Argentina.
There were two ways to northern Argentina from San Pedro de Atacama, the same way we came from Bolivia but eventually veering to the south to Argentina instead of north to Bolivia or a little further south of San Pedro on a gravel road less travelled. We wanted to see more of what we had already seen of Chile and therefore opted for the second option. It would be our last and barely tolerated trip across the Andes and as we drove we said goodbye to the desolate and beautiful views and lakes. It took us two days to drive to the alleged border post and was less than delighted when we got there and was told we needed an exit stamp in our passports. An exit stamp which we could only get in San Pedro de Atacama! We were gutted. Not only would it take us two days to get back to San Pedro where we would be forced to stay overnight before climbing the Andes all over again but we had put in just enough expensive Chilean fuel to get to the first town in Argentina. Oh joy!
Please continue the trip in the Argentina tab……for now..