Thursday, December 10, 2015

Day 142 and 143 - ¡Holà Chile!

We had our last breakfast this morning and it really was too much to eat. Every of these four mornings we got more and more to eat. Additive pancakes, cakes, cookies, avocado and olives, more buns, more cheese (but less meat!). As we later learned, the breakfast lady noted what we ate and adapted the next day's breakfast to our taste. Since we mostly cleared our plates, we got a little more every day until it was really too much to eat on the fourth morning. What a service!
A notorious problem out here in the middle of the ocean is bad Internet connections. It took us about 30 minutes and ca. 15 trials in two different locations to get a credit card authorization for paying our hostel. Many shops don't accept cards because it doesn't work properly.
In the evening we arrived in Santiago de Chile and just had to walk across the street to our airport hotel. Very useful for a flight the next morning - to Calama, a town of some 10000 people. We hadn't expected highrises and a modern airport at the edge of the Atacama desert, nor low clouds. Both have to do with the big copper mine near Calama. 6000-8000 people work here to mine copper ore in open pit mode so that the digging creates quite big low (dust) clouds. 
Los Andes

On our way to San Pedro de Atacama
In Calama we were picked up by a transfer service that brought us to San Pedro, a village of 1'000 souls and a lot of tourists - mostly backpackers. When we did a small tour through "town", we noticed about thirty different agencies for desert tours, twenty souvenir shops, some markets and quite a few restaurants. All close to each other on two "streets". Impressive how much dust there is! The air is so dry that you have to drink every few minutes, because your mouth gets dried out. Even your nose gets sticky and bloody from the dryness and dust. You even smell the dust all the time!

One of the two main streets of San Pedro
We tried a random restaurant and were served a HUGE portion of meat (and sauted potatoes) for two. For two? Not at all, we didn't need dinner after this meal (we ate at 4 PM) resp. had enough left in our take-away boxes for a great dinner the next day... Yes, in South America, especially inland, meat is the main food. Lots of it...

Star gazing at night, after we walked one or two kilometers southwards out of town, to get away from the (limited) light pollution. Unfortunately this road turned out to be an arterial road for star gazers, so that we were disturbed and almost blinded by occasional cars or bikers. However, I have never seen stars so near to the horizon. And you almost couldn't see Orion properly because there were suddenly so many other bright stars around... Wonderful!! (Pic shows its magic in the dark only)

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