Saturday, December 12, 2015

Day 144 - Lagoons on 4200 Meters above the Sea

We were picked up at 9 o'clock as the last ones to join the group. We had a small bus, comparable to our "Nicky" from the Outback trip. After some introduction talks and the information why there were standing lots of trees randomly in the landscape (because the Chilean population wanted some trees there, but only those directly planted at the occasional river survived) we did our first stop in a small town of a few inhabitants called Toconao where we could admire the church mainly made of cactus wood and a bell tower both from the 18th century. The thing with the cactus wood is that this was the only wood they could afford in a desert like this, but very fast the cactus was endangered. What a town where some fences were made of barrels, and cheesy cars standing around. And always these dogs!

We then were brought to a very special place, a salt lagoon in the middle of a plain between huge mountains. This "Laguna Chaxa" was the place where flamingos come from time to time. Fortunately we were lucky and we could observe a few pinkies having brunch. Veeery awesome with the reflection in the calm water.


On our way to the main Lagunas we made halt next to a really tiny village (Socaire) with about ten clay huts and a clay church. The main attraction here were certain terraces to grow food that the people undertook from the Incas. The roofs by the way are made of a clay mix and yellow grass which is very strong and the main food for "Pecunia Llamas" living freely around here. They unfortunately have to die of starvation after about twenty years, because the teeth become damaged through eating this strong and thick yellow grass.

From then on we were just driving upwards. Higher and higher until we reached the elevation level of the Lagunas Miscanti y Miniques, on 4200 meters above sea level. And this height is only the foot of the mountain that sizes entire 5900 meters above sea level, which is higher than the highest mountain in the European Alps. No wonder that we really weren't used to it at all. We also were advised to walk veeeeeeery sloooowlyyyyy, to not fall into a faint due to a lack of oxygen. And it really was important to not talk and walk simultaneously.

The two Lagunas were once a big one, before a great eruption of the middle mountain divided them in to. At the shore we not only saw white salt crusts but also black unicorn ducks nestling. Ducks in this height? Mother nature stays a riddle.

These wonderful tiny flowers only exist due to the heavy rainfalls in the past two years. The seeds seem to have been existing in the ground for some time but needed water to develop. During the rainfalls some people were drowned, because the mass of water couldn't be handled from the ground and just caused huge floodings. Isn't that a sad paradox?

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