The next days were full. We left the following morning for a full day of bus riding to another northern city. It is called Antafogasta and we basically just ate dinner and spent the night in this city. I think it is the second largest city in Chile but I am not definite on that. It is a nice city on the ocean. Actually, a lot of these places are on the ocean and the interstate we rode on (PanAmerican Highway) mostly goes up the coast so it’s a beautiful drive. Also, Chile is such a thin long country, Timothy thinks it looks like a french fry so you are always fairly close to the water and to the Andes Mountains.
We had to get up super early to catch a 7 am bus over to San Pedro de Atacama. We got over there around noon, found a room in a pretty neat hostel, and walked over to the town. I didn’t take many pictures of the town which I’m sorry about. It was different then the others we went to. It was a small town made up of several streets full of restaurants, craft places, food stores, and many guide and tour places. I had been told there were lots of things to do here but it was the biggest surprise to me.
We decided to do two tours before we made our way back to Santiago. The first was to go to the Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon). It’s supposed to look the most similar to the moon’s surface on earth. We are now definitely in the Atacama Desert which is supposed to be one of if not the driest places on Earth. This tour was neat because the land is beautiful in a different kind of way. We also went to Death Valley. It was originally called Mars Valley because it had a red tint to it and looked like Mars. It apparently sounded like Death Valley when they said it, so that’s why they ended up calling it Death Valley.
We finished the tour and ate at a restaurant in town. It was all llama meat prepared in many ways. So, we had pizza without llama. I just couldn’t try it. We had to get to bed early because our next tour was early the next morning. The bus was picking us up outside of the hostel at 5:30am to go see the geysers 13,000 feet up on the mountain El Tatino.
The geysers were neat but unfortunately Timothy got altitude sickness. He was so sick with a headache, nausea, and then he started throwing up. We were up there for the geysers, breakfast, swimming in the hot springs, and seeing the animals and scenery on the way home. We had to pull over 2-3 times for him to throw up. Needless to say, he never wants to do that again. It did put a little damper on the trip for me since I just wanted to go on back so he could feel better. But, the other people who had paid for the trip needed to enjoy it as well. We didn’t do this but others put eggs in a ziploc bag down in the geyser and had scrambled eggs when they came out. Another friend told me you could put chocolate milk down in there and have hot chocolate with it.
We were so far up that we were sooo cold. It was -4C and they said that they considered that a warm morning. In the summer it is usually -15C and in the winter -30C. _4C is about 28F. Our hands and feet were cold! We haven’t had that weather down here like you all have had back in the States, especially our friends on the east coast.
We finished the tour and once again headed back to the bus station. The reason we rode the bus is because my Dad likes the full experience of being in a country. For those of you who don’t know my parents they travel a lot and Dad has been in over 100 countries. He prefers to see as much as possible and be with the local people. Riding a plane doesn’t do much for him. The other reason is it is very affordable. We paid an average of $14 for our shorter bus rides and $20 for a longer one. Our biggest fare was the trip from San Pedro to Santiago. It was a LONG trip of over 1000 miles. It took us 24 hours to get back! It only cost us $30 each. We were fine sleeping and for the first 20 hours. The last 3 were a little tough because we just wanted to get off.