San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

We now are heading out of Perú into Chile, on our way down to Santiago to visit Tom, one of Paul’s Marine buddies who is working guard duty at the American Embassy there. Eran, our Isralie friend found out that you can do a tour up into the infamous Salar de Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia from San Pedro de Atacama, in the middle of the Atacama desert in Chile. His route would take him back up into Bolivia after the tour where he was planning to do some good trekking, whereas we would return to San Pedro in Chile and continue south.

So we decided to travel together to San Pedro. It was a long trip to get there, we left at 10:00 a.m. Friday morning and arrived finally in San Pedro some 25 hours later, Saturday at 11 am. We found a decent deal at a hostel there where we paid 5,000 chilean Pesos (US$1 = Ch$590) each and got access to sandboards and mountain bikes for free.

In the desert they have this pretty cool sport called sandboarding… its quite exactly like snowboarding, but on sand dunes. The first day in San Pedro we just kind of layed around after an excruciatingly long trip on bus. I read a little bit of my Hemmingway book, For Whom the Bell Tolls, which is just now getting good… its a slow go because I’m reading it in Spanish: Por Quien Doblan Las Campanas. We waited around for the afternoon to come when we decided to take the sandboards out to Valle de los Muertos to give it a try. The sand was excellent and a perfect angle for carving. Some stray dog we picked up along the way followed us all the way 3 km outside town to the dune and was playing with us as we boarded down. We named him Hump the Dog, to which he responded happily. We got to the dune a bit too late because the sun was setting by the time we were hiking back up the dune for our second go. Hump had a much easier time hiking up and he seemed to know the way, as if he’d been sandboarding here all his life. We wanted to take him with us on the rest of the trip but knew it’d be impossible to take him with us on the nice chilean busses… it probably wouldnt have been a problem in Bolivia or Peru.

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