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Cold Dessert Night

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile


Right now I'm in San Pedro de Atacama in nothern Chile and high up in the Andes. Here the sun is unforgivingly strong in the day, but well missed during the bitterly cold nights. This village is in the driest dessert in the world and boasts salt flats, salt lakes, incredible mountain biking, a plethera of hikes, geysers galore and is one of the world's best places to star gaze (the only time I've seen better stars was on the Whitsunday Islands, Australia). For this, San Pedro is Chile's tourist mecca. And I think there are more tourists per capita here than in Cusco, which has it's pluses and minuses.

The plus is I bumped into Arnaud, a French friend of mine from Mendoza, Argentina, who I hiked with in Aconcagua on route to Chile. He also put me in touch with his Bohemian buddies in Valparaíso (South America's Bohemian capital, a short few hours west of Santiago on the coast). I stayed with his friends there, but that's another story. I also randomly bumped into Flavien, another French friend of mine, while walking in the streets of San Pedro. I know Flavien from Córdoba. We, and a great group of Argentines, had a great time hanging out in that city, but again, those are other stories for another time.

For reasons unknown to me, the local authorities see it fit to have all establishments closed down by 1am - that includes bars. Which means there aren't any bars. It's a shame cause Flavien and I were keen to party. I got word that there was a bus leaving town at 1am for a place just outside of town limits. We waited at 1am for the mysterious bus, but it never came. Eventually we walked to the center of town (read 2 blocks) and asked a passing truck if they knew about this party. Sure enough, this truck was the transportation there. So after paying a small fee and a short ride we were on the outskirts of San Pedro at a private club. An odd experience this was. They had a DJ and a small beer only serving pisco sours and beer for a small fortune. Understandable considering there are no other options in this tourist hot spot, but still a tad pricey for this backpacker. It was also odd cause they didn't have any lights. Although there was a barrel with a fire, which was much appreciated on a cold night.

Today is my last day in San Pedro. It's too expensive here, but more importantly I'm really keen on heading up to Colombia to meet Harry. And hopefully visit my Peruvian friends along the way.

permalink written by  ryanmyers on July 24, 2009 from San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
from the travel blog: Ryan's First Sabbatical
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