Monthly Archives: April 2016

San Pedro Adventures Continued

Visiting the lagoons was another highlight of our daytime excursions. The pictures certainly showcase the beautiful scenery but don’t capture the frigid morning temperatures.

 

While we ate breakfast at the hotel before being picked up by Freddy and Sergio, they surprised us with a picnic breakfast, which we ate by the flamingo park. It was a pretty spectacular setting.

Lunchtime was at a local place where we were offered a vegetarian or meat option. I chose vegetarian. Everyone received a bowl of soup and bread topped with pico de gallo, which I could have had a bowl of for lunch, it was so good. The main course consisted of quinoa, rice and a shredded pancake/tortilla with carrots and big green beans that looked like olives. I don’t love carrots so when I saw Sergio put the pico de gallo on his entree, I followed suit to drown the carrot taste and it worked. To drink we had some kind of orange Fanta type drink. Dessert was a fruit cup.

 


When the government says no, it’s a no.

Before arriving in San Pedro and well before leaving the US, Alana, Courtney and I had our hearts set on visiting El Tatio, the geysers. Your tour (you cannot do this trip without a licensed guide) picks you up well before dawn to get there for sunrise. Due to the massive rainfall and flooding the region had recently experienced, the government had suspended these tours indefinitely.

Disappointed, we really tried to figure out a way to go. The Chilean government would provide email updates on the status of the geysers. Our hotel would receive email updates at 6p and 11p; neither would give us favorable news.

Understanding that we could be arrested if we went on our own (therefore, eliminating that option), we told the front desk we’d set an alarm and check in for an update in the middle of the night … just in case the government’s restrictions were lifted. We were well aware at how far-fetched this was since our pick up was scheduled for 4.30am.

Let me clarify how insane we were. If the 11pm email said ‘closed,’ we REALLY didn’t need to wake up super early for a tour that was never leaving, or even bother with getting a status update in the middle of the night, since the chance of the geysers opening were nil.

We were persistent but when the government says no, they mean no.

The restrictions were not lifted that night. SPOILER ALERT: the geysers wouldn’t reopen during our time in the region.

 

Knowing now that ‘town’ didn’t offer much during the day but a convenient jumping off point to further explore the region, we spent some of the morning relaxing poolside, which, as you can see from our view, wasn’t a really terrible way to spend the morning.

pool

We had the pool to ourselves.

After lunch, one of the girls at the front desk connected us with Freddie, who, with his pal Sergio, would take us to several attractions in the region. And this is when we finally got to start exploring. It certainly took our mind off the geysers, but we still were keen on seeing if the government would lift their restrictions before we headed out of the region.

Our first excursion was a tour of the Valle de Luna, which translates to Valley of the Moon, appropriately so, don’t you think? What you might think in these photos is snow, is actually salt. Take a look at the scenery and the sky. The weather was fickle, changing from one minute to the next. Shorts and tees or sweaters and shivering? All of it.

This is what I would call ‘the middle of nowhere.’ Except we were somewhere in the north of Chile and it was pretty freaking spectacular.

 


Nightlife in San Pedro de Atacama

Based on the subject of this post, this is a short one. The altitude does not combine well with an active nightlife. Were bars and restaurants busy? Sure, but imbibe with care. The hangover wouldn’t be worth it. Altitude and alcohol are not the best combination.

San Pedro is a jumping off point for tours and trips to see the landscapes of the region – which start during the early morning hours and throughout the daylight hours.

Nightlife consists of travelers going to the ATM…seriously. We quickly learned that you can expect a 30-45 minute wait each time. In this photo, we’re pretty close to the front, after an extended wait. At this point you’re just hoping there’s still cash in the machine by the time you get to swipe your card.

the-bank

After securing cash and food, heading back to the hotel is up next.

headlamp

Once you leave the confines of the few streets making up the ‘town,’ there are no streetlights. None. Laugh all you want at the headlamp (my friends did) but this headlamp was a lifesaver (probably literally too) on our walk back to our hotel in the pitch dark.


A pizza place runs out of dough

The three of us arrived into town after a short walk from the hotel. After I dropped off my dirty laundry – a mere storefronts away – from the restaurant we chose on the main plaza (which was literally ‘town’).

We ordered a pizza to share. We were also warned it would take a long time. Not a big deal, we had drinks and plenty of catching up to do.

While waiting an extremely long time for a simple pizza, even with the warning we’d be waiting, we noticed another table had fries, which were not on this menu. So Courtney went to find out where they were from … another restaurant. She went to procure us some fries. We devoured them.

fries

Finding the fries!

After another excessively long period of time, the waiter came over and told us ‘no pan,’ ummmm, what? Pan is bread, or in this case, dough. Did you not know this an hour ago? We were no longer hungry but now we were three hangry ladies. We paid for our drinks and left.

Quickly found another restaurant and were able to catch up over food, that actually existed. Called it a relatively early night and planned to head back to the hotel for some much needed sleep. First, we’d stop at the (only) ATM (in town) to get some local cash for the girls.

We were ready to cover a lot of ground in the region over the next few days and it was unanimous that we all wanted to get some sleep!