San Pedro de
March 16, 2007


The bus ride out here yesterday from Salta definitely didn’t disappoint.

The scenery was stunning with bright white salt flats, landscape that at times possessed at least ten different colors, lots of cacti and
animals that are some relative of the llama. Then there were the areas in parts of other salt flats where there were little pools of
water in which the sky was reflecting into them. Truly stunning. I guess the only not-so-great part of it was the musical selection by
the bus driver. The Marc Anthony album. Though I must admit that his songs sound much better while listening to them in South
America than they do in North America.

Ten hours after departing Salta, the bus arrived in San Pedro de Atacama. I met a couple girls (Lindsey and Robin from Canada) on
the bus and I ended up joining them in the search for a place to stay. We met up with another one of their friends from along the
way (Emily from England) who is now my roomie. The place we are staying at is great. I think I might be very biased, though, as
there is a llama (that I have appropriately named ‘Tina’ after
Napolean Dynamite) in the backyard area.

Talk about a sharp contrast from where I just was in Salta! Out with the colonial architecture and in with the adobe. I feel like I was
dropped off in Pueblo, Colorado. Of course I have never been to Pueblo, Colorado. But that did not stop this from being the first
thought that crossed my mind. And I have no doubt that this town is far more quaint and charming than Pueblo. We all instantly
took a liking to this town and the total of about all ten blocks that it possesses…

It works out perfectly that Lindsey and Robin are a bit pressed for time (as I am, too). We all need to get to Bolivia a bit more on
the ‘sooner’ side rather than ‘later’. It looks like we might have found a company that can accommodate – we are going later this
morning to finalize the details.

Last night was a good time. We met up with a couple of the guys that Lindsey and Robin met on the bus and headed out to dinner.
As is the case in this town, the power went off and the restaurant then had to pull out the generators. Nothing like a romantic pizza
place vibe while waiting for the generators to turn on.  

After dinner we headed to one of the bars. On our way their, Danny and I found an adorable black fluff-ball of a dog. I normally don’
t take to strays but this little guy was too cute. And
maybe it had to do a bit with being a bit buzzed. Definitely a possibility. We
decided he needed a name. Considering where we are, the dog was now ‘Pedro’.  

When we let Pedro run around, he ran right into the bar that we were about to head into. The guy working there literally kicked
Pedro out. We felt bad for the little guy. I put him in my arms and then asked the same guy if we could come in with him. This time
Pedro got to experience the San Pedro de Atacama nightlife. But there was only so much Pedro could take. He started getting a bit
restless and it was time to let him play outside with his stray buddies. I know Emily, a non-dog lover, was not very sad to see him

It is still pretty early right now and everybody is still asleep. Time to go wander the empty streets…

March 17, 2007

Lindsey, Robin, Emily and I are about to head off on our Uyuni Adventure in just a little bit. We were able to book a ‘tour privado’
considering we needed to tweak a few things around – where most people do this in three days, we are doing it in two. The main
priority is seeing the Salar de Uyuni (i.e. the Uyuni salt flats) and our itinerary gives us lots of time to do that tomorrow.

Yesterday, in an effort to take advantage of some of the natural phenomena out here, Emily and I took a 5-hour tour to the Vallee
de la Luna. Being back on a ‘tour’ takes some getting used to. The first couple stops almost made me ache by the ‘get out for five
minutes to take a picture’ nature of it. Lots of great scenery but not really being able to truly enjoy it.

But then it took a turn – in a positive way. We were able to take a 45-minute through the Valley of Death. We also spent some time
in an area with a moonscape atmosphere. No doubt that this is where the name of the valley originated. Then it was time to walk up
a massive sand dune to watch the sunset. Everything about that was gorgeous – from the footprints in the sand, to the erosion of
the rocks to the colors that were formed in the sky and against the mountains.

We met up with Lindsey and Robin afterwards and went to dinner. We found a place called Milagro’s that had the atmosphere we
were looking for – complete with a fire pit in the center. Dinner turned out to be much more than we bargained for. Everything was
great. It was soon time to head out since bottles of wine there were a bit too pricey for us (on a side note - this is definitely an
expensive town to have meals in!). It made much more sense to go back to the guesthouse and open a bottle of wine that Robin had.

Well, it would never come to that.

The owner of the restaurant, Cesar, came by to let us know that he was bringing over four glasses of wine – “gratis”. None of us
were ones to have a problem with that. Cesar came by and chatted with us. It wasn’t long before he had another round of wine
brought over. And then Lindsey was chatting with him when she went to see something by the bar – she came back and notified us
that yet
another round of wine was being sent our way. Now we didn’t only have Cesar at our table, we also had his Italian chef,
Gino. As if we didn’t already eat enough, they had a skillet of grilled meats sent over. And then some cake. And then a round of
pisco sours.

It was now 1:00am and the place was closing which was a good thing. I am not too sure if Cesar was ever going to stop bringing stuff
out to our table.

Luckily I feel okay this morning probably due to the fact that I didn’t suck down all of my drinks last night. I knew that if I had to
spend the today in a 4WD through the desert, the last thing I would want accompanying me was a hangover.
Back to Chile.
Vallee de la Luna.
Hanging out at a cafe.
Streets of San Pedro de Atacama