Sunday, March 11, 2012

Far, Far from the Madding Crowd

Taking the local excursions has been something of a learning experience. Each day there has been a critical piece of information missing. But today the glitch was actually our fault.

Yesterday's adventure took us to the Ojos de Salar, salty lakes that promised the buoyancy of the Dead Sea. Our companions were 4 people from the Netherlands and a Chilean couple, all well under 30. The road getting to anywhere around here always makes one very glad to have arrived. We got a "senior" rate at the ticket office.

Our first surprise was the size of the lakes, which looked minuscule in comparison to the Dead Sea. Our second surprise was no place to change or to shower after coming out of the salt water. The spray can with pressurized water above was the only shower.

The young people seemed to have gotten the message to wear their bathing suits and they didn't seem to care about the salt after several pisco sours. We decided to drink ours on the beach, where we befriended a beautiful young girl named Daniela, who needed a photographer while she was in the lake.

Today our phones and iPads somehow lost an hour last. Ight (because they were set to Santiago time and they had a time change. Today's guide for our 8-hour trip to Salar de Tara showed up just after we got out of bed. Nonetheless we had a remarkable trip onto the Altiplano, reaching an altitude well above 16,000 feet.

I was doing fine until I ate lunch and then the altitude hit me with a wallop. Fortunately most of the sites preceded lunch because my head and stomach were in a bad way until well I to our descent.

At one point I asked our private guide what would happen if our 4x4 broke down with absolutely no way to reach anyone by phone and he was a little vague.

Fortunately my altitude sickness was the worst problem of our trip and we arrived back in San Pedro to experience what. Ow seems to be a daily thunderstorm and loss of power.

It's a rugged place where most people are considerably younger than we are. Drinking beer by candlelight is absolutely no problem for them.

Tomorrow we leave the desert for Valparaiso, a seaside town where we will enjoy our last day in Chile.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Antofagasta,San Pedro de Atacama,Chile


Blogger Steve Reed said...

Ha! I can just imagine your guide when you asked that "What would happen..." question. He was probably thinking to himself, "Do Not Panic The Tourists!!"

Those lakes are interesting, but I can understand not going in, even if you'd had your swimsuit. I'm not a fan of salt water. Bleah.

Have fun in Valparaiso!

3:25 AM  

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