The Unextraordinary Day

Today was our last day in San Pedro before we had a flight to Santiago in the evening.  We spent the morning sleeping in, finally having had a chance to sleep without a tour to wake up for or a Super Bowl to keep us up all night.  We then packed up our room and headed into town to see about getting a ride to the airport in Calama an hour’s drive away.  Our hostel had recommended a transfer service which would be significantly more convenient than the two hour public bus plus taxi so we headed towards where we had been told it was.  We walked up and down the street, finding quite a large number of day tour companies but not any transportation services.  We checked in with one of the tour companies and were told it was a block south of us, so south we walked.  We stopped in another company that had a sort of similar name to what we had been told and they said the business was two doors north.  Two doors north was a hostel and a hair salon.  We asked the guy standing out front where we might find this company and he pointed to a tiny sign half obscured by other signs and said “Oh, you mean this one.”  Great work guys.

After having finally found the company we managed to purchase tickets easily enough and had five hours to spend in the town before we would be picked up at our hostel but only an hour left before I had a phone call scheduled with work to talk about what I would be doing upon my return.  We strolled through town for a while trying to find a suitably quiet place for a phone call that was also in the shade from the hot desert sun.  We first tried the town square, shaded with large mesquite trees, but it seemed there were an overly large number of street musicians playing. We instead headed to a park we had passed on our first day near the bus station.  It was much quieter except for the distant whir of a diesel generator and air compressor of a guy painting awnings across the road.  Good enough.

After the phone call we headed back onto the main street for some lunch, with Lynn getting another shot at a Greek salad (this time it was a giant pile of sliced onions with a few olives and some cheese) and Doug getting some pretty good chili con carne.  Full up on lunch, we headed back to our hostel and read about Santiago in the hostel’s guide books before our ride came and got us.

Most every restaurant offers a meal of the day which gives you a starter, entree, and dessert or coffee for significantly cheaper than the a la carte options.  This is great for the budget Doug and Lynn traveler.
Most every restaurant offers a meal of the day which gives you a starter, entree, and dessert or coffee for significantly cheaper than the a la carte options. This is great for the budget Doug and Lynn traveler.
We were also amused by this sign and the three jars of rice at our hostel. If you can't see it the one on the left is incredibly moldy and gross while the other two are fine.
We were also amused by this sign and the three jars of rice at our hostel. If you can’t see it the one on the right is incredibly moldy and gross while the other two are fine.  The sign asks you to send good thoughts to the jar on the left and bad thoughts to the one on the right.

An hour later we arrived at an incredibly modern looking airport (especially for a small desert town), checked in, and sat down to dinner at the only restaurant in the airport.  Lynn had a very disappointing pizza while I had a chicken and avocado wrap which was much better.  By the time dinner was over it time to get on the plane where we both read for the 2.5 hours to Santiago.

Upon arrival we were both too tired to deal with the cheaper but more complex way to get into town involving buses and a subway that may or may not be closed by the time we got there so we opted to pay for a shuttle service to drop us off at our hostel’s doorstep.  We checked in, dropped our bags, washed the desert dust off our faces and quickly fell asleep.

Daily Walking Mileage : 5.5 miles

Fun Facts:

  • Every meal in Chile is served with complimentary bread and pico de gallo, which, while not a very traditional combination, certainly is tasty.
  • There are two main airlines in Chile, LAN and Sky.  Sky is much cheaper because they plaster every surface with ads including seat belt buckles.
  • We were apparently quite close to the Atacama Cosmology Telescope which went online in 2007 and is used to measure background microwave radiation in the universe.  They don’t seem to offer tours though so we couldn’t actually go see it.

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