Day 24 - Wed 25 Apr 07 - San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Up at 04:00 to catch the 04:30 tour, I was trying to be as quiet as possible in my hotel room as the walls are paper thin and I didn't want to wake anyone, but as I opened my door, so did my neighbour - the German couple who I've done all the tours with! So headed out into the dark cold night to find the tour bus.
It's a moonless night, and there are so many stars out there. I'm drinking my coca tea and it seems to be working - no weird dreams last night. Our driver is a bit of speed demon, and he manages to catch and overtake a number of other mini-vans heading up to the geysers. As dawn breaks, and the stars disappears, the landscape appears - not long after we arrive at the geysers.
The only reason that the tour starts so early is that you arrive when the air is cold enough to see the plumes of steam coming off the geysers. It's weird to see how the activity of the geysers change from moment to moment. One minute there's nothing, just a hole in the ground, then the next it's throwing hot water 8, 10, 20 feet into the water. Breakfast appears as if by magic on a table in front of the mini-van. It would be pleasant if it wasn't for the -4° and the wind chill.
On the way back I sleep most of the way, but we stop off in a village with a population of 5. I get back to town before the rest of the group as I skip the hot springs. I found the bus ticket office and purchase my ticket on the overnight bus to Arica - it leaves at 20:45, and arrives quite early. I manage to cancel my flight to Arica, and I might even get some cash back!
After a bit of negotiation I manage a late checkout from the hotel, and spend the next hour or so swapping travellers tales with the German lady. When her husband arrives back from the hot springs, we all head out to get something to eat. The rest of the afternoon is spent snoozing, packing and retrieving my sink plug from the maid.
It's now 18:30 and I'm sitting in the town square, the sun has sent, the wind is picking up, and I'm heading for an Internet cafe to catch up on my e-mail. I realise (too late) that San Pedro isn't the kind of place you can wander around for a couple of hours - it's just to small. I'm hungry, so I head to get something to eat - there seem to be few solo travellers here, it's either couples or groups.
The bus is on time, and dropped off a few passengers at Calama, but as many got on!