santiago to la serena to calama to san pedro
We left kinky haus (the name of joel, pepe, alex, pau, and mauricios place) on monday. It was sad leaving the boys were so good to us, we had been there for about two weeks and they said we´re like flatmates to them. I definitely want to make it back there on my way back down with Louie and Lauren, and really hope they can make it to California so we can show them the same hospitability.
It was about a 7 hour bus ride to La Serena, so we got there around sunset. After checking in to a few hostels that were already full we found one that had space for us but it wasn´t very nice so we moved on to another a couple blocks away which was a lot nicer. It was a family guesthouse and the family was really nice. There wasn´t much to do so we got some chinese food and then watched some TV before passing out.
Got up early on Tuesday to make the most of the day. We looked into some tours (stargazing at an observatory or going to the dama island) but none of them really seemed worth our money so we decided instead to spend the day in la serena going to the craft market and the beach and to leave that night for San Pedro, which is about a 20 hour bus ride north/more inland. The craft market was cool, the beach sucked. We took the bus to Coquimbo to go to the beach, someone recommended it and I´m not sure why because there wasn´t really a beach at all. We went up this massive cross (that had lots of statue scenes of jesus being crucified) and got a cool view of the city. The area reminded us a lot of Valpo, next to the water, lots of boats, colorful houses, and hills but it didn´t have the same charm.
There were no buses to San Pedro that night so we got one to Calama instead to save paying for a night at a hostel, with the intention of just hopping on a bus to San Pedro from there (only an hour away). Bigggg mistake. First of all the 15 or so hour bus ride was really shitty, literally. You can only go pee on the buses, and someone clearly took a dump because we were stopped for at least half an hour trying to clean out the plumbing. It was like 3 in the morning and I´m pretty sure I was the only one awake on the bus, I´m not sure how though because it smelled soooo bad. Definitely 2nd worst smell I´ve ever endured, the first was the field trip to the sewage treatment plant we went on in middle school. It probably didn´t help that I happened to be in the seat directly next to the bathroom (of course).
Anyways, we finally made it to Calama, got our tickets for San Pedro and had an hour to kill. Meals were not generous on the bus so we were hungry and looking for food. We set our stuff down at a table and Maddy and I went to go ask about a nearby restaurant. We decided to put our stuff in storage and go across the street to get some food, but when i went to get my bag it was gone. The second I realized it wasn´t there I knew it had been stolen, which was crazy because I had only left the table for literally a minute, maybe 2 tops. And michelle and star were there... but I guess some guy distracted them by asking where the internet cafe was and someone else snagged it. About 20 minutes later, just after the police arrived, this couple came running towards us asking if we had our bag stolen, because apparently the same exact thing had happened to them the day before at the same time and place. It was a couple on their honeymoon and the woman had her bag with her camera and lenses, credit cards, passports taken. Her passport had been returned but nothing else. I guess they met an English guy who was travelling alone and had the same thing happen to him the day before them at the same place. Talk about sketch. The couple was convinced the police were in on it because there was no security or any action being taken to prevent the same thing from happening again, they said they looked it up on google and the Calama bus terminal was notorious for having stuff taken.
I went with Star to the police station to file a report. All the police were douches, it was obvious they didn´t care at all about what was happening considering the fact that they were basically laughing at us. It took the guy helping us an hour to type out the report, after which we had to go to the international police station to get a replacement passport thing. The people there were also huge douches. There was a really long line, but one guy told us to wait in another area. We were ignored for like 45 minutes before star asked one of the employees about when we would get helped. He gave her some attitude and no answers so we waited a little longer. By that time Michelle and Maddy had come and found us so we were all waiting in the main office. Finally someone came to help us so Star and I went into the office, overhearing Officer Douche ask for air freshner because it smelled bad right there (where we were). He found some in the office, literally sprayed it on me and Star, then went into the main room and sprayed in on Michelle and Maddy saying how he likes to shower once a day. It was actually really funny, I was crying with laughter but he was suchhh a jerk.
So we had to decide whether or not to stay the night in Calama in hope of getting my passport back or to head to San Pedro and just take a bus back to Calama if my passport was found. Considering how shitty Calama had treated us and the fact that no one had anything nice to say about it we left for San Pedro. Got here around 10 last night and liked it immediately. Its a really small town in a desert, its not built up at all but it´s a really touristy area because there are a lot of activities to do like go see geyers, deserts, salt flats, etc. We met up with Joel, Pau, Mario, and his girlfriend, Marta and spent the night camping with them literally in the middle of nowhere. It was incredible, we spent a few hours just laying in the bed of their truck looking at all the stars, which were so bright because there was no other light to drown them out, we couldn´t even see the moon. Saw a lot of shooting stars, only other time I´ve seen a sky as beautiful was in Namibia.
After stargazing we settled in the tents for the night, Marta and Mario in their own, and the rest of us squeezed into Paus 4 person tent. It was quite the squeeze, talk about a 6 person spooning sesh. We had bundled up in soo many layers but after an hour or so it got so hot and the discomfort/lack of space forced Joel out of the tent and to the car. I think I got like 2 hours of sleep, we got up around 730 or 8 because they were leaving San Pedro to head further north. It didn´t take long to pack up and drive back into town, where we got dropped off in search of a hostel. Found a relatively cheap one and passed out for a little bit (being in a bed was really nice after 2 days of not) before waking up, finally taking a shower, and starting the day. Which brings me to where I am now, the internet cafe. 2 great pieces of news - my passport was found!!! Which means we don´t have to make the 20 plus hour bus ride back to the embassy in Santiago to get a new one, and the giants won last night!!!! So excited!!! Sad I can´t watch but fingers crossed for good news next time I find myself online. Okay I´ve been on here way too long. We´re going to spend the next few days here in San Pedro, make our way back to Calama to get my passport, then head north. Looking to invest in camping gear so we can take advantage of the beautiful landscapes here and save money on hostels.
I can´t believe it´s been a month. Budget is going pretty well, I calculated it on the bus ride to Calama and I´ve spent about 1000 dollars. We´ve been really lucky to have had homies to stay with rather than hostels (we´ve only spent 9 or 10 nights in hostels, and nearly 3 weeks with friends), and things are only going to get cheaper the further north we go, especially if we start camping.