I'm a bit behind on my blogs right now. I actually went to San Pedro de Atacama about two and a half weeks ago. However, I came back to Antofagasta to another six day work week, and my blog update got put on the back burner. We are working 6 day weeks to make up for time lost while the school was being built. We actually started school two weeks later than all of the other schools in Chile. We now get to make up for this time on the weekends. Luckily, we do not have any more six day weeks this trimester, and it's rumored that we may not have any more. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
San Pedro was amazing. It's a really cute town in the middle of the desert. THe actual town is really cute, but the activities outside of the town are what attract the tourists. There are many tours to choose from. My roommate Loren and I chose Valle de la Luna and the salt flats tour. We did Valle de la Luna the first day we were there. Though I highly recommend seeing the sunset at Valley de la Luna, the actual tour is really long and we end up looking at the same part of the desert from different angles. SO, it becomes a little long and tedious. The tour guide, however, loved it. He was so excited about the sand and sand formations it was like Chile won the world cup in soccer. His enthusiasm helped but the tour was really long and the only really amazing part of the tour was the sunset. It was breath taking. Despite the long, drawn out tour, the sunset was worth it.
The next day we went to the salt flats. Unfortunately, the day before I had used up my whole battery. So, I didn't get any pictures of this tour. I was so sad because the scenery was incredible. We stopped at a place that has flamingos first. There are three different kinds of flamingos living on this little salt flat: the Chilean flamingo, the Andean flamingo, and James's flamingo. IT was pretty amazing to see all of these flamingos flying around the desert.
After we left the flamingos we went to these two sacred lagoons about a two hours away. It was a long bus ride, but totally worth it. These two crystal clear lagoons are side by side against an ancient volcano. It's about 12,000 feet above sea level, so it was a little cold, but I was fine in a light jacket. They don't let people get closer than 100 meters from the water because they are trying to preserve it and honor their ancestors who lived here.
After the lagoons we headed back toward the town and stopped by a little oasis in the desert. This was a really neat little place. THere is a running stream and the soil is fertile so they can grow various varieties of plants. One of the plants they grow is a grapevine that produces very sweet grapes. THese grapes are turned into a dessert wine, that we never tried. The oasis was also home to some ancient tribes in Chile. There is still a hieroglyph that you can see on the tour, but because the rock is so sedimentary it's beginning to disappear.
I wish I had my camera for this tour. It was absolutely amazing to see all of this life in the desert.