Deserting The Coast

31st Oct. 2016

Outdoor PoolToday is the first leg of our journey to the Atacama Desert but our bus is not until 2:20pm so we have time this morning to try and catch up with the blog writing and photo rating as well as criticising each other for taking too many photos! We have managed to take some stunning ones, though we say it ourselves.


Birds sunning themselvesAs the bus journey is seven hours we decide to stretch our legs walking along the beach. We see people walking in and out after a blue gate so investigate and find ourselves at the outdoor swimming pool. Unlike Humberstone, this was full of water but still lacking in human use. The vultures seemed to like it though and the pool had birds in the water as well as spreading their wings in the sun.


Exercising not for us!The humans had congregated further along the beach for a fitness class. The organisers were in super hero costumes and the participants with Halloween ears. I did spot that the organisers were lifting less weight that the punters. However, I had not spotted the guy painting the fence until checking the photos!


What me drinking coffee?Our coffee stop at a backpackers hostel today was actually productive too, as we saw Alma drinking coffee. We had not realised that we had stopped at her hostel and were able to confirm she and Léa were on the same bus as us to Calama this afternoon.


Yummy menuIt was then back to the main square and some last minute shopping for, yes, more memory cards for the cameras. The next big town/city we are likely to visit is Valparaiso in a few weeks time. We decide to try the local speciality which seems to be the menu del dia, which every restaurant serves at lunch time. Three courses and a soft drink for anywhere from £3 to £10 each. Usually we have our main meal in the evening but as we will be on the bus until 9pm we decide to eat at lunchtime as it is so economical.


Iquique PromenadeThe bus heads south out of Iquique along the coast. The whole country of Chile is unusual as it is some 2,670 miles long and only 217 miles max wide. We have only managed about 1/8th of the way from the northern border to Santiago so at this speed it will take us two months to get there. We need to get a move on so that we can visit Mendoza and more of Argentina. The population of Chile is about 18m and one third of them live in Santiago the capital. That means the population density of Chile outside the capital is 40 per square mile compared with England of 800 per square mile and the difference is very obvious.


Just one more fountain and statueNumbers aside, the few inhabited areas on the coast are squeezed in between the sea and the huge sand dune not far inland, as can be seen in the featured picture in Dave’s post yesterday towering over the Esmeralda. As the bus turns inland the road climbs up the dune and reaches a plateau which goes all the way to Calama.


Where the locals swimOn the coast road, the bus stopped seemingly in the middle of no-where and a surprising number of passengers alighted. Odd we thought as we were surrounded by sand. It turned out to be a random search and we all had to alight, collected our bags and feed them through an security scanner in a small building by the road. The locals were obviously used to this.


Typical sceneryAs day turned to night and Calama was not far away, sat in our shorts and T shirts, we looked out of the window and had a fright as we thought the ground was covered in snow. That was not the weather forecast we had seen and all thick layers were firmly packed in the hold. Locals were dressed in anoraks or fleeces, but that is normal. It turned out to be the sand and salty deposits on the ground and when we alighted at the bus station, the temperature was in double figures.


Leaving the sea, I'll be backA quick nightcap, and catch up with the world and we were soon asleep dreaming of the sights we hope to see in the Atacama Desert over the next few days. The karaoke that woke us at 4am was certainly uncalled for, I hope it was for Halloween and not a regular occurrence.



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