Thursday, May 17, 2012

Going toward the desert, from La Serina to Antofagasta and beyond

The bus to Antofagasta was comfortable. We saw how the terrain changed to desert. Knowing the touristy San Pedro de Acatama we would like to pass it and expected direct bus from Antofagasta into Bolivia. Originally we thought about Calama, but Diego in Santiago had some reservation about the place because it was just a town of rough miners. At noon the bus went from the desert down to the coast. There were beaches along the way and there were crowds of spectators watching what we later found out a surf-boarding competition. We thought about going there later but turned out going for more interesting place - the fish market.

The visit came from the surprise and disappointment that there was no direct bus from Antofagasta to Bolivia and people in bus terminal did not mention other way to go to Bolivia, or any bus from Calama onward.Therefore we decided to take the touristy way: the route by 4x4 from San Pedro de Acatama to Bolivia.

We bought the ticket to San Pedro de Acatama and the bus started at seven pm, so that we could have three hours in Antofagasta. We did not have the surfboard competition in mind, instead it was the fish market.It was visited by both locals and tourists. A bowl of urchin only cost 4000 peso (about HKD55). We also ate fish soup and crab meat empanada. It was a pity that we were running out of cash and could not eat more. Later we got cash from the ATM at the middle of the walk from the fish market back to the bus station, but we did not bother to walk back to take more seafood. On the way we firstly saw the Pacific Ocean in our South America trip,it was very rough. There were poor people building rusty huts with wooden board and zinc plate on the coast bank and taking the risk of being washed away by huge waves and tsunami.

Back to the bus station, we realize that there were ATM machines and we should have taken cash earlier. Anyway, we caught the bus to San Pedro de Acatama. It was 11pm of Saturday (yes it was party night) when we got there. On the quiet streets of the small dessert town we walked around to find hostel. Luckily we met the boss of a hostel who was about to go out for party and we paid only 5000 peso per person for a dominatory bunk bed (Hostel Jerere).

There we started our desert journey to Bolivia

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