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Published: June 16th 2017
Geo: -22.9058, -68.1951
The bus ride to San Pedro de Atacama from La Serena on the coast of Chile was supposed to be 8 or 9 hours.
It was 24.
Damn TurBus. They're a left over from the Pinochet years of military occupation and the buses are dirty, unkept and unmaintained.
We broke down twice in the night. The first time it was just after sunset and we were within walking distance of bathrooms. Mechanics came, stood around, tinkered, stood around, and then we were off. The second time I have no idea--people were streaming down from the top floor of the bus and out the door. I woke up enough to ask the attendent...que hace?
Fire! Us!! he says, wild-eyed.
Oh dear. Exhausted, we didn't even bother to get up and never found out what it was about. Eventually were on our way again.
When we finally pulled into San Pedro it was not even at a bus station--more like a parking lot and we had no idea where to catch a taxi. Kids with backpacks were taking off down one dirt road like they knew what they were doing so we started to follow them.
No, you go over there for a taxi, a lady told us.
Over there turned out to be just another dirt street going who the heck knows where, so we stopped in at a little cafe. Surely they'll call a taxi for us, we thought.
Well yes, they'd be happy to, but there was no cell service right now. No land lines either. Or internet. Sorry.
But our waitress was nice said (in patched together English), I will help you find a taxi and she tossed her apron and started off down the street with us. Pretty soon between her and some of her friends she met along the way, we were tucked into a taxi and off.
How nice! These people are awesome!
We'd been told that San Pedro was full of transients working just for the money to go someplace else and not to expect much in the way of service from any of them.
What a delightful surprise!
We chose our hostel, Incahausi, from reviews that said it was a German house with fresh baked brown bread every morning. I was hooked.
We never saw a German but the place had fantastic people and a good breakfast as advertised.
Javiera, a 17 year old university student and her dad Phillipe, a former marine biologist and our guide, were left to run the place while the owner was in Santiago. They were so much fun we became instant friends. Javiera was intent on learning English so we practiced on each other while learning about this most unique corner of Chile.
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