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Published: November 19th 2018
Relatively late pick at 09:00. Our guide is Alvaro and driver is Mario. Today was mainly just driving to our overnight stay at the small town of Pica. We stopped for petrol at Calama which has the airport that most tourists fly to when visiting the Atacama. The town and petrol station were very similar to a country town in Australia. Even Alvaro said it was similar to any Western country.
We continued and stopped at 12:30 for lunch at a roadhouse just outside of Quillagua, which is in an oasis around the Loa river and therefore quite green. However it is known as the driest place in the world, averaging just .05 inches of rain per year which all falls in January. It was a good lunch with vegetable and goat
meat soup and a main of fish, mashed potato and salad.
After lunch we had just one more stop before Pica which was the only tourist attraction just 34kms from Pica. It was the Geoglyphs Pintados which are similar to the Nazca Lines but smaller and likely done by the same people. But you can see these from the ground rather than having to fly in a plane to see them. These were quite fascinating and you can see them as you walk along a one kilometer pathway. They are formed by the either the clearance of rocky ground or the piling of rocks on clear ground. Some of them look quite modern in their design.
It was then a short 45 minute drive to the town of Pica. Pica is a quiet town with some street art which we didn't expect and has a church Iglesia San Andres (Saint Andrew Church) with a Moorish influenced design. We went inside and instead of the usual sombre silence, we found locals preparing for celebration of some sort and children playing on the floor with their toys and making lots of noise. It is also quite open and has plenty
of natural light.
We had a look for an open restaurant but could not find anything open so figured they are closed on Sundays, so ended up at a shop very close to the hotel O’Higgins, our home for the night. We got a menu and chose an item which contained (according to Google Translate), meat, egg, onion with French fries and a pizza. The waitress came back and indicated there were no pizzas, so we ended up deciding to just share the meal as neither of us were that hungry. It turned out to be a hamburger, except the mince meat pattie was replaced by a thin piece of meat. It actually tasted OK and the fries were good but it took about 45 minutes to get it. There was only one other family and a couple of girls in the restaurant so we still can’t figure out how it takes 45 minutes to make a hamburger. Just as well we have another late start at 09:00 tomorrow.
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