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Published: November 20th 2018
Pica is so quiet at the moment, we were the only guests in this hotel last night. In fact, Mayuru Tours had to change our hotel here a couple of days ago because the original hotel decided not to open last night. Here we are also at the lowest point we have been for more than three weeks at just 1,106m asl. We left around 09:20 and visited another church in Pica, Iglesia Matilla which was restored in 2007. Inside was a life size model of the Last Supper which looked similar to the figures we saw them setting up in the other church yesterday.
After a short drive we visited Capilla La Tirana, which is a large church of timber construction. Inside is quite beautiful with the ceiling painted blue with stars and beautiful stained glass and a side area with scenes from the old and new testaments but in the context of local Chilean landscapes, which in some cases is similar to the landscapes of Israel, so did not look out of place.
At 11:10 we arrived at the Santiago Humberstone and Santa Laura Nitrate Mines. Which closed in 1960 and abandoned but declared a World Heritage
Site in 2005 by UNESCO.When the mines initially opened, they produce 84% of the World’s nitrate production, but dropped dramatically just before the start of World War II, and down to just 0.04% by the time it was closed. We found it very interesting. Took us almost 3 hours walking through the site and through the museum.
We then had a late lunch in Huara at 14:30 before driving the short distance to Cerro Unita which has a famous geoglyph known as the Giant of the Atacama. There is an old legend that it represents a being from the sky who came and taught the people how to live and then disappeared into the ocean (perhaps over the horizon?). It is also believed to assist with the prediction of seasons with alignment of the sun to the lines on top of his head. From out point of view at the bottom the Giant looks fatter and shorter than he actually is. In fact he is nearly 120m long.
From here we started our drive back to the Chilean Altiplano where we will be back in high altitude for the next three days. Before reaching our last official stop
of Cariquima before our destination of Colchane, we stopped a couple of times to take photos but it was very hard to capture all the wonderful changes in scenery as we ascended. Our Cariquima stop was very brief, just stopping to look at the closed church and square. This diversion was more about the journey than the destination.
It was 18:05 when we started the final short leg to Colchane and Alvaro told us it was a good time to arrive there because they only have electricity from 18:00 to 00:00 every day. The Hotel Tata Inti is basic but clean. Our meal was yummy quinoa and vegetable soup and a stuffed zucchini which wasn’t my favourite but I ate it.
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