It has been a whirlwind 4 days since I´ve updated. I´m typing this from an internet cafe in Uyuni, Bolivia right now as I have about 40 minutes to kill and don´t feel like walking around alone. Although my clothes are worn down, I´m wearing a heat, and I am more tan than normal, I still stick out like a sore thumb as a gringo.
So Monday morning I took the tour of the Taito Geysers. I was up and ready at 3:50 AM for them to pick me up at 4. 4:00 came, and nothing. I waited. 4:15, 4:30, nothing. At 4:50 I was about to head back to bed, figuring the tour company somehow got things mixed up with my location, but then I heard a van pulling up. As I got onto the bus, there were about 20 others. It turns out I was the second to last person to be picked up.
Well, I was told to expect it to be cold. A former student told me that it would get to 25 below zero (celcius), and so I had myself prepared with 3 layers of pants and shirts, gloves, and a hat. The tour guide even gave everyone a blanket to cover their legs if they wanted. And we all certainly needed it. (Our guide later on that day told us that it was 11 below zero celcius).
The geysers were about a 2 hour ride from San Pedro, so we all slept until we arrived there. When we got there, there were different areas with different geysers. Some would emit a constant stream of steam, while others would erupt spontaneously and shoot out some water once pressure built up inside.
Then after seeing a few different areas, it was time for some breakfast. We got tea, instant coffee, a ham and cheese sandwich, and a hard boiled egg. Apparently all the tour companies cook the eggs over the steam of the geysers, and once they get to us they are still hot and we could use them to keep our hands warm until we decided to eat them.
After that, we got to go to a hot springs area. Well, I think I disagree with the name hot springs. It was more like a lukewarm springs. I wore my bathing suit underneath my jeans and thermal underwear, and so it was freezing getting out of my clothes before getting into the water. I would say the water was maybe about 75 degrees fahrenheit, and it maybe warmed up to about 35 degrees fahrenheit by this time. It certainly didn´t stop other people from enjoying it, but I wasn´t impressed.
The tour ended around noon, and by this time it had warmed up to about 65. Afterwards I decided to grab some lunch with a menu (set price meal) of chicken with rice and tomatoes, and a drink was included too.
Then I was off to Valle de la luna (Moon Valley) later in the afternoon. It turns out that most of the people staying at my hostel were on the tour, which included a young German couple, a German girl traveling on her own, and an Israeli guy that now lives in New York. I also met a guy from Philadelphia that is working in Santiago now too.
By this time it was warm and sunny, and it was about 70. Valle de la luna was formed mostly by wind and water erosion over a period of thousands of years, and it really reminded me of the Grand Canyon minus having a river. I think the pictures speak for themselves to show the beauty of the area.
At the end of the tour we climbed up the Duna Mayor (Great Dune) and grabbed a seat to see the sunset. It was a bit steep at parts and I would lie if I said the height didn´t have me a bit scared, but it turned out to be fine.
Then after that it was back to San Pedro and time for some dinner. The guy from Philly and I chatted over a thin crust pizza and fresh squeezed juice. As I was telling him about the bueacracy of Chile and the multiple steps involved in doing any type of return in stores in Santiago, the waitress input the amount of our bill wrong into the credit card reader. I asked her to simply give me cash for the difference, but she wouldn´t listen to me. She went to consult with another woman working there, and when she came over I told her the same thing. Then she left and spoke with a man who came over from another store and explained the error she made to her. (Instead of a tip of 800 pesos she put in 8800 pesos). He told me that he could return the difference to me or cancel the transaction and do it all over again. I told him just to give me the difference. So all in all, it took me 25 minutes to get the difference in cash.