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Colin and Sue’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 22 Nov 2006

Location: San Pedrom, La Serena & Elqui, Chile

MapSan Pedro de Atacama - it´s in the Atacama desert, it´s hot and it´s dry, in fact it never rains here - possibly because of this they have some of the best ice cream in the world (on a par with San Gimignano in Tuscany - our previous number 1). It also seems really expensive after Bolivia and Peru, although the conversion is easy (1000 pesos = 1 GBP). We had a relaxing couple of days just strolling around the town and sitting on our patio catching up with some reading. We did manage to visit the local museum, more mummies and Incan influences, and one trip out to the desert to climb an amazing sand dune and watch the sunset with hordes of other tourists.

We took an overnight bus to La Serena (quite disappointingly the bus left late even though Chilean buses are meant to leave bang on time unlike everywhere else in SA). More disappointingly the video screen wasn´t working so it was quite a boring 17 hour journey as the desert looks pretty much the same mile after mile -thank goodness for the iPod.

La Serena - by the coast on the Pacific at sea level at last. We checked into our hotel, had a quick shower and then went for a walk to the beach. Unfortunately it was a very grey day so the sand and sea weren´t at their best and the clouds fooled Colin into getting sunburnt. In fact his bright red forehead is causing consternation among Chilean womenfolk who keep offering him advice.

After much consideration we decided to head inland to the Elqui Valley, which the Chileans claim is the home of Pisco, the national drink (Peruvians make the same claim for the town of Pisco in Peru). The guide at the Tres Erres Pisco distillery confirmed that the Chilean drink is the one true Pisco - it certainly tasted good. We also visited the local observatory - there are lots of them in this region due to the almost permanent clear skies - except we happened to turn up on a cloudy night. Tours at midnight are a bit of an effort - we´re just not used to late nights. We did see the Magellan galaxies though, which are not visible from the northern hemisphere.

Off to the big city next - Santiago.