Friday, December 10, 2004


San Pedro is a small, sleepy town on the western edge of the Andean cordillera. It's very dry and dusty and everything is made of mud-brick giving it a Middle Eastern feel to it. There is, however, very little in the way of on-site entertainment, although there are a couple of natural sights not too far away. One of these is the geyser field at El Tatio, which has some of the highest geysers in the world. Unfortunately they are only active around sunrise, this therefore requires a 4am departure from San Pedro to be able to observe the spectacle. This leads to a lot of yawning and sleeping on the minivan, which is a pity as the surrounding countryside is quite spectacular. The geysers are very pretty, but also dangerous, as the water in them is boiling (though only at 85 degrees due to the altitude) and several tourists have actually been boiled to death when they fell into them. I'm no geologist so I can't tell you why the geysers only spout at sunrise, but it is quite impressive to see them all begin to bubble as if someone had flipped some giant switch. There's also a pool fed by a couple of geysers up there and it made a pleasant change from the sub-zero temperatures of the high Andes to take a dip in the hot mineral springs.

Tomorrow we head down south through Chile and in about 5 days or so we should be in Santiago. I hope you're all having a good run up to Christmas, although it certainly doesn't feel like it's December here with 30 degree temperatures.

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