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san pedro de atacama

CHILE: SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA

San Pedro is a tourist town in the northern desert of Chile and it is where most of the cycle tourists who brave the Lagunas route end up to restock and recuperate. When I arrive I head to the square and instantly encounter Eva and Jan in the company of sundry other cyclists. San Pedro largely exists for tourism and most people here, including the Chileans, are from elsewhere. It has a laid back ‘alternative’ vibe and is a pleasant enough place to spend a few days if you can manage to avoid the overpriced restaurants and the various enticements of the tourist touts on the main drag.

This is my third encounter with Jan and Eva, the Slovakian honeymooners. They have spent a week or so in San Pedro recuperating from a difficult Lagunas trip. They finally head off to visit Chile's biggest telescope at an astronomical observatory 500 kilometres to the south.

It's hard to find much of practical use in the local shops and if you want to do a serious restock it could be worth making the trip by bus to Calama. However, if you want...

... a pedal powered smoothie, well, that's no problem. I like the aesthetics of bici-machines constructed from old bike parts better but this is still preferable to electricity, I guess.

An enthusiastic young local puts the machine through its paces.

There are only a couple of places in town that offer camping and Naciemento del Sol, where I end up, gets pretty crowded on the weekends with young people from Santiago.

More cyclists limp in from the Lagunas. Wim, from Belgium, has a split rim that he has reinforced with duct tape in order to get himself here. When asked about negotiating the 2500 metre descent into San Pedro he nonchalantly admits to trying to keep to under 40 kilometres an hour as a concession to safety.

He heads off with Neil to a scavenges a couple of rims from old mountain bikes that are lying around where the Pikes are camping...

...and sets about...

...building a new wheel.

The French like to eat in style and Juju ...

... carries a light-weight camp oven that allows him to whip up a very convincing chocolate cake for desert. The hexagonal cover is constructed from the heat resistant fabric used to make protective clothing for firemen and folds flat. The metal base sits on the heat source and distribute the heat evenly. Works a treat. I want one. (Click on photo for more info about this gadget.)

{ 2 } Comments

  1. Sarah | January 14, 2014 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    I want one too

  2. anna | January 16, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Sigh. I was just looking at one of Joe’s latest posts about a guy who travels with NOTHING at all. It’s a constant conflict.

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