A bit weary from my prior experiences I joined the Pachamama-Bus in Santiago, to travel in five days to San Pedro de Atacama, together with a mixed group of people. The Pachamama-Bus is currently unique in Chile: A small bus for backpackers, which leaves Santiago on two routes – southbound to Puerto Montt and northbound to San Pedro – and stops at various places for sightseeing. This way, one can see much more of the country than by just taking the normal bus (22 hours) or flying to the North. Pachamama, by the way, is the Earth Mother in Andean mythology.
We were a small group, all Europeans, plus our Chilean tour guide and driver. Still slightly troubled by my memories of the food-storage and party habits of the group in Valdivia, I sent a brief prayer to whoever was listening that I wouldn’t end up in a party bus, and the fates were merciful – although all were younger than me, and some by far (indeed, one said; You could be our Mutti. Yes. Thanks!) – they seemed to have an even bigger need for sleep than I, and most were mildly anti-alcoholic.
So we drove North, staying in various cities on the way, and had a good time together. We lay on the beach; swam in a salt lake which contained more salt than the Dead Sea (by the way, it’s really impossible to swim in a salt lake); cooked and had barbecues; looked at penguins, dolfins, whales, cormorans, pelicans, sea lions and what else there is to see in Chile’s animal kingdom; jumped into hot springs in a geyser area; swam in a pool in the desert; walked through cemeteries for miners and trains; and I learned on one of the long bus journeys how to make bracelets, which may come in handy one day if I have to earn the money for my travels. And all the time, all around us the beautiful Chilean country side – I’ll let the pictures talk.
Tomorrow I’ll make my way to Bolivia, and hence to Peru – I hesitated, but have now made up my mind to visit Machu Picchu -, then onwards to Ecuador, Cuba, Canada, and finally Hawaii. There, I’ll board the plane to Germany, where I’ll land on the 14th of July – the end of 18 months of travel. But that is still in the future, for now I’ll keep enjoying the journey.