Monday, August 9, 2010


We crossed into Argentina early in the morning and the contrast with Bolivia is stunning: toilets have seats AND toilet paper, people look up, smile and reply when you say ¨buenos dias¨ to them, and the feeling in general is very friendly and relaxed. We walk out of town and encounter... hitch-hikers! We take our place in the line and leave with a truck a few hours later. Two truckers inside are friendly and talkative. We discuss the strike in Bolivia, Argentinian politics and the beautiful places to see in Argentina and Chile. They kept seducing us to travel with them to Salta, the ¨most beautiful city in the country¨, but we have already made up our minds about crossing into Chile at Paso de Jama. We will definetely come back to Argentina, but a little more to the south. They drop us off at a turnoff to Purmamarka, a quiet beautiful town located at the base of an incredible 7 colour mountain. We camp outside of town (bone-dry firewood once again makes cooking a breeze) . In the morning we buy delicious pastry and a litre of yogurt for breakfast and get stuck on the shoulder of the road for hours. We don´t mind though, because our bellies are full, the temperature is pleasant and we are facing the gorgeous geological formation the whole time.Our spirits are high. Eventually, a couple from Salta stops for us and we travel with them to their destination - Salinas Grandes. They drop us off in the middle of the salar, near a building entirely built of salt blocks.The sunlight reflecting off the white surface is blinding, but we only endure it for five minutes or so, when we get a lift from a customs officer going to his post in Susques. He tells us that it gets -15C at night there, so when we get to the village, we seek a room and sleep in all our warm clothes, under 4 blankets each, in a sleeping bag - we barely keep warm.In the fresh morning we meditate on the shoulder of the road amidst the breath-taking scenery for some hours before a Brasilean-Chilean trucker Victor invites us into his luxury extra-long sleeper Volvo. He is on his way to Iquiqe, but we get off in San Pedro de Atacama, a small oasis located in the driest desert of the world.
We barely have time to by something to eat in a minimarket (a small bag of food for dinner now costs us $10 compared to $2 in Bolivia) and use Internet before the night falls. At only 2000 m above sea level now, the evening temperatures are very pleasant. We go a little outside of town after dark and miraculously find a perfect place to camp on the other side of the river, within minutes of walking from the main plaza.


  1. Nice to see that your spirits are up once again, Bolivia seemed rather depressing. Your progress is very interesting to observe, keep those entries coming!
    P.S. How about a picture of a building entirely built of salt blocks?

  2. We totally forgot to take a photo of it, sorry! We only looked at it, thought ¨hmm, that is cool¨, and walked away... Next time we´ll see something like this, we´ll try to remember to photograph it.