It's the desert. The temperatures are extreme. It's freezing at night (literally) and boiling during the day. But bizarrely enough our room was really warm all throughout the night. I can't figure it out as it has no heating! I sleep well and wake early, much down some Quaker Oat cereal and go out into town with Sean & Monika. We book ourselves some tours on a buy 2 get 1 free basis, starting tomorrow for 30,000 pesos (£30). I change my £100 worth of Argentinean pesos into Chilean pesos. I was hoping to pop back into Argentina so see a few other places but my sudden bolt North put paid to that idea. I'm not really bothered, it's all been good.
Having the afternoon free we hire some mountain bikes off the hostel and venture out to find some Inca ruins. The bike feels light and flimsy and I'm convinced there's something wrong with it until I remember that the last bike I rode had a 750cc race engine attached to it! Sean used to be a serious mountain biker and can't help popping wheelies and bunny hops every 2 minutes. I would call him a show off, but I'd be doing the same if only I could!
Our first find were some caves! They were very cool, Sean and I venture in with a torch, find they keep going and going and go back to grab Monika - it's a must see! Together we reach the end, a large bore hole to the outside world. Monika was initially scared about the caving but admitted at the end that it was cool! The cave was spacious enough for us all to clamber through but had a couple of steep accents. A torch was required, it was dark. Very dark.
We carried on down the road until a river ran through it (!) We walk along looking for a shallow place to cross (Sean & Monika were wearing socks and trainers). We don't find any but there is a jumpable spot. I carry the bikes over in my cool Tevas (I'm not bothered about getting wet) whilst they jump across. There is so much salt around it clings and hangs off the grass and vegetation.
A bit further down we ditch the bikes, ascend up a hill and view the Inca ruins / archaeological site. A few tattered stone walls. We all agree it's not impressive in the slightest. Some guys in Dune Buggies turn up, now they're impressive!
Cycling back this girl tears out of a side dirt track / drive way screaming, "Help meeee....!" with 3 large black street dogs barking and snapping at her heels. So Sean & I do and divert the interest of the dogs. No big deal. The girl was also on her way back from the ruins and took a wrong turn. She had a real nasty, bite mark on her calf where she'd been bitten under similar circumstances the day before. So for the journey back, inbetween fooling around and pulling bike stunts, Sean and I accompany the girl and shoo away any other passing street dogs. It was our good deed for the day.
The veggies stay in and cook whilst I venture out to find steak. I find a cosy place with an open fire in the middle and piano jazz in the background. I feel a bit of a chill and wish they'd close the main front doors. I look up and realise why they don't. It wouldn't make any difference if they did, they have no roof! I figure it was designed by a woman, they don't need a reason! The medium rare steak was nice but like everywhere in this tourist town, very expensive. 6,900 pesos for the steak and 1,800 for a beer.
Posted by Steve Eynon