I wake up at 02:00 sweating my nads off. It's damn hot! Sean gets up for a pee, followed by Monika, followed by me. Only I hang about in the freezing cold outside for 10 minutes to cool off. None of us can go back to sleep for sometime. I'm pleased I do because I start dreaming of a scientist on a naval ship who creates 3 life forms by sucking the life force out from a room of passengers. These life forms then start sucking the life force out of the crew, turning them into piles of sludge. The ship crashes on an island and is responsible for creating plagues of zombies. I later crash land on the jungle island in a spaceship and the rest of the dream is about me and my crew trying to repair our ship whilst cracking zombie heads open trying not to get bit! But then I wake up and have to do the dull and dreary, like wash and get dressed. Boring!
Today, Monika, Sean & I go on a Salt Lake and lagoon tour for the day. Our ride turned up at the hostel at 08:35, some half hour late, by which time Sean & Monika were getting very concerned. First up was the Chaxas Lagoon in the Los Flamencos National Reserve which took a 2,000 pesos entrance fee and a good hour's drive down a dirt track to get to. Our park guide, who didn't speak any English, led us (a group of 6) down a wide path around the salt lake. We were walking on the salt flat itself and the mini walls that lined the path were made from lumps of salt deposits that coated the floor. In Espanol the guide tried to explain the difference between Chilean, Andean and James Flamingos as they lined the lake and flew over our heads. Their bright red fringes really stood out, making them look very striking. The guide scooped up some lake water in a large plastic spoon to show us what the flamingos eat - freaky giant swimming insects! The lake must contain billions & billions of them for there were hundreds in just the spoon scoop! Back at the visitor centre we were sat down to watch a video, which probably repeated everything the guide said but it had English subtitles so it was all news to us!
Back in the van, down more bumpy dirt tracks to a couple of Salt Lagoons. As pretty as they were no-one thought they were anything more than scenic viewpoints and not worth the 2,000 pesos National Park entrance fee.
To while away the hours in the van we chatted extensively to an American girl who'd recently come out of hospital after contracting a facial bacterial infection on the side of her face and on her ear. Some scabby peeling skin was still left. Ewww!
We arrived at a little local cafe for lunch, Sean & Monika strode ahead to pickup their pre-ordered veggie meals only to be told, "Solo Carne!" or "Only Meat!" They weren't happy but after discussion they made some omelets. For me it was a salad starter, meat & potato soup and tinned peach dessert. Next we got dropped off at Toconao with a population of 550. The only attraction was a quaint church tower in the town plaza.
In all it seems we didn't book a tour (with a guide) but rather a driver & van to haul us to the sights. All the other "tours" in town were the same.
Again, I leave Sean & Monika to cook their dinner whilst I head out for mine, I get some Internet in at the same time. I crave pizza, for it has to be cheaper than last night's steak. In my chosen venue the waiter assures me I want a medium pizza rather than an individual as they're only thin crust etc... So a medium Americano and a beer it is then. I score on my choice of beer, it's a bottled Pale Ale! Then the pizza arrives - a gigantic family sized flying saucer of a sausage pizza! I feel stupid for ordering such a monolithic slab and feel the need to eat 1 slice over half to justify myself. It was a little too much greasy sausage and I felt a little ill. Still, I justified myself and rolled home for 23:00 to find Sean & Monika passed out in bed.
Posted by Steve Eynon