Steve's Adventures in South America
I bought a one-way ticket to Venezuela and I'm not coming back until my tube of toothpaste runs out...

In Hot Water!

Our Goofy Driver

I began to get restless again in the early hours, not that it mattered as we all got up at 03:30 to be picked up at 04:00. Whilst talking about whether or not we'd have the same driver (who unfortunately has bucked teeth) and if we'd spot him in the dark, Sean remarks, "Well that smile would be hard to miss!" Indeed, we had the same van, same driver but different passengers; an older German couple and their student daughter, Elaina. It was a 2½ hour, extremely bumpy, drive up through the hills to get to the El Tatio Geyser Field (another 2,000 pesos entrance fee) at an altitude of some 4,200 meters!!! Phew! And at 06:30 it was cold, -8°C cold! Brr...

Standing On Another Planet An Old Distillery Perhaps? The El Tatio Geyser Field

The landscape was impressive, plumes of hot gas and evaporating steam rising into the air after being spewed out from the copious holes scattered all around the crater we were standing in. The white gas illuminated by the murky dawn light gave an impression of standing on another planet, or even a Hollywood set! As the sun rose we were able to make out multi-coloured mineral formations on the ground. Everywhere you stepped and walked the ground the bubbled and boiled under your feet. The water exits the ground at some 85°C. Our driver made coffee and hot chocolate from a steaming pool next to the parked van.

Smokin'! Mineral Deposits The Big One Mineral Deposits

I chatted to the Elaina, the German girl, for a bit. She felt queasy and unwell due to the altitude. I've always found girls with German accents very sexy. I put it down to watching too much foreign porn when I was younger! "Ooo, yah!" I consider getting a job in Germany on my return.

In Hot Water

Next up was a hot mineral bath in a mud pool - good job I brought my swimming shorts! The water was warm, not hot as you might expect. But as you moved around you would find trapped bubbles of scalding air and jets of super heated water. It felt like you kept sitting under the hot water tap in a bath! Getting out of the pool was difficult, the air temp was still below freezing and the mild breeze didn't help either! Brr...

Machuca Hamlet - Population 30

Having seen enough natural foaming mountains of scalding water we moved on and stopped at a small village called Machuca, population 30! After a quick wander around, the cafe opened with a stack of BBQ Llama kebabs, only ½1 each! Mmm...

Llama Kebab!

Moving on it was another 2 hours along the dusty and bumpy dirt track back to San Pedro. The dust was so much that Sean & Monika spent most of the journey breathing through their T-Shirts, using it as a filter. I didn't bother as I figured us Welsh, bred from good mining stock, are used to harsh conditions and made from sterner stuff.

To save money in the evening I was going to buy some eggs & bananas and eat at the hostel but I ended up scranning a cheese, ham & tomato omelet for £2.50 instead!

Posted by Steve Eynon