Photography / Travel

Day 7-8: San Pedro de Atacama, Santiago

from Photographs of Chile, November 2003 by Tim Darling     (Click on the photos..)

Thursday, November 6 - San Pedro de Atacama

In the morning, J, J, and I rented bikes and set off to ride six miles into the desert to see a church on a hilltop. A couple miles down the road was Pukara de Quitor, a fort built near the side of a mountain. We rode on.

A couple of miles beyond that, was Tambo de Catarpe, the ruins of an Inca settlement but we looked and couldn't see anything but a field of tall grass. We kept going.

If I thought riding a bus for a few hours over the bumpy desert was tiring, peddling through it on a bike helped to put that into perspective. The sand was thick in areas and swallowed the tires so we had to walk the bikes through those patches. Most other places were rocky and the path was constantly going up and down hills as it ran between two mountain ranges on either side.

There is a river that passes by the trail and they kept intersecting so we had to cross it at least five times each way. Usually I could ride through it, but in some places it was too deep and the current too strong.

The way to the church was uphill and the six miles took us two hours. Admittedly, the ride would have been a lot less tiring for me if I hadn't been carrying all my camera equipment in my backpack. We got to the church, sat around for awhile, and then rode back. It was worth seeing mostly because I'm sure very few people have been out that far to see it. It also made me believe that I had really experienced the desert with my own two hands, if only for a few hours.

In the afternoon, I gave Jemma her first lesson on the guitar (the question of whether I was qualified to do that was never raised). She wanted to learn the Alanis Morissette song, 'That I Would Be Good', which was four chords. I tuned her guitar to it and wrote the chord charts out for her after listening to the MiniDisc recording. For her first day playing the guitar, she came very close to getting it to sound right.

Sitting on the porch outside their room, I said, "you're coming along really well, but I don't think you'll be able to make on money on the streets just yet." Her wit proved faster than her chord changes. "I could too make money on the streets," she replied.

Friday, November 7 - Santiago

I said goodbye to J and J and their guitar who all left on a 12 hour bus ride into Argentina. I took a bus to Calama, a taxi to the aeropeurto, flew back to Santiago, and caught another bus back into Providencia.

In the airplane flying over some low clouds near Antofagasta, I saw a well defined shadow of the plane and, around it, a circular rainbow that the tip of the nose and tail in the shadow just touched. Apparently, it's unrelated to the airplane and is caused by large water droplets and ice in the clouds scattering the sunlight back.

A couple months after I left San Pedro, MTV sent Cameron Diaz there to host a travel program. In this photo, she's standing outside the place that the three of us stayed at. She's probably sleeping in my very bed. Well, we all knew it was just a matter of time.

Day 9-10: Santiago, Viña Del Mar, Quilotta

Your Comments

Hi Just want to know if you used a filter for your photos in Lipez desert, if yes wich one. Very nice pictures Sincerely Jerome

-- Jerome Gublin, Aug 27, 2004
Add a comment

All text and pictures copyright © 2003 Tim Darling.