Saturday July 6: Rainbow Valley
Last night I didn't sleep too well. I slept OK until around 3:30, but after that my sleep was sporadic and my dreams unpleasant. I'm not sure why. I think that I might have been slightly too cool.
Our morning routine went as usual. We left at 9 for the Rainbow Valley. This is a valley with rocks of many different colors, primarily greens and reds. At one point along the way we stopped to photograph some llamas (or their cousins, I'll have to check the pictures).
At the valley, we did a short stroll on a flat trail there to get a closer look at the rocks and to let Amy do some bird watching.
After this, we drove to an area of petroglyphs. We looked at some of them, while the driver prepared our "picnic lunch". Not surprisingly, most of the pictures were of llamas, with a few shamans tossed in.
We then had our lunch. I was expecting sandwiches or something. Instead, we had a first course of hot soup, followed by salmon on a bed of quinoa (I think), and Sam's favorite, flan, for dessert. To wash it down, we had a bottle of wine and a pitcher of strawberry juice. This was not the kind of picnic that I am used to.
While we were eating, we met an interesting gentleman who was I think Chinese. The interesting part was that he was walking/hitch-hiking around. We thought that was rather odd, as there was next to nothing for many miles, and not a whole lot of traffic. We could not help him, as our car was completely full, but we warned him that it got very cold when the sun went down, and that he should be trying to get to some place where he could stay not head further into the canyon.
Afterwards, we went through a different area of the rocks to see more petroglyphs. Sam was bored with the pictures, but he enjoyed climbing on the rocks. At one point, we sort of played a game where he would hide behind some rocks and stick his head out, and I would try to take his picture before he ducked back again.
After the petroglyphs, we drove up to a tiny village called Rio Grande, after the river that flows through the valley. We would probably call it a stream or a creek, but I guess compared to elsewhere, it was a significant river.
The drive in was along the side of deep canyon, with good views of the canyon itself. The village was very small, maybe 20 people, and we had to be careful not to take their picture, as they did not like that.
We passed by a small celebration. There were two new cars (actually one car and one pickup truck), and so they were having a quasi-religious ceremony to bless the vehicles (and to drink).
Then we drove back to San Pedro, getting back between 4 and 5.
We arranged to have dinner with this small group. It looks like we'll be seated in a circle in sort of a pit around a fire. There will be a four course meal, with four different wines, and someone talking about the history and culture. Dinner won't be until around 8:30. So it will be a late night compared to what we are used to.
That is unfortunate timing, as tomorrow morning we will be leaving at 5:30, so as to get to the geysers before sunrise. We'll have breakfast afterwards.
So tonight is going to be a short night, and then the next day will be our last tourist day.
Monday we'll hang out here until around noon, then get driven to the airport, and then start about 24 hours of traveling back home.--
Dinner last night was interesting. We got picked up by a van at the scheduled time--sort of. We were supposed to be picked up at 8:10. We went out to the curb a bit early, around 8:04, and we were not there more than a minute before the van pulled up.
We were the second of about 4-5 pickups. Everyone picked up was American. So we chatted pleasantly while we drove around. The first pair picked up were eclipse followers. This was their second eclipse, and they were already planning for the next one.
Out destination was the home of an architect who had built this sunken "pit". it was a round pit, with stairs leading down, a bench seat (with cushions) all around, and a place for the fire in the middle. This was going to be a program talking about the history and beliefs of the ancient Chileans, augmented by wine tasting, and traditional foods. Although compared with what I think of as usual "tastings", we got basically normal sized glasses of each wine. It has been years since I've had more than one glass at a sitting, so I was feeling slightly unstable by the end.
There were four wines, each followed by a course. There was also traditional music played for us, where we got to handle the instruments afterwards. I was a little nervous at the start, when they poured the wine, did a bit of talking, played music, and yet there was no sign or mention of food. I was afraid that I had misunderstood, and that there was to be no food, and that we were supposed to have eaten beforehand, but my fears were groundless.
The first course was the traditional bread with pebre on it. This is the "salsa" that they serve at just about every restaurant (in place of butter or olive oil). It is most similar to pico de gallo. It was interesting getting and eating the food, as the only light was from the fire, which was low and in front of us, so that our food was mostly in the shadows.
The second course was some sort of quinoa salad, the third course was a traditional stew with beef, and then we had the (apparently) traditional flan for dessert. In Spanish, the courses were:
Sopaipillas con pebre y flores de Yaretta
Ensalada de quinoa y habas de Socaire
Pataska con vacuno
Mousse de Rosa del Ano
The stars overhead were amazing to see. It has been many years since I've seen that many stars. At the end, there was a short while for people to unwind, so I got up, went out of the pit, set up my camera, and took some star pictures. It was probably not my best work, as I was a bit rushed, I had no real choice of location/foreground, and I was a bit on the tipsy side, but I'll see how they look when I get home.
I visited the baño, and when I came out, they were just beginning to load the van for the return trip.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience, even better because Sam liked it as well.
We probably got back to the hotel around 11 or a bit later. We prepared a bit for our early departure the next morning, and then hit the sack.