Included in the price of my tour of Bolivia’s “Salar de Uyini” was a transfer to San Pedro de Atacama, a small town located just over the Chilean border. As our jeep approached the frontier, I was more than ready to get out of Bolivia, not so much because I hadn’t enjoyed myself, but rather because most of my time there had been spent in the fucking sticks.
Unfortunately, I’d never been given the ticket that was apparently necessary for me to board the bus to Chile, which resulted in a dramatic confrontation that almost left me stranded into the middle of nowhere. Thanks to the kindness of a driver without passengers, however, I was able to enter Chile shortly thereafter.
From the moment I crossed over the border, Chile showed itself to be exceedingly modern and civilized. My new surroundings seemed almost alien to me when compared to the rougher ones I encountered Peru and Bolivia — and re-introduced me to once-familiar experiences and situations that seemed suddenly foreign to me.