We leave the confines of our hostel, El Sol Naciente, for an evening walk through San Pedro to watch the dry brown adobe transform to gold hued amber. This desert town captures my heart with its simple sophistication and joy of contrasting harshness with abundance, dusty roads leading to cottonwood splendor of lush ravines.
Here, the mud brick encloses an entire city of hidden courtyards and rooms to be discovered, strangers warded off by sticks stuck upright in wet walls, their sharp mohawks artistically functional.
It is our last night in San Pedro, last night in Chile, and we are on the hunt to fill our cameras and our bellies and empty our wallets of our last pesos, a few left behind for an emergency stash of who-knows-what, and tonight, we find that unless we want to run the ATM gauntlet of racking up yet another $8 in fees per transaction–I shit you not; it’s criminal–we will have to run through another obstacle course, that of finding a credit card accepting restaurant with functioning machines and decent price points, for oftentimes, here, Visa, MasterCard and AmEx mean you want to play baller.
Lucky for us, the main square has exactly what we seek, an al fresco experience under massive umbrellas, and just when our meal of veggie lasagna and fettuccine Alfredo arrives, the stray dogs come, too. Not to beg, I assure you, for it is their dinner time, too, and this they know, for they leave the square in sync, as if on an imaginary timer, march down the alley and return with bones and baguettes in muzzle, clearly used to vacating day old treats.
Priceless, this witnessing, and we punctuate our last night in Chile with the most beautiful of images–a purple majesty volcano standing tall in the distance, striated pink sky its backdrop, pastel green leaves framing its conical grandeur amidst sandstone-colored pueblos.
What a high note to nestle us to slumber on our cama bus outta Chile to Peru, Graham and I both amused by the warm welcome granted to us by a man who clearly has my man confused for another bearded voyager, and now, I pull it all together by diving into yet another thrilling experience, my imagination running rampant as it creates the scenes through which play the characters of Laurent Gounelle’s Les Dieux Voyagent Toujours Incognito.