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2003-02-08 - 9:39 p.m.

Day Three

On Day Three, we woke up at 5 am, and drove to the geysers. The British girls on my trip pronounced it "geezers," so I kept on picturing us huddled around a bunch of old men, frantically taking pictures, waiting for them to do something interesting.

It was freezing, so we huddled around the geysers for warmth, despite the strong smell of sulfur.

Then we drove to some hot springs. The British girls and I just dipped our feet in, but the Swiss boys dived straight in.

Then we drove some more, through the Salvador Dali valley... Laguna Verde (obligatory group photo).

By early afternoon, I had crossed the border into Chile, to San Pedro de Atacama, a dry dusty desert town in the middle of nowhere. It was hot. I think it was what they call a "dry heat," but as I've had so little experience with heat of that nature, I can't entirely be sure. San Pedro was "hip", and a "tourist mecca," but I don't really see the point of that much sand without an ocean nearby. So a few days later, on Thurday morning, I took a bus to Iquique, on the Chilean coast, where I was befriended by my seatmate, a Chilean lawyer about my father's age, who helped me pick out a hotel, used his cell phone to call and make a reservation, shared (and paid for!) a cab to take me to my hotel, and gave me his business card, just in case I needed anything while in Iquique.

The next day, while checking email, I learned that my grandmother had suffered a massive heart attack on Thursday morning (the one day I hadn't checked email). Not even there for 24 hours, I left Iquique that afternoon for Arica, near the Peruvian border. It will be easier for me to get home from Peru, I think, in case I need to. Tomorrow, I cross the border, and will stay for a while in Arequipa, checking my email incessantly, I'm sure. My grandmother has surgery tomorrow. And I'll spend most of the day in a bus. I feel very far away from home right now.

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