Day Twenty-Nine – Bicycling in a Group

It was an interesting day.

The morning was glorious. I got up when I felt like it, [8AM it turns out], took my iPad outside and sat partially in the sun, managed to ignore the impressive racket produced by the patio parrot, [photo to come tomorrow perhaps], and got almost caught up on my computer obligations. 
Breakfast was delicious, if a bit strained. Group inertia can be infuriating to some, yet attempts to speed decision-making can make others feel unheard. This continued to be a theme throughout the day: what to eat, when, where to get bicycles, when and where to go with the bicycles, what to do the next day, when to start the next day, what to have for breakfast the next day… impressively, I have managed to stay out of the middle of this conflict *bows* Through this observation I have learned that I am unlikely to enjoy travelling in groups larger than three for very long; that I prefer to travel with confident, independent people, or people whose will is completely subjugate to mine; and the interesting variety of other factors that make people a good fit for one another, for travelling or otherwise.

We eventually found bicycles: thanks to the generous help of the high-end bike dealer who was out who was out of bikes and redirected us to “RYM” Rent a Bike & Sandboard, on Caracoles, we even found the best bikes, at the cheapest price. Score. All the bikes we looked at were Trek, and likely were interchangeable at purchase, however, daily maintenance has clearly makes a huge difference in longevity of quality.

We left for Valle de la Luna around 14h30, following a combination of the hand drawn map from RYM, and a printed map from the tourist office. Admittedly they were only necessary to get out of town in the right direction, since once we were out on the highway the signage was truly fool proof. 

Our bikes!

We arrived at the entrance to the park faster than we expected, paid our entry fee, suffered a brief remonstrance for our helmet-less riding and received excellent advice regarding our planned progress through the park. In the end we followed the advice to the letter. We biked to the Cuevas del Sal, spending some time exploring the caves and the easily climbable topography on top of the caves.  

The caves, and much of the landscape, are made out of salt. Both the white, granular kind, (which you’ll see in later photos), and pressurized salt that resembles a stone.
  
On top of the caves – the floor of the caves was approximately on-level with the riverbed below.
 

We then headed to the end of the park to admire the Tres Marias, with many stops en route to photograph the unique landscape. The Three Marias were okay, but I thought the stone incarnation of the union between Pac-Girl and Godzilla was far nicer.  

Tres Marias
  
Tom, feeding Pac-zilla.
  
  
I think he took the better photo..
 

After that we headed to the Duna Mayor to watch the sunset. 

Duna Mayor, I think.
  
   
 

  

  

  

 

Admittedly the sunset we saw wasn’t very spectacular, on account of the ubiquitous clear skies of the desert; but I thoroughly enjoyed the event. I found a comfortable spot to sit, relax, and just watch the sun move. Glorious self-indulgence marked each end of this day. 

Gloating over my primo spot.
  
See? Relaxation station.

 
After sunset, a painful [my seat-bones did not like getting back in the saddle], very careful ride home delivered us in time for a tasty meal at a restaurant at the end of our road: Casa de Chiloe, Hostel y Restaurant, [5800 Chilean pesos for a good three course meal].


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