Lewis crosses the Andes back into Chile

Lewis the Lion caught the bus early one morning, heading for San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. He was a bit disappointed at first as he preferred night buses for long journeys as it meant he could save his money in hostel costs. However, this particular bus only ran during the day because they closed the border before night time. As the journey ensued, Lewis the Lion realised that he was grateful after all to be on this bus.

Lewis watches out the bus window

As he watched out of the bus window, he kept nudging Helen to take some pictures with her camera.

The beautiful countryside of the Andes

Cacti grow high up on the mountain range

The scenery was simply spectacular and just when Helen had put her camera away, another wonderful view would appear again!

Lewis the Lion loves the reflection of the mountains in the water

Lewis spots herds of llamas on the Altiplano

Sometimes as Lewis the Lion looked out the window though his stomach lurched a little: the road twisted and turned and climbed and climbed and at points the coach looked like it was going to come off the road altogether!

The road twists up the high Andes

They were climbing very high up over the Andean Mountain Range and Helen had one of her coca-leaf boiled sweets to suck on to see if it helped with the altitude sickness. She felt that it was certainly getting harder to breathe and felt rather light-headed but didn’t care much for the sweets. They were almost as disgusting as the coca leaves she had tried a few days before!

The coach rises higher and higher across the Andes

A little while later, the bus reached the Argentine exit point and every one on the bus had to get off and go through passport controls.

The Argentine border control

Lewis the Lion expected the Chilean check-point to be close by but this was not the case: in fact the Chilean border controls weren’t for another few hours yet! When Lewis thought about it, it made perfect sense for the employees working on the border – the distances in Argentina and Chile were just so vast. In the meanwhile, Lewis the Lion sat back and enjoyed even more fabulous views appearing through the bus window; at times barren, altiplano, followed by swirling salt flats and then a string of ice-capped mountains, one more beautiful than the next.

Lewis sees the salt flats in the distance

The swirling lake salt-flats

Gosh wasn’t he glad he hadn’t caught a night bus and missed all this!

Lewis notices the yellowing desert lands of the Atacama

Lewis loves the sharp contrasting colours of the landscape

A string of volcanoes stretches across the landscape

Approximately 8 hours after he had left Salta in Argentina, he arrived at the Chilean checkpoint. It was almost a month since he had last crossed the Chilean border and he’d almost forgotten about the stringent checks carried out but he was suddenly reminded when all of the luggage was taken off the bus again!

Lewis waits by the coach at the Chilean check-point

Of course Chile has a very strict policy on bringing fruit, vegetables and meats into the country (read Lewis’s previous blog to find out more) so they need to check all of your luggage to make sure you are not carrying any offending goods. This time however was slightly different from Lewis’ first experience at crossing the Chilean border as after Helen’s passport had been checked, she had to put her big and small rucksacks through a scanner instead, like being at an airport.

The bus driver then gave the passengers a choice of whether or not they got back on the bus to go to San Pedro de Atacama as it was only 5 minutes away. Lewis the Lion, Helen and her friend Kelly decided to stay on the bus as it would be better than carrying a heavy rucksack for five minutes. Helen had literally just swapped her Argentinean pesos in her purse to Chilean pesos when the bus stopped abruptly. It hadn’t even been 2 minutes! Lewis the Lion, Helen and Kelly laughed as they got back off the bus! They were dropped off at the side of a road as there didn’t seem to be a bus terminal.

The small town of San Pedro de Atacama

In fact it turned out that San Pedro was a very small town indeed and you could probably walk from one end to the other in 5 to 10 minutes! In fact it reminded Lewis the Lion very much of some of the Cowboy Western films he had seen and he could almost imagine gun-battles at dawn with its sandy streets and its quaint, whitewashed and shuttered buildings.

Lewis stands on the main street

As the group of friends made their way to their hostel they saw stray dogs basking in the sun in the middle of the road

Lewis sees dogs asleep, basking in the sunshine

and passed a beautifully white-washed church and small square.

Lewis the Lion outside San Pedro’s Catholic Church

When they arrived at their hostel, it was clear that it was an environmentally friendly sort of hostel as it had recycling containers and reminded guests of the need to take brief showers; after all, they were now in the desert and the Atacama desert is recorded as being the driest desert in the world.

Lewis thinks that recycling is a great idea

Lewis reads about conserving water in the desert

Lewis the Lion agreed that if we all made a conscious effort to look after the planet’s precious resources, like water, then there would be more to go around for everyone.

Lewis loves the hammocks in his hostel

How do you make a difference in conserving the world’s resources, e.g. by recycling products, saving water, etc. ?

About Helen Molloy

Helen Molloy has been a Primary Learning and Teaching Consultant, leading on the introduction of Primary Languages in the City of Stoke-on-Trent for the past 5 and a half years. She is passionate about language learning and inspiring children into developing a curiosity and awareness of other people's languages and cultures.
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4 Responses to Lewis crosses the Andes back into Chile

  1. Penny Barker says:

    Wow Lewis – you and Helen have been having a wonderful time – so exciting for you both. I’m glad your parachute opened!! – what a brave lion!. Dominic says he has a pair of alpacca wool gloves that his big brother brought him back from Peru. In Britain at the moment we don’t have any problems with lack of rainwater!!!! It will be the longest day on Thursday – will there be any special celebrations where you are?
    love and hugs Dominic & Penny

    • Helen Molloy says:

      Hello Penny and Dominic,

      How interesting that Dominic’s got a pair of alpaca gloves. A lot of the locals in Bolivia and Peru seem to have Alpaca wool gloves, scarves and hats too! Funny that you ask about celebrations over here because Lewis the Lion happened to be on the Isla del Sol (the Sun Island) on Lake Titicaca when the parish were celebrating their patron saint, St. Anthony of Padua. The party lasted for three days! (He’ll write about what he saw some time soon).
      All the best,
      Helen and Lewis the Lion xxx

  2. Dominic Barker says:

    Hello Lewis I’m Dominic, Penny’s son. You’re a very brave Lion .
    Do you like peacocks ? We have one living in our village. If you do what do like about them the most?

    yours sincerely Dominic Barker:)

    • Helen Molloy says:

      Hello Dominic,

      Great to hear from you and I hope you’re enjoying Lewis the Lion’s adventures. Which adventure have you liked the most so far?

      Well of course, Lewis the Lion likes peacocks because he likes all animals really. He loves the way they strut around proudly with all their feathers splayed out. He especially likes the fact that the top of their multi-coloured feathers look a little bit like eyes looking at you. However, he thinks that sometimes they can make a right old racket – they are rather noisy birds, aren’t they?!

      Thank you for the compliment. Lewis is a brave little lion (but sometimes he doesn’t feel all that brave if he’s really honest!). When have you had to be brave when you didn’t necessarily feel all that brave?

      Best wishes,

      Lewis the Lion and Helen x

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