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    South by South America Tour – Chile Part 27

    Monday, September 16, 2019
    San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

    A colorful shopfront in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
    A colorful shopfront in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

    A truckload of musicians leading a parade celebrates Chilean Independence Day in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
    A truckload of musicians leading a parade celebrates Chilean Independence Day in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

    A parade celebrating Chilean Independence Day in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
    A parade celebrating Chilean Independence Day in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

    I spent my last day in Chile frantically running around the streets of San Pedro de Atacama rounding up, copying, and printing out all of the myriad documents I needed to get a visa to Bolivia. This included: 1. Two passport-sized photos. 2. A copy of my passport. 3. A copy of my yellow fever vaccination. 4. A printout of a bank statement proving I had sufficient funds to travel in Bolivia. 5. A printout of my hostel booking in Uyuni, Bolivia. 6. A copy of my flight itinerary from Lima, Peru to Los Angeles, California to prove that I would not overstay my allotted time in Bolivia. Whew! That is a lot of hoops to jump through to enter a country, especially considering that some countries simply only stamp your passport and wave you through.

    A parade celebrating Chilean Independence Day in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
    A parade celebrating Chilean Independence Day in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

    A parade celebrating Chilean Independence Day stops for a round of dancing in the streets of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
    A parade celebrating Chilean Independence Day stops for a round of dancing in the streets of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

    A truckload of musicians leading a parade celebrates Chilean Independence Day in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
    A truckload of musicians leading a parade celebrates Chilean Independence Day in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

    To get the photos, I went to a tiny snack shop, where a young lady simply took a photo of me with her smart phone against a makeshift white backdrop culled from the back of a cheesy poster, then printed them out on a tiny printer and carefully cut them out with scissors. At least I got six photos for around four dollars, so I have some to use later, as needed. To print out the bank statement and hostel booking, I went to three different shops, each of which said they couldn’t open the USB stick. So, I schlepped it back over to the hostel to re-load the files onto the stick. Then I headed back to the office of the tour operator Cruz Andina, who was in the process of booking by trip from San Pedro, Chile to Uyuni, Bolivia. The guy there opened up the newly copied files, no problem. Then he printed them out and stapled together all of my documents and handed them to me, along with my Bolivian visa application, and wished me well.

    A parade celebrating Chilean Independence Day stops for a round of dancing in the streets of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
    A parade celebrating Chilean Independence Day stops for a round of dancing in the streets of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

    A food vendor attracts a crowd in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
    A food vendor attracts a crowd in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

    A musician on a truck leading a parade celebrates Chilean Independence Day in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
    A musician on a truck leading a parade celebrates Chilean Independence Day in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

    At various times throughout the day, I witnessed a small parade celebrating Chilean Independence Day proceeding through the streets of San Pedro. Leading the festivities was a flatbed truck hauling a group of musicians playing some kind of Chilean folk music with acoustic guitars, percussion and singers. At each intersection in the center of town, the truck would stop and the musicians would fire up some more tunes as a large group of young people danced in the streets. Both the dancers and musicians looked very sharp, clad in very colorful traditional attire. It’s always such a treat to witness this kind of authentic cultural activity that is not staged for tourists—especially when you cross paths with it purely by chance.

    Words and photos ©2019 Arcane Candy.

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