San Pedro de Atacama – Chile 11/16

We have flown north to the Atacama Desert-the driest (non-polar) place on earth, and the oldest desert. It is between 2 mountain ranges that create a rain shadow and also the Humboldt Current plays a role in moving the moisture away.
This area is the archeological capital of Chile and has a long history of habitation. Aldeas Tular Ruins (the oldest archaeological site in Chile) might date back to 800 BCE – this early village had  about 200 inhabitants. About 10 family members lived in a connected circular rooms.
A connected home unit has been reconstructed with adobe and straw walls, wood beams in ceiling supported on a center post. Aldeas Tular Ruins shimmer in the desert heat!
We also explored these ancient Chug Chug Geoglyphs – huge carvings into the hillside. These could date back to 1,000 BCE but most are from around 500 AD. (near Calama)
The rock is carved away to leave these representations with some rocks added around the edges to define the shape. This area doesn’t receive wind or moisture so these have been fortunately preserved by the climate.
This preserved Tiwanaku Textile at Museo Gustavo Le Paige, from pre-columbian culture of around 500 AD, is finely woven with alpaca wool.  The thread is so very fine – such a talent for spinning. The intricate pattern of figures are winged  with the head leaned over, are in different colors.
Nearby is Pre-Columbian site of Pukara de Quitor. This stone fortress dates to around the 12th century.
The Pukara de Quitor was under Inca rule in 1536, when it withheld the Spanish conquistadors for over 20 years.
Incredible construction details at Pukara de Quitor. It is a National Monument.
And so the Spanish built this catholic church in San Pedro de Atacama. Pre 1641.
It is one of the oldest churches in Chile with a unique wood roof, lashed together with llama straps. It is also a National Monument.
Of course we had to wander the streets and find some local cuisine. Salad is half of an avocado with warm shrimp, topped with shredded cheese. The bean soup has spaghetti noodles and sausage. Both yummy! Followed by a main course of roasted chicken and potatoes. And a delicious desert. Time for a siesta!

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