Originally drafted 21 July 2008
La Música Andrea. Credit: John DeDecker.
Today, we had to go into Calama and pick up compasses. We are also using this opportunity to pick up several things for the house. Our hot water heater has not worked since we arrived, and Knutt and Pete are going to fix it. We also need to purchase some additional groceries. So, all and all, a trip to Calama will be worthwhile.
As we were leaving San Pedro, a woman with a guitar strapped over her back was hitchhiking at the edge of town. Her name was Andrea and she was a Charango musician. She needed a ride to Calama, and well…we were going, so we obliged. As I was driving, I asked John to show her how to make a music selection from my iPod…a few minutes later I heard an incredible guitar. Pete mentioned how good the music sounded, and I looked in the rearview mirror, and she was playing for us. Andrea is incredibly talented, and plays at several clubs in San Pedro. Charango is the folk music of the Andean region of Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile. This was quite a treat!
John and I on the summit of Volcan Poruña, while struggling with 50-60 mph winds. Credit: Pete Polsgrove.
We continued driving across the stark Atacama Desert, and I turned her on to Bill Monroe and Doc Watson. Andrea had never heard of Bluegrass; she asked if I would make her a disk of these musicians, and I told her that I would.
Andrea, Jut and Raul chatting. Here I learned the difference in my poor pronouncation of pegar and pagar. Pegar = to hit or strike, while pagar means to pay. I thought I was supposed to pay Raul for bringing us compasses, but I said pegar. I learned that I told Raul that Guillermo told me that "I needed to hit Raul." We all got a big laugh out of this. Credit: John DeDecker.
Climbing to the summit of Volcan Poruna. Credit: John DeDecker.
We had to meet one of Guillermo’s employees at the edge of town. He had arranged to get us several compasses from Antofagasta. Once done, we were able to go to the hardware store, and pick up some additional supplies. Andrea assisted us in finding the Calama Mall, and once we were there, she left. We had hoped that we could give her a ride back to San Pedro, but our trip to Volcan Poruña took us a lot longer than anticipated.
View of interior of small cave, Volcan Poruña. John and I are scale. Credit: Pete Polsgrove.
We finally got all of our errands done in Calama, and it was time to head north. We were off to Volcan Poruña. This volcano contained a small cave, and we anticipated it would be a volcanic vent.
Our drive across the desert was most picturesque. We skirted along the Rio San Pedro for a considerable portion of our journey. We passed through the small town of Chiu Chiu. I believe this is what San Pedro de Atacama looked like before the tourists found it. It was a small adobe village and was a postcard town.
Pete skirting the summit of Poruña. The cinder cone that he is traversing is 11,000 ft dwarfed by a 19,000 ft. volcano.
It took us an hour and half driving on an unimproved single track road to get to Volcan Poruña. When we arrived, the winds were howling. We grabbed our gear and packs and headed up the volcano. This volcano is a large cinder cone, and was quite challenging to summit especially in 50-60 mph winds. I was wearing three layers of tech shirts and the winds cut right through all layers. As we slowly climbed the volcano, we had a bit of difficulty locating the cave. We decided to summit the volcano and then peer down onto the side of the shield where the cave was located. The summit was at 11,700 ft. and with the winds howling, and the sun was beginning to set, we were ready to get off the volcano. As we were walking around the caldera, John spotted a depression, and we realized this must be the cave. We headed to the depression, and we were right. We found it!
John and I at the entrance of the small cave on Volcan Poruna. Credit: Pete Polsgrove.
Unfortunately, our joy of locating the cave was waylaid by the fact that the cave was incredibly shallow. It was about 10 m in depth, and nothing to write home about. If this shelter cave was located near San Pedro and our other study sites, then we would probably study this feature. However, it was over three hours out of our way; so, I could not justify including this as a site.
A cactus that we encounterd at top Volcan Poruña.
Once we investigated and evaluated this feature, we headed for the truck. Then, we were off to San Pedro. As we were driving, Andrea called and inquired about a ride back to San Pedro. Unfortunately, we were not going to arrive in Calama until 1930hr. So, she decided to take a bus back to San Pedro. And, we were slated to drive across the desert at night…
Looking down from the rim of Volcan Poruña. We are making our descent at this point.