On April 2nd, Malika and I returned from northern Chile and our sightseeing vacation. In planning, the highlight was to be our time in San Pedro de Atacama, a small town in the Atacama desert sustained by subterranean waters fed by the nearby Andes mountains. In recent years, it’s become a tourist magnet whose number of visitors per capita could likely put many European hot spots to shame (so much so that legal limits had to be put on the schedule of alcohol sales and on alcohol-related public disturbance).
Overrun by tour agencies, restaurants, hostels, inns, hotels, shops and cafes set up to serve the transient tourist, one can laugh about the amount of North Americans and Europeans on every street. At the same time, one must also feel for the local Atacameño people whose fortune it’s not clear has worked out for the better as a result of the infusion of tourists pesos.