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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

“Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity” - End of Day 473 and Day 474

One big panic, two close shaves and three lessons. As Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca says "Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity" What do you think?

After our incredible day in the mountains, we dropped the hire car back. It had just started raining, and the guy in the office very generously offered us a lift back to our Airbnb. Why oh why did we say “no thank you”. I have noticed a few times we have said no when someone has offered to do something for us. Whaaaa….Lesson No. 1: Learn to say YES.

As we were walking back the heavens opened with large pieces of hailstones plummeting down. Crikey, they were massive. The weather suddenly turned into a thunderstorm right above us with buckets of water being emptied from a great height. We waited and waited in a shop doorway and in the end, decided that we’d just get back. By this time, the water on the roads was passed our ankles. We were like drowned rats. Our Airbnb hosts kindly gave us some newspaper to stuff our trainers with and Tim dried our clothes using the hairdryer. We’ll say yes next time!

Day 474, an early start to get the bus from Salta over the border to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. No nuts this time, we have learnt! We waited for the ticket office to open and I queued to pick our tickets up, showed our online booking and was told firmly that this needed to be printed off. Protesting I said that we had been on many buses and never have printed it off (despite instructions saying that we need to), and we have no access to a printer. “Everyone else manages to print it” was the reply. He gave me an email address and told me to send our booking confirmation to him.

Argh! The bus was leaving in 15 minutes! I tried downloading the ticket from my Busbud App, it was taking ages, so found the confirmation email, tried to upload the tickets from there and emailed. I put the wrong email address in twice. Talk about getting into a panic! In the end, I had quite a laugh with the ticket guy about me getting flustered, and it all got sorted. Lesson No. 2: Less Haste More Speed

We settled down on the bus, and our journey took us passed Purmamarca with the Hill of the Seven Colours. The scenery was spectacular. It was so nice relaxing, especially for Tim, while the bus slowly chugged up the hills to enjoy the beautiful views.

The terrain changed from the coloured rocks and tall cacti to a large flat basin with mountains in the distance, some snow-capped. The earth changed from terracotta to white, pure white. We were driving through the Salinas Grandes. What a journey!

We reached the border after over 6 hours in the bus and only seeing a dozen or so homes for the past 4 hours. It was nice to get out for a stretch. We queued up but Tim needed to spend a penny, so I carried on and quickly found a shorter line and got my passport stamped. I walked out to see that our bags were being taken off the bus. It turns out that unlike the other two times we have crossed the border where the Argentinean and Chilean border control is apart, this one was at the same place.

I collected Tim and my bags and queued up again. I could see Tim still inside, chatting away to two young Danish girls for ages. I couldn’t understand why he still hadn’t had his passport checked. I gave him his bag and carried on queuing. The whole process was chaotic with people not knowing where to stand and others pushing in. Eventually, I opened my bag for inspection. Strange, in our first crossing there was an X-ray machine, our second crossing were sniffer dogs and now humans rummaging in the cases.

I got back on the bus and waited for Tim. “You’ve been a long time” I exclaimed. “Well, it took ages queuing three times” he answered. “Three times? I only queued twice, How come?” “Once for the Argentinian passport stamp, then the Chilean passport st….” “What! Oh crikey, I haven’t got my Chilean passport stamp!!!” I rushed off the bus, and the bus driver took me in, straight up to the desk and explained the situation. Luckily I had learnt “I am sorry” on Duolingo, so, “Lo Siento” was said many times to the bus driver, the border officer and the man we’d pushed in front of. Lesson No. 3: Check out the passport control process.

We carried on our journey. Tim had a delightful chat with a young Swiss lady about learning languages, talent, failure and success. He has just read ‘Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice’ and ‘Black Box Thinking: The Surprising Truth about Success’, both by Matthew Syed and he does enjoy informing people about the fascinating information he has read. It is great to hear this for the first and even the second time….third and more? Mmm... They also talked about the political system in Switzerland, based on the freedom of choice and self-determination, with the citizens voting many times each year on various referendums. Now, that was interesting.

I suddenly realised the time. We were supposed to reach Atacama by 16:20, it was now 18:20 and we still had half an hour to go. We needed to get to the Tourist Office before 19:00 to pay the balance of the tours we’d booked. Argh!

Tim zoomed off to reach the office and pay while I collected both our bags. I decided to drag both of these through the streets to join him. It was ok to begin with, on the tarmacked road, but very shortly it became a dirt track. Not so easy!

All sorted, we finally reached our Airbnb. Carolina, our host greeted us warmly; we were surprised to see her as she had informed me that she was going to see her grandmother who was ill. Thankfully, her Nan is feeling much better – she is 104! She asked how we were feeling as we are at an altitude of over 2,400m, just short of the elevation of Machu Picchu . It is funny how, once someone says something like this, you start to notice aches and pains! Psychosomatic or what?

Later we walked down to town for something to eat. While looking at a menu, we met Kate, a lovely lady from Oxford, inviting her to join us. What a great evening, full of laughter and great discussion about luck. Does luck exist or do we make our own luck? What do you think?

#ArgentinaChilePassportControl #MassiveHailstone #Busbud #CloseShaveatPassportControl #PanicatBusStation #SanPedrodeAtacama #Chile #SalinasGrandes #AltitudeofAtacama #Dowemakeourownluck #3lessonstolearn

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