Nearby Calama was just like home (though not in the best way) with its own Walmart, fast food chains, and strip malls. There were pharmacies with cash registers, and gas stations that took credit cards and even had handicapped parking spots labeled on the asphalt. Of course, all this luxury came at a high price, as the cheapest room we could find in San Pedro was $30 a night (the same as paying for camping), instead of the normal $10. We were in culture shock plus sticker shock.
After a little more than a week, we were ready to leave San Pedro and explore more of what the region had to offer. And because we'd been told that northern Argentina's landscape was like Utah and Arizona, filled with canyons and bluffs, we knew we couldn't pass that up. Unfortunately, this meant that we were going to part ways with the Haks, as they were headed south instead of staying in the north.
There was a gushing stream of fresh water that made a green, grassy path through the otherwise dry landscape of giant red boulders and towering cliffs standing sentry on either side of the valley. Rose quartz crystals dotted the ground, and the sound of the warm water trickling over the smooth stones made the landscape idyllic. And what's more, the water was so warm, I swear it may have been heated by geothermal activity. Pictures just cannot do justice to the peaceful atmosphere of this place.