Gas Leak!

December 4, 2005
Day 67

This was a very relaxing day. I slept for about eleven hours last night. When I finally got up, I was happy to discover that there was a wireless connection available for me to use from my laptop, so I was on my computer most of the day.

After a few hours of wireless bliss, I took a walk around town. I quickly noticed that there wasn't much to do there. Calama is a mining town, so most of its residents work in the mine. People also get bussed into Calama from the entire surrounding area to work there. Most people only move to Calama to work for a few years, so there aren't many permanent residents there.

Sometime in the middle of the day, Pablo and I went to the shopping mall. He bought a few supplies for supper, but he wouldn't let me pay for them. "You're backpacking," he said. "You don't have to buy anything." After deliberating for a few minutes, he finally let me buy a bottle of wine. He was a really great host all around. I was just expecting a couch, but I got so much more.

Pablo also had to go to the hardware store. I asked him what he needed, and he informed me that he had to get some supplies to fix his gas leak. The gas tank that heats the water and powers the stove had a bad seal, so if Pablo couldn't fix it, we wouldn't be able to eat. There was also a chance that we would get blown up. It was a Sunday, so no plumbers were working. Pablo ended up spending most of the day trying to fix the problem.

Meanwhile, I met Matthieu and Julien at their hotel room. We originally met back in Peru and traveled together for awhile in Bolivia. After we split up, they worked their way to the south of Chile and back up. They fly back home from Lima in ten days. We happened to cross paths again in Calama, so we agreed to meet there. We caught up for about an hour and decided to go to the mine together tomorrow.

When I got back to Pablo's place, his roommate Carlos was fixing the gas leak. Luckily, it turned out that Carlos was a plumber in his spare time. He got it mostly fixed so we could finally cook supper.

Pablo cooked a great meal with fish and lots of vegetables. It was a great experience for me to get to know a local person and learn more about the culture here. It was also really nice to have a free place to stay for a few days. When I get back home, I'm definitely going to host travelers at my place. When I meet so many people and hear their stories, it will be like I'm traveling all over again!

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