In the sea, I've been swimming with sea lions and dolphins while the birds chatter incessantly overhead. The guano they leave behind on the seaside rocks is ghoulish and strongly malodorous. I'm comfortable with the birds in general, but I could do without the numerous sea vulchers who perch ever near with their ugly tiny red heads peering at me for a quick meal. At times when the path rises high above the sea, the bleached white bones of earlier prey make them all the more eerie. I feel them calculating how many vulchers it would take to pick up one little pink pilgrim and dash her on the rocks below. They haven't come up with the answer yet.
Continuing northward, I should reach the border in less than two weeks and start the ascent back into the Andes. A few challenges remain, and the heat of the afternoon desert is not least among them. Close to 200 kilometers in the last four days, and with the lack of population here, it looks like I'll need to average 48 a day for the next three days to reach Iquique, the next proper town - that is, one with electricity and water, things lacking in the fishing hamlets. (Peru is more densely populated; I hope to recover my desired daily distances.)
A shout out to my young friends at Shaw Heights Middle School in Northglenn, Colorado who are following me this pilgrimage. A challenge: I crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, and ironically, the most common domestic animal I've seen has been the goat. What's the connection? Why is this an amusing coincidence? Post your collective answer as a comment and we'll see how others fare.