I'd liked El Tatio the last time I was here, four years earlier. This time I didn't like it so much. The weather was pretty bad, with thick clouds drifting over the place when we arrived. On my first trip it had been savagely cold; it wasn't so bad this time, but the clouds really made it look much less impressive.
So I walked around the geysers, thinking I should probably have gone somewhere else instead of returning here. The 4,300m altitude and a lack of caffeine worsened my mood. But suddenly, just as we were leaving, the clouds dispersed. Within a couple of minutes, the Altiplano had emerged from the gloom, and the sun shone on the wisps of steam from the declining geysers, which only erupt for a couple of hours after sunrise.
We drove back to San Pedro via Machuca. Last time I'd been here, we'd had a puncture on the way, and a long wait to change the tyre. I'd been suffering with the altitude and had not felt good. This time the van survived and I avoided altitude sickness.