Tuesday, October 19, 2010

San Pedro de Atacama!

Lovely People in my Life!

I have returned from the Northern Lands aka the best viaje (trip) thus far! 3 days of exploring the driest desert in the world left me breathless, gleeful and in the mood to watch Indiana Jones (a certain type of hat was purchased and now I can't get the theme song out of my head).


1) Salar de Atacama (Salt Flat) was unlike any place I have ever been before. The national park is covered in white and produces 50% of the world's lithium (I'm sure the Energizer Bunny is thankful!). Besides being a gold mine for exports, Salar de Atacama is also home to 3 different types of flamingoes which soared over our heads travelling from one laguna (you guessed it, lagoon) to the next. Know that a good hour was spent taking photos of the landscape, animals, humans imitating the animals and our jumps for joy over our discovery of this other worldly location.
2)Hacer trekking en Valle de La Luna (Hiking in the Moon Valley) was probably my favorite part of the whole weekend. In 3 hours we ran down sand dunes, crawled through caves and scrambled on salt rocks. Salt is one of the most prominent materials in the entire region; now I understand its prominence (over abundance?) on the table during almuerzo (lunch).

3) Atardecer en Valle de La Luna (Sunset in the Moon Valley)

After our fabulous trek, we went to higher ground to watch the sunset over the mountains. The colors ranged from pink to purple to blue and changed by the minute. A relaxing end to a wonderfully nature-charged day!

4) Yet another birthday surprise! Saturday night we were privileged enough to listen to musica andina (Andean music?) and learn some of the traditional dances from the owner of our hotel. Suddenly the band started playing "Feliz cumpleanos" and all my friends pulled out noisemakers and sang to me as the hotel owner brought out the most delicious cake ever (peaches and manjar) brightly lit with 21 candles. I was sufficiently surprised and very touched; I'm so lucky to share this life changing experience with these six amazing women.


1) Although babies and children love me, it seems animals and I are not on the same wave length. We visited an indigenous community where there were goats, horses, sheep and llamas. When I tried to interact in a calm and friendly fashion with the latter, his response was to spit in my face (chewed grass included). Needless to say, that was the end of that short lived friendship.

2) Yet the lowest low was actually due to the highest high: Saturday morning we woke up at 5AM to see 5 different types of geysers! Unfortunately, this also meant doubling the altitude we were at in an hour and a half from 2,000m to 4,300m. While I was impressed with the sights and sounds of these natural phenomenons, my body was less than pleased. After about an hour in the upper stratosphere, I came down with altitude sickness and was confined to putting my head between my knees and sleeping in the van for the rest of the morning. But hey, sometimes sacrifices have to be made and I would say it definitely valio la pena (was worth it)!

Shout-out goes to Laura Adkins; know that when I was taking 10,000 pictures of the flamingoes, all I could think about was baking apple pie (and the cinnamon sugar crust crispies) with you in your kitchen while you stood with one leg perched on the knee of the other like a rare form of bird. But don't worry, you are, and always will be, the most elegant.



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