Sunday, August 05, 2012

atacama weekend

when meg and i sat down in the airport cafe just in time to see the last torchbearer carry the olympic flame into the stadium, we knew it would be a good weekend. meg, kristel, and i had rushed from work to the airport, barely making it in time to catch kristel's 7:30 flight to calama. we followed on the 8pm and met up to take a shuttle to san pedro de atacama. it was after midnight when we arrived at hostal campo base. our host suggested we give ourselves a good night's rest and a full day to adjust to the altitude to avoid spewing all over the geysers. so we booked a 6am tour to the salt flats and bunked down in our dorm suite (4 beds, private bathroom) with decklin from ireland. the rest of the weekend can be summed up in two words: pure magic.

day one: salt flats + san pedro + sergio's house + star gazing (sort of).
allen and leandro picked us up at 6am to see the salt flats at caixa.
instead of dampening my spirits, the freezing cold weather inspired a lot of spirit fingers.
the andean flamingos didn't mind the weather either.
after caixa and some great lakes, we parked it in a town where i documented all things parked.

returning to san pedro, we booked our sunday adventures and headed to alberto's friend, sergio's, house to hang with some locals. see "alberto knows everyone interesting" in tell the girls. we chatted about the differences between santiago and northern chile, work-life balance, and u.s. politics. when the conversation got too awkward, we split for dinner and some star-gazing on the outskirts of town. clouds and a near-full moon conspired to ruin our fun, but, fortunately, we love moon-gazing, too.
after some soup and hot chocolate, we bunked down to prepare for another full day of adventures.

day two: geysers + sandboarding + moon valley
there are few things i love less than early mornings. namely: war, terrorism, and olives. so getting up at 4am to see geysers in sub-freezing weather was a hard sell. fortunately, derek - our tour guide - was super-hot and inspired another round of spirit fingers.
the sunrise wasn't bad either.
after a geyser-cooked breakfast and a some warm rays, i was ready for my first dip in a natural hot spring, visit to the wetlands, and a photo shoot in a very small village (i.e., population 40). 

when we got back to the hostel, the power was out on the entire block. we didn't mind much. it was a beautiful day so kristel and meg sat outside for a visit and i fell asleep in the hammock listening to a group of brazilian tourists debate which region of brazil was most superior. after waking in time for a quick lunch, we hurried to meet up with the local, la paz-loving hippie guides who transported all the non-local, english-speaking tourists to the dunes for some sandboarding. it. was. fabulous. and we saw the bolivian border on the way. we then wandered through a calcified cave before hiking to the amphitheater in valle de la luna for sunset. 
meg and i quoted from land before time as the fading sun, with its shadows and clouds, cast stories across the desert.

six days left in my latin american adventure. here's to making the most of it.

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