Thursday night at 10 pm I began packing. As we know, I’m a procrastinator and that includes absolutely everything. I decided to stay up until 2 am, which was when the van with all of our CIEE family would pick us up. When I got into the van, almost everyone was already there. We were all insanely sleep deprived and got only a little sleep on our way to the airport in Santiago. Once we got there, we hung around for a little before boarding the plane which was a 2 hour ride. I tried my best to sleep on that. Finally, we arrived in San Pedro de Atacama!
When we got there, all we could see was desert and mountains. It was so beautiful! Then we took another van and after around 2 hours, got to our hotel. Me and my friend Sawyer shared a room so we immediately dropped our stuff there and changed into clothes suited better for the heat. Then we went to a beautiful farm with goats and llamas. We learned about the nature there and then had a beautiful lunch. Afterwards, we laid out in the sun for a while before taking the van to huge sand dunes. When we got there, we walked through the sand and through these caves made of salt. I probably licked around 20 different walls. Tasty!
After hiking through the salt formations, we drove a little more to a huge sand dune. We hiked up the sand (obviously complaining most of the way) and when we got to the top there was an amazing view. There was also a lot of wind which meant sand in my hair and my eyes. Then we drove to a more remote place to watch the sunset. It was one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen.
Luckily, today we were able to convince our group to sleep in a little later. We ate lunch at the hotel before driving out to a farm where some indigenous people lived. They showed us around and then we made little clay bowls. It was really interesting to learn how they made them and what they used. Afterwards, we looked at all the instruments they had. Some of them were simple like drums or flutes while others were more intricate and made out of branches or shells. Then we got to play them but the wind instruments were quite a challenge for me!
Then we sat down in a dark room with one of the people who lived there and he told us a little bit about their history and what they did there. Afterwards, we had a beautiful lunch and then had a little rest.
Next, our biking guide arrived. We all had bikes assigned to us and got ready for the trek. We started off on a road but later crossed a stream and began biking through sand. Although it was extremely hot and the sand was hard to bike through, the views and experience were amazing. We biked through dunes and rock formations and finally got to a little peak. We climbed to the top and had a break and an amazing view.
We then biked into town, walked around for a bit, and then had dinner. Afterwards, we went back to the hotel to get bundled up and drop our stuff off. Then we headed back out a night to a part in the desert to go stargazing. The stars were so beautiful and the sky was so clear. I’ve never seen so many stars. Our guide was with us and pointed out tons of constellations. Then we had a fire and some blankets to lay on. We rested there for a while before going back to the hotel to sleep.
Today we had to wake up early and pack into the van. After a long drive and little sleep, we took a stop at a beautiful pond in front of some mountains where there were flamingos and llamas. It was very cold outside but the view was absolutely breathtaking! After a little while we hopped back in the van and continued until we got to the geysers.
When we got there we had a breakfast already set up for us. It was so nice to be able to eat it in front of such a beautiful view. Then we walked around the geysers for a while. They smelled a little like rotten eggs but the steam was warm and felt nice!
Afterwards, we drove to a secluded hot spring and hung out there for a while. The water felt so nice! We took lots of pictures and then dried off and hopped back into the van for another long car ride. We drove to another part of the desert where there was ancient drawings on the rocks. There was also a lot of pumice there and it was interesting to see how their lives were back then.
Then, we went to another part of the desert with tons of small salt formations. The land stretched for miles and there was a pond and many more flamingos. We watched the sun set there with the mountains in the background. I still cannot believe I have been living in such a beautiful country for 100 days!