San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
I woke up today feeling a little over the desert, over the dust, the small towns, the eco-sightseeing, ready to be in a city, and like maybe we’d scheduled one too many days in Atacama. Part of this was due to the fact that we hadn’t really planned our time in Atacama, not knowing what we would feel like doing post-Salt Flats. I joined my husband for an ATV tour in the morning, another “group tour” that ended up being just the two of us, on one ATV. The ATV didn’t do much for me, but it was really fun and interesting to talk to our guide. The infrastructure around parks is already a big different between Bolivia and Chile – in that there really wasn’t any in Bolivia, and you could get as close as you wanted to things. We went to Lake Cejar and Laguna Piedra this morning, which had nice, clean bathrooms and hip, modern railings and contained walkways. We had a litttttle bit of a flight apocalypse, which my wonderful husband handled as he does most crises. We got “Led Zeppelin pizza” for lunch (camembert, caramelized onions, tomato sauce, and, hilariously, one piece of arugula on each slice), and I took my first sip of alcohol since our altitude sickness crisis in La Paz – I had about 1/4 a beer, which was fine. For the afternoon, we’d signed up for a tour of Valle de la Luna with TurisTour, which was recommended by our hotel but has an online reputation of being the sort of lame, big box tourist company. I was continuing to feel just eager to get onto Santiago at this point, and I didn’t have particularly high expectations (thinking: if this is the worst part of the trip, it’s been amazing and so that’s fine!). But: it was amazing. We had the best guide, who reminded me a lot of my bff’s boyfriend. He spoke the most beautiful, easy to understand Spanish (and also fantastic English), and he was hilarious and interesting and just amazing. The “tour” was actually a pretty intense hike, in the sand and heat, but we saw crazy desert sights and it was totally worth it. The tour ended with a glass of champagne (or two!), watching the sun set over the mountains. It was magical and I may have cried a few times (my second cry-at-beauty-summer-solstice of the year?!). We finished the day with a quiet night back at our hotel, accidentally having pizza again, as we sat near a loud group of Brits, with the loudest passionately arguing pro-Brexit. I got hot chocolate, which made our waitress giggle furiously (first because I ordered it incorrectly, but then also just because I wanted it in general!), which then obviously also made me giggle. It was a wonderful day, which was also a good reminder for me to just calm down and enjoy the moments.