I’ve been up to quite a bit since my last post. And by quite a bit, I mean taking more painfully long and expensive bus rides across the vast desert/mountainous tundra of northern Chile and Argentina while nursing my constant wine hangover. If you weren’t already aware, Chile and Argentina are known for their fantastic wine. So of course it’s no surprise that the cheap prices and enormous selection have kept me with a constant buzz. Fingers crossed that I survive when I make it to the wine mecca of Mendoza, Argentina and proceed to winery-hop by bike.
But aside from the wine, I have been seeing some great sights during my time in these two countries. The first of which would be the incredible sunset I observed while being shoved in the backseat of a collectivo taxi (a glorified Ford Taurus) with 4 Peruvians and a really spastic pet cat heading for the Chilean border. Northern Chile is basically desert land with big hills and cacti, so the shadows from the sunset were incredible. But I did feel a bit like I was in the beginning of a Quentin Tarantino movie (and we all know the gringo dies). Fortunately, I made it safely across the border without some terrible samurai sword attack, but I am not so sad to announce that the cat did not make it across the border. It kind of makes you wonder just how many drugs you can fit into a cat, right? And do they send it through the xray machine? One will never know…
After that strange experience, I made it safely to a hostel on the coastal town of Arica. Evidently, northern Chile is known for its awesome waves, so I spent my first weekend at an international body boarding competition watching a pack of Australians flip and twist their way down the massive wave named “El Gringo”.
After bumming around Arica for a few days, I head west to the little dusty desert town of San Pedro de Atacama. This city and surrounding desert is considered the driest place on Earth and claims the best star gazing in the world. And it was right! I spent one chilly evening at the local star gazing facility being guided around the sky by a cooky ex-Canadian with a lightsaber strength lazer pointer. His jokes were almost as bad as his accent. ( I kid, I kid) We also got a chance to check out the stars and planets through the 10 massive telescopes. And we got to see Saturn! It honestly looked like someone stuck a saturn shaped sticker on the end of the telescope, but it awesome!
San Pedro also boasts some of the most beautiful sunsets, so the next evening I grabbed a tour to the Valle de la Luna for some amazing mountain and crater gazing.
Fun Fact: NASA tests all of the Mars rovers in San Pedro de Atacama because the city’s climate is the most similar to Mars. The city also houses the largest telescope project – 12 1km telescopes in a row that when put next to each other will create the world’s largest telescope.
Stay tuned for Part 2 in northern Argentina. I’m too busy nursing my hangover to post any more. Seriously.