One year ago today, we were one week into our 6 month sabbatical and tour of the world. We had already been in Santiago, Chile for a few days and toured the seaside towns of Vińa del Mar and Valparaíso. Next would be a few starry nights in the Atacama Desert, the driest and one of the most picturesque deserts in the world.
I remember that the Spanish I learned in high school was in full use, navigating the streets, purchasing meals, and speaking with locals. It was the first real challenge I had. Speaking a language not native to you is hard. Making mistakes in the conjugations was common, but the locals appreciated my efforts and corrected me if/when necessary. The funny thing is that with a little bit to drink, the words seemed to roll off my tongue much quicker and more fluid.
Santiago, Viña del Mar, and Valparaíso were great for colorful scenery, beautiful and friendly people, and food. The fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood was so delicious. I suppose I could say that about many places in our travels, but this being the first of many countries on our tour grants it the memory.
It was here that we made our first friends at the hostel we stayed. Xímena was the front desk attendant at Che Lagarto. She is originally from Argentina and became our first interviewee of "women abroad." Carolyn was starting to record brief interviews with women all over the world in an attempt to capture diversity, beauty, and uniqueness of women we would meet along the way.
The desert was harsh. The dryness of the landscape and it's elevation translated to quicker bodily dehydration. We had to consciously drink plenty of liquids to make sure we weren't baked from the sun or parched by the altitude.
My favorite experience in the Atacama Desert was taking the star-gazing tour with Space. We drove out to the middle of the desert at midnight only guided by the light of the moon and stars. And we were able to use the variety of telescopes setup to peer into space. Viewing nebula, constellations, the moon, and other distant stars was awesome in the nighttime sky. It was surreal.
So was walking over the sand dunes or lounging in the salt water lakes that made you as buoyant as a lifesaver or walking through a geyser field. Our activities and experiences just one week into our trip were already amazing.
I suppose over the next few days, I'm going to try to write about memories from our travels abroad that I haven't previously documented. It will be a nice look back at the amazing journey we took. A lot of what I write will be kind of anecdotal and not necessarily flow like a story, but they will be blips of memories that come to mind when I think of each of these places.
I hope you continue to join me as I recount a time that was so memorable, enlightening, and personally gratifying.