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Gap Year Abroad

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The Unforgiving Desert

Just about a month ago I was lucky enough to travel with some friends from the program to a town called San Pedro de Atacama. Way up north near Bolivia, this small town has buildings made of clay, dusty roads, and skies that are forever blue. Filled with hippies and tourists the city is alive and in a location that is unlike anywhere else. Smith and I stayed in a super relaxed and fun hostal with some other people from our program and we packed our days with seeing the beautiful Atacama desert.

Though I spent probably way too much money, the four days I spent exploring by hiking, biking, and  4 am wake up calls to see geysers were worth every peso. Pictures and description do no good in feeling the fast landscape difference that makes you feel like a Martian. But anyway, here are some pictures of the adventures:





Probably the best part of this story though is probably the time when we tried to get back to Valparaíso. In short, we knew the night before our flight there was a strike (there is always a strike somewhere in Chile) in the airports. And we thought it’d be fine, we’d make it out. We then get a call that no flights are flying out tomorrow. The next posible flight was three days later, and there were no 24 hour buses going down for another 6 days. But the hostal where we were staying didn’t have space either. So walking around the town we found another hostal, paid for two more nights and starting buying food to cook the next few days. Annoyed and sad we wouldn’t be able to celebrate the independence day with our host families we tried to distract ourselves while spending the least amount of money. Luckily, Smith and I had our friend Luz from the program who is a native Spanish speaker that could argue way better than Smith and I combined. She got us a flight for the next morning, but when we got to the airport she didn’t exist in the computers. Many miscommunications later we didn’t get a flight until 10:45 that night. We were on about three planes that day, the first we opted not to leave Luz behind, the second didn’t show up (like at all), and the last was simply cancelled, but finally we got on the one at 10:45.

But there was a huge earthquake that hit central Chile (where we were flying into) really hard. So the airport announced that they didn’t know if we could fly into Santiago then because of the huge shaking of the earth that just happened! But we did. Luckily my family in Valparaíso was safe from the earthquake and high enough in the hills that we didn't need to worry about a tsunami.

That night we were on a plane after nearly 14 hours of sitting in the airport awaiting flight after flight. By this point I didn’t really mind, I just hoped everyone was safe from the earthquake. I read an entire book in the airport and lost my earphones. But what an experience right? I couldn’t help but laugh at absolutely everything that was miscommunicated and went wrong during those two days we were trying to get out of the desert.


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