Well, after five months of studying in Chile, I am now back in sunny Minnesota. I finished off the program with my trip to the DESERT* sorry for the typo in the last entry.. its a hard word to spell! Although, it could kind of be considered to the dessert to top off my trip to Chile. My last trip was incredible, to recap all that we did I am going to copy down some excerpts from my journal.
Day 1: We went to Valle de la Luna and Valle de la muerte. The terrain is so hard to explain, it is a really dry desert but is topped with salt formations that look like crstals. We went through a cave that was twisty and windy but really cool. We saw rock formations called the three marias that were supposed to look like mother mary's praying. We made our back to the sand dunes of Valle de La Luna (Moon Valley) for the sunset. I meditated for a moment focusing on my feet gorwing into the earth, connecting me to this mysterious world with mountains that peak and sun that shines.
That night we went to the SPACE tour into the freezing desert night to learn about the constelations of the southern sky. The main guy explained to us about the southern cross and how to find scorpio and also told us that the nearest star to the earth would take 80,000 years to get to with the fastest rocket ship we have to day. Even if we traveled at the speed of light it would take 4.4 years to ge there.
Day 2: We went on a tour of the Flamenco conservatory, salt flats and Laguna Miscanti. It was crazy to see flamingos even though we weren't very close. It was also crazy to see the salt formations up close, it looked almost like quartz, they were so intricate. It wassuch an incredible place, you could turn in a full circle 360 degrees of complete beauty, mountains enclosing. The lagunas were beautiful in color, vibrant blues and greens that contrasted well with the desert terrain.
Day 3: We had a free morning so we woke on our own, did some yoga in the courtyard of our hostel, and made our way into town to do a little shopping in the overpriced touristy stores. Then we went to the local museum where I learned a lot about the history of the place. First of all, I learned that all native south americans came from Asia through the bearing straight as many as 40,000 years ago! Later, I learned that the influence of the Bolivians incorporated relgious and spiritual concepts. They cherished the sun as a deity and used the "Puerta del sol" or "door of the sun" which were tablets used for halucinating and coming in contact with the higher powers. I also learned about the Incas and how much terrain they actually conquered. They made their way down through about the middle of Chile, where the mapuche indigenous tribe foughtt hem off.
Later in the afternoon we went on another tour to Lagunas Cejas, which ended up being my favorite tour. Our first stop was a salt lagoon in the middle of nowhere, where you could swim but without having to kick your feet or move your arms. You floated with the water. It was such a cool feeling! Next, we went to a second lagoon which was basically like a mirror the water was so flat and reflected all the the mountains around it. Lastly, we arrived to the third lagoon which was bigger than the others and lined with big white salt deposits all around it. Here the sun was starting to go down and we saw some of the most spectacular views I have ever seen. The red mountains reflected in the lagoon as we watched the sun set and the moon rise. It moved my soul. After the sun went down, we piled back into our car and drove back to the town. The tour guide played pink floyd as we drove what seemed like a path to nowhere, watching the stars appear in the sky I felt more love for the world than I ever knew possible.
Day 4: Our last day of tours we got up at 3:30 in the morning for the Geyser tour. We got on a tour bus and drove about 2 hours up steep elevation to reach the top of a mountain where 64 gurgling geysers are located. It was incredible to see water boiling in the ground and shooting up like a real life waterfall. We watched the sunrise over these geysers, which was incredible, but my friend Kathleen got really sick with altitude sickness, which was scary! We went over to the other side of the geysers to this place where you could go swimming and I was struck again by the beauty of the world. The ride home from the geysers was incredible, full of wildlife and small little villages that you would never belive someone could actually live in. We stopped at one of these small villages and ate llama on a stick!! It was actually delicious :) After what seemsed like a really long day, we got back into the town around 12:30, I guess when you start your morning at 3:30 time seems different.
We ended the trip at this little coffee shop, playing cards and reminiscing about our favorite moments from Chile. It was an AWESOME trip which I will remember for the rest of my life.
The last three days of the trip were fairly rushed but I had a great going away dinner with my host family at a little seafood restaurant in Concon and got to spend a few quality moments with the friends I had made.
It seems like too big of an entry to write my reflection of my whole experience here now, so you will just have to wait a few days for a reflection of my experiences. All i will leave you with is that if you ever have the chance to study abroad or live abroad or go abroad, TAKE IT! It will honestly change your life.
Sending love from Lake minnetonka where I am currently laying out in the sun :)