Letters back home: the Atacama

We have a morning departure heading 12 hours into northern Argentina, from where we'll directly take another 12 hour bus getting me into Jesús María on the mid morning of the 3rd, so I can spend Saturday and Sunday with my family, then I head out super early Monday morning and I guess I have about 2 days of transit. So that’s the deal.

 I'm in the Atacama Desert right now. Today George and I rented bikes and road 36 km through 'the valley of the moon.' This place is pretty fantastic; it looks like another planet - mostly because there is not a single trace of life. No cactus, no grass, no moss, no animals, just multi-colored sand and rock. This is likely the closest to being on Mars that I will ever be. On top of that, it’s the driest place on the planet, and in it entire history of human inhabitance it ha never once rained. Their yearly millimeters of water come from minimal condensed humidity in the air.

Unfortunately though, it gets up to like 80 degrees in the day and drops below freezing at night. That makes for a confusing day in which I wish for cold water all day, then hours later at night I have prepared myself delicious hot chocolate. Things are freaking expensive in Chile. Really, it’s like being in the US, and when you include bus and hostel costs it’s a really good thing that we've kept our time to two days here. 

     I am about to shower for the 3rd time this month, and shave for the first time. Getting clean becomes an adventure when you never do it.