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San Pedro de Atacama

A couple weeks ago I planned a trip north to visit the desert with my friend. Of course trips are really never that fun if everything goes according to plan, where is the adventure right? So to add to our adventure, about 36 hours before our flight I sprained my ankle rock climbing.

I was bouldering (for those who don’t know, that means no ropes) and I was not very high, but when I missed a far rock that I was reaching for I fell and out of pure bad luck my foot went between two mats and my weak ankle twisted in. This lead to lots of pain and me shouting a couple english words that all chileans know. Quickly I was carried off the mat and a taxi came into the university to take me to the hospital.  The doctors spoke beautiful, clear spanish to me and what the university trainer had told me was definitely a fracture turned out to just be a sprain. I was told to take 3 days of complete bed rest and I told the doctor no, but thinking I did not understand the spanish he just repeated 3 to me a couple of times. No, no means I have a plane ticket 36 hours from now. I was a good listener for day one and put no weight on my foot, but as I could not follow the 3 day rule, I did the next best thing…I used a cane all weekend!

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Taking the wheelchair elevator at the very nice Clínica Santa María.

I felt a little silly walking around with a cane, but as I plan to do more hiking during my time in Chile I need to take precautions and get better ASAP! Also, I learned a lot of new vocab at the hospital: muleta (cane), esguince (sprain), tobillera (ankle brace).

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We saw the amazing race contestants at the Santiago airport!

Look out for me hobbling around in the back of an airport interview next season!

After all of this exciting build up, my friend Hilary and I spent 3 busy days in San Pedro de Atacama, the driest desert in the world. The first day we rented bikes and went to watch the sunset at the incredible Valle de la Luna. The ride back with our headlamps was also incredible!

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We love Chile!

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We saw some amazing dunes, but we had to stay on specified trails. I have been to dunes in Michigan and Colorado and I had never heard about dune conservation in terms of not walking around on them because back home the point is to just walk all over the sand dunes. The difference in Chile is the earthquakes. The last earthquake caused this area to sink and now conservationists are concerned that the land could sink further and become dangerous.

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The second day we woke up early and went on a 7 hour tour including the national flamingo reserve, salt flats, and snow!

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Laguna de Chaxa with three types of flamingo: Andean, Chilean, and James. Chilean flamingos are defined by their habit of “dancing” while they eat! We were fortunate to see some of this funny looking wiggling around!IMG_3494

We then went to these beautiful snow surrounded lakes. There is only snow here for a few months of the year, but I can’t imagine it being this pretty without snow!1000426_10152919850605300_1940683784_nThere are a couple of jumping pictures that I had to pretend to join in and just throw my sprained foot up in the air.Image

Laguna Miscanti1000426_10152919850600300_93088917_nPlaying in the snow! Although, I am much more excited for Wisconsin Summer than I am bummed about skipping out early on the winter.1005950_10201505377022551_217277170_nHere it is, if you have not noticed it avoiding pictures until now. Just call me “Muleta Mary.”IMG_3502

After our first tour, we joined a second tour to visit and swim (float)in the salt lakes!

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No hands! No feet! No treading!

We played in the snow and swam in the same day! (Swimming was pretty chilly (chile) though)IMG_3517

We went to this lake where you are supposed to take pictures by it because the reflection is so clear…10583_10152919922995300_1779535145_n

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…our photographer must not have understood this.1005407_10152919954100300_1412503748_n

Another beautiful sunset in the north!1017285_10201505375662517_1096963292_n

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Without including the shore in this picture, it is hard to tell what is the sky and what is the water. You can flip the picture around over and over again and not know because the reflection is so clear.1011923_10201505420103628_1895432727_n

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Our final day, we went to the archeology museum and saw the perfectly preserved artifacts due to the arid environment. The museum even used to have some corpses on display, but we only got to watch a video about how they do not keep them on display anymore.

After the museum, we rented bikes again and set off to see another famous nearby area, Valle de la Muerte. Well remember what I said about adventure? No injuries this time, just good old fashioned getting lost. Instead of the always tourist populated Valle de la Muerte, we ended up biking to nowhere. Here we saw giant sand stones, distant snow covered mountains, and something really fun when you are staying in a tourist town and packing into the metro everyday in Santiago, no people.717_10201505374542489_505221969_n

Can’t complain about getting our destination wrong if nowhere looks like this!382485_10152919976080300_11297701_nWe had a wonderful weekend outside in a completely new environment, but now on to final exams and papers. Only one and a half weeks of school left! Then off to Peru!

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One thought on “San Pedro de Atacama

  1. How’s your ankle doing now? Looks like that was an amazing trip! Thanks for sharing all of the pics! Hope finals go well!

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