We entered Chile in San Pedro de Atacama, the driest desert on the planet. And all I remember is pure exhaustion.
Being born and raised in Southern Nevada’s desert, I wasn’t sure how impressed I’d be by Bolivia’s landscape. I’ve never appreciated the desert for its potential beauty, always discounting it as brown and bland. But those descriptions just don’t tell the whole story. Diverse scenery speckled the trek. Breathtaking views, coupled with a group of amazing new friends made for quite a fun adventure.
Standing out there — in the middle of beautiful, vivid nothingness — I thought about where I am at in my life and tried to gain “perspective.”
At what point does the tourism industry completely overrun and obscure the landmark? Is it possible to have both without devaluing the experience for either the tourists or the locals? Opening up a culture to tourism will taint it … but when does it go too far and where is the balance? Are you really experiencing this world if you are only visiting the tourist-ready version?
Nora and I arrived at the airport, ready and excited to take our tour in what turned out to be a glider, a six passenger aircraft (including the pilot and co-pilot) with propellers on the front. Although I’ve never been afraid of heights or flying, I started to feel a little nervous while waiting for our turn. I assured myself that those feelings would subside as soon as we took off safely.
I spent a week volunteering in the rural Amazonian village of Yantaló, Perú, and it changed my life.
Through the grapevine of travelers and the good ol´ Interwebs, the news of this countryside treasure started surfacing: Cajamarca is Perú’s capital of both cheese and Carnival. Swoon. I instantly thought it would be worth deviating from my ever-so-sacred plan.