Sometimes, and especially when several years of the trip have passed, I prefer to see the photos or videos that I have to remember a bit how it was, and always with the help of the photos I manage to remember some details or anecdotes that I would otherwise forget. Except when it comes to Chile, and this trip in particular. I saw the flower desert on my first trip to Chile, which was also my first trip to Latin America, which was a dream come true for me. Perhaps that is why I remember all of them, even the smallest details, remained etched in my mind for the rest of my life (I hope that amnesia and Alzheimer’s do not reach me). In the first place, I didn`t plan to go to see the flower desert, even if some of my Chilean friends told me that it would be nice to go because it was estimated that it was the largest flower desert in the last 20 years and it is not known when a phenomenon like that will happen again. At the time everyone (myself included) thought that I would be there just spending some weeks and who knows when I`ll be again in Chile. It was not like that, but it`s part of another story, this text serves to try to describe in words the magic of the natural phenomenon called the flower desert (desierto florido in Spanish), something that with less or greater intensity happens every year in the south of the driest desert in the world, Atacama. It`s between the cities of Copiapó and Vallenar where the phenomenon can best be perceived. In an area that is the driest and most arid in the entire world, more than 150 species of flowers appeared, many of them endemic, marking the beginning of spring. Since we are talking about the southern hemisphere, it`s a phenomenon that happens in late August or early September. There are entire hills full of flowers of different colors, kilometers and kilometers of flowers within the Atacama. Obviously, a spectacular moment to be there for a human being.
But I tell you how I got there in the end. I was at a meal with the family of a friend of mine who, by the way, hosted me in Santiago and they insisted on convincing me that it would be silly not to take advantage of this special moment, and they showed me the photos of the flower desert, they told me where I had to go to see it well and enjoy it to the fullest … and I don’t know, there was also September 11 when in Santiago (historical reasons, date of the 1973 coup) there are violent protests and then they also thought that the best thing for me is to leave that day out of the capital to a quieter area. And nothing, suddenly I decided to follow the advice, not only from them, but also from another friend who advised me to go to Valle del Elqui, which is not so far from the flowery desert, that is, everything going north. But it`s again something that deserves a separate text.
The thing was that I arrived at Vallenar at around 5 in the afternoon, I checked in at the hotel and immediately asked them how I can go to see the flower desert. They told me that it seems to them that there was nothing left that day and that I should wait until the next day. Obviously, I am a very tenacious and persistent person (that’s why I fulfilled the biggest dream of my life at the age of 25) and I went to the center of the city and started asking around at the open market where to direct me if I want to go to the flower desert. In my mind full of everything but brain, I asked a lady how I could walk there. Walk. I mean, me walking alone into the desert. Now that I say it, it seems like either a joke or a suicide attempt, but I was very serious, I came there to see the flower desert and nothing and nobody was going to stop me from doing it. The lady, very nice and friendly, by the way, told me that it`s not possible to walk there, but that she had a contact with a lady who does private tours. The contact was immediately passed to me, she called her first to tell her who I was and the lady said that there is no problem there was another person interested to do the long tour the next day. And well, I realized that I had to stay one more day to do everything I wanted, but I was going to do it. I was on vacation so there was no rush. And the next day the guide, the driver and another lady who was on the tour came to pick me up, we got into the truck and left. I can tell you something that I suppose you know, the most beautiful experiences you are going to have in this life are the ones that happened spontaneously and unexpectedly. Just like that tour. The guide was a woman who knew all the flowers and plants and their uses and colors and absolutely everything. She is a very wise person. Besides that, she, like the other people present on the tour, had a very good mood. It was a day full of jokes and laughter, as well as spectacular views and landscapes. Together with the guide, the driver Francisco and Ines, the other passenger, they were an endless number of jokes and anecdotes. Like a full day stand up comedy. I even remember the jokes! Amazing! We spent most of the day on the tour and saw so many different flowers, we had the opportunity to walk around, without clearly damaging the flowers, and admire the beauty and occurrence of nature.
Suddenly there were very dry and arid landscapes, with almost no plants and fewer colored flowers, and that is actually typical Atacama, and then, just behind the corner there was a hill full of yellow flowers, then one full of pink flowers … incredible, to think that you are in the Atacama and you see that is simply spectacular. For European readers, imagine Sahara full of flowers, it`s at that level.
That day I was in a state of pure happiness and not even aware of the beautiful memories I would have, I was there with the guys, obviously making jokes, and that’s how the day passed. And even now, writing this I have a smile on my face. Already just seeing the greatness and power of a desert is impressive, but with flowers, it is magic. And I say that I don’t need photos to remember those moments, but I do have photos, and the one I remember the most is the photo where I am sitting in the field of flowers just being happy. I wasn’t thinking about anything at the time, I wasn’t just laughing “for the photo”, no, I was laughing because I was happy. It was one of many moments that made me fall in love with Chile, the most beautiful country that these brown eyes ever saw.
In the end, what else to say, but to thank everyone who convinced me to go alone from Santiago to the north. Guys, remember that sometimes it`s good to follow the advices! It was a unique and unforgettable experience. To prove it, just watch this video below and us in the truck listening to Despacito and enjoying the flower desert at the same time.