Not what I had expected · Nov 28, 03:46 PM

Now, I knew that the Atacama Desert was one of the driest in the world; so why was I surprised when on the flight north from Santiago the landscape gradually became nothing but sand, sand, sand? My only excuse is that I had just spent a week in the green, wet south where plants extrude from every and any crevice and it seems to rain nearly every day. Kind of like the Pacific Northwest, but more so.

However, now my eyes are acclimatized to this incredibly arid landscape and I can appreciate the subtle changes in color, the difference between sand and rock, and the incredible struggle of life to survive on 30 mm of rain per year.

So even tho’ Christian’s nose bleeds whenever he blows it (and we blow our noses a lot, given the area’s aridity and all of the dust we’re inhaling), and it’s damned HOT from late morning to early evening, we’re glad we came to the Norte Grande.