We like the Alto Atacama so much that we have spent more than half of our time lounging around the resort rather than taking advantage of the excursions available to us daily.*
The staff seem . . . dismayed is too strong a word, perhaps bemused is better . . . by our lack of activity. I wonder if they will be singing ballads about The Lazy Americans** for years after we depart.
We roused ourselves on Sunday to undertake a “medium difficulty hike” into the Ckari Gorge and are very glad we did. Though we have no regrets about previous and future lounging!
This gorge is located in the Salt Mountains on one side of the Valley of the Moon.
In case you are wondering how big this landscape is, there are people in the photograph directly above. I don’t mean the shadows. Look at the three dots in a horizontal line at the bottom of the upper third of this photo. Those specks are people.
Natural erosion is constantly changing these mountains, which are composed of soft and fragile materials: gypsum, clay, and salt. The erosion is largely caused by rain, which does occur — mostly during the summer months (December, January) when the “Bolivian Winter” passes through. I am not sure if the Bolivian Winter is the French Toast of the Atacama or its Canadian Doubles. I do wonder what the Bolivians call this weather pattern.
Knowing how soft and fragile these mountains are, one must ask whether it is smart to stand inside of this tunnel taking photos. It was fine!
This hike was among the highlights of the trip. We were advised in advance that it was a poor choice for anyone suffering from vertigo or a fear of heights because the descent into the gorge was by a path that dropped off on one side. It was fine!
The guide also mentioned “rock-climbing” by which I thought he meant “scampering over rocks like a billy-goat.” Since scampering is a particular talent of mine, I was unconcerned, but he actually meant “descending a 15 foot wall by finding hand- and foot-holds in natural stone.” It was fine!
And another Proof of Life, if you are willing to take my word that this photo was snapped on April 8th in the Ckari Gorge.
Despite slathering my self with SPF55, I failed to cover the skin under my eyebrows — which I thought was protected by my sunglasses and hat. The wily sun found these vulnerable spots and I have the strangest, tiniest sunburns — smaller than a thumb-nail. Beware the desert sun, mis amigos.
Now back to dresses.
This one is a little different. It’s a shirtdress, intentionally cut full.
The Photographer did not like it when I showed it to him in Washington D.C., but gave it rave reviews in the desert.
Fatima and I agreed that this dress — the opposite of va-voomilicious — has a certain nonchalant chic. Very English Patient, I think.
Here you can see the dramatic profile of the hem and the equally — nay, more — dramatic sleeves. Fun, right? Interesting!
The llamas resisted all of my appeals to come closer. They had no interest in the details of the dress, or me.
But you’ll come closer when I call, won’t you?
Come closer, she crooned. See the beautiful pin-tucking around the neckline.
I bought this dress on sale and found that even in the smallest size it was much too big. I brought it to Fatima and in a classic example of scope-creep, spent the equivalent of the sale discount on alterations. Sometimes things go that way.
Here is evidence of my continued efforts to evade the sun — an old hat and scarf you’ve seen before.
Back to the Gorge! You be the judge. I look very covered up, don’t I? You can’t even see my eyebrows. And yet . . .
Nevertheless, I loved the desert. It’s beautiful and harsh, open and enveloping, and — to a person who grew up in the green of New England — the most foreign landscape imaginable.
Dress: Teija*** from MatchesFashion.com; Hat: Pistil; Scarf: Eileen Fisher; Shoes: Rebecca Minkoff
* Cannot say enough good things about the Alto Atacama. It’s a beautiful spot with wonderfully attentive staff, delicious food, and beautiful amenities.
** The Photographer vehemently disputes any characterization of our stay as “lazy.” He feels we were plenty active, despite being at 8,000 feet in the driest desert in the world.
*** If you are 5’7″ or taller, the XS may fit you perfectly. There are also many other shirtdresses and blouses on sale that look intriguing to me.