Vamos al Desierto! by Elena Minolfo

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The weekend of November 14-17, our whole group went to the Atacama Desert. We planned this trip on the second week that we arrived in Santiago as our last trip of the semester. All 10 of us were able to go, which took a lot of planning, but it worked out in the end. We arrived in the desert at our AirBnb around midnight on the 14th so we all crashed pretty soon after. The next morning, a group of us had signed up to learn sandboarding in some sand dunes in a place called Death Valley. Four of us in total went: myself, Delaney, Ruby and Kendall.

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We were super excited, but it turned out that I wasn’t as good at sandboarding as I hoped that I would be and I fell…a lot. But the whole experience made it worth it because I tried something new and out of my comfort zone. That night, the whole group decided to try and walk out into the desert to do some stargazing because the Atacama Desert is the best place in the southern hemisphere for stargazing. We ended up on the side of the highway next to a gas station, but it was still a lot of fun, and several of us saw shooting stars. The last day, we went on a tour of the Valley of the Moon. It ended up being a bit more intense than we expected; we had to go uphill and downhill on steep dunes and carefully navigate barely-there paths on the sides of the mountains/canyons in the valley. We ended the tour with a beautiful sunset before heading back to the Airbnb. I think that this was one of my favorite experiences during the semester because our whole group was able to go and enjoy our last big trip together and make some really great memories. 

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