chile Tag

Last week Helen and I decided to take advantage of Santiago’s proximity to the Atacama desert, so we escaped the city and hopped on a plane for a multi-day micro adventure in the region’s largest (and world’s driest?) desert.

We set up base in the small (but super touristy) San Pedro de Atacama, where, between our time spent wandering the dirt streets and stuffing ourselves with fresh bread, we went on a hefty cycling adventure, sand-boarded some Chilean-dunes, (Vicuñas?), and got our heart-broken by a plethora of stray dogs.

  

We rented bikes for one of the days, which was definitely a highlight (and way cheaper, more exciting, and freedom-filled than the tour options!), so we spent most of our day venturing through Valle de la Luna and all its loveliness. We were the last ones to leave the reserve, so we had the pleasure of riding back to camp in the dark under a gorgeously bright sky full of stars. I love deserts.

  
  

So, it’s no secret I have a soft spot for canines. Or kittens. (Or really anything fluffy.) And seeing as there are stray dogs everywhere in Chile, it basically always kills me. But something about this one little dog was just the sweetest thing ever. And all the other dogs were just plain evil towards her, so I caved and bought her some food. Of course she ended up chilling with us at for the evening, shared our campsite, and ventured into town with us the next day with a new spring in her step. Then we were leaving for our sand-boarding adventure, and after being denied entry into the van (and looking absolutely doleful that she couldn’t come), she chased us down the street for a good mile… and when we eventually got out of site and stopped, sure enough, a few seconds later he came bounding over the hill after us.

Heart. Broken.

But seriously, how adorable is she?

(Moral of the story: go adopt a dog?)

Needless to say, it was an adventure-filled few days, and seeing as I am not at all a city person, it was a much needed escape from Santiago! Not to mention an awesome chance to put my Spanish to practice with some of the locals we met!

Patagonia’s a pretty stunning place. Not that I expected any less, but it still blew my mind with it’s unending mountains and plethora of waterfalls gushing from the most unsuspecting and cinematic of places. Patagonia is one of those places I really wanted to visit. It’s like the epitome of adventure destinations – hiking and climbing and kayaking and everything in between. While our trip wasn’t exactly filled with this type of adventure, we got a lovely glimpse of the culture and got to plant some trees in a Patagonian forest. That’s a pretty legit adventure in itself, right?

 

In Coyhaique, we met up with Mattias, who was our trusty guide (and protector of the trees) working with the folks at Patagonia Sur. He took us eight (long, bumpy, windy, semi-scary, and totally beautiful) hours further into the heart of Patagonia. Like every good roadtrip, it included some scary driving moments, epic views, and a bit of Johnny Cash.

Speaking of trees, the primary reason we headed to Patagonia was to start planting the Only Bloody Human forest… which I realize sounds kind of horrific if you group the words wrong, so let me explain. Essentially it’s a 1,000 tree-strong forest, which will completely carbon offset the Only Bloody Human film project over the next year. We’re also pretty passionate about the idea of leaving the places we travel better than we found them; so we made our mark on the local landscape, reforesting some Nire trees in Valle California! So, that’s pretty exciting.

It is coming into Winter in South America though, so most of the time the skies were overcast and rain was definitely present, resulting in a week of wet-feet and looking drenched in basically everything we filmed, but it was totally worth it.

We even got to plant a few of the trees ourselves, in front of our fancy new sign staking our forest’s ground. It’s pretty cool knowing that there is a tree in the middle of Patagonia that I planted with my own hands. I mean, how many people can say that??

While we didn’t get to do much adventuring in the way of hiking or climbing (because really, Patagonia is the ultimate adventure destination), it was actually really exciting to experience more of the local lifestyle. Not that they should be mutually exclusive, but I suppose it’s difficult to experience the culture if you’re in the middle of the wilderness climbing. And vice-versa. Natural beauty aside, the small town community and basically every single person we met was super welcoming and definitely beautiful in their own right. A unique experience, to say the least.

I seem to fall in love with little towns more than anywhere else these days. There’s something about the simplicity, I think. Slow Sunday-afternoons spent by fires in cafes. Gauchos and their horses, and herding dogs and their sheep. And wood-burning ovens and their constant supply of hot-water for tea-making.

  

Give me some wifi, a loyal dog, a belay partner, and a stash of Yorkshire tea, and I could totally get used to living somewhere like that.

Who knows, maybe that’ll be the next big adventure?

It’s been an exciting few weeks with lots of mini-adventures and new design endeavours, so I wanted to take a minute and fill you in on what this summer is shaping up to look like!

I suppose the big thing is that I’m kind of relocating to Chile on Wednesday…
Bet you didn’t see that one coming!

I’m pretty excited to say that I’ll be headed to Santiago to spend at least a few months working with the folks at Only Bloody Human. They are in the process of making some pretty rad interactive adventure films, and I’ll be jumping in and helping out with the visual side of things, which is pretty exciting! I’m sure there’s a lot more that could be said about that, but in honour of keeping things simple, I’ll just say I literally couldn’t be more excited, and look forward to exciting adventures in design! (Also, did I mention that means I’m going to Chile??)

I’ll also be working with Rustic Pathways for a few weeks later this summer, doing photography, videography, and guiding for high school students in their Spain programs (including a stint on the coast and in the Pyranees!). If you know about my interest in adventure-based learning, you’ll understand why I’m pretty excited about this opportunity as well! (Creo que necesito a practicar mi español mucho! Tal vez a hablar con fluidez al fin???)

Spain will be followed closely by a 12,500ft trek up Western Europe’s tallest Mont Blanc, with a handful of friends from Belfast! Some of which also happen to be the folks at C2SummitAdventures, whom I also happen to be partnering with and selling a couple prints in their online shop (shameless plug?)! So give them some love and pop over and check out some lovely photos in their new shop (including the one below, from Mt. Blanc, by Steven Carmichael!).

And in other news, in case you missed it, I’m honoured to have been asked to contribute an article about last year’s Yukon Quest adventure to Sidetracked Magazine – have a read here if you’re interested and/or want to see some cute dogs!

So there you have it – looking forward to a summer of challenges, opportunities, adventures, and endless creativity!

#Epic2013