Chileans love their rules, and their checkpoints.  On the bus I was woken up by Dan who couldn’t understand the bus steward who was trying to take our passports.  He said something about passports, then control, then dos horas.  Half asleep, this meant nothing to me.  Luckily Tristan translated that he needed our passports for some passport control and would bring them back in two hours.  Oh.  Ok.

Asleep again, we were woken up and taken off the bus for another control point.  Well, some of us were.  You never wake Tessa up.  NEVER.  So while Tristan and I joined the freezing passengers on the side of the road, Dan was trying to coax Tessa into getting off the bus.  Finally the bus steward said “Nina stay, ok.” and Dan joined us outside.  We waited while the bus was searched inside and they searched under the bus with a mirror.  A tall, unfriendly German looking guard searched through my backpack, though I’m not sure what he was looking for.  There are a lot of Germans in Chile.  Maybe this is the reason for all this distrust   (If  I’m not mistaken, several ex Nazis moved to Chile. )   When we were allowed back on the bus, we found Tessa busy gathering up all our bags.  She thought we had gotten off and left our stuff and she was doing her best to get all the bags.  Remember what I said earlier about her guarding the bags?  She takes her job very seriously.

The rest of the night passed uneventfully.  I woke up early in the morning and was treated to a beautiful sight.  The sun was just coming up, unfolding a plush blanket of pink and purple for the setting full moon, with her companion Jupiter,  to rest on.  It was breathtaking.  The desert sky is so clear, the colors just pop, something I’ve never seen before.  It’s magical, a phrase we couldn’t stop using during our time in the desert.   As I watched the moon slowly fade, I was overcome with sheer happiness and gratitude, so happy that I was here and so grateful to share this time with my husband and children.  Sometimes when we’re sailing, I second guess myself, wandering if I shouldn’t be at work, and who am I to deserve this.  But here, I am just so full of thanks, so full of gratefulness, and so proud of myself  for putting my dreams into action.  My friend, Dana, had given me a magnet that said,  “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”  All my heart was there that morning.

A few hours later, the bus pulled into a dusty, desert town, reminiscent of a scene from the Old West.  As we woke up, gathered our bags and stepped off the bus, the usual crowd of tour/hotel solicitors were there wishing us a “Welcome to San Pedro de Atacama”.  We had arrived.