My favorite part of our retreats will always be the time we spend with the incredible women who join us. I think it’s safe to say that we probably all feel that way. But, our retreats wouldn’t be our retreats without the exploration of the beautiful settings where they take place.
On our first retreat, we were immersed in the Medina in Marrakech and our excursions focused more on meeting artisans and exploring the city in all of its richness. Our trip to the Atacama was like landing on the moon in comparison to Morocco—which is actually not that far off, considering the Atacama has some of Earth’s landscapes that are closest to those of other planets (hello Mars!) and moons. After mornings together meditating and sharing and crying (lots of crying, it felt amazing!) it was really nice in the afternoons to take the time to get out of the hotel and explore this vast, expansive and desolate land.
Our hotel, the Alto Atacama, had many great adventures planned for us, but we were able to enhance some of our experiences thanks to one of our readers, Liz Caskey. When Liz, who is an American transplant in Santiago—she’s been there for over 20 years!—saw we were planning a trip in Chile, she reached out to us to see if she could get involved. Liz is totally plugged into the culinary and wine scene in Chile and all over South America. When she offered to join us and bring some of her favorite wines, cheeses and chocolates so we could do a tasting while also meeting some of her cultural connects in the Atacama, we were in.
We ventured to the Salt Flats with Liz to watch the sunset. I was blown away (quite literally, it was so windy!) by the salt formations and the incredible landscapes. And the flamingos! To see them in nature, standing on the salt in just a few inches of water as the sun was falling behind the volcanoes and mountains in the background was breathtaking. Liz prepared an incredible spread for us to feast on as we watched the last few rays of sun dip—a new tip, sometimes the best view is when you turn around, away from the sunset and take in the opposing view. The sky was a hazy lavender and gold I’ve never seen before.
Before our trip to the salt flats, we visited Liz’s friend, Diego Alamos, who has set up a bookstore in the desert with different books about Chilean culture, art and history. He’s also set up an artist residency in the space, which he designed himself. He showed us the way people typically live in the Atacama, with limited access to water and farming still very much at the core of the way of life.
And of course, we visited the Valley of the Moon, probably one of the most famous landscapes in Chile. The place is pretty indescribable—it looks like Mars—like a complete other world. It is dry, and dusty, and red, and enormous. We visited natural rock formations, hiked to the top of a pristine sand dune, and went crazy goofy dancing and taking selfies under the sky at the top of an enormous cliff, looking into the vastness of the valley below.
The quiet of the Atacama made our trip and meditation practice incredibly powerful, but visiting the vast landscapes which the country is working hard to preserve, was unbelievable and quite humbling. The perfect setting for reflection and cultivating a certain stillness, allowing us to dive deeper into ourselves throughout our time.