Jen and I had been discussing how to incorporate some yoga into our trip and Jen discovered this amazing Yoga retreat in the Chilean desert. After arriving to Combarbala (5 hours north of Santiago) and spending a night in a lovely hostel, the real adventure began.
We took a bus from Combarbala to Centinela, which we thought was a town. We were anxiously looking out the windows trying to guess which town was Centinela, when the bus pulled over literally in the middle of nowhere. “Aqui?” I asked? “Here?” The bus attendant smiled, and tossed our bags off the bus before leaving us in a cloud of dust.
There was nothing in site of our bus stop. I stayed with the bags and Jen set off down a side road with the instructions to turn around after 10 minutes and come back. Optimistically, I sent her with money to buy water – since we were completely out. No dice – I was reading, sitting comfortably on my pack when she returned. Shortly after, our host pulled up in her truck – we had taken an earlier bus than planned and she wasn’t expecting us yet.
Jen is the real yoga lover in our family, and she has also started doing meditation on our trip. I was pretty much a skeptic of doing yoga every day and also meditating once or twice. When Jen told our friends that we were going to be doing this yoga add-on to our trip, literally every one of them said, “Dani too?”
Surprise! This was my favorite part of our trip so far. I loved almost every minute of it. We were hosted by a lovely Dutch family – mom does the yoga, two adorable kids kept us entertained and a literal zoo of cats and one rambunctious dog where available for hugs at all times. In addition, there was a plethora of donkeys and foxes and cactuses (I guess the cactuses aren’t really animals).
On arrival we got to work setting up the tent with Tanja and the kids. It was a short walk from the house – close enough for amenities and far enough for privacy.
The 4 days were filled with yoga in the morning, amazing vegetarian food, meditation in the afternoon and on two of the days site seeing in the surrounding areas. The family lives in a concrete house that they are finishing up little by little. The electricity is completely solar, which generates enough power for them to use a washing machine and anything else they might need. There is a solar hot water system which mean that showers were a possibility, but with an added twist. Showers are a two person job, with the second person pouring the water over you from a watering can! Fun!
Between camping, no real schedule, kittens, the sun and a campfire every night I was in heaven. The yoga, which I had been dreading, was easy when there was someone guiding me through all the poses. Meditation, I found, was easy when I was in the middle of nowhere, with birds chirping and the sun on my face.
An added bonus was that this area is off of the tourist path, so we got to see some cool things that a lot of people miss. The area is rich with quartz, and a lot of mining is done in the area. We also visited a site full of petroglyphs.
The last night, back in Combarbala, we discovered that our reservation had been cancelled by the hostal. They honestly thought it was a mistake that someone would stay on Sunday and still be in the area 5 days later for a Thursday night stay. No worries, lots of rooms to be had.
We finished our time off with a visit to the local observatory where we were able to see the moon (like the craters on the moon – not just the moon), Jupiter! and also some far away stars (obviously less exciting). The sky in northern Chile is one of the best places in the world for stargazing, as there is zero light pollution, and the skies are very clear.
If you find yourself in Chile, dreaming of a desert yoga retreat look Tanja up! http://www.puntoceroyoga.com