Luna de Vieja, Atacama

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Atamca
[Wrote this offline and forgot to post it back in April]

There are three main tours to do in Atacama. Two of them leave very early in the morning to catch the sunrise, the other leaves in the afternoon. As a tour salesman began explaining the morning tours, we interrupted him: it’s ok, we’re not interested in waking up at 4 or 6 AM, regardless of what the tour actually involves. First, one sleeps. Then, one lives.

We signed up for the afternoon tour of Luna de Vieja. It was a delightful experience. Van picked us up, guide explained what we were going to do, we got out, and started walking across the desert landscape.

There were big drop points, Grand Canyon style, as well as white salt plains that inspire the name “moon.”

We walked down a huge sand dune. We crawled through a cave. We trekked (gently) through canyons that resembled Bryce or Zion in Utah. The guide explained the different rock formations. I made small talk with a Canadian woman and a Mexican woman. We chatted with two Germans who denied that there was such a thing as a “German breakfast.” As an American, I felt empowered to promptly correct them about their own culture. (Joke, joke.)

At the end, we drove to an area where we could rock-climb to the top of a canyon and watch the sun set. Quite a beautiful sight — desert for as long as the eye can see, with the sun setting behind a canyon in the distance. Our guide, who appeared to be dating one of the participants on the trip, turned on a Queen song and blasted it out of his iPod. Bizarre and at first unwelcome, I soon warmed to it as the soundtrack of the sunset moment, in the middle of a vast expanse in the remote part of northern Chile.

Ben Casnocha
Ben Casnocha is the author of the bestselling business book
'My Start-Up Life: What a (Very) Young CEO Learned on His Journey Through Silicon Valley", which the New York Times called "precocious, informative, and entertaining." He founded Comcate, Inc., an e-government software company, at age 14. Ben's work has been featured in dozens of international media including CNN, USA Today, CNBC, and ABC's 20/20. At a conference in Paris PoliticsOnline named him one of the "25 most influential people in the world of internet and politics".

BusinessWeek recently named Ben "one of America's top young entrepreneurs." He writes prolifically on his blog which the San Jose Business Journal called one of the "Top 25 Blogs in Silicon Valley." He's also a commentator for public radio's "Marketplace."

In addition, Ben has given speeches at dozens of universities and organizations around the world. He has traveled to more than 25 countries and he also co-runs the Silicon Valley Junto, an intellectual discussion society for business and technology executives. In his free time Ben enjoys playing chess, ping-pong, reading, and writing.

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