Heaven on Earth

There are a few moments in my travels that I remember distinctly as some of the most beautiful moments in my life. They are the moments when time pauses, and you look around and you’re wondering how something so magical can also be real. These moments include sleeping under the stars in the Sahara desert in Morocco, diving the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and watching the sunset over Gili Trawangan in Indonesia.

Watching the colorful sunset reflect off the water over the salt flats in Salar de Uyuni was one of those magical moments that will remain with me until the day I die.

Or until some awful disease ravages my brain, but you get the picture.

For those of you who are not familiar with Bolivia and the salt flats (no need to be ashamed, just blame the lack of global perspective in the American education system) Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat in the world. In fact, it can even be seen from outer space. OUTER SPACE.

We spent two days driving around the flats in jeeps, and the whole experience just felt very surreal, maybe even extra terrestrial. I was Hans Solo and this was Star Wars. (Bet you thought I’d go with Princess Leia, but Hans Solo has a way better outfit.) You looked out ahead of you and all you saw for miles and miles was pure white ground and an intensely blue sky. No cars, no people, no buildings.

Just you and the white and the blue.

Of course, if you turned around you saw the other jeeps and a handful of people-but perspective is all about choosing where to look. And I choose to look ahead.

As if the flats couldn’t get more extraordinary, the area was entirely covered in a hexagonal pattern that the salt had naturally formed. From the honeycombs in my backyard to the basalt columns I saw last May in Iceland, nature just loves hexagons. And I suppose I do too- because it looks wicked cool.

However, nothing could prepare me for the sunset that I saw my last night in Salar de Uyuni. Our driver took us to a part of the salt flats that was entirely covered with about two inches of water and you could see the clouds, the sun and the sky reflecting off the water. I poured myself a glass of lovely Bolivian wine and watched as the colors got more and more intense.
Every time I thought the sunset couldn’t get better- it got better. Normally I would blame drinking wine at 12,000 feet, but this was pure magic. The sunset in itself was an incredible array of oranges, pinks and blues- the water doubling its effect. I felt as if I were floating through the kaleidoscope sky, just passing through the clouds- my reflection being the only form of proof I needed.

It was heaven on this beautiful Earth of ours.