Take the weather with you

Great song. Not so great as a concept.

I’m in the driest place in the world – the Atacama Desert – and it’s raining. As if I don’t get enough of that kind of thing at home.

Despite the rain, it’s amazing here. Really surreal landscape, almost no vegetation on the  1.5 hour drive from the airport. It’s all rocky and beige-ish and then you go around a corner and there are suddenly snow-capped mountains towering above rocks that are still predominantly beige but now look like a hairdresser has put red highlights on the rocks.

Despite the incredible sights, I have been struggling with some of the aspects of group travel today. When I’m in a group, I don’t necessarily have access to all the coping strategies I normally use. So for instance, when the check in machine at the airport broke, I would normally just step away, find somewhere quiet to compose myself and process what I need to do, and then go back and try again. But you can’t do that in a group situation, particularly when people keep giving me instructions and there isn’t time to process what they are telling me. So that’s very difficult, and it’s unfortunate that people generally don’t understand stimming: they tend to think it’s something that needs to be stopped when it’s actually a way of trying to keep myself at least vaguely present, and the right side of a meltdown.

I’m also – as I thought I might – finding the social aspects very difficult. Again, I have techniques for that, but they don’t always work, particularly when I’m already tired and overwhelmed. Dinner today was a classic example. It was the end of a long and exhausting day, the tour manager had said it was a buffet and I thought I had just enough capacity left to go to the restaurant for 15 minutes, grab a plate of food, eat it while pretending to listen to the small talk and then leave. And I would have had the capacity for that.

I wasn’t expecting, and wasn’t able to cope with, a two course formal meal sitting opposite someone who did not comply with normal small talk conventions.

I ended up leaving before the main course.

So now, not only am I exhausted and overwhelmed, I’m also incredibly hungry. And there is a distinct lack of coffee available here. It’s not a good combination….

I am still glad to be here, though. Just hoping things will settle down on the group front soon.

And the obligatory photos follow. The first is from the plane window on the flight up from Santiago. The second is in a place called the Valley of the Moon.



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