Travels

Ischigualasto: the place where the moon sleeps

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Written by Alejandra Abad.


I achieved my goal of getting there on a full moon Friday at sunset so that I could visit the valley that night with the natural light of the lunar night, but the inopportune Zonda wind left me wanting. This uncomfortable and frequent wind raises such dust that the visit is impossible, so we will have to rest tonight because tomorrow Saturday I will have to make the two visits of the weekend in a single day. Curiously, two completely different visits to the same place.
The early morning is worth it to arrive early in Ischigualasto and, trying not to wake up to the Moon so that this night is resting and we shine well, we travel the only place on the planet where there is a complete sequence of continental sediments of the Triassic Period of the Era Mesozoic

Indeed, based on the accumulation of sedimentary layers over millions and millions of years, the rock formations of the Moon Valley turn out to be like an open book to study the period in which dinosaurs expanded through fossils. The guide who accompanies us on the tour invites us with his annoying voice of pito to imagine the dinosaurs walking and literally encourages us to share with him the "pleasure of savoring the sediments of millions of years." It turns out to be a very poetic way to soften the fact that absolutely everything, including your mouth, is filled with a powder so fine that it gets into the last corner of your backpack and will go with you until the return to civilization, to the shower, and the washing machine.

It is difficult to describe the loneliness that inspires this place (despite being one surrounded by tourists singing in the van to the rhythm of hammering reggaeton), the lack of life that is breathed here, the uniformity of the color, gray, light brown, brown , Gray. From time to time, a red wall that looks like a Martian or a sad dying shrub is happy, but in general, and in many kilometers around everything is dead and gray. This is really more or less how I would have imagined the Moon. Curious are the forms that wind and water have been carving on the rocks, which rise capriciously with silhouettes of sphinxes, fungi or dwarfs (shapes that can be appreciated if you take a lot of imagination, notice).

There is a particularly curious place on this visit that the locals have named "Bocce court". It turns out to be a huge esplanade full of round gray rocks shaped like soccer balls (hence the name, the stadiums in Argentina are called courts) perfectly modeled it is not yet known by what geological process, without a single projection, to roll and roll to infinity if it were not because at this point the bocce court grounds are already limited by rudimentary fences that prevent visitors from passing.

The visit to Ischigualasto is fascinating despite belonging to the category of “tourist-route-you-can't-leave-the-marked-path” that I hate so much, but unfortunately it is the only way to know the place. It is surely also the only way to keep it more or less virgin.

But much more impressive will result at night. The Zonda wind seems to be a truce today and the Moon appears clear in the sky, full of pride and ready to show us its bedroom in all its splendor.

Reggaeton and the morning fluttering of the morning have now been replaced by an imposing silence. We may not find words or that the magic - or the cold - of the night has cut our breath. The short sleeve and midday flip flops have now become thick pullovers and blankets over the shoulders. At the end of the day this is almost a desert and the temperature is as different as the view of this place depending on the time of day.

For a couple of hours I walk the park without the need for flashlights or lanterns because there is enough light almost to read.

All the participants in this night excursion are half hypnotized, almost bewitched by the light of the full moon, or by the beauty of the night landscape. Nobody knows very well whether to look at the beautiful and huge moon, to study the constellations of the southern hemisphere that are so well appreciated from here or to admire the same strange rock formations in the morning with that silver light that now make them look like fantasy beings .

In particular, I also take care - like a little girl with new shoes - to get the most out of my brand new camera and take night photos that seem almost daytime. Now we have some more freedom to walk and move through the valley, to lie down in that thin layer of sand that hides sediments of millions of years, to look at the stars and enjoy a night without lights that pollute it. I feel here as if I were on the moon really, as haunted, so far from home, from the city, from the noise and the lights, from the western stars that I learned to identify since I was a child ... Far from being scared, I am surprised myself discovering that I love this feeling of, as if we were saying, "absence of everything mine." It is really exciting, it dazzles me, so much that I will get them to come looking for me because of my frequent distraction from everything practical (see, from the clock).

While some recline and begin to shelter in the van I, despite the cold, I lose a while with my camera and my moon. And in the middle of a place so different, so lonely, so lunar, so desert, so far from my whole world, so magical, I think it has been worth so many hours of bus. I will remember this landscape for many years and now every morning I will know where the Moon is hiding.

5.001

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