The Trash the Dress session in the Atacama Desert was not our choice, it was a challenge proposed us by TVI talk show hosts Cristina Ferreira and Manuel Luís Goucha. When we accept a challenge, with no question, it’s to accomplish it as best we can, and that’s how we faced this session.
As it is already easy to guess, our session days of Trash the Dress always start very early, and only end when we like what we see, and the sun goes down. This was no exception, but this time it went beyond the usual obstacles (walking with the dress, the shoes, in this specific case the heat...): was the first time we were going to be photographed by someone who’s living the story in the first person, André. It added a great deal of responsibility to both but also allowed us to show the utmost genuineness and complicity.
As we had never been to a desert, I confess that, initially, I was afraid that the photos would be monotonous. However, once we entered the Toyota Land Cruiser 4x4 and we get to the road, the willing was to stop at every km because there was always a landscape or a perspective that we wanted to register. The Atacama is the highest and driest desert in the world and it consists of volcanoes, dunes, lagoons, geysers, stone soils, mud or salt. Is a place where pink flamingos live, llamas, alpacas, ducks, donkeys and where lilac plants bloom, giving to the saturated and unreal colors an air of mirage, in such a diverse landscape.
The fear disappeared in the first minutes of the session, and from then we only thought about enjoying that wonderful and unique place, where we were, once again, with our favorite suits for the greatest adventures.
At the beginning of the day, on our way to the geysers of Tatio, we were surprised by some stone ruins of a small inhabited village on the slopes of the mountain. The idea that people lived in there, in the middle of the desert, is fascinating. We invaded the property of nobody and visited one of the small houses of perfect symmetry, it once belonged to someone who might have lived there, most probably because of the opportunities of living in the proximity to volcanoes. We continued the trip, climbing, and behold the top meets us. We had never seen a geyser, and when we arrived we were stunned by the geology of that place. The water that comes out of the earth boils at 88º C, with the immense vapor fading the torrid colors of the desert, and two people in love lost and found in this context. It seemed kind of Hollywoodesque and unreal, but was true, André and I were there. In a unique and different vision that we loved.
Between the ups and downs of the Atacama, a couple of minutes later we were already observing another completely different landscape. On a steep slope as well, now the stone ground inhabited by cactus with a large diameter and height. It seemed we were in another part of the world, but we were only a few minutes away from the emptiness, only broken by the geysers.
In the Atacama Desert, the colors are always changing, the paths we cross seem different at different times of the day: the blue, orange and red are the colors that change intensity. Of course, the opportunity to shoot in the way, which we didn’t knew where it leads (because there was no indication or reference), was fascinating for us. Even though it left us expectant, it also left us calm and aware that there were numerous opportunities, in a metaphor for life, this day was extraordinarily liberating.
There are always landscapes that absorb us. Of the many that André and I have gone through together, the simplicity of a tree as the only thing that breaks the emptiness in a road of dirt and dust was something terrifying. This is the Atacama: when we least expect the road takes us to a new perspective.
We walked on sandy, muddy, stone and salty soils, cool in the morning, but with plenty of sun and heat throughout the day. Late in the afternoon with a lot of wind, however always curious about what was yet to see. This is how we came to the famous Valley of the Moon, in a different perspective than usual, with no one at that time. On the way, we found a forgotten bus by the years and the people, we decided to get in and follow the trip to an unparalleled beautiful sunset.
The mountains became even redder, the volcanoes even more imposing, with the white snow giving them their most dramatic touch, and the last sunbeams highlighting the crystals of salt.
Honestly, this was a free show that did not end with the sunset. At night, in our Loft, right in front of the Licancabur volcano, we spent hours watching the starriest sky we have ever seen. Falling stars, constellations, planets, and a silence of calm and introspection, as if there were nothing else around. All this knowing that the next day it would come again with the vanity of what still have much to show.
This adventure was a recipe of many ingredients. A dash of courage, a good deal of disposition, lots of laughter is enough for us to be happy anywhere.