Located along the extensive Chilean coast that kisses the Pacific Ocean, the Atacama Desert is easily one of the driest places on our world, with few of its areas not even receiving a single drop of rainfall for the last 400 years. Such arid conditions prevails in spite of the cold desert being situated right next to the world’s largest water body. But as the saying goes, there is exception to every pattern, including weather. To that end, there are rare instances when some regions of the Atacama desert are drenched in high precipitation – thus allowing the localized flora and fauna to jumpstart their ecological realms. The beautiful Spanish term for this paradoxical phenomenon is known as desierto forido, which simply translates to ‘flowering desert’.
This year around the bizarre changes in weather patterns was brought on by what has been called the ‘Godzilla El Nino’ (an oxymoron, since El Nino in itself means ‘Christ child’). Many scientists are already predicting the baleful effects of this El Nino to even surpass the one affecting the years of 1997-98. In that regard, we have already seen one of the humongous weather issues brought on by this irregularly periodical climate change sweeping through the Western Hemisphere – in the form of the massive Hurricane Patricia.
In fact, the northern region of Chile itself has suffered flooding and mudslides by this ominous climate change, which has caused substantial damages in forms of both lives and properties. On the other hand, the very same weather effects have antithetically transformed the usually-arid Atacama desert into a surreal wonderland. Boasting pristine landscapes filled with the picturesque pink-tone mallow flowers (along with 200 other native species), the vast expanses of the Chilean desert flaunt their new-found vibrancy .
Beyond just the visual glory, the recent floral bloom in the Atacama Desert is expected to draw more than 20,000 tourists to the region. Such estimations do have some form of credibility, since Lonely Planet named Atacama as one of the ten major destinations to visit in 2015. More interestingly, some part of the revenue scope generated from this ‘chance’ seasonal tourism industry is planned to be used for rebuilding and recovery efforts in other areas of Chile affected by the oscillations from El Nino. In essence, the uninhabited desert seems to have symbolically bloomed to ‘aid’ actual inhabited zones dotted inside the South American nation.