What South America Has To Do With Microbes and Marijuana

It’s no secret that many of us here at Gadling love South America. I mean, with the hallucinogenic netherworld of the Salar de Uyuni, the stunning scenery of Patagonia and the culture and history of Peru, what’s not to like?

Now, some recent news out of South America is adding to its mystery and intrigue.

First off, according to the Santiago Times a team of American researchers has found living microbes in the Atacama Desert, which may provide clues into the possibility of life on Mars.


Already one of the world’s most inhospitable climates, you’ll never guess where the researchers happened to stumble across these previously undiscovered microbes – at the top of two volcanoes.

Not just any volcanoes, but volcanoes that top out at over 20,000 feet. If there has ever been an entry for the adventure travel category then I think that hunting for undiscovered microbes 20,000 feet up on a remote Chilean volcano fits the bill quite nicely.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the continent in Uruguay, The Financial Times reports that the leftist-leaning government has put forward plans to legalize marijuana. Regardless of personal beliefs or opinions on the matter, there is an economic twist, which makes the story that much more scintillating and controversial.

Not only does Uruguay plan to legalize marijuana, but the cannabis will actually be controlled as a state-run commodity in the same boat with oil, gas, telecom and electricity. The reasoning for the move stems from the desire to decrease the peripheral violence and detriments regarding the drug’s illegal nature, with problems such as dealers slinging harder drugs and violence around the marijuana trade becoming a growing concern in the otherwise peaceful nation.

Granted, the country says the legalized cannabis will only be available to Uruguay citizens and it harbors no hope of becoming a center of illicit international drug tourism.