Published: December 13th 2009November 30th 2009
So its a few weeks since I last posted a blog...oops got quite a bit to catch up on. I left you in Mendoza, Argentina which seems so long ago as we only have three weeks of travelling in South America left.
From Mendoza we caught a bus over the Andean mountain range to Santiago, Chile. It was a beautiful journey, the sunset was incredible, Richard had his face stuck to the window looking at the snow peaked montains until dark.
We didnt explore Santiago that much, it was freezing cold, and we had just come from Mendoza so weren´t really in the mood for it. It nice don´t get me wrong but we were more interested in seeing the wilder side of Chilean coast line and of course the desert.
While there we stayed in this amazing old Victorian mansion which has been converted in to a hostel. Here we found out about a minibus tour company called Pachamamma (earth mother) starting form Santiago and travelling the length of Chile up to San Pedro, Atacama. We´re not really toury kind of folk we like to DIY it but it was easy and sounded perfect , taking you off the beaten track and places we couldn´t get to on our own. Also quite nice not having to worry about which bus to catch a which hostel to book as it´s done for you.
Before the bus trip we had a few days to kill so we went to visit our French friend Baptise who lives a couple hours out of Santaigo near Valparsio. Such a kooky place, houses nestled in to the cliff side,painted vibrant colours, windy streets and dogs everywhere, I mean everywhere. Chileans love dogs. They sleep around the streets through the day then wake up at night and bark from dusk till dawn. We had one that followed us home everynight. They go nuts chasing taxis getting in to scraps, eat rubbish then sleep all day, its mad.
We visited the famous dead Spanish poet, Paulo Neruda house, crammed full of weird and wonderful things, perched on top of the hill looking out to the Pacific, very,very pretty and had a breathtaking view.
There was a rubbish strike in Valparsio while we were there, there was plies and plies of stinky garbage everywhere, we visited this amazing food market, with every kind of fruit, olives, cheese the whole shabang but it was crazy as there was plies of cabbage leaves, crates and shit just piling up from days of no rubbish collection. Its sound rank and it was a bit but we bought our lunch, but just gave it a wee wash before eating. It was pretty hectic and but locals didnt seem to notice or care. It added to the madness of Valparsio for us.
We took a bus ride along the coast to a little fishing village called Horcon, we had high expectations for it, the guide book had described it as dreamy..but nah, it was pretty scabby, its charm was the old fishermen feeding pelicans the scraps from their catch. However we did have a very interesting lunch,Richard very bravely had raw shellfish, slimy red stuff piled up on to his plate, then we ordred coffee but much to Richards bemusement ( total coffee snob) we were presented with a big tub of Nescafe,a kettle and a teaspoon ... mmmm. We found out the whole of Chile like this, so several mornings our sole mission was to hunt out a proper coffee house
After this we retured to santiago for the bus trip......
It was a mixed bunch.... us , two English couples five 20 year old Ozzy boys , an older German lady and two very public school girls who were very RAA! You have to become pretty tolerable quickly under these circumstances. The German was hugely selfish, did things like use up all the hot water, was worse than a chinese tourist stopping the bus to take pictures. The English public school girls had the loudest most annoying laughs and said things like 'stupid Chilean people and these toilets stink¨...yup well we are in South America being slightly more prepared might of been an idea. The ozzy boys were great craic but forever on the look for there next smoke or drink, they nicknamed me TRUDDES, we loved them though they made us laugh out loud.
We went up the coast stopping at various places one was Bahia Englais where we stayed in wooded huts, played volleyball and had a huge BBQ courstey of The Lone Wolf our driver. We stopped off at a desert graveyard which was creepy, the bodies are semi preserved because the dry air - you probably saw the photos we put up. Also a deserted mining train yard complete with turn table. Abandoned when the copper mines were shut. Mental to think that it is all going to waste, kept as a open air musuem for tourist but run by no one. Along the way we stopped in a couple of dreary places, Antofagata being one, manmade mining town with no sole and a bit sinister at night, stayed in a hostel there, it was pretty miserable with damp walls and equally damp bed covers...eugh. Not the tour companys fault really as you have to cover so0 many miles a day, its a stop over and some where to rest your head at not to a crazy price - Chile is quite pricey.
Afterward it was on through the Atacama desert. amazing terrain,salt everywhere in so many different forms quite something to see. Just miles and miles of it. In the middle of the dessert we stopped at a oasis and had a swim and packlunch at some natural springs, right there in the middle of the desert! It was a little village the Incas used as a stop over on there big journey and had oldest church in South America - supposedly.. each country claims to have the oldest,biggest or the highest lake, church, volcano. Then it was Sanpedro Atacama. Awesome little place we loved it, little dusty, dirt town, pretty much funded by the tourist trade but you didnt notice it, very chilled. Here you either go on to Peru or Yuni De Solar. We were heading to Peru so wished farewell to our bus buddies and off we went for the border of Peru, the land of little people!