Farewell Lisa, farewell buses...Hello Bahia!

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South America » Chile » Atacama » Caldera
April 25th 2012
Published: June 30th 2012
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Once more, time had passed all too quickly and we were again having to say goodbye. This time to Lisa. It had been fantastic to see her again, and once more like Matt and Lou, it was all over too quickly. For our last night, we were back in Santiago where Lisa would fly out from, and so we decided to go out and have a nice dinner. Fortunately for us the receptionist at our hostel recommended a cool little area called Patio Bella Vista where there were all manner of restaurants and live music etc. and it was only a short walk away. And so, we had one final lovely evening involving food, wine, and pisco sours followed by a trip to a good old fashioned Irish bar…I mean, it’s rude not to isn’t it??!

So, with only 10 days or so left in South America, Donna and I decided that we wanted to be somewhere by the sea, somewhere quiet, and if at all possible somewhere with a bit of sun. In order to try get all these three things the place we opted for was Bahia Inglesa in the North West of Chile.

After an overnight bus trip, we arrived in the small town of Caldera. This is where we needed to get off in order to catch a collectivo for the remaining 7km of the journey to Bahia Inglesa. As soon as we arrived we could immediately tick off two out of three things from our wish list. It was by the beach and it was quiet. Unfortunately, the sun was hiding from us for now. To be honest, when I say it was quiet, that is probably a massive understatement as actually, it was a far cry from quiet and I suppose a more accurate word would be empty. Being a Sunday, we expected there to be a few more locals dotted around the place, however as it was only early and things in Chile tend to open late on a Sunday, we assumed that the promenade would get busier. This was even more apparent when we tried to get into our accommodation and was told by the cleaner that we would have to wait a couple of hours for the owners to turn up at around midday. And so, we found ourselves a café that was open and waited whilst having ourselves a coffee.

Keys acquired, we went to see what would be our room for the next 9 nights. After nearly 8 months in bonkers Latin America, this had to be one of the most random places we had stayed in yet. It was a large, quirky dome shaped room which stood next door to the huge dome restaurant that dominated the promenades skyline. To be honest, we loved it, and had it come with a fridge, kettle etc. We would have loved it even more. But hey, we were on the beach and it was time to relax.

Once we could pull ourselves away from the dome for a second, we decided to have a walk around town and the local beach. Due to the size of the place, this took all of 20 minutes, but we already loved the place. The beach was stunning, there were a few more people milling around but it was still relaxed, and to add to the moment, the sun had started to show its face. This was going to be a great way to end our time in South America.

Whilst here, our list of things to do was fairly short, however the main one was to buy some food. We were on a bit of a budget for these final few days in Chile, and so we decided that apart from an occasional treat to one of the nice restaurants on the strip, we would cater for ourselves and buy all of our food from the supermarket and eat it on our private outdoor seating area next to our Dome. This would have been made much easier if a) we had a fridge/microwave/kettle, and b) if there was somewhere to buy food from.

It turns out that as we were in Bahia out of season, the one minimarket they had was closed for the season. This meant that the only shop in town was the one where we bought coffee from on our first day. Unfortunately, all he sold was coffee, biscuits, ice creams and a few other random things. So, where were we going to buy our food from? After another look around the place, it was clear that the only place to buy our groceries from was going to be Caldera….. 7km south!

So, that’s how we came to walking down a dusty highway in the middle of nowhere in the baking hot sun. To be honest, since we weren’t planning on doing much over the next few days, this walk would be a good source of exercise. When we finally made it to Caldera, we were elated to hear that there was a large supermarket just round the corner, and so we stocked up on everything and anything that we needed for the next 9 days that didn’t need to be cooked, boiled or refrigerated……this is how we came to having a shopping trolley full of crisps, tuna and wine!

Once the large shop was over, we could finally sit back and cross the rest of the ‘to do’ list off. On the list was reading, writing (the blog), relaxing on the beach and watching the sun set each evening with a can of tepid beer. It really was quite a beautiful spot here and the few meals that we did treat ourselves to really were fantastic, from the ceviche to the seafood risotto. We wondered when we first arrived if having nothing to do but relax and read with no one around would be boring and whether we made the right decision to spend the last days in Chile here, but each day when we sat on the beach looking at the stunning view, and each night when we sat down and watched the sun set, we knew that we got it just right.

Despite there being little to speak of in terms of goings on, we did have a little scare at one point but we eventually realized we were just being doughnuts.

Being halfway through a film we were watching in bed, we heard what sounded like a siren, whirring and getting louder by the second. I had quickly dismissed it, when Donna said I should go and investigate. Being in bed, the last thing I wanted to do was to go outside, but Donna insisted that I should go. When I asked ‘why, what’s the point’? Donna said that the siren could be in regards to an earthquake or a tsumani caused by an earthquake and that maybe we had to evacuate. This would have seemed preposterous in normal circumstances, however we did see on the news only the night before, that there had been an earthquake near Santiago and also in Mendoza, Argentina, and so slightly panicked myself, I agreed. I went out into the street to see if there were people running around or shouting, but to my surprise, everyone was still eating at the restaurants and walking hand in hand along the promenade. When I told Donna it couldn’t be anything serious as the locals were calm and acting normal, we got back into bed and carried on watching our film happy that we were earthquake free. It was only when the same ‘siren’ went off two days later whilst I was in the toilet that we found out what it really was. Far from it being a siren, it actually just turned out to be a strange noise coming from our water pipes in the toilet…….. We both wondered how we could have got this so wrong however the threat of Tsunami's in Chile is high and not to be taken lightly so I think Donna did the right thing by making 'me' check it out.

So, after our awesome break in Bahia Inglesa, it was time to say goodbye. It was different this time though, as we were not only saying goodbye to Bahia or even Chile, but to Latin America as a whole. It was just under 8 months ago that we caught our first bus in Mexico city and although we have done nothing but moan about buses since we got here, I think we were both really quite sad that this was the last one we would board.

So after all this time moaning about smelly passengers, crazed drivers, kids screaming, terrible food, breakdowns, stops for no reason, stops to collect sheep heads, people sleeping in the isles, bad films, worse music videos, people snoring, coughing up phlegm and staring at us………etc. etc… all we want to say is ‘’Buses of Latin America, we love you, and will miss you more than words can express. Thanks for the memories’’!

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