We think everyone will be glad to hear that we have so far survived 4 days in chile without any major setbacks, apart from the obvious one of the language barrier crisis. Anyway back to the last week in New Zealand.We spoke to you last when we were about to board the ferry for the north island, the ferry journey was straight forward and even Becca didn´t get too seasick. We arrived in Wellington to terrential rain and gale force winds so we decided to drive straight through it up towards Lake Taupo where we had booked to do a sky dive the next day. Unfortunaetly (or maybe thankfully for the parents) the weather continued to be rubbish which meant our skydive was cancelled. Although we were gutted we did look on the brightside that we had saved roughly about $500 by not doing it! Therefore, we decided to splash out when we got to Rotorua- our next stop. Rotorua is one of the most geo-thermally active places in the world, meaning theres loads of volcanoes and random bits of steam and bubbly water/mud coming out of the ground all over the place. This also meant that the place totally stank of rotten egg thanks to the sulphur in the air. Worryingly, we got used to the smell pretty quickly, it just added to the already dodgy lingering smell of cocaine (our campervan) which has a nice mix of stale food, unwashed dishes and damp towel aromas.We only noticed after we left Rotorua how bad we ourselves stank and it took us atleast a couple of days and about 5 showers to fully get rid of our smell. We decided it was probably the only chance we´d get to have a natural mudbath, so even though the idea was a slightly strange one we went for it anyway. It cost about 30 quid to have a mud bath followed by a hot sulphur soak, we were lucky and were somehow upgraded for free into the private pools. This meant we had our very own closed off mud pool- once we got in and had covered ourselves in mud and hannah and becca attempted a mud fight (which was a pretty dismal effort as neither of them wanted to get it into their hair) we didn´t really know what to do so we just sat giggling as it was possibly one of the weirdest things we´ve done on this trip! The next day we headed to a ´thermal wonderland´ to see what we thought was going to be an amazing natural geyser, however, we should have known from the name of the park that this experience wasn´t going to be as authentic as we had hoped. Basically, we were sat down on one of the row of benches surrounding the geyser and an annoying kiwi bloke with a microphone came out and poured carbolic soap into the geyser to make it errupt. It was still impressive but slightly spoiled the effect. The park itself was amazing though, it had a load of crazy coloured lakes, steam and bubbling caverns.
After Rotorua we stormed up the highway to Auckland where we were meeting up with one of our Danish friends- Astrid who we had met in Australia. The other 3 girls she´d been travelling with had gone to New York but Astid decided to spend longer in New Zealand. We´re so glad she did as it was ´so great´ (her favourite english phrase) to see her again. We had a really good couple of days with her of course including a night out where we were introduced to her crazy dance moves! We also took her to the airport as she was at the end of her trip and flying back to Denmark so we thought she should travel to the airport in style a.k.a. in Cocaine! It was really hard saying goodbye to her, after this trip we´ve found goodbyes really hard. Another reason for us coming up to Auckland quickly was to see Hannah´s other future step-auntie (we seem to be doing a tour of this side of the family!) Lone and her husband Steve. They live in a suburb called Mission Bay which was just near the beach and 10 mintues out of the centre of Auckland. Their house was lush and we spent a very comfortable few days there as we had 2 double beds, a very nice contrast to sleeping in the back of Cocaine- which was starting to get abit tedious. It was really nice for Hannah to catch up with Lone and we all got on really well with them.They spoiled us by feeding us lots of nice food and wine. We spent alot of time just relaxing in the house- particularly enjoying the wide screen tv (and laura especially enjoyed the midsummer murders bonanza.) It was also good to have a base and get our heads together before embarking on the next part of our trip, which was needed considering we´d planned pretty much nothing of South America. The last day was a big one as it was Lone´s birthday aswell as the day of our flight to Chile. The day got off to a good start with bacon sandwiches complete with lurpak.As usual when it came time to leave Becca wasn´t ready which resulted in a very stressed and flustered exit of the house. Stress levels didn´t improve when during Lone´s birthday lunch one of her friends was telling us a story about when she got her time differences mixed up when travelling inAustralia and booking her hostel for the wrong day, at this point we´d realised that we´d done exactly this and had booked our hostel in Santiago for 2 days later than our arrival. b*****.
We had to say yet another airport goodbye to Lone and Steve, really hard as we´d grown really close in that last couple of days. We really apprciated eveything they did for us, they really made the end of our New Zealand trip and special thanks for the South America guidebook which they bought us less than 24 hours before we were due to leave. It has come in very useful as we´d probably still be lost in Santiago without it!
The flight went smoothly, just watched films, it was a strange feeling knowing that it was our last flight before heading home.At the airport we managed to use our limited spanish skills to book ourselves a government taxi (so that we wouldn´t get ripped off) and even arrived where we were meant to. Luckily, the guy in the hostel was lovely and spoke english, he just laughed when we told him Lauras name as he knew her well after the 20 or so frantic emails he´d received regarding the different dates we wanted our hostel for aswell as the airport pickup. In her defence it was quite confusing as we´d past the date line and had had the 4th of May twice and had arrived in Santiago after a 10 hour flight before we had actually set off. Unsurprisngly this meant we were very very tired and could only manage a stroll around Bellavista the area our hostel was in.Our hostel was dead nice which was what we needed since we were quite overwhelmed and knackered. We explored Santiago the next day and got very lost in the process thanks to Hannah wanting to visit a museum 3 miles out of town that we never actually made it to. Instead after walking 3 miles in the wrong direction (Hannah was map reading- in her defence the map was crap and had no street names on it) we came across a free art gallery and it didn´t take us long to discover why in fact it was free. Basically each room contained documentary photos and long passages in spanish which we didn´t understand and strangely lots of wires strung from wall to wall. We left rather promptly and thought it wise to get the metro back into the centre where had our first experience of ordering food. We thought we´d be safe and just order a pasty- how embarssing. We didn´t realise what a humilitating experience this would turn out to be. Surprisingly, just pointing and saying ´dos´ doesn´t work as they ask you what you want ´dos´ of, to which you cannot reply. If anyones interested the spanish for pasty is empanada- we think anyway. Also, we´ve decided never to let Becca handle pasty flavours (very serious business) as she thought they were saying ´jambon´ the french for ham when really they were saying ´champagnon´ - mushroom. Something that neither Hannah nor Laura are particularly fond of. especially on its own in a pasty...
After another night of jet lag exhaustion we´d planned to get up in the morning and catch the bus to Valparaiso- a town an hour and a half out of Santiago.This plan failed in the early stages as Becca was put in charge of setting the alarm, yet another thing she should not be allowed to do as her phone was in New Zealand time zone still. So our alarm call was actually the hostel owner knowcking on our door at midday asking in spanish wether we wanted to stay another day. Only a couple of hours later than anticipated we made it to Valparaiso where we found a nice little homestay. Hannah and Laura endured the housekeeper talking at them in spanish for 20 minutes to which they replied ´si´ or ´gracias´. We´ll never know what she was trying to tell us about the cooker or the white powder in the kitchen. I think we´re happy not knowing. Turns out theres not really much to do in Valparaiso, although it is a very typical chilian city with coloured houses built into the hillside surrounding the sea. We still feel a bit lost in cities because of the language barrier. This was highlighted when we went to a mexican restaurant for our tea last night and Hannah ended up with a very dubious looking burger which she was bravely munching her way through before Laura and Becca suggested it might be llama, it didn´t help that there was a horse meat shop just up the road. Welcome to South America!
Tomorrow we are heading up north to La Serena which is the start of the desert, we will keep you posted.
Keep in touch,
Las Chichas xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx