Our road trip got underway after Katy had finished faffing about sorting her stuff. I'd also like to point out that Katy's full name is Katherine Denise, a name she loves I'm sure she would thank me for putting it on the internet. I claimed shotgun which was not ideal as it meant I had to stay awake keeping the driver entertained and I was shattered and very jealous of Earl who was lay in the back snoozing most of the journey. Katy was also quite the nervous driver getting in a mild panic over the rain, and directions. Her biggest panic though was over the fuel. She did not appreciate me trying to be a calm influence, to be honest I did not know what else I could do I can't exactly s*** out fuel can I? Eventually though after thirty minutes of the fuel light flashing we made it to a town called San Antonia where we survived the fuel drama and managed to top up. The rest of the journey was a breeze, I even had a drive, and it took me a while though to get use to the steering wheel being on the wrong side of the car. I would go to change gear and grab the window handle and if I had a Chilean Peso for every time I put the windscreen wipers on instead of the indicators, I'd still be a poor man but that's because 1000 Chilean peso is roughly one English pound. The roads reminded me a bit of an English motorway a little of the M4 and possibly a bit like the M42 between Leeds and Bolton. We arrived after around four and a half hours of driving, so we set about finding a hostel luckily we drove by an adequate one called Hostal Pleno Puerto, it was a strange sort of hostel it lacked any common area and the rooms were just twins rather than the dorms we were used to, not that was a bad thing. I was grumpy and in no mood for anything for a bit of rest before we headed out later that night. Meanwhile whilst I was resting Katy had news back from her family in Santa Cruz that there had been a 6.6 rated Earthquake, it had also hit Valpo just before we got there but somehow we had managed to miss it. Chile are used to Earthquakes though, the buildings are made from a material called adobe which give the buildings some flexibility so not much damage was done apart from a bit of rubble along the roads. This is a direct opposite to that of California when an Earthquake hit them on the same day, although the Earthquake was a slightly lower 6.0 rating it caused much havoc. Katy had news that her family were ok so after some rest we freshened up, got ready and headed out for food.
Food took us to a small restaurant called El Pimenton where Katy introduced us to a dish called Chorrillana. Chorrillana is a typical Chilean dish consisting of a plate of french fries topped with beef sliced into strips, eggs, fried onions and occasionally sausages. Chorrillana is considered one of the most traditional dishes in the Chilean city of Valparaíso. Because of its large size, it is usually served as a dish to share. Me being a Billy Big k*** s said I would be able to polish one off easily. I mean I had a 100% success rate in official eating challenges seeing off a 1kg steak and a full chicken, so when I bet Katy I could see off a double Chorillana I was pretty confident. I was still pretty confident when the plate came out to me, yeah it was long, and piled up but I didn't think it was anything more than I had ate before. So I began eating the sliced beef, onions, chips, it was a heavenly dish but hell for the heart. If the fries were mash instead I would have been drooling over this dish. I'd ate much all day so was still confident but then my stomach began to fill at an alarming rate. I was faced with a choice I could finish and probably produce a moment where I had t be sick after the chicken challenge or I could fail but it would ultimately cost me the night as I would have to go back home to sleep off my food baby. So I took one for the team, held my hands up and failed. If it was just Earl and me I wouldn't have cared and pushed myself to the limit, but with Katy there I felt obliged to be more of a gentleman. As it turned out we went back to the hostel anyway, we had a quick scout around some bars but none tickled our fancy so we took our incredibly stuffed stomachs back to the hostel.
One of the factors that excited us about the hostel was their announcement off a bacon and egg breakfast. I'm sure you can appreciate that Earl and myself were very excited with this news after being lumbered with bread and cheese, or ham or cereals, or just toast at other hostels. So expectation was high, and it the expectation was not reached, the bacon was just ham and the eggs were hard boiled, it wasn't the fried breakfast I desired but it was adequate along with the bread, cheese and marmalade. I made short work of my breakfast so I could go and stream the Sunderland vs Man Utd game, the Wi-Fi was shocking though enabling me to only get two second snippets every now and again. It was very frustrating. So for the second half I decided to go in search of a boozer to watch the remainder of the game. Firstly we had to say goodbye to Katy who was heading to see her sister in Santiago before heading home to her family. I thought to some extent I would be glad to see the back of her, she was quite the handful, we had bickered and she was quite full on, but I got an unexpected empty feeling as she drove out of the car park. It was the same empty feeling I have had over and over again with saying goodbye to quality people and I knew I was waving goodbye to a quality person and I just hoped I would encounter again somewhere in the world as I do with everyone else.
Finding a pub which showed the Man Utd game was proving rather difficult most of the people thought we were wanting to watch the Man City game and advising us it was the next day, and our other problem was that it was midday on a Sunday so we man places were closed. I'd gave up on seeing the second half and decided to go the bus station to sort our tickets for the next destination when we came across a little pub who put on the last ten minutes for me. I might as well not have bothered as nothing inspiring happened in the last ten minutes. So after finishing my beer and Earl his herbal tea we set off once more for the bus station. We wanted to go to the desert in San Pedro De Atacama unfortunately the next bus there was not for another few days but we would be able to go the following day from Santiago. So that was it we had a plan. We would come back later that night get a bus to Santiago, sleep in the terminal until our bus departed the next day. Simples.
With the plan in place we went on the walking tour of Valpo. To be fair I had a pretty s*** impression of Valpo so far, I was inclined to think it was a s*** hole and pretty rough but the tour guide Chris did a good job of swaying my thinking and actually thinking that Valpo wasn't that bad. We visited many places such as Plaza Sotomayor, Cerro Conception, the port and Cerro Bellavista. We also learnt that the town was a bit run down due to the end of the gold rush in Valpo. We learnt of many firsts of Latin America that started in Valpo such as the first fire department (set up by Brits) and the first protestant church. We saw much street art, and about fires and the vast amount of electric cables. I also thought that it was a touch of class that the tour paid for any expenses for example we took a bus, ate a chocolate caramel biscuit sandwich called Alfajores and at the end of the tour had a typical Chilean drink called Chicha - In Chile there are two main types of Chicha: apple Chicha produced in southern Chile and grape Chicha produced in central Chile. Both arealcoholic beverages with no distillation, only fermentation. We had the apple Chicha and it was fairly tasty. The stray dogs that accompanied us on the tour was also fun and often created a side show, distraction or became a pain in the arse for Chris trying to give a talk about Valpo. The only two downsides of this tour was that I managed to put my read foot in a heap of dog crap and there was a particularly annoying couple who we started calling question ******ers because they would hold up the tour on every stop by asking so many daft questions. They were probably the sort who would wear a poncho on a log flume too. It was frustrating but it still didn't stop my enjoyment of the tour and as I said improved my image of Valpo considerably.
After the tour there was only time for a quick meal of rice, meat pate and peas. (It should be noted that the hostel was excellent in letting us leave our bags and cook after we had checked out) and got to the supermarket before we started out on our near thirty six hour journey that would see us arrive in a desert.
So until next time stay safe and take care