well well well, how time flies when you ahve limited access to a computer!
lets update! since leaving La paz, Bolivia, the bustling city full of xmas markets i headed to Potosi via Oruyi by bus. Once in Potosi (24thdec) i visited a working silver mine and decked out in my best ghostbusters costumt to date, bought dynamite, blew it up and crawled around underground in the cave! the mine was its own little community with people living there, a little market by it for purchasing coca leaves, dynamite, pure alcohol and then food and drink...all for the miners. was interesting, made me feel like i'd gone back in time and could imagine what is was like in the olden days!!!
that afternoon heading to uyuni.....on the most long and bumpy bus journey through deserted land....toilets stops involved trying to find a sandy hill in which to crouch behind if you wanted to be discreet! finally arrived to our xmas destination, that evening had food and then went to a 'club', well a room where there was a small bar and space to dance. danced to latin and modern music and drank the eve away wearing my santa hat!!
xmas day....hung around in the hotel we were stayin in, went to a pizzeria for lunch and then back to hotel where all sat around chatted and socially drank together! was the least materialistic xmas i've ever had, but makes you appreciate what you normally have when its no longer available!
boxing day.... headed to salt flats, stopping via a train cemetry where old locomotivese had burnt out in the sun. travelled by 4x4wd and arrived at the salt flats to see a endless vision of white salt contrasting against a blue sky. the salt felt crunchy underfoot and you could see crystalised formations on closer inspection. with there being no concept of distance were able to take silly photos i.e. i have a photo where it looks as if i am stamping on eve and tried to do a honay i shrunk the kids pose ...holding a sppon and bowl, making out i was about to eat the group but i think that type of idea requires a pro photographer as really hard to line people up when u can't see thro the camera lens as its too bright!
that evening stayed in the salt hotel where beds, tables and chairs were all made out of salt! not the comfiest! 27th dec....spent the day driving across desert in 4x4 listening to some good tunes and bopping away. after 8 hours of driving reached lake colorado...beautiful lake with lots and lots of pink flamingos! (claudia, found it funny that the first present i ever got you was a bright pink flamingo and then on ur birthday i was seeing flamingos in bolivia!!!) the lake is red due to plankton, and flamingos are pink as they eat plankton..fact!
another hotel in middle of nowhere....freezing cold, had to tog up in all our clothes to stay warm!
28th... volcano visiting! 4am start, still togged up warm, headed to see geysers and walk inbetween a volcano with smelly sulphur and grey bubbling lava pools. bitterly cold but such a sight....... by 8am had reached a natural hot spa and although still cold, griitted my teeth, stripped down to bikini and dived in! not everyone was so brave but it was so worth it! the rest of the day then consisted of visiting the laguna verde (which was picturesque mountain back drop with a beautiful clear green lake infront with refelection of mountain in...and while travelling towards it you could see green clouds above the lake) and travelling across the bolivian border into chile.
arrived into san pedro, an arty little town full of gringos either leaving bolivia or heading to! spent the day looking around and at night time we went to see the sunseu over the andes mountains.
29th.. visiting some natural hot springs in the morning, nice relaxing start to the day. in afternoon continued the relaxing tone, going for lunch and then reading my book in a hammock!
30th.. headed to antofagasta by bus. once arrived, found the mcdonalds and indulged in westernised fast food, its been a while! went window shopping around antofagasta and generally whiled away time before getting the night bus to la serena.
31st... arrived in la serena, explored the place, getting booze in ready for the night time celebrations! new years eve, started the drinking in our hotel before heading to the beach for midnight and joining lots of other chilean families there to watch a 20min firework display. was really nice atmosphere and could also see 2 other displays happening further along the coast line. happy 2008! after fireworks walked with the crowd back towards town and found ourselves in a club with a live band and mix of latin and modern music to dance too! places open about 1am... seems sucha better idea than english clubs where you spend hours waiting for the countdown to midnight and then by time it is new years, your bored of your location!!
01/01/08....Nothing really open as new years day, so another chilled one, going for a walk, watching tv in hotel and reading book and then hanging out with others from group.
2nd jan... at night went on an astronomy tour to see the stars, believe it or not! got to look through a big telescope, be informed about the formation of stars and check out the southern cross constellation as well as open and closed clusters of stars! i asked why some stars twinkle and others don't....the answer, its all to do with the atmosphere and its density, the air is more dense across a longitudinal axis so stars further away look like they sparkle where as stars straight above don't!! twinkle twinkle little star.
3rd.. bus journey to santiago, final destination with my tour group. realised i'd lost my bank card while on bus so first action in santiago was to cancel card! then was able to explore, visiting small artisan markets and walking main streets by hotel. at night we went out for a farewell meal, some of us then stayed out and went to a karoake bar. was such good fun, everyone was prepared to sing, lots of latin dancing and couples salsa! made me jealous of how well they dance, but i still had a boogie and kept getting pulled up to dance with a group of chilean girls, so enjoyed that.
4th... end of tour, moved out of hotel and headed to bella vista area, which is where all hip bars and restaurants are in santiago to find a hostel. once settled went for a walk up san cristobel hill, taking a funicular train and cable car to access a panoramic view of santiago. was beautiful sight, lots of colourful buildings and then the andes in the far distance highlighting how narrow a country chile is, as on the other side of the andes in argentina. in the evening had a bbq at hostel before going out to the bars, where there are lots of tables and chairs on street, it was absolutely packed, so many people out friday night drinking! was also a one man band guy busking but within his trick he spins around as fast as he can, still keeping the drum beat and not falling over...it seems quite impossible.
5th... got a bus to valpraiso for a day trip just out of santiago with Eve, Jon and stefan..chille dout on beach and walked around the town.
6th... museum day! museums are free on a sunday so we made the most of it, visiting the visual arts museum, national history museum and then the cathedral in the plaza de armas. Plaza de armas area was set out like most towns in latin america, squares with government buildings and churchs and then streets in between for shopping and street markets.... typical spanish set out.
flight scheduled to leave at 11.05pm that night! when got to airport found it was delayed, left at 3am and flight was 13 hours, in which i didn't sleep one wink! also was sat next to the rudest woman i have ever met, which probably wasn't enhanced by me spilling some of my drink on her! it was an accident and she made such a fuss and was so rude to the air hostess, even before the drink incident, so i made sure i didn't go out of my way to help her in any way. infact i quite enjoyed doing things to irritate her and it helped the time go by!
8th ...arrive....miss the 7th as crossed the international date line. am now 13 hours ahead of england. yesterday and today i have spent my time walking round auckland, window shopping yesterday and purchasing today! really need new clothes as everyone here has nice clothes and mine are skanky 3 month old clothes that needed revamping. trying to budget and spend little, but still a snob, can't bring myself to buy really cheap clothes!!
tomorrow am doing a day tour of auckland and then 11th i start my first leg of exploring north island and getting on the kiwi experience hop on hop off bus!!!!!
wow....that took a while, hope i haven't sent you all to sleep! x x x thanks for reading.