okk, I would like to start by saying that I am very sorry again for the late blog entry. I have been sooo busy! So I got back from by 2 months traveling about 2 weeks ago.
So, me and my partner Kirsty left Lautaro on the 28th of December 2010. We caught an overnight bus to Valperaiso. By chance the bus stop happens to be outside the only pub in Lautaro so me and Kirsty said our emotional good byes to the family a little bit earlier to meet everyone there to say a good-bye. To our surprise there were actually quite a few people that turned up! Me and Kirsty enjoyed our last Lautaro piscola for 2 months. They were very encouraging (taking our future missing photos) and i actually felt a tear come to my eye as they bus pulled away. I think what upset me the most was that I would be saying good-bye to them to real in 7months more.
Anyway we arrived in Valperaiso the next day, found our hostel and slept for another few hours. Valpo was buzzing! It is very famous for the 25min firework display and every year about a million and half people from all over the world head there to party. So we did some sightseeing the first 2 days in the run up to hogmany. Hogmany night started relatively early as chilean nights go. We headed to town at about 9.30 and went to see some live bands playing in the street. Then we walked with the masses to the water front just in time for the bells. Soo many people all trying to get the best spot for fireworks, meanwhile bottles of champagne exploding everywhere and everyone gets completely drenched. Then the confetti comes out and its gets stuck all over you and you cant see anything(my friend was still finding it in her hair days later). The crowds are chanting "C H I, L E, CHI CHI CHI, LE LE LE, VIVA CHILE!!!" over and over again. After the fireworks the crowds disperse back towards the centre, where the party continues. We got back to the hostel at about 5.30am, went to sleep for a few hours and as some of our friends were returning, we went back out to see what was going on at 7am.The party went on and the streets were all still crowded, people still drinking or passed out on a street corner. We climbed the hills that Valpo is famous for, got some lovely views over the city, then went and got breakfast. We returned to our hotel then took the bus to a remote beach called laguna verde, about 1 hour out of Valpo. We lay in the sun all day and ate some yummy cheese empanadas.
Me and Kirsty returned to Santiago on the 2nd of January were we stayed with two other vols there for a few nights. We explored Santiago and relaxed for a few days after Valpo. We then met our Chilean friend from Lautaro, Kotte, and another Volunteer from the States and took the bus North to a city called La Serena. This place is famous for its beaches, but to be honest I had seen nicer.. We stayed 2 nights before we took a bus to Elqui valley. I would compare this place to the moon in the way it looks, except it has beautiful bright blue lakes going along the bottom of the valley. We took the bus to a place called Pisco Elqui. This is place is where apparently the national drink, Pisco, gets its name. This is strongly disputed by the Peruvians who claim the drink as there is. Anyway, lovely place went to the Pisco distillery but we were to cheap to buy tickets for the tour, so we took some photos at the entrance and in the shop...
Returned to La Serena to say our emotional good bye to our friend from the states (she was returning to Santiago to work for a week then continuing on traveling). We had a bus booked for 3am that morning so spent a good 4 hours in the bus station playing cards where we also adopted a dog. We took the bus to a little coastal town called Bahia Inglesa, which claims to have the most beautiful beach of Chile. Here we met 6 other volunteers who we would travel with until La Paz. It was definitely beautiful but unfortunately everyone had caught onto that and it was a bit too busy for me. After a few days there, we took our next bus onto to Chañaral.
Chañaral is a small mining town on the outskirts of a national park. We arrived there early morning and went for a hunt for food to the shopping market. Collected together food to last us 4 days and many litres of water. We then searched for a taxi/bus that would take us into the park. Eventually we found someone who would take us in for about 3 pounds each. He roped in his friend with his car so we could all go in one journey. So.. this national park was a desert. Huge sand dunes and dusty cliffs that just disappeared into the bright blue sea. We drived for a good forty minutes before we came across a tiny settlement that had a campsite attached to it. There must have been about 15 houses and a small local restaurant sitting right on the beach selling fresh sea fish empanadas. The taxi man agreed to pick us in 2 days in the same place at 6oclock in the evening, but we had to pay him now. Felt a bit uncomfortable but we had no choice because there wasn't a bus service. Anyway spent the next few days, lazing on the beach, swimming the sea, exploring the cliffs full of lizards and we also went to see penguins(in the desert????) So I had a great time there and thankfully the taxi man turned up. Turned out be quite a character as i ended up in the front seat. He told me all about his family(got to see all the photos) and especially about his poor son who has a really hairy back and cant go swimming on the beach because everyone laughs. Then he pulls out his policemen's truncheon and explains to me what happens when people in his taxi misbehave, he also has a police car light for on top of his car and a small gun!?!?! We arrived safe back in Chañaral and said our goodbyes to the taxi man.
Then got on another overnight bus to Calama, where we stopped off to pick up food for our next destination, San Pedro de Atacama. We arrived in San Pedro early evening and after getting harassed by a few people we managed to find a campsite to stay in. That evening we went on the search for tour companies. Now San Pedro is a small place but it must have at least 30 tour companies as it lives for the tourists. We went to all to find the best price, we decided from there we would go to The Moon Valley, TheLagoons and The Tatio Geysers. This was two days of trips. The next morning we had a look round the town, went to the oldest church in chile and a museum. Stopped every 20 minuted to reapply suntan lotion and sweated so much. We were in the driest desert of the world! That afternoon our tour guide came to pick us up and take us to our Valle de la luna (moon valley). It was so strange and literally like we were on the moon, we spent a good 4 hours there, and we got some some impressive stuff (photos are getting uploaded soon) before finishing on the top of a sand dune for the sun set. We went back to the campsite and went straight to bed.
The next morning we woke up at 3.30 to meet our tour guide at 4am to take us to see the tatio geysers. We arrived at about 6am and to our surprise it was absolutely freezing. I had leggings, jeans, tee shirts hoodies on and i was still freezing. Anyway the geysers were impressive to see in the sunrise! We then took a dip in a springs heated by the earth. It was really hot and relaxing but soon we all started to feel a bit all as the toxins in the water aren't very good for you. After this we took the bus town to see a traditional village that had made the most of tourism. We all tried some rather expensive llama which was interesting apparently 0 percent fat which wasn't true! This is also when Kirsty decided to tell me that her foot was really troubling her and that she could hardly walk. It had been bothering her for days but she had not wanted to say. We decided to take her to the doctors that afternoon to get it checked out. I was a bit worried because the next day we were heading on a 3day tour to bolivia in the middle of nowhere!
That afternoon we got picked up again by our tour guide and taken to the lagunas. The first place we went were these lakes that are 10 times as salty as the sea. Literally the strangest thing ever as you just floated, no work required. it however hurt a lot if it went hear your mouth or eyes! After we all got sprayed down by our tour guide before moving onto the next laguna. Supposedly the sweet lake but it was just a big water hole. We all got to jump of the high sides into the water. We all struggles a bit though as we were so used to being really floaty.
Went back to the campsite and packed everything up, ready for our 3 day tour into Bolivia. We were getting picked up at 6am so again we got ourselves a early night.
So that's my travels in Chile, I will write up the next chapter of my travels soon i promise but i think that this is enough at the moment!
Lots of love
Eadie and Kirsty