Have been meaning to put up the Inca photos but have yet to find a decent computer that will actually do this successfully, so please be patient!
We've been in Santiago for nearly 2 weeks now and have been taking things a little easier both in an attempt to conserve energy and funds. Well my dodgy foot has been playing up big time since the Inca trail and half the time I can be seen hobbling the streets of Santiago looking dodgy as hell and further making myself stand out as a gringo! Smole, who is already dark skinned even without a tan, blends in slightly better than me. Until he attempts to speak Spanish that is!
Last Saturday a group of us from our hostel went for a BBQ up at the Cerro San Cristobal, which is a big hill entirely overlooking Santiago, with a big statue of the Virgin Mary sat on top. We left mid-afternoon as both us and our driver, Andy, were rather tired and hung over. So, 14 of us including a few local Chileans all piled into the back of Andy's VW Campervan and off we went. It was pretty cosy for want of a better word, with 3 in the front, another 4 on the seats behind and 7 of us all piled up in the back. The ride went as smooth as it could have given the circumstances, and along the way we picked up a load of sirloin from the butchers. We also managed to get stopped by a policeman on a motorcycle which I assumed was because we had faces and body parts crammed up against the windows of the van. Andy had a chat with this guy for what felt like a lifetime due to the fact my neck was hunched over in a way I didn't even think it could and I could no longer feel my left leg! Turns out the stop was random and Andy's paperwork was the issue. He managed to wangle his way out of it eventually and we made it in one piece to a decent picnic spot. We drank a load of beer while the BBQ was being prepared and got to chat to some fellow hostel inhabitants. Brits seem to outnumber all of the other nationalities with ease and that day was no exception. There was plenty of meat as half a cow was pulled from a plastic bag, which was accompanied by 'the best Chilean sausages ever!' They were actually delivered especially from southern Chile by a bus tour operator that advertises through the hostel. As I've not sampled any other sausages in Chile apart from those ones I can't really comment on that statement, but I can tell you they tasted pretty damn good even though they were slightly charred on the outside. Well it got pretty dark and we had ourselves a fire and yes you guessed it - more beer! We then left around 8 in order to be sure we got back in time for pub quiz night, being held back at the hostel. Well, that nearly didn't happen as the van broke down halfway back! When i say broke down i mean we ran out of gas. So we all piled out of this van and began to push along this dual carriageway to the nearest petrol station down the hill. One guy actually fell out as he didn't realise that some of us had already begun pushing. That and he was a bit drunk! We got rolling and soon reached the brow of the hill where most of us claimed a spot on the back bumper to coast to the safety of the petrol station. All except Smole and one other lagger at the back that is! After jumping on the bumper with around 4 other BBQ-ers I turned round to see Smole running along bringing up the rear. Of course I would have helped him up if there had been room, but there wasn't so merely laughed and shouted 'so long sucker'! He then realised the queue of traffic behind him and jumped the road barrier to walk the short distance to the station. At the station people began lighting their cigarettes, which I didn't appreciate as I could suddenly smell the petrol fumes! We soon returned back safe and came a respectable 3rd in the pub quiz. And yes there were more than 3 teams before you ask!
The next day we got up late and intended to get a 2 hour bus to the picturesque Vina del Mar and Valparaiso with our newfound friend Amy, from Canada, who recommended the visit. Unfortunately as soon as we turned off the motorway, clouds appeared and we arrived to a very cold, wet and visually poor destination. We managed to have a nice spot of lunch in a seaside restaurant, which on a nice day would have had excellent views. On that day we could barely see past the sea wall, so it was a little disappointing. Our guide then drove us around and showed us some of the sights - well he told us they were there anyway! We then arrived at the local palace, which was built by the founder of the city. We wandered around and soon found a load of stalls and kids you would normally see at a rock festival. I'm still not quite sure why they were in these palace grounds but they were. We then explored a little more and walked inside a nearby building to stumble across a Star Wars convention! There were loads of posters and figurines etc and Smole even got a snap of a local Jedi warrior, while a little earlier Amy got a snap with a Pokemon character! If we'd have had more time we would have gone to see the Japanese revolution room, which I could only imagine! We later missed a bus and returned late to have a hot dog! So all in all a pretty strange weekend!
We've also wandered the city and visited the pre Columbian museum, which was pretty interesting. I'll let Smole tell you about that another time as I feel the angry glare of people behind me waiting to use this PC!
Bye for now folks