Saturday, January 26, 2008
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
On the way to Mendoza. About 2000m up in the Andes. That is the road weaving in and out in figue 8s. It was bloody terrifying! On the way back the bus was over taking trucks on these corners!
Back in Valpo now. It`s our last week here. Will be quite sad to leave really. I love this place.
I have been walking around Cerro Alegre (where we live) and Cerro Concepcion taking photos of all the graffiti. Some of it is amazing. It`s just a pity that you get all the little punks going and tagging crap over a lot of them. Hopefully we`ll get big copies of some of the photos to put up at home.
I feel like I have been travelling non stop for the past month. And in between each trip I come back here which is probably a bit silly. I was thinking about going to Colchagua Valley tonight but I`m exhausted and think I will just have a relaxing time and absorb all the wonderful things about Valpo.
We`re having a party this weekend for all hte people in Marty, Tim and Courts` classes. Should be fun. I don`t think much has been organised so far. I`m going to try and make empanadas (the empanadas in Pichilemu were to die for!) and the other night we went to a vege restaurant, Ritual, that had a drink similar to sangria but blended. So we might make some of that as well. Cerro Alegre has a lot of vege restaurants. It`s strange because they seeem to be the only ones in the whole of South America. Ritual even had soy meat! That`s unheard of!
Pichilemu was so cool. It is how I imagined most of South America to be. Well, the smaller towns at least. It is mostly dirt roads and taxis are a horse and cart during summer. As far as Chile goes it`s pretty cheap as well.
When we first arrived I was still feeling a bit dodgy and had to watch everyone else eating these amazing looking empanadas that we crammed full of yummy stuff. It was torture! But the next day I was there in a flash. Oh so good! I am bringing the recipe to NZ. Really it is just a South American pie but mmmmm.... so full of cheese!
we went on a horse ride in Pichilemu which was fun. I did feel a bit sorry for the horses but they seemed happy enough. We all went galloping along the beach (unguided - they are quite lax over here) and Greg managed to take his horse right out into the waves. I thought the horse was going to fall over but it managed to keep it`s balance. It´s pretty rough riding. There´s no luxuries in the saddle. It´s basically just a bit of metal in the vague shape of a saddle with an entire sheepskin covering it. The horses had chains as bits and the stirrups were held on by rope. The horses are really lovely. A lot of solid, stocky horses. Typical western style.
We got a horse and cart down to the beach that day. It was a lot of fun. There was a little girl playing with a ball in the middle of the road and she must have lost control of it. It rolled towards the horses and the driver steered them up onto the footpath but the ball got caught under the wheel of the cart and popped. The look on the girl`s face was priceless. She was pretty unhappy but I have to admit it was quite funny!
Anyway, I think we´re going to get going soon. Maybe go to a different vege restaurant tonight. We´ve been playing a lot of poker (I am useless!) so maybe we´llhave another game of that tonight as well.
Thanks for commenting!
Friday, January 18, 2008
Wé just got back to Santiago this afternoon and I hardly did anything in Mendoza. I spent most of the time in the hostel feeling abit sorry for myself. I managed to have a quick look around the markets and a brief wander around town the first day but that was about it. Greg and some of the people we met took off to some hotpools but I just didn´t feel up to it.
I´m really gutted that I didn´t get to any of the vineyards around there. They are meant to be amazing. I did buy a bottle of wine though and have brought it back to Chile for when I feel better.
Felt OK on the bus today but when we got here I got worse again. Hopefully it´s over fairly soon. We´re getting on another bus soon to Pichilemu on the coast. About 3 hours from here. I desperately don´t want to miss out on another place because I´m sick.
Pichilemu is a little surf town, I think. Have seen a few photos so I´m quite excited. Marty is excited about the prospect of surfing.
Anyway, better get going. We almost missed the bus this morning. I don´t want a repeat of that.
What an unhappy post. Sorry. And apologies for the bad spelling and grammar. I´m just typing and posting. Marty keeps picking me up on it.
Hope you are all having fun,
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Once back on the bus they served us all flat Pepsi in styrofoam cups (all the while on a semi-paved road weaving in and out of crevices) but seeing as Greg and I were at the very back of the bus, Greg only got a tiny bit of Pepsi so they came over and topped it up with Sprite. It was a bit odd. Had some horrible biscuit as well. Tasted like cardboard covered in sugared plastic. Mmm...
Anyway, we´re here now. The bis trip was quite scary. I will put up some photos later. The road seemed to go on forever once we got out of the mountains. Mendoza is an hour ahead of Chile so when we arrived it was about 9.30pm and roughly 30 degrees. Humid, sticky and inescapable. We thought we´d walk to the hostel but when we felt the heat we decided it was better to get a bus at least to dump our big packs. We got numbers of buses and directions from a slightly distracted Argentine woman. The directions were completely wrong according to a bus driver we spoke to. So we gave up on the bus and found a taxi stand.
We had our Chilean pesos changed to Argentine pesos at the bus station and booked a bus back to Santiago on Friday (we had a few problems with buses being full on the way here - hence the very back seats). When we finally got our head around the currency we were both a bit shocked at the prices for everything. Ridiculous! Our taxi took maybe 10 mins but all up it was 5 pesos, about $2.50NZ. We had some trouble explaining where we wanted to go. I couldn´t understand much of what the driver was saying. The accents are very different to those of the Chileans. Argentina ¨Cho¨, Chile ¨Yo¨, Argentina ¨Yuno¨, Chile üno¨etc. Not a huge difference but noticable.
We arrived at Hostel Independencia, the same hostel Marty stayed at 3 years ago. Got ourselves settled, tried to accustom ourselves to the heat (unsuccessful) and had a quick chat with 2 of the guys who work here. They said that during the day the temerature was around
36 -38 degrees. Gaah! A significant difference to Valparaiso which has been cold for the past couple of days.
So, everything settled, we headed out in search of food. We only made it across the road but perusing the menu was astounding. Huge pizzas $7NZ, bottles of wine $7, cocktails $4, berr $1.50, full meals $5. Insane!
My stomach has been a bit dodgy since we left Valparaiso yesterday so I wasn´t sure how much I was going to eat but we ordered, much to the confusion of the waitress, 2 huge pizzas and a couple of beers. The girl couldn´t quite understand why we were ordering 2 pizzas for 2 people but complied anyway. They were massive pizzas and I only managed a few slices but Greg got through most of his and the rest we got packed up to take home.
Got back to the hostel about 1am. Greg stayed up for a while but I hadn´t slept well the night before and hadn´t managed to sleep on the bus (Greg falls asleep instantly in any moving vehicle) so I went to bed in the sweltering heat that was still lingering.
In the morning, very early morning, I woke to a downpour outside the window. Yay! It meant that this morning was a far more tolerable heat. I don´t handle 38 degrees very well! Went for a quick walk around the streets and encountered a man walking his dog and his big white goose through the main streets of Mendoza. That´s not something you see everyday!
Going to doa wine tour tomorrow avo. Can´t wait!
Monday, January 14, 2008
A bug that went a-wandering on Marty´s top in Ritoque yesterday. He was lovely. Leopard skin patterned.
We have just watched Flight of the Conchords. It was not something I expected to see in South America but it´s nice to have some kiwi humour.
Marty found a great little area of Valparaiso while I was away. It has really cheap internet and super cheap calls to NZ so I can now call more easily (when I´m here). And some lovely little bars and cafes (including a vegetarian restaurant which is as rare as hen´s teeth in this part of the world!)
The one down side of Pucon was that the circus was in town and they had bears (apparently a plar bear as well, although I didn´t see it) and tigers and monkeys in tiny cages which was really upsetting. I drove bast a couple of times on buses and it just broke my heart.
Have to go but will write again shortly.
Back in Valparaiso now after almost 15 hours on a bus. The first bus was one of the super comfortable buses though so it wasn´t too bad.
Yesterady when I got back we all went straight out to Ritoque again. Marty and Graeme wanted to surf but the waves had other ideas. It was strange weather. A cocoon of cloud was hanging over the beach and sand dunes but elsewhere was bright sunshine. It´s funny how that happens here. We played some volleyball (very badly! We did not make NZ proud. The locals were looking at us as though we were completely insane) and had some food and drinks.
When we got home the same cloud came wafting over Valparaiso. Quite a spectacular sight. You could reach out and touch the cloud from the balcony which hadn´t been engulfed. And feel the difference in temperature. Very strange.
Today is fairly lazy. Graeme, Greg and I have meandered into town to do this sort of thing. I bought myself an external hard drive for all the photos. Relatively cheap and a huge amount of memory. I am very happy!
Greg is planning a trip to Mendoza tomorrow and I think I will tag along. I didn´t get over to Bariloche and San Martin de los Andes while I was in Pucon so a taste of Argentina would be welcome. Argentina is meant to be incredibly cheap. The Lonely Planet guide that Greg has says there is a restaurant that has 20 different pasta sauces and 30 types of pasta and meals are under $4. There also seem to be some very odd bars - one normally a gay bar that has extravagant drag shows at midnight and heavy techno later on (good god! I guess we could be on K Rd though) yet attracts all sorts of people. I don´t think we´ll go there.
I can´t upload photos in this internet cafe but I need to put the photos of the volcano up. I was beyond words. I´d love to get back down there sometime.
Ok, time for some food I feel. I think I am empanada´d out so will have to find something more wholesome.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
But now that we´re here it is Wellington weather. Windy and raining and cold. I can´t see the lake or the volcano but it is meant to clear in a couple of days. But the heat in Santiago was almst unbearable so this is a bit of relief in a way.
Communication has been OK so far. I can now understand Pedro, the 3 y/o nephew of Berni, which is a break through! We spent this morning taking about things while he played around on a skateboard. He is really good for a 3 y/o. I wouldn´t expect a kid that age to even stand on one without hurting themselves but he´s doing little tricks and trying to jump over 3 boards on top of each other. I was the scared one.
It´s a cute little town. It almost looks like a film set. The lake is really rough today though and I nearly got blown over when I went down to have a look.
Anyway, I´m going to get some lunch and then try and get a lift back to the house.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Greg looking over the beach at Ritoque
Graeme frolicking amongst vines
An orange dragonfly at Casas del Bosque
Graeme and I at the vineyard
Looking up at Santa Lucia in Santiago.
Puppy rumaging in the garbage at the bottom of Bellavista where Pablo Neruda's house is
"QUESO!" Graeme and Greg in the grounds of Pablo Neruda's house
Pelicans on the way to ritoque
All the huge apartment blocks just past Renaca on the way to ritoque. If there's an earthquake it would be chaos.
Marty surfing at Ritoque
In Santiago at the mo but heading to Pucon at 11pm tonight. It was one of the places on my southern trip. I have had to change it somewhat as it is much more expensive than I thought it would be. But from there it is much easier to get to Puerto Montt and possibly Chiloe. Pucon is meant to be amazing anyway.
In the past couple of days Graeme and I have been hamnging out and doing a bit of touristy stuff. On the way back from Valpo we stopped in at an amazing vineyard, Casas del Bosque in the Casablanca valley. Was beautiful. Graeme pranced through the vines.
Yesterday we did a bit of a tiki tour through Santiago but it was so hot we had to come home and cool down. Plaza de Armas, the centre of the city, is about 4 degrees warmer than anywhere else and in the middle of the day it was just too much. We did stop at a restaurant where they were serving (on their English menu) " Mister hamburguer with Lethers" and "Beef with something else" which, if the ground wasn't covered in shit, I would have been rolling around laughing on. It was mighty amusing.
Before we left Valparaiso, Greg, Marty, Graeme and I went for a drive up the coast to Ritoque, about an hour north of Valparaiso. It was your typical beach 'town'. There wasn;t much to it but there were a lot of people on the beach and a spectacular view over the sand dunes from the hills. Miles and miles of sand dunes. And Graeme and Marty got to go surfing.
There have been quite a few small earthquakes since we've been here. I have felt a couple and Graeme says he feels them quite often. The Andes are jaw droppingly large as a backdrop to Santiago and the amount of devastation they could cause is beyond imagination. Well, not the Andes themselves but the plates beneath them. It's quite humbling.
It's been so hot today we could barely go outside. We thought about going to a movie but it didn't happen. Ferociously hot. Looking forward to going back to Vaolparaiso where the temperature is tolerable. I'm hoping Pucon will be the same.
Many more photos to come. Probably a lot of the volcano in the south. :)
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Still in Valparaiso but I`m heading back to Santiago tomorrow with Graeme. Berni`s sister has just got back from Australia so he tried to avoid the family chaos by visiting us for the weekend.
We went out last night to Poblenou, a little cocktail bar down the road, and had delicioso amaretto sours, pisco sours, mojitos, caiprenias... and then went to a wine bar where I was the only one prepared to try Palta Sour which is avocado, pisco and lemony stuff. Actually not bad. I`m going to indroduce the avocado into the cocktail industry in New Zealand.
I`m trying to upload some videos to the blog but they are enormous files and take forever to do. If this one takes too long I may just have to wait until I get back to NZ.
Anyway, I can`t get over this city. Funny little place. Most mornings we are woken up at about 10am by people riding around on the back of trucks and playing tunes on gas bottles with sticks. They do it so people know they are on their way to swap empties for fullies. They`re really simple tunes but really nice and very catchy. I end up with the tune in my head for the rest of the day.
Cerro Concepcion is like Labyrinth. There are stairs going all over the place and they even have tiles with arrows on them (and I`m sure they change direction every so often). The whole place is exactly like the last scene in the movie where Bowie is walking upside down and on the walls, "Everything I`ve done I`ve done for you. I move the stars for no one..." Marvellous! I did sing that on my way through last time.
Yesterday Greg, Graeme and I went to Pablo Neruda`s house up on the hill. It is amazing. It`s difficult to explain though and you`re not allowed to take photos inside but basically it is a mish mash of a lot of `things`from all over the world. Like an embalmed Coro-Coro bird (like a scarlet ibis) hanging from the ceiling in the living room and a map of the Americas from the 1600s (?) and portholes looking out over Valparaiso and... just a lot of stuff which all works well somehow. It`s very nautical in it`s design. It was a really interesting place to see. And the area that it`s in is beautiful. Really brightly coloured houses and amazing architecture. We spent an hour or so wandering the streets (Greg managed to do a bit of a strip show down to stubbies in front of a cop who looked at us suspiciosly - as you would) and finding our way back to town.
Anyway, here are a few more photos. Seeing as I ca´`t put any of them the right way up I am just going to put ones that are landscape for now...
Spider web outside Berni`s house in Santiago. I don`t want to see the spider that made it.
Graeme and Greg on the balcony admiring the Valparisian landscape.
This is a street just off ours. The building on the right is about to fall into the ground but it`s a beautiful (must find better adjectives) house. The houses on the left are similar to a lot in Valparaiso. All with the bright colours.
GAAAHHHH!!! I just cancelled the upload of the video and it was almost done. MIO DIOS!!!! Maldita blog. Sorry.
Graeme and Marty are waiting for me so I better go.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Part of the view from the hallway. The fireworks were just on the left of the picture and went right the way around the coast.
I will have to write again at another time. We now have to find a way from here to Colchagua Valley for the weekend. There will be mucho vino bibido. Excuse the possibly terrible Spanish. Today has been particularly difficult.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Happy Birthday Jen!
I hope all went well in Whitianga.
San Cristobal gave us a beautiful 360 degree view of Santiago. Such an enormous sprawling city with a beautiful backdrop of the Andes (snowless unfortunately but incredible nonetheless) and the cordilla del costo (coastal mountains). I have photos but have forgotten to bring the camera to the internet cafe so I will have to put them up later.
We are in Valparaiso now. Have been here for a few days. the drive here, through Casa Blanca, was nice. People are maniacs on the road though! We actually saw an horrific crash involving 4 or 5 cars and a bus. One of the cars was completely anihilated and there were a lot of police and ambulances and a helicopter. A few people on stretchers.
The speed limit is 120 and not many people drive under that. And the use of indicators is rare. Berni did a marvellous job though and we arrived safely.
When we got into the city ther was a truck on it´s side (it took a corner too sharply) but no one seemed too worried about that. There was no one there.
Our apartment is on the 12th floor of a building. The only building of that size in the area. All the other houses are 2 storeys if that. It´s a beautiful street though. Our apartment (well, the hallway) looks straight out over the harbour and the living room looks out over the hills of Valparaiso. You really couldn´t have a better view. There have been a lot of photos of it!
However, when we first got here the wind was as strong as it is in Wellington and the whole apartment was whistling and very unnerving. I had a bit of a moment thinking the whole thing was going to collapse. But later that afternoon it calmed down a bit and the landlord, Alejandro, said he would fix the whistling in the morning. It hasn´t been that bad since.
¡Feliz Año! I hope everyone enjoyed themselves wherever they were. i would love to hear some stories if you get a chance.
The fireworks display here was indescribable. I originally thought it was one barge in the harbour letting off fireworks but the day we got here there was an article in the newspaper showing 12 points around the coast where they would be based. 12 points stretching for miles! So from the apartment hallway we had the most spectacular view of all 12 dispays all in sync. It was just amazing. The show went for about 25 minutes and at the end all the Chileans shouted "Chi-chi-chi, le-le-le, VIVA CHILE!". Not quite Auld Lang Syne but close enough. I did pull out Auld Lang Syne but only Greg joined in.
Our apartment also showed us the crowds gathering at the plaza just down the hill. Massive amounts of people spilling out onto all the surrounding streets.
Afterwards we had dinner (following whanau tradition we haven´t eaten before midnight since we got to Chile). We sampled some local fish, reneta, and made sushi. It was a lovely feast. Then some of us went to a house party down the road. Quite expensive (12,000 pesos) to get in but good. There was an open bar but by the time we got there it was more of an empty bar with a few bottles of pisco and rum and some flat coke which was open to the point of self service. So we grabbed a bottle of pisco and a pitiful amount of coke and went downstairs.
One guy was a bit strange and followed Tim, Courts and I around for a bit, then grabbed Tim´s drink out of his had, poured most of it down his top and then started scowling "This is my country". There was no fight thank god.
The next day, yesterday, we went around to Viña del Mar and Reñaca. Berni and Graeme had to leave that day so we just went on a bit of a tiki tour and had some lunch at a little cafe in Reñaca. The Chileans do know how to make a good sandwich. It was a bit cold round there because the coast had been covered with low cloud so we didn´t stay too long. Greg, Marty and I got the metro from Viña to the plaza and back home via asensore. The asensores are cool. They feel a little dodgy but I´m sure they are quite safe. Very similar to the Cable Car in Welly but it´s just a little box instead of and actual car thing. And the hill is bloody steep.
Marty starts uni today and Greg and I may go and do touristy stuff. We haven´t been to Pablo Neruda´s house yet and there is a big church somewhere built in 1559 which I´d like to see. I bought a copy of El Mercurio de Valparaiso today - the oldest Spanish written newspaper still in circulation starting in 1827. And I found out that there was a volcanic eruption in Araucania, a few hours south of here, last night. We are heading to Araucania in a few days. I´m sure I felt an earthyquake last night but I seem to be the only one.
Ok, I think we´re off. Have been here for a while now.