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Drying out in San Pedro de Atacama

15 Jan

What we thought might be a relaxing overnight trip to San Pedro, turned into a 3am wake-up to put our bags through a Chilean scanner. Drowsy, given we’d surprisingly managed to fall asleep in our barely reclining semi-cama bus seats (not to mention the extra vino consumed over dinner), and perplexed as we weren’t crossing any international borders, we trooped off the bus and gathered our bags – no paperwork, just a scanner. With my bag full of carrots, half a garlic, chilli, nuts and a squashed banana (thou shall not waste food) not raising a Chilean eye (clearly catching the 40 winks I was missing), I am still non the wiser about their motivations.

With the bus driver also not allowing me to go to the bathroom without the bus moving (again, too tired to argue the ridiculousness of it all and too silly to simply wait until we took off again), I trudged off into the wilderness for this bano I’d been pointed towards. Taking my lead from ‘The Womble’ – what MC has nicknamed the very short and stout Chilean women whose appearance reminds him of these childhood TV characters (before my time, of course) – I found my bano (would have been cleaner finding a bush) and proceeded to get locked in. Who knows what I would have done if The Womble had not kicked it in for me, smacking me a sixer in the face, upon which I was then chased down the street by the bano attendant demanding his 200 pesos for the luxury of this affair.

Here´s hopìng the bed bugs forgot to reboard our coach…

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Come fly with me, let’s fly away…

9 Jan

… to llama land, where a one man band, will toot his flute for you.

Ok, so we didn’t see any llama’s, nor any solo flutists in Iquique, but we did take our first flight for 6 weeks – oh the luxury of popping up to northern Chile in 3 hours by plane, rather than on a bus for 24 hours. It was definitely something appreciated now, and perhaps taken for granted before – other ‘new’ luxury items include; there being space in the communal fridge for our grub, loo roll, the last clean pair of socks when all hope was gone and most of all…. hot water (Dad – imagine the savings at Brambles if switched to once / week) might almost be enough to replace the wine glasses we seem to get through.

Leaving the airport it seems we have landed on Mars, red dirt, on which nothing grows, follows us for the 40 kilometers into Iquique – a town which, by any description, is most unusual; imagine a Benidorm beachfront (that said with a crocodile enclosure, obviously), in Namibia,  where the old town has wildwest wooden sidewalks fronting grand Spanish / Moorish colonial mansions. Truly, a place like no other, and a bit more like it.

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Valparaiso. City of seagulls.

3 Jan

As the saying goes, One man’s trash is another’s treasure. Particularly true if you’re a seagull.

Crossing the Argentine/Chilean border during the holiday period saw us delayed 3 hours, meaning our supermarket shopping had to wait until New Years Eve – with the seagulls in full flight. Flying, fighting, pecking and pushing for everything – the last bread roll, the last packet of Lays, the last half-attractive roast chicken.

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San Martin de los Andes to Pucon. Bloomin’ lovely.

23 Dec

After going grey in Bariloche (not I might add, the affect of 2 months travelling together, nor borne of any grave concerns of mine over the wellbeing of the afore-mentioned hire car, but more a slow accumulation of the ever present volcanic ash) it was time to head a couple of hours north in the Argentine Lake District to San Martin de los Andes… Charming in a chocolate box way, the town resembles a litle slice of Switzerland with it’s log cabins, manicured gardens and over flowing flower boxes.

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