Whilst Karoline and Simon made their way up to Cordoba via San Juan and the Valle de la Luna I took a slight detour into Chile to receive my new second-hand iPhone (thank you Dad!) and have a little adventure on my own.
The 7 hour bus ride from Mendoza to Santiago is absolutely breathtaking, passing straight through the Andes with views of Aconcagua, the highest peak outside of the Himalayas, along the way.
Standing on top of Santa Lucia hill, the founding site of Santiago, you can experience the strange sensation of the scorching afternoon sun whilst looking out at the backdrop of snowcapped mountains surrounding the city.
The first night in Chile I was woken up by what I at first thought was a lot of fidgeting by the girl in the lower bunk, only to realise as the shaking intensified that I was in fact experiencing an earthquake. Of course by the time we’d all fully woken up and appreciated what was going on it was over, nevertheless a surreal and slightly scary sensation to wake up to!
The hostel I stayed at, Castillo Surfista, was a fantastic little place, a house converted into a hostel that really felt like home. Perhaps one of its best features is Duke the skateboarding dog (he can even steer)!
Having taken in the usual major sites in a city: the government buildings, cathedral, main square and markets, the walking tour I had joined with some friends from my hostel ended in bar named La Piojera (the fleapit). A fantastically grungy local bar selling the most lethal cocktails, about a pint in volume consisting of cheap wine, fernet (a potent and bitter herby liquor) and pineapple ice cream. They call it “terremoto” or “earthquake” because drinking it supposedly causes the ground beneath your feet to begin to move – you definitely need the pile of greasy chips topped with egg and strips of steak to soak it up!
One Chilean custom that I had not heard of until our guide introduced us to it is “café con piernas”, i.e. “coffee with legs”. Apparently coffee shops didn’t really take off in Chile until the beverages were served by women in short skirts (or less). We certainly weren’t expecting to be kissed on the cheek by a girl in stilettos and skimpy underwear whilst ordering our coffee! I’m not sure who was more uncomfortable, me and Hannah (the only females in the place who were fully clothed) or the male city workers taking their afternoon break who had become part of a tourist attraction (I’m pretty sure it was us).
Anyway, after a fun few days in sunny Santiago, meeting some old friends (in travelling terms i.e. someone you’ve met once before) and making some new ones, I’m on the road again, back to Argentina.