Our entry to Chile started off with a bang- at the Cuzco airport, I hear our names called over the intercom, along with a few more lines of Spanish that I couldnt quite keep up with. The gate attendant handed me 2 new boarding passes, and Barbara and I found ourselves upgraded to first class. Woohooo! Nearly 50,000 miles of flying in 7 months, and we finally got to sit in the front of the bus. Nice big seats for the ride between Cuzco and Lima.
However, our fortunes began to change at the Lima airport. Barbara´s stomach began to really twist and turn. About 2 minutes after takeoff, she was scrambling for those little white bags that are so conviently tucked in the seat back pockets. She tossed her cookies. Nearly 7 months of international travel, and finally one of us succumbed to the aweful and dreaded travellers bug.
We arent quite sure exactly where she picked it up, although our hunch is maybe it was bad ice (made from bad tap water) in her Pisco Sours that we had enjoyed in Cuzco. Unfortunately, this bout of sickness laid up Barbara for 2 days straight in Santiago, mostly sleeping and staring at the ceiling. I wandered around a bit on my own, but travelling just isnt much fun without my wife.
Luckily she slept off the worst of it, and the next day we found ourselves at the bus station heading to Valpariso. The buses here are incredibly nice! Way nicer than any Greyhound I have ever taken. Our 2 hour ride to Valpo costs about $9 each. Chile in general is a bit more expensive than Peru, but Id say you get a whole lot more for your money.
This super eccentric port town is just awesome. Barbara describes it as a ´San Francisco with grittier, rougher edges´. The city is dominated by steep hills that run almost right up to the Pacific Ocean. The hills are covered with colorful houses and buildings. The entire place is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city has embraced graffiti as its unique way to decorate the streets. All over town (quite literally) the walls, steps, embankments, etc are covered with colorful paint. In fact, as a homeowner, if you would like to stop someone from tagging your place, you have just two options-
1. Every morning, just scrub off the previous nights tag.
2. Find a street artist, invite them over for a BBQ and some beer and have them paint a mural that you approve of.
It seems there is a gentlemans agreement that if a wall is covered by a mural, tagging over the top is not allowed. There are some truely awesome pieces of work that we stumbled upon.
In Valpo, we kind of just wandered about, ducking in and out of shops, looking for art to hang on our walls when we get back home. Home is something we have been talking and dreaming about a lot lately. We have been on the road now for 264 days and we have just 11 days left until we are done. We have been so lucky to take a trip like this. It has been such an incredible journey.
We took a walking tour with Tours 4 Tips (www.tours4tips.com), that led us all around town. Our guide Erica gave us some insight into the history of this quirky city. We check out the port, and then took an ascensor. An ascensor is essentially a one car train that climbs up and down a 45 degree track. You pay about 30 cents to avoid walking up a few hundred steps. These were built in Valpo´s hay day in the very early 1900´s.
Mostly we relaxed, drank delicious Chilean wine- which is super cheap here. $3-5 will buy you a really decent bottle, something that would cost $20-35 at home. We have been doing our best to support the local wine producers here.
From Valpo, we caught a bus back to Santiago where we have had another day and half of relaxing. We had intended to do a vineyard tour, but found them way more expensive than we were expecting. $80 each for 2 vineyards is not a particulary great deal in our minds. We also intended to do another walking tour, but we got there 15 minutes too late. Instead we wandered around on our own and then retreated to our hostel to read our books and day drink.
Tomorrow we catch a flight way South- all the way to the Strait of Magellen. After a day there we head to the crown jewel, the grande finale of trip- the Patagonia!
Full Gallery Here-