Winter vacation!

My second month in Chile is almost over…time has gone by sooooo fast it’s insane. Second semester is starting on Monday. Anyhow, winter vacation was awesome. We pretty much saw most of what Northern Chile has to offer. Not gonna go into details, that’s for my journal.

Let’s see…we left on a Saturday night from Valdivia to Santiago. Spent a day in Santiago waiting for Katie then left at night for La Serena, which is about 7 hours north of Santiago. La Serena is a beach town and it was beautiful there. Sunny for the most part, but still cold. From there we also visited Vicuna and the Elqui Valley where the famous poet Gabriela Mistral lived (She was the first Latin-American woman to win the Nobel Price of Literature). It was cloudy that day so we didn’t get to see much. We had navegado though (Navegado is hot wine with oranges and cinnamon and amazingly good). We spent another half-day back in La Serena then left for Copiapo.

We tried to go to the Parque Nacional de Tres Cruces located east of Copiapo but it just wasn’t meant to be…it was a holiday, the tour offices were on strike and we found out from a local that the road to the park was blocked because of snow the night before. So, we packed up and headed to Caldera which is only an hour bus ride away. Caldera is another beach town on the coast and the saying that everything works out in the end held true, it did work out because there was a celebration that day in Caldera. It was the celebration of the construction of the first railway by the Norris Brothers in 1850 in South America I guess. So, we went around town checking out the festivities, napped right on the beach and then got wine and drank on the beach. Saw some more festivities then decided to go to Empenapolis (City of Empenada) and get us some empenadas. They were bomb ass. I know things taste good when you’re hungry and buzzed, but those empenadas were so gooood. After that we headed back to the hostal, listened to some music and passed out. Nichole went down one of those air-filled bumpy slides.

The next day we went to Bahia Inglesa which is only a colectivo ride away. The beach there was amazingly beautiful. I’ve seen some pretty beaches in my life but this one definitely makes it to one of my top 5. Even though it was still really cold. We sat on the beach, napped a little, ate lunch, went around a little more and stopped near a cliff and threw rocks. After that we went back to Caldera to watch the sunset then took about bags and camped out at Americano restaurant to wait for our night bus which takes us to San Pedro de Atacama.

The night bus arrived nearly an hour late. We got to Antofagasta and changed bus to Calama, then changed bus to San Pedro de Atacama. Many hours later we finally arrived and found a hostal. Then we signed up for the Valle de la Luna and El Tatio Geysers tour. That same afternoon/evening we walked through Valle de la Muerte, saw the Tres Marias and watched the sunset by the sand dunes. It was so breathtaking because the Cordillera (Mountain range) changes color as the sun sets. Definitely another sunset that makes it to my top 5. After that we went back to the hostal and slept because we have to wake up at 4 am for the Tatio Geysers tour.

And so we woke up around 4, the van came to the hostal and picked us up, there was supposed to be another Brasilian couple coming with us but they weren’t there. So we ended up leaving late having to wait for them and shit. We were in a van and it was just us and the guide. It took over an hour to get there and the road was a dirt road with bumps and rocks  so we pretty much were shaked up the whole way but off roading for me was awesome, loved it. Anyway, we arrived at the Geysers and it was blistering cold but the water there (Geysers) was boiling hot. Steams were all over the place and not far from the Geysers water turned to ice (literally 30 feet away). Absolutely crazy. Our tour included breakfast so our guide hard boiled our eggs in the water. After breakfast we went to the hot springs. Nichole and I took a dip. The water wasn’t extremely hot, but the sand under it was. It was a nice bath though, met and talked to some peeps in the water. Not long after we got back into the van and headed to Machuga, a tiny village with 8 people living in it. Ate some llama meat with onions, very tasty. Went back to San Pedro, chilled and left for Arica that night.

We arrived in Arica in the morning, found a hostal, met another German guy (he just went up to us at the bus station and asked if he can come with to the hostal because he didn’t know any around), slept till noon then walked to the centro. Got up to the hill with a huge statue of Jesus and some cannons. Arica was one of the important places during the War of the Pacific where the army of Chile took Arica from Peru in under an hour. That hill overlooked the whole city. After that we went around centro again. We wanted to watch Harry Potter but the lady at the box office said it was in Spanish…which sucked cause I was so excited for it. So, instead of watching Harry Potter we started drinking. We bar hopped, chilled, drank some more, encountered 2 other volunteers, bought some more alcohol, took a colectivo back and drank some more, listened to some music and passed the hell out. To rationalize and justify this amount of alcohol: it WAS our (quartet) last night.

The next day we had lunch and bid goodbye. Kevin and Nichole were continuing up to Machu Picchu and Katie and I started our journey back to Temuco/Valdivia, respectively. We got on the bus at 15:45 on Tuesday the 21st and arrived in Santiago 21:00 on Wednesday the 22nd…30 hours of bus ride. Then I got on the bus at 21:50 and arrived in Valdivia at 08:00 Thursday the 23rd. 40 hours of bus ride. I’m pretty proud. So that ends what I must say an amazingly fun and amusing trip. Damn!

School starts again Monday. I’m still waiting to upload some pictures (need the cable back). That’s about it. I’ve also been thinking about life after Chile…really not sure where I want to go or what I want to do. I slept for 12 hours last night and had so many different dreams it was craaaazy. It was, in a way, my brain releasing almost everything I’ve thought about. Everytime I woke up and fell back asleep it was a different dream. One was in French and two were in Spanish, the rest was in either English or Chinese. The bus ride has something to do with it, or so I thought anyway.

Keep it real. Peace out.