Forgive us readers for we have lapsed. It has been a week since our last blog…
Bernice´s cold as been pretty bad and after a night in a hostel in Valparaiso we managed to find an apartment for a week. It has meant some well-earned privacy but more importantly just now, we haven´t become public enemy no. 1 with Bernice coughing all night. Again it hasn´t cost much more than a private room at a hostel would be so no real extravagance, just out own space with a little bedroom, kitchen area, and a bathroom. (What we´ve been doing is alternating dorm and private as we travel where the price is good) It has an outdoor space but no real view.
Which is a shame really as the views across the town are amazing – the whole town is a designated UNESCO site. There are about a dozen Ascensors (lifts/funicular railways), most really old, which enable everyone to get up and down the steep hills. There are some buildings made of stone, especially down edging the sea where the flat area is, but on the hills most buildings are made of wriggly tin (corrugated iron), colourfully painted wriggly tin at that.
The first day or so we didn´t do much, Bernice was resting and trying to shake off the cold, the first time we did venture out together, on the 2nd day we bumped into a couple we´d seen at the hostel – Joe and Eli. It turns out they´re from UK, Joe from Angel London, his dad´s bound to know Kevin – he runs taxi´s there, and Eli is from Dorchester, but they both lived in Reading whilst at Uni there…. Small small world.! Yes we did discuss Sweeney´s.
Chris had arrived about an hour after us the first morning and with Dan following on the 2nd day we made a right little sight-seeing entourage with Joe and Eli as well. Oh and Coco a Dutch girl we got chatting to over dinner. Once we´d moved all our kit to our apartment we visited the main tourist attraction in town, that being the house of a local poet laureate “Pablo Neruda”.
Dan and Chris seem to know a fair bit of Spanish and Coco did a month or more intensive learning in Buenos Aires, and yet none of us are managing to understand the locals. We asked at least half a dozen times what the “menu del dia” was… nobody got the whole thing!!! Bonkers dialect!
One day Dan walked (probably reluctantly as he probably thought we were taking the train) with us to the neighbouring town of “Viña del Mar” the posh neighbour! It turned out to be quite an adventure and maybe even the highlight of our week here. The start of the walk was pretty yuk, walking along the side of the main road until we could cross the rail line and get to the start of the promenade. Then we saw loads of sea lions fighting each other to stay on an old concrete platform not far from shore. Then we came across an art exhibition, one we´d seen part of from the bus the day we arrived – 5 or so brightly coloured cars (yes cars) pinned up on a line by huge oversized clothes pegs – but alas it wasn´t open till later. The next thing, the best thing, we come across is an old burnt out train, a couple of carriages, hardly any window panes left, certainly no paint on the wagons and as Bernice stopped to photograph it an old boy popped his head out the window. She thought she was going to get told to sling her hook, but no, we were invited in, it was just opening, it was a coffee shop! Probably they were homeless, probably they were squatting there, probably it was a crazy thing to do, but we were all curious so we accepted and ventured up the end steps of the carriage and into the train. It was spotless, if a bit bedraggled. A woman was busy finishing setting things up and the old boy who´d shouted out the window came through to welcome us on board. There were lots of tables and chairs (not original though) in the carriage and a piano, which once we had our tea in front of us the old guy sat down and began to play. It was like being in a time warp!! Amazing!
Further along our walk we came across the fish market and again saw a lot of sea lions and loads of huge pelicans, not at all afraid to let us get near them. We also spectated some local lads playing footie (while we took another refreshment stop, it was a long walk) until a stray dog ran off with their ball!
As the week has passed we´ve said our goodbyes to the troops fully expecting we might bump into all or some of them again somewhere further north. Chris and Dan got ´treated´ to a steak dinner on their last night followed up with some much needed shithead practice!!
We got Bernice a bottle of cough mixture and thought she was fixed but come Saturday she had a bit of a relapse and we had to go buy another. This one is stronger, she´s only allowed to take it at 8 hour intervals; in fact the packet infers she should only have been prescribed it by a doctor!
There was a day trip to Santiago on the cards too but that got canned, we´ll go via there as we leave on Tuesday, leave our bags in left luggage for the day and have a look at the town. Seems a bit odd but other than it being a big city (the capital of Chile) no one has really given us any incentive to go. We need to go to the post office where, hopefully, the parcel is waiting on us that eventually turned up at The Singing Lamb, and Bernice also wants to take in the Art Gallery. We´re trying to be disciplined (yep we know, it´ll be a 1st) and get to Bolivia as quickly as we can – where it’s reportedly much cheaper – without missing too much of Chile out. We have two more planned stops here. La Serena to see the huge observatories and San Pedro de Atacama where we´ll see the Chilean salt flats before taking a 4×4 across the border (4-5 day expedition) into Bolivia and to its salt flats – Uyuni, the largest in the world. Bring it on…. 🙂