Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hey Kids, I´m in the Desert!

I just wanted to write a quickie before I take off for Bolivia tomorrow, I have been told by the tour guides that the accommodations will be ¨rustic¨ and ¨basic¨ and since hot water=luxury here, I am going to infer that the next few days will be internet-free.

So I left Valpo on Sunday, which was super-sad because, although I will be back next week for one day only, I said goodbye to my apartment, had breakfast for the last time there etc. Next Tuesday I´m going to be staying at the boy´s house (yes, there is a boy, come on, of COURSE there is a boy. That´s all I´m saying about it.) so no more Casa Peral for me:((( So, I hopped on a micro to the bus station, bus to Santiago, the subway from the bus station to another station(for some reason, the bus didn´t go to Pajaritos, who knows why)to catch the shuttle to the airport. Got on a plane, landed in Calama, cab to the bus station, another bus to San Pedro de Atacama, goddamn, I am tired just thinking about it! Then I couldn´t find/get in touch with the woman who I´d arranged to stay with so I got to walk around town at 11pm looking for accommodations. Did I mention that I went out the night before in torrential rain and so my coat was still soggy? It was awesome, let me assure you!

I managed to find a slightly overpriced room, but it was mine, all mine, no sharing. No internet or breakfast, which kind of sucks and the water wasn´t working when I wanted to take a shower but these are just small details, right? I walked around town looking for a place in the morning with these ¨luxuries¨ and everything was full or way overpriced. Hotel Puritama turned out to be just fine in the end.

June 29th also happens to be the festival of San Pedro and what better place to be than San Pedro de Atacama? I took some pictures before my camera finally committed suicide (yeah, it´s been working pretty well for the last month or so but I think it took it´s final swan dive yesterday. Fantastic timing. There was mass outside in the plaza, followed by a parade with some decent marching bands, altiplano dancing and men dressed as chickens inexplicably lassoing me. Hmmmm. Then I had a DELICIOUS empanada, one of the best I´ve had in Chile, that was full of olives, egss, onions and meat that I will pretend was llama. By the way, I love llama. I had a llama skewer today in a little town called Machuca, on the way back from seeing the Geisers del Tatio. I thought the geisers were totally overrated and getting up at 3:30am in -15 degree weather even worse. But once the sun came out, the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. I´m so pissed I can´t take pictures!!!!!!!

Ok, my time here at the internet cafe is running out, I gotta run, see you soon!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Four Month Check-In

That's right, it's been four whole months since I left Buffalo, a bittersweet day indeed. I've had a wonderful journey so far, and I still have a month left, but it's official. I'm ready to come home. Don't get me wrong, I will be SUPREMELY sad to leave here when the time comes but the life of an ex-pat is a sort of lonely one. Sure, I've met great people but meeting other travelers/English-speakers mean that they are inevitably leaving, and many of them have. My Chilean friends are fantastic, I feel really blessed, but being really ME is limited, which I have mentioned before. At first I thought I wasn't really ready to leave or homesick for home, just a little lonely. But now I know, that just ain't true. I miss YOU, my garden, my niece, cheese, the library, my gym, ole Blo, picking up the phone to call people. In short, it'll be time to go when the time comes. However, I've got one more trip planned before I jet, on June 28th, I will fly to Calama, in northern Chile, to visit San Pedro de Atacama, the desert, Valle de la Luna etc. Then I will go on an expedition to Uyuni, in Bolivia. Back to Valpo on July 7th to pick up my stuff and say my goodbyes and I am OUT OF HERE July 8th. Anyway, soon enough I will have my own photos to post but in the meantime, here are some titillating shots of both locations!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Daytripping in Quintay/Picture of the Day 18

I've been kinda lazy about exploring lately and my time here is winding down, que lata. So the other day I decided to start taking some small day trips and remembered several people telling me to go to Quintay. It's about an hour south of Valpo and was the epicenter of Chile's whaling industry in the late 1800s/early 1900s until 1967, when whaling was officially banned worldwide due to hunting the poor things until near extinction. (Everyone signed the treaty but Norway and Japan, what's up with them?). Quintay also has a number of good seafood restaurants, so no one had to twist my arm to get me there!!!

I tried to go last week but I got to the bus station at 11:20 and the bus left at 11:15, since when do things happen on time in Chile? Pucha! The next bus wasn't for several hours and since winter is approaching, the sun sets early and I decided to wait for another day. Monday broke, gloriously sunny and oddly clear. I could see all the way to the snow-capped Andes, past Santiago, which I have never seen from this far away.

On the bus ride, I watched the beautiful interior glide past me and I realized I had become complacent about how gorgeous Chile is. I noticed that the other day too, walking down a street in Valpo and it just seemed like a street to me, not a fascinating, ramshackle, South American alley. So it was a good reminder not to lose my sense of wonder and HOLY SHIT, LOOK AT THIS PLACE AND TAKE IT ALL IN!!! Just before we got to Quintay, we were treated to the most breathtaking view of the beach and cove below from the incredible height of the incoming road, I couldn't take a picture because, well, we know how well pictures through windows turn out. Trust me though, my day would have been complete just seeing that view.

The town is pretty much nothing but if you walk down the path to the harbor, you can see the old whalery??? Is that a word? I don't know the word in English. 500 pesos got me into the old place, there was a pretty uninspiring exhibition hall that had pictures of starfish and excerpts from Moby Dick pasted on warped cardboad. But touring the old, abandoned complex was totally worth it, the day was perfect, the camera was behaving, sort of. Magnificent.

The water had a brillo especial about it.



Whales are big.

I wrapped up my afternoon with a big pastel de jaivas, which I could describe as a an enormous dish of local crabs, baked au-gratin style. Mmmmm. On the way home, I realized I completely missed walking along Playa Grande, which is supposed to be quite lovely. Maybe another day...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Picture of the Day 017

I'm a thief. I was walking to the store the other day after work and saw this MAGNIFICENT sunset. Sadly, I didn't have my camera, and even if I did, I'm having so many problems with it that I can't rely on it at all. Anyway, you can imagine how happy I was to see that Matt at corrugatedcity.com posted this picture and more of this very same sunset! Thank you Matt!