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Chile

South America Round up

Difficult second blog

This is my round up of our last 8 weeks in South America.

Things I liked
Christ the Redeemer in Brazil was a great way to start the trip. It really was impressive but thinking back, I think looking at it from Sugar Loaf mountain and the streets of Rio was better than actually going up and seeing it. To quote Karl Pilkington "...if it was plonked in a roundabout in Stratford, next to the Arndale centre, it wouldn't get a look-in...". It was also packed up there, with lots of people pushing and shoving to get a photo. This would be ok normally but the South Americans love a pose (see previous blog) so one picture takes about 5 minutes with all the pouting and hair flicking, then when you finally get in position some fool throws an arm into your shot.
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Iguacu falls were just amazing. One of the best things I have ever seen. Getting up there early to the Argentinian side when it was quiet was a great idea. It could of easily of been like Christ the Redeemer for photos if we hadn't. In fact the Brazilian side main viewpoint was pretty busy and full of posing.
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Obviously another highlight was Machu Picchu in Peru. I would say this is on a par with Iguacu falls. One being natural and the other man made makes them hard to compare. Going in the off season when the inca trail was shut meant we couldn't do the trail itself (don't think we would of done it anyway as I am not sure the converse would be up to it) but it also meant Machu Picchu was quieter and we didn't have to book months in advance.
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The conclusion I have made is, I like my big tourists attractions quiet. Which is a pretty obvious one.

Death road in Bolivia was really good fun, it's as dangerous as you want to make it. I bet some egits fly down it and nearly die, actually some do die, the guide said on average 2 people die a year. Wouldn't surprise me if more people died in road traffic accidents on the way to death road than actually on death road itself.
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Horse riding in Sucre is also on my list. The scenery was pretty impressive but this was the first time I have been in a horse since I was about 8 (I was in Lanzarote and it was a horse called Angel...it wasn't an Angel. It didn't like to stick to the paths). My horse this time, Hector, was better behaved. I even galloped, well the horse galloped, I just held on really tightly and prayed I didn't bust the baby makers.
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Salt flats where different and taking all the pictures was fun
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Things I want to come back and see
Seeing a couple of the new 7 wonders has made me now want to see them all. So I definitely want to come back to Mexico (not actually South America but close enough) to see Chichen Itza.

Also on the list is to go to Patagonia and explore there. The south of South America is somewhere I wish we had time to go see. Especially the Perito Moreno Glacier.

Things I miss from home already
Spicy food. We have been craving chilli and curry. We have been making our own as even when we have gone to restaurants and they have said its spicy it's been pretty mild. The food has been ok out here but in general the food has lacked flavour. It's been pretty bland.

Toilets that can take toilet paper. Sick of seeing toilet paper in bins, never a pretty sight.

More finished than unfinished buildings. Some countries in South America seem to find it impossible to finish buildings, Peru and Bolivia were the main culprits. Every town had lots and lots of half built houses or extensions. There was a family who live near my mums who took ages to finish there extension and seeing that year after year unfinished used to annoy me, so this is probably where my dislike for incomplete buildings comes from.
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Things I won't miss
South America is built for midgets, all the door ways are low, outdoor market stalls have low plastic roofs and ropes to strangle you on.

Being built for midgets means if you are tall you stand out. Being tall also means I have large feet. Twice in South America people have laughed at the size of my feet. Once we went to stall to try and find a new pair of trainers, the woman looked at my feet, said "grande" and started laughing. The second time the girl wasn't even local, I think she was a japanese tourist, we were on a boat trip in Copacabana and she looked down, started laughing then did the 'large' hand gesture.

Dogs and dog muck. Dogs are everywhere and they just seem to roam about the cities. So because of the large amount of dogs roaming there is lots of dog poop knocking about. One positive of this is I have once again seen white dog poo. I thought this was extinct, as I hadn't seen it since I was a kid, but in Valparaiso I saw it quite frequently.

Not being able to speak Spanish. It's hard work not speaking the local language, especially when people talk a load at you and all you can say at the end is "no entiendo". Even worse when you tell them you don't speak Spanish but they still insist on telling you what they wanted to say anyway.

Posted by andrewwaugh 07:12 Archived in Chile Tagged south america Comments (0)

Santiago - Day 54

Goodbye South America!!

27 °C

Our last day in South America! Where has the last 8 weeks gone? It's been more amazing than I expected and I am more than a little sad to be leaving. But we have another few countries to go yet so we're excited too.

We were supposed to be leaving our apartment at 12 noon today but thankfully they let us keep it until we needed to leave for the airport later this evening. We made the most of the good weather and spent the afternoon by the pool.

We went to use the Internet to check our emails before we left but the cafe wasn't open - actually nothing much was open on a Sunday in Santiago - so we went to McDonalds and bought a drink so we could sit and use their wifi. We met an old couple from Gloucestershire in there who just arrived in Santiago and must have thought McDonalds was a safe bet. I bet they don't go to McDonalds much in England though! They were going on a cruise of Chile and Argentina from Valparaiso and after just coming in from a long flight (maybe around 16 hours?) they told us we were definitely doing the right thing travelling while we're young, while the we can bounce back from the jet lag and move around easily. I definitely feel we've done the right thing, we've seen and done some incredible things here, and hopefully like them, we'll be lucky enough to do more right through to our 70s!

We said goodbye to them and went for our lunch at a restaurant across the road. I can't remember the name of the place, maybe red bar, but we had some awesome hot sandwiches - I had pork, avocado, tomato and cheese and Andrew had steak and cheese - and fries with a hot pepper relish, all washed down with a beer to toast our two months in South America.
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We had just enough money after that to get the tube and a bus to the airport - we had about 500 pesos (70p) left! The flight was a little delayed, but nothing major given it was a 13 hour flight anyway, then after dinner and seeing Skyfall for the first time, I fell asleep around 2am Santiago time.

Posted by staceywaugh 01:14 Archived in Chile Tagged food Comments (0)

Santiago - Day 52 & 53

And relax...

27 °C

We've been having a relaxing time here in Santiago. Yesterday we explored the city a little, taking us to a beautiful cathedral where a ceremony was taking place. It sounds so much more interesting in Spanish!
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A lot of the major buildings we went to see, following the map we had picked up from tourist information, had works being done so we didn't get to see too much. On the way round, we walked straight into a protest or riot! People we're being held off the street and there were so many police and fierce looking riot vans, it was actually a bit scary.
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We spent the afternoon up on the roof, sunbathing and swimming, which was just what we needed. The view from up there was fantastic too. We even came back up later that evening to see the sunset, which was lovely too.
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Shame about the crane in this one!!
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Today we found an Irish pub to watch the England v Wales rugby match in the six nations. I was missing a sunny day for it, but Andrew really wanted to see it so we went. Andrew got us there an hour too early for kick off, but 'coincidentally' Aston Villa were playing at that very time too - good for Andrew, not so much for me! Just before the rugby started the pub got a lot busier, but we were outnumbered massively by Wales fans. As you will all know by now, England lost, the Welsh men and women in the pub were shocked but deliriously happy. We left the pub. Good job Aston Villa had won (minor miracle?) beforehand...

We made the most of the lovely day by exploring a bit more of Santiago, in particular a place called Cerro Santa Lucia, which is a pretty viewpoint out to the city. This must be the place to go if you're courting (as Andrew's Dad would say!), as everyone was cuddling and kissing. So now you know what's going to happen if your Chilean boyfriend takes you to Cerro Santa Lucia in Santiago!
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It was Saturday late afternoon and all the shops in the main area seemed to be almost empty. We wandered down to the main square again and that's where everyone was - it was packed with people watching street artists, musicians, dancers. There was a whole group of people playing chess in a pavilion. It would be so nice (if not slightly damaging to the economy) if more places in English towns and cities were like this!
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Posted by staceywaugh 05:06 Archived in Chile Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises churches buildings skylines landmarks Comments (0)

Valparaiso to Santiago - Day 51

Preparation...

27 °C

We arrived at our final destination in South America today, Santiago. A two hour bus journey and a short ride on the underground - which is a very nice underground! - we were in the city and only a few streets away from the apartment we had rented. We decided to book an apartment rather than stay in a hostel to have a few days to relax before the big flight in a few days.

After a bit of confusion at the front desk, we got into the apartment. It was tiny but had everything we needed, except internet access, but the pool on the roof made up for it though! The size of the place and the lack of wifi is getting us prepared for New Zealand, where we'll be staying in a tiny camper in the middle of a forest or on a beach.

Posted by staceywaugh 05:05 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Valparaiso - Day 50

Pablo Neruda's house, Art & Sea Wolves!

25 °C

It was so hot today! And typically we started the day with a walk uphill! We went to see where the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda lived when he stayed in Valparaiso. Nice house with a great view!
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His house was just up the road from our hostel and on the way back down we saw lots morel art. It really is on every corner here.
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We walked down to the harbour and had dinner at a seafood place tha was recommended. We had the set lunch menu, which was an empanada and then you could choose from three seafood dishes that sounded almost the same - language barrier again. We went for a seafood 'paila', which is a fish soup, and I expected it to have some tomatoes in there like a fish stew, but no. It was pretty much a ton of mussels, few prawns and pieces of squid, couple of pieces of fish and then a load of unrecognisable bits of seafood that was stringy and undesirable all served in salty hot water. Definitely not the best meal of the trip!
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This afternoon we went on a boat trip in the harbour, which took us out on the water to see Valparaiso from a different angle, see the big ships up close and also have the chance to see some sea lions. This was on the recommendation of our eccentric hostel owner Patricia, who called the sea lions 'sea wolves'. Good job we knew what she meant, as sea wolves would be quite scary!

Anyway, we did see the 'sea wolves'! They were on a platform in the sea and also sat on the front of the boats too. We also saw some great views of Valparaiso and the navy ships in the dock too.
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Posted by staceywaugh 05:54 Archived in Chile Tagged art birds boats sea_lions cargo_ships Comments (0)

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