Moving on…

Today my cold is definitely getting better and not feeling as drained. Today’s mission was to take the metro to the bus station and get myself a ticket to my next destination.

I have been tossing up between Antofagasta, Calama and San Pedro de Atacama. I decided Antofagasta, although very beautiful looking and by the sea, was just another city. I thought San Pedro was very barren looking and didn’t think there would be a lot to do there. The great thing about staying in a hostel is the information you can pick up from both hostel staff and other travellers. I had pretty much decided to go to Calama until one of the girls in my dorm said to go to San Pedro de Atacama. I spoke to another traveller this morning, he said there is nothing to do at Calama and suggested I go to San Pedro de Atacama. It is the driest place on earth, being in the Atacama desert. He said you could spend a week there seeing the Valley of the Moon – a moon-like landscape with ruins of old Chilean salt mines, and worker huts, Death Valley – a valley where gigantic dunes and rocks abound, hot springs, geysers, salt caves and other sites. He showed me his photos and I was sold!

He drew me a map of the metro station I had to get off at (Estacion Central) and where I had to go to get my bus ticket. I get really nervous getting the metro because the people selling the tickets can never speak English. I also get worried about getting on the right train and getting off a the right station! However, it wasn’t as bad as the actual thought of it.

Found the bus ticket places and after firstly going to a wrong counter, I found the right counter. The man could speak a little English and the good thing is they show you the computer screen which makes it easier. I booked a ticket in a semi-cama (a semi reclining seat). It was 44,400 pesos (NZ$111). The cama (a full bed) was 56,000 pesos (NZ$140). It is something like a 24 hour trip and I may regret not spending the extra to get a cama.

Next was to book a hostel. Settled for Backpackers San Pedro. At 8,900 pesos (NZ$22) it is more expensive than the current 7,900 pesos (NZ$20). It doesn’t include breakfast or dinner that is included at Aji Hostel. I only had the option of a 6 bed mixed dorm…so there better not be any loud male snorers!

Fifth day in Santiago…

I can’t believe this is my fifth day in Santiago! I am staying at Aji Hostel. The same hostel I stayed at in October 2010 on my way back to New Zealand. The hostel is a lot busier than it was then. Everyone is so friendly and have met some lovely people.

I have had a wander around the city on my own and have done a free guided walking tour of the city (about 3 hours) with a stop at a bar for a pisco sour. When I was in Peru I took some pisco sour back home and thought it was a Peruvian drink. However, Chilenos claim that pisco sour is their national drink. A wee bit like New Zealand and Australia with the pavlova. Of course, we all know the pavlova was invented in New Zealand (even Wikipedia confirms that fact)!

Andes

Andes taken from Santa Lucia Hill, Santiago

Felipe our guide was a colourful character who spoke excellent English. The history that went with the points of interest along the way were really fascinating.

I walked up Santa Lucia Hill where I took some stunning photos of the Andes. There are lovely gardens on the hill also. The hill was built by soil and rocks by prisoners and is quite a famous landmark in Santiago.

I celebrated my birthday on 8 July. The girls in my dorm sang “Happy Birthday” to me. My friend Fernando who runs the hostel, opened a bottle of wine and then took me to a bar where I had another pisco sour! He got the waitress to bring out a chocolate brownie with ice-cream on the top and a candle.

I am now nursing a cold and haven’t ventured too far the past two days.

Snow predicted…

Oh great, snow predicted in Christchurch. I just happen to be flying into Christchurch on 3 July and out of Christchurch on 6 July to Auckland to catch my flight to Santiago, Chile. You better have cleared up by then snow! I guess if the worst comes to the worst, I can skip Christchurch and get up to Auckland to get my flight to Santiago.