Fish, hotdogs and crazy cameramen
18.05.2012 - 20.05.2012
The journey across the border turned out to be another interesting one. After a beautiful drive through snowy mountains, we got turfed off the bus and into the freezing cold snow and started the rigmorale that is Chilean customs. Firstly, you have to queue up to get stamped out of Argentina, then again to get stamped into Chile. Then they have to check your customs declaration, you then all get lined up like a police parade as they x-ray your bags. They called one guy up and started going through all his stuff, and just as we were having a little giggle at him, my bag got pulled out! After a lot of Spanglish and hand signals, I finally managed to convince customs my homeopathic kit was infact medicine and not drugs, my marmite was for ‘hot bread’ and the mint tea was not ‘herbs’. All very funny, except for having to hastily repack my bag and jump back on the bus before it left without me. The rest of the drive was a bit scary, with huge, steep bends on the roads. The border is so silly, as it can take up to 5 hours to cross due to the amount of traffic, and the fact it is in the middle of a mountain! There must have been 50 lorries waiting to cross from Chile to Argentina.
We arrived in Valparaiso in the late afternoon and had pre-booked a hostel. After a bit of street food, a local bus and 20 minutes wandering around a back alley, we finally found Casa Aventura. It was a really nice hostel, in an old building not too far from the town centre. There was a big communal kitchen and nice shared bathrooms. We lucked out on the room too as we had got an online discount and it had a huge double bed and sofa! Having had a bit of a long day crossing the border, we made some dinner and watched movies in bed.
We woke up the next day to a beautiful sunny morning, and the free hostel brekkie was awesome (minus the screaming kids that were staying there!). We headed out to explore a route the owner had recommended. Valparaiso is really hilly, so we trekked up the hill a bit first and had an awesome view of the whole city. We walked all up around the back of town and through the outdoor museum. This consists of lots of really colourful buildings and steps that have been painted with scenes of fishing villages etc. Well worth the walk. We then walked the whole way along the harbour, which stinks of fish, but is very pretty! We saw lots of sea lions chilling out in the sun too. We popped into the big fish market there, but were a bit overwhelmed with the new currency conversion when we tried to buy stuff (800 pesos is £1). We settled on a tub of Ceviche, which was yummy in Peru, not so good in Chile! We looked at several restaurant menus for lunch, only to discover Chile speaks yet another different kind of Spanish to everywhere else, and not making much sense of the menu! On our way back, we ended up finding a great spot for lunch, where we just guessed on something to have! It was a cute little yacht club bar, with a big sunny terrace overlooking the sea. The picks were good, and both of us had really nice, fresh fish dishes. On the way back, we found a boot market, with all sorts of crazy bric-a-brac and hilarious clothes. In the afternoon, I was lazy and chilled out while Loz went for a run. In the evening, we had heard there was some local entertainment in the main square, so took some beers down. Turned out to be a bunch of very strange people dressed up in what can only be described as a cross between Michael Jackson in thriller and sixties disco wear, doing a very strange dance then asking for money?! Needless to say, we didn’t stop for long and instead, went for some famous Chilean hotdogs! Now we had heard a lot about hotdogs in Chile from other travelers and we were not disappointed! It’s all they eat and it’s about £1.30 for two, including a juice and these things come heaped in mayo, fresh salsa and guacamole! Very yummy but not very attractive to eat!
We decided to head off the next day to Pucon, but as the bus was not until the evening had some time to kill. We explored the old town, which turned out to just be a dirtier part of the new town and didn’t feel particularly safe. With not much else to do, we headed to the cinema to see ‘The Avengers’ which was really good. We hit the hotdog place on the way back for yet another round and more guacamole stains on our tops, then went back to the hostel to use the net. I had a funny experience when I popped to the supermarket. As I was walking down the road, these two guys started taking photos of me on big cameras, I tried to ignore them but then they came over and started following me and asking if I was with anyone etc. I was like ýep, my fiancé is just up the road etc’, they said I was really pretty and continued to follow me and ask me to move into the sun for better snaps! Very strange!! I was pleased when I got to the supermarket and they left!! We decided to walk to the bus station in the evening and get some street food on the way. We had got addicted to these little breads that cost about 15p and are deep fried then you put homemade salsa all over them – yum! The walk took about 20 mins, and after a short wait, we were off to Pucon.