A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Mrs Pratt

Santiago

-17 °C

A 2 hr drive from Valprasio took us to the Capital of Chile Santiago.

Chris and I had a little siesta on arrival before tackling a reasonable walk from the Hotel to San cristobel Park. We took a asensor to the top of the hill to get great views of Santiago (or so we thought!!). Santiago is extremly polluted and our view of the city was spoilt by the smog.

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The second day we took a walk around the city, but it started to rain. We chose the indoor activity of looking around the Pre Columbian Art museum. The museum was great and had artifacts from all over South America.

I will not lie. I was not a fan of Santiago, hence a rather small blog!

Posted by Mrs Pratt 12:58 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Valparaiso

overcast 12 °C

Since the last blog we have travelled through the Atacama desert. This is the driest desert in the world with 1mm of rain a year and runs between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean (What doesn´t run between those two in Chile?). Because of it´s location and the Humbolt current it is also very sterile, not much seems to grow here at all, so the 2 days we spent driving though it weren´t all that exciting. We spent 2 nights bush camping in the desert. The first night was at the Hand of the Desert, a man made sculpture in the middle the desert.

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The second night was at the Pan de Azucar National Park where we camped on the beach. The night we spent on the beach was wonderful. We spit roasted chickens on the campfire and a brave few (including Chris and I) took a dip in the sea. If nothing else the sea gave us a much needed "wash". We all drank, ate and were merry. The night was surprisingly warm and we got a great night sleep.

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From the Pan de Azucar National park we had a long drive to La Serena, so we left the beach camp at 7am which meant getting up at 5.45 to take down the tent (in the dark), pack up and get breakfast. We got to La Serena about 5pm. At this point the scenery in Chile was still unremarkable.

We camped again in La Serena, a few people upgraded to cabins, but Chris and I didn´t see much need. We are tough you know!!

From La Serena we thought we had another long drive, so it was another early start. There is a new motorway and the journey took us half the time planned, so we got into Valparaiso (Valpo in the photos because Chris is Lazy!!) at lunch time yesterday. We took the time to sleep, catch up on reading and generally relaxed.

We spent today walking around Valparaiso, one of that country's most important seaports and the cultural center of Chile. The city is built upon dozens of steep hillsides overlooking the Pacific Ocean, with ascensors to help you up the steeper hills. We took advantage of one of these.

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There is a labyrinth of streets and cobblestone alleyways, there is a range of colonial buildings in a range of colours and some more local styled buildings. It is an amazing city which keeps the eyes and mind busy. There is no wonder that Valparaíso is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is often considered to be one of Latin America’s most intriguing urban areas.

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Tomorrow we head for Santiago, the Capital of Chile. We will be here for a couple of days before continuing south towards the Lake District.

More photos can be found here - http://www.travellerspoint.com/photos/gallery/users/The%20Pratts/

Posted by Mrs Pratt 15:43 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Stuck in La Paz

semi-overcast 10 °C

This morning we were supposed to leaving la Paz at 7am for a full days driving to Potosi. However, we are still here and do not know when we are leaving! There are county wide blockades. Carriers want the Ministry of Finance to agree to change its tax regime to be exempted from tax on profits. Also calling for the impeachment of the president of the Bolivian Highway Administrator (ABC). The Ministry of Finance does not seem to want to know.

Road blocks and protests are not at all uncommon here in Bolivia and our Dragoman leader has experience something like this before.

So, we are here in La paz for a little while longer.

We are using the day to catch up on laundry, blogs, Coca tea drinking and cake eating.

Posted by Mrs Pratt 09:26 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Joining Dragoman

La Paz

semi-overcast 10 °C

A few days have passed since we lasted blogged. We have been very busy, hope you did not miss us too much!

On Monday we left our 5 star hotel and we joined the Dragoman group in a Hostel/Hotel. Alot of the other people on the truck have been on since Lima, some people before that. There are 5 of us joining in La Paz. There will be a total of 18 of us on the truck plus the two leaders. The Truck (Carmen) is aparently (we have not seen her yet) an 18 tonne, orange purpose built vehicle. She will be our transport and home for the next 6 weeks. I am sure you will hear more about Carmen in these blogs.

We spent Monday getting to know the other 3 travellers joining the group. We walked around the Witches Market where there was a plethora of weird and wonderful things. The most famous fare at the market is the Llama fetus. The main purpose for the dried llama fetusis to protect your home. Most homes in Bolivia have these dried llama fetus interred in the foundations of the building.

We also spent alot of time looking for blankets, hats and gloves. In the induction meeting with Dragoman we were warned it was going to get cold, very cold and snowy over the next couple of weeks. We were also warned that last years trip was stuck in Argentina for 6 days waiting to go over a very snowy pass. We are realising (see our next blog) that with overlanding you never know what is going to happen and you have to be extremly flexiable.

Yesterday we got up early and took a tour to Tiwanaku (also in spanish Tiahuanaco and Tiahuanacu). The journey took about 1.5 hours and we got to see some of the rural life in Boliva as well as some stunning views of the mountain ranges. Tiwanaku is a UNESCO world heritage site. The site of Tiwanaku was founded in approximately 1200 BCE as a small agriculturally-based village. It is recognized by scholars as one of the most important precursors to the Inca Empire. The ruins of the ancient city state are near the south-eastern shore of Lake Titicaca, about 72 km (44 miles) west of La Paz. Even though much of the architecture is in a poor state of preservation it was amazing to see the monoliths and the layout of the site. There is alot of working going to to excavate the site, so hopefully in years to come there will be a better understanding of the civiliation. We has an amazing guide, who spoke great english and was obviously very well educated on the site.

Last night I ate a wonderful Llama steak, which tasted like a cross between venison and pork. I will definatly be eating that again. Chris has a grilled steak, which is my usual staple. I also has a Submarino - a glass of warm milk served with a block of chocolate. You drop the chocolate into the milk and drink - yum, yum. All this was again in the name of cultural experience.

Posted by Mrs Pratt 08:44 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

No Atkins here

overcast 10 °C

Wow, there is so much Carbohydrate here. Breakfast is a cereal that contains oats, quinoa, corn and some dried fruit. Lunch is usually a set meal (almuerzo) that comes with soup and a main course. Yesterday we had a soup that had pasta and potatoes in it. The main course had more potatoes, yucca and rice. Evening meal last night had rice and chips! That is alot of carbohydrate.

In addition to this we are amazed by the variety of cakes, pastries and ice cream. The residents of La Paz love their ice cream. Today Chris and I suffered, and joined them in eating a large bowl of ice cream with chopped up chocolate, peaches and topped with Dulce de Leche sauce. All in the name of cultural experience of course!

Being a Sunday most things were shut today, so we took ourselves for a gentle stroll (still not able to manage much more then a grandma paced walk due to the altitude). First we came across some kind of street "event" on the main Prado. La Paz is built in a canyon created by the Choqueyapu River. The city's main thoroughfare, which roughly follows the river, changes names over its length, but the central tree-lined section running through the downtown core is called the Prado and Chris and I refer to the whole throughfare as the Prado because we are too lazy to learn all the names. Along the Prado there were stalls with art, food, child games, but we are not sure what the cause was. It seemed to have a political vein.

After strolling through this we walked further up the Prado to the La Plaza de los Españoles, which is known today as the Plaza Murillo. Juan Gutierrez set this area out in 1600. There was some Military event going on with bands, soldiers and one very long speech that we didn`t understand. After the speech everyone sung what we think is the national anthem and they raised the Bolivian flag. It was an amazing experience.

As I mentioned La Paz in built in a canyon and the main throughfare follows the river. Off this main throughfare it is very steep, climbing up the canyon. Being 3640m (11942ft) above sea level the air is very thin. This makes alot of the climbing up anaerobic, so Chris and I are suffering from lactic acid build up in our muscles which is leading to cramps and sore muscles. It is all very pathetic and quite humbling really.

Tomorrow we leave our little bubble of luxury and join the Dragoman tour, the main part of our Honeymoon. This section is 6.5 weeks and will take us through Bolivia, Chile, Argentina to Brazil. For more information look here http://www.dragoman.com/destinations/tripdetails.php?cat=wzi

Think that is it for now. Off for some more Carbohydrates now.

Posted by Mrs Pratt 15:10 Archived in Bolivia Comments (1)

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