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Patagonian Aventure


I was extremely lucky and fortunate to have two of my favorite friends from high school visit me in Chile these last two weeks. The first week we spent in Santiago and had an amazing time. We went to the market, ate Peruvian food, went to Subterraneo, basically just had a ball.

Then, last Sunday we headed off to Punta Arenas for an end of the world adventure. To be honest, none of us had really done a lot of research so we had to sort of go with the flow.

We arrived in Punta Arenas around 3pm, but had to kill about 3 hours till the next bus to Puerto Natales (we took Bus Fernandez). So….of course….we got pizza and drank beer. What could be better.

We arrived tired and cold into Puerto Natales and went right to our hostel, the Erratic Rock. This place was so great! Very warm and cozy, with a helpful staff and awesome breakfast. They even have a place next door where they give daily information meetings about the park at 3pm, and provide equipment for rent like tents, sleeping bags, etc and all at a good price. We spent Monday figuring out what we wanted to actually do in the park, getting groceries, eating dinner, and exploring.

We had a delicious dinner  at a place called El Maritimo which specialized in seafood. My paila marina was a little weird, but Elizabeth´s sea bass stew was awesome.

We finally decided we wanted to do two nights and three days in the park. Doing three days is a little complicated. The most common route is to do the 5 day 4 night W trail, but we just didn’t have the time and honestly were not really prepared for that. So, we decided to do the first day up to the Torres, then spend the night in a refugio. The next day, we would take the 9am bus to Lago Grey and stay a night at that regufio, then come home the third day. BUT. That´s not really how it went down. To be honest, the whole thing is really difficult because buses only run once a day at specific times, and you can´t just camp anywhere…so this is what happened.

Day One: We woke up early for the only bus into the park at 7:30. We arrive at the park, pay the fee, then head over to Torres Refugio and begin our journey at around 11am. This was a rough climb, but the weather was gorgeous. It took us 3 and a half hours of straight up hill climbing to finally get to the Torres, and our bags were heavy. But, the views were breath taking and we were in good spirits. But by the time we reached the Torres, Claire´s previously broken foot (a month ago) was killing her and my back was really in pain from climbing. Plus, it was already 5pm! It would be a challenge to do the 3 or more hour trek back to base camp before dark. We made the executive decision, after much ado, to finally just camp at the campamiento las torres (refugio Chileno was CLOSED…not helpful) and from then on the plan sorta fell apart…but in a good way.

Day Two:

We woke up around 8am, and it had rained and was still sprinkling. Cold and sore from sleeping on roots and rocks, we packed up our things and headed for the bottom of the mountain. This was not a fun hike. It was mostly downhill, in pouring rain. Claire´s foot was hurting, my back was spasming….just wasn’t working. We barely made it to the refugio, limping and cold and wet. That…was the end of it. We decided to stay in the refugio that night, which was actually delightful. We had a delicious chicken and mashed sweet potato dinner and hung out by the fire. Plus, the views were stunning! Overall, we were happy.

Day  Three: We headed back to Erratic Rock and went out for a spectacular burger and wings dinner at Baguales. Delicious. As you can see, hardcore camping went out the window….but we had a great time and to be honest, it might have been a bit ambitious in the winter season to try what we did without much experience….ah well.

We also really wanted to see penguins, but first, it costs like 100 dollars each, and also, apparently penguin season just ended! Sigh.

But, besides a few obstacles, the trip was amazing, the views gorgeous, and all of us had a great time together. Worth every minute!

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La Paz, Bolivia


The bus ride to La Paz from Copacabana was pretty smooth and only took maybe 5 hours. However, we had to cross the lake as part of the journey, which I had no idea about. They made us get off the bus and get into a little tiny motorboat in the rain.

Meanwhile, all our luggage was still on the bus. I watched in horror as the proceeded to load the bus onto like, a wooden dock, that was powered but a tiny motor. The water was not exact tranquil. More like a frothy, turbulent whirlpool. The bus was rocking back and forth, and I was absolutely convinced it would capsize. Once we got to shore, I scanned the water frantically to see if the bus would make it to shore. It did, and it all worked out. But, I still remained baffled. Is this the only way to do this? REALLY?

Coming in to La Paz made for some stunning views of the city. La Paz is one of the highest cities in the world, and the houses sit on gigantic mountain sides. Really spectacular.

However, I did not really have a great time in La Paz. Shortly after arriving I came down with a burning fever and had to sleep for like 20 hours. I was worried Id have to go to the hospital, but it all worked out.

Meanwhile, it was Carnaval in La Paz, which meant the streets were filled with dancings, costumes, water guns (they shoot you with them….it sucks), trumpets, drums, and general chaos and drunkenness. In my bed, it sounded like a war zone and I remembered drifting in and out of my feverish naps to the sound of explosions and trumpets.

Once I did finally recover, and Carnaval ended, I could finally walk around and enjoy the city more. I especially like the Coca Museum, which guided the visitors through the history of cocaine in Bolivia and the coca plant which is sacred to the local people in the area.

I had a nice little lunch at a cafe where I ordered the daily special. Can anybody guess the name of this dish?

Honestly, I did not get to explore too much Bolivian cuisine because of being ill, but here’s a few traditional plates worth knowing about:

Chicharron – Pieces of fried pork, cooked with chicha and served with stewed corn.

Changa de pollo o de conejo – Soup make with chicken or cuy (guinea pig), potato, peas, avas and green onion.

Salteñas – Only eaten in the morning. A warm savory pastry that holds a juicy combination of chicken or meat, greens and sauce, and is cooked in an oven.

Pique Macho: It is a heaped plate consisting of bite-sized pieces of beef, sausage(hot dog type), and french fry-cut potatoes. Added to this mixture are onions, locoto, boiled egg, mustard, mayonnaise, and ketchup.

Generally, Bolivia is not renown for its cuisine, but it still has a lot of offer, and to be honest, I just barely touched the surface of the culinary world there.

Once I recovered and Carnaval ended I booked my bus ride to Uyuni and departed ways with Katie. I was on my own for the next stretch!

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Copacabana and Isla del Sol


One long (rainy) journey later, we made our way into Bolivia, boarding crossing and all.

Copacabana is a small, waterfront town. Bolivia was drastically different in that everything was dirt cheap, and the city was much more run down than anywhere we had been in Peru. It was lovely walking around town, exploring, but it was clear Bolivians struggle to make enough for the basics. But the views of Lake Titicaca were breathing taking  and the trout, or trucha,  rocked.

After a day in Copacabana, we booked a boat for Isla del Sol to spend the night. Isla del Sol is famous as the mythological, origin site for the I can creation story. It has over 80 ancient Incans ruins along with gorgeous lake views.

It takes 3 hours to walk around the island, but its worth the journey.

We made some new friends on our walk and found a nice hostel with a spectacular view to spend the night. Next day, is was back to Copacabana then off to La Paz!

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Arequipa, Peru


I’m back! After two and a half weeks of wandering Boliva and Peru, I made it back to Santiago. After some rest, an emergency computer purchase, and some serious laundry doing, I’m ready to write about my trip. It was not always easy, but that’s why its travelling, not a beach holiday. I learned a lot in a short time, and came back overwhelmed by my experiences.

So, the beginning.

We took a 1am flight from Santiago to Arica. It was exhausting, but everything went smooth. At 4am, we found a “collectivo” (basically just a random van) and got dropped off at a sketchy bus stop. We waited two hours, cold and tired, among quite the colorful crowd (families with all their belongings, drunks, backpackers) for the gate to open. At 6am, they finally unlocked the gate and everyone rushed to get put into a taxi for the border. Once we got shoved in a car, they took our passports. This made me nervous, but they were returned, thankfully, and we headed towards the border. At border patrol, we had to wait another hour, in the middle of the desert, for it to open. Once it did, their was lots of yelling in Spanish, lines, getting in and out of cars, but we finally got through the border, confused but fine.

Once we got to the Tacna bus stop, we had to kill 7 hours for the next bus to Arequipa. I’m not really sure how we survived. All I know is I ate a lot of chicken empanadas, and we must have done 20 different word searches. But, after our long, hot, wait and a few Inca colas, we were on our way.

Arequipa was worth the journey. Our hostel (Flying Dog) was lovely and the city was stunning.

My absolute favorite was the Santa Catalina Monastery. It was so colorful, so drenched in history. I loved roaming this small city within the city.

The main plaza:

The market was also interesting. So many different varieties and colors of potatoes. Even some sheep heads, for those so inclined.

Our last day we did a day trip (3am wake up) up to the Cañon de Colca. It was a five-hour, cold car ride, but the views of the mountains were breathtaking and the canyon was gorgeous.

We were lucky to see many, many condors swooping around.

One of my favorite meals of the trip was the restaurant we stopped at for lunch, with a buffet style special.

Featured is a variety of goodies: fried bananas, alpaca, rococo relleno, papas fritas, beets, stews, and vegetable salad. So delicious.

We also had one fancy dinner out at a restaurant called Zig Zag.

I ordered the fish carpaccio and Katie got the quinoa gnocchi with pesto. My my.

We barely made our bus for Cusco in time (there was panic and running and gringa yelling) but then it was a comfortable Cruz del Sur overnight bus for the ten-hour journey.

Stay tuned for my Cusco blog!

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