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Maurice’s Travel Diary

Monday, 28 Apr 2008

Location: Santiago, Chile

MapNo 1. Santiago & Valparaiso
The first thing you realise in Chile is that everyone except the tourists speak Spanish and that is all
The next thing you realise is that if you don´t speak Spanish it is very difficult to get what you want.
The restaurant erupted in laughter as jan tried to find out what was on the menu. Chicken sounds, mooing, and baaing brought the house down. But eventually we got what something to eat even if it was only steak and chips.
The meals cost around NZ$10 each, the beer (1ltr) $3

Beer is easy, it is universal either just say beer, or tip your hand to your mouth and hey presto (is that spanish?).
We stayed in a hostel near the centre of town, very comfortable and friendly I would thoroughly recommend The Chilli Hostal.

Santiago has very wide boulevards, and the traffic belts a long, changing lanes and everything at speed and yet they are courteous drivers, giving way, especially to pedestrians. Even the dopey ones who step off the pavement after looking the wrong way, they drive on the right here!!

The people are extremely friendly and helpful evn if they don´t understand a word we are saying. The city itself is much like any other big city and nothing that impressed me. One thing, the underground (Metro) runs on rubber tyred wheels as the one in Paris does.There are plenty of open air football grounds, but none had any grass on them, grass seems a bit scarce here.
The second day we took the bus to Valparaiso, it was around 1.5 hour journey and cost $10.The countryside between Santiago and Valparaiso is fairly barren with very little cultivation. Apart from a few vinyards, everywhere else could have been used as a film set for Clint Eastwood or John Wayne in the many westerns they starred in. I fully expected Chief Crazy Horse to appear any minute. When we arrived we made our way to our accommodation. What a difference. This place was really grotty and I lay awake most of the night wondering what I would do should there be a fire. It was a fire trap.
You have no idea, unless you have backpacked, what risks your kids take on their OEs!

Valparaiso could best be described as shabby and even the beach resort next door, Vina Del Mar with its pelicans, wasn´t much better. Dogs are everywhere and their excrement as well so tread very carefully. The footpaths are potholed and for a city of 400,000 it is surprising that they allow it to be so. Still that´s politics I suppose, you pays your taxes and they spend `em. trouble is they decide what on.

It was very cool when we arrived in Valpaiso and we donned our fleecies, it was cooler than I expected and I got quite a few people looking at this old git in shorts and short sleeves. Crazy Gringo!

We fly out to Lima tomorrow early, so its off to bed now for a three am wake up.
Maurice & Jan