Wine...Meat...and the Argentinian Men
Okay, Okay. From now on I promise I'll blog more often.
With that out of the way I will let you know what has happened over the past few weeks.
From La Paz we headed south. Through the towns of Arica, Iqueque and La Serena before landing in Santiago for two weeks. In Santiago we stayed at one of my favourite hostels - La Casa Roja, where I met some fantastic people who kept me company for the week. Apart from Mick going AWOL for a week (there was beer, women and a train ride in the wrong direction involved) the 'holiday' was great. I actually got to be a tourist in Santiago for a week. 1 earthquake, 1 easter weekend with no chocolates, 1 pub crawl and 1 PDM later we were on our way.
Four passengers heading north through Chile into Bolivia over two weeks was bound to be fun.
We headed north through the Atacama Desert. The driest Desert in the world. Here you have the chance to experience dirt, hills, dust, mines and dirt. Oh and then there is the experience of paying 400 pesos ($1 AUS) to use a toilet and wanting my money back at the end because it was absolutely disgusting.
We free camped in the desert and saw an amazing sunset. A great start to the evening was followed by trying to push the truck (it's 12.5 tonne) at 10pm at night after it had a flat battery (we pushed it about 2 metres, which was a pretty good effort). The next morning saw a PAX and myself standing on the Pan American Highway trying to flag down a passing motorist. The bikini nearly came out but luckily I thought I'd try my luck fully clothed. After having two trucks stop and tell us they would love to help but they would get stuck if they did, we had a lovely man pull over. After telling him in my bestest spanish that we had a flat battery, he told us to jump in and he took us to the truck. I felt like singing Hallelujha when he opened his tool box and he turned around and told us he was a mechanic. I felt like kissing him...no, no let me rephrase I felt like 'KISSING HIM'. Good old Lingo Lizardi was able to tow us to the hill where we were able to roll start the truck.
Back on the road and San Pedro de Atacama and the Altiplano crossing to Uyuni awaited. My memories os San Pedro are a little hazy. I think that has to do with a very drunk Christmas eve, a hungover Christmas day and a still slightly hungover boxing day in 2008-09. SO this time around I behaved myself.
Now, how to describe the Altiplano crossing in 50 words or less.....A crazy arse guide who thought pulling his pants down and letting the sulphur fumes from the mud pits flow around his knees, hips and crotch would help rid him of arthritis and osteoporosis; A passenger with altitude sickness; Bolivian road blocks resulted in us driving from 8.30pm - 3.30am across the altiplano (there are no roads or streetlights people) and arriving at our accomodation with the horn on fullblast and when that didn't rouse the caretaker our driver just broke into the hostel; an awesome day on the salt flats including me translating a sign from Spanish into English that said 'Do not pee on the Island, use the toilet otherwise you will be fined $10US' and I got to decide how much the fine would be (oh the power I felt); and arriving in Uyuni to find that the truck was not there because it was stuck at the Bolivian border due to the roadblocks.
Okay I couldn't do it (<50 words), didn't even try,
So 5 days with the same clothes, a toothbrush, toothpaste, deoderant and moisturiser makes for a 'what can you do' attitude. A few big nights at Joy Ride cafe in Sucre and everything felt just fine again.
After dropping the pax off in La Paz, Mick and I transited back to Santiago again. This time we only had 10 days so the schedule was tight. The best thing about this transit back was getting in to Santiago and back to La Casa Roja and getting welcomed like you are family. Hugs and kisses galore and a welcome back from all the staff is just what you need when the only constants you have in this job are your driver and the truck.
4 days at La Casa Roja and we found ourselves back on the road again.
This time we are headed from Santiago to La Pa, via Northern Argentina. At the moment I am in Mendoza, hence the title, and while out on the town the other night I didn't know where to look. So much eye candy and so little time. ;(
Mendoza is a beautiful place and the drive from Santiago was spectacular. Snow capped peaks and a switchback road involving 25 curves up a hill at 50+ degrees gradient makes for interesting driving. One wine tour and one tango show later we are headed out of here. Cinco media houra manuana (5.30am tomorrow) we are out of here on our way to Valle de la Luna and Talampaya N.P.
We are due to arrive in La Paz in 12 days, so I'm not sure when you will hear from me again but in the meantime I will leave you with a few more experiences (not all highlights) from the past weeks:
- I was serenaded by a drunk homeless man in Santiago.
- I was able to find jeans to fit me in Santiago (for me this was a major highlight).
- Getting my toiletries bag stolen from my room while in Santiago (WTF?).
- Finding some awesome dulce de leche with coconut here in Mendoza.
- Judging a mostauche growing competition.
- Hearing Marika (remember why I came over here in the first place?) and Robbie had a beautiful baby girl called Ruby Jane.
- Having a threeway conversation with my sisters via skype (finally realised we do all laugh the same) and seeing my nephew for the frist time in months.
- Remembering that I have awesome parents that are currently looing after a very sick dog.
- Remembering that life is too short after hearing word a girl that I had travelled with in 08-09 was killed by a drunk driver while on holiday in Spain (RIP Shanelle).
- Dancing in the dirt with no shoes on while at a Chilean BBQ in La Serena.
...I could keep going but then I'd be here all night and a 5.30 start awaits so keep safe and live the moments.