South America, Day Eleven: San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Jo Sutherland

Writing in a hammock is really bloody difficult… especially when you’re trying to get your whole body in the sun. I’m gonna fall off in a minute, hip over arse, onto the gravel below. I hope you appreciate the effort that’s going into this blog.

It’s pretty damn hot today. It climbed to 30 degrees yesterday. It’s set to do the same today.

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Poor Vicki isn’t very well – she’s emailed the doc with her symptoms and he thinks it might be e-coli. We actually joked about catching such nasties when we were still back on earth, in  the office. Turns out you shouldn’t tempt fate. She’s feeling a bit better today so we’re currently weighing up drugs v. nature. As a fan of meds, I’m leaning towards the former. If she feels better later on, we’ll go to the lagoon…. if not, we’ll probably just relax here. We’ve got…

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South America, Day Ten: San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Jo Sutherland

Ok, so after a night of hell / adventure at Santiago airport, and a dodgy cup of tea (tasted like dirty dishwater), we finally checked in at 5am, and flew to Calama – then we caught a shuttle (12,000 pesos) to San Pedro. Don’t worry about pre-arranging this. There are shuttle companies everywhere and each charges the same.

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While I’m giving an overview of transport, Sky Airline are amazing – we’re so impressed. They run to time and they load you up with snacks and meals – even if you’re only hopping on a short flight. And the staff are all mega-helpful. Book with them if you can. They’re worlds apart from the likes of Ryan Air who, as we know, will screw us any which way they can.

Oh and something else about Santiago airport – NEVER order tea with milk. Or lemon pie. Both are gross and resemble nothing…

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South America, Day Eight: Patagonia, Chile

Jo Sutherland

Today we spent five hours on a horse. In the snow. Subsequently, we’re broken, hungry and in need of wine.

My horse was called Toastie…

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And Vicki’s was called Pickled Onion (but the Spanish word for it, which neither of us can remember)…

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The horses were amazing – feisty, fiery and nifty on their hooves; they hoiked us up those mountains in a jiffy. They also slipped over a fair few times (“nay” good) but, thankfully, didn’t completely go head over hooves.

I’ve never been on a horse in the snow before. It was bloody freezing. We didn’t even have proper coats on and it was about minus five with the wind-chill (so we guessed).

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Five hours is just too long. And we didn’t have a break – not for water, food, or a wee!

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The couple who owned the gaucho ranch were… odd. Well, the bloke who took us…

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Untold

You made the promise of forever as I stood back in silence and smiled. You took her out into the sun and danced to the rhythm of applause, while my heart found comfort in your laughter, gentle as confetti raining down like tears. Don’t ask me to live in the shadows. You chose her. The ‘we’ that never was melted away.
My fingers trace patterns on your back as you pull her softly towards you, breathing in the smell of familiar skin. You once cradled my face in those hands; that kiss, those lips, that ‘I love you’ were mine. Our summer scatters into whispers – sweet nothings in the cave of her neck – and my flesh no longer sings our secret song. As a new sun rises, your touch fades. You choose her. And we collapse into a story that won’t be told.
We never said goodbye. No last embrace, no looking back – no parting kiss. And yet I can still remember the way your eyes burned into mine, and I can still feel your arms cradle me at night, the heat of your body in that empty space, the butterflies that kissed my tears away. I adored your hate and caressed your rage. We knew you were always going to choose pain. You will never be my story; six years on, I can barely speak your name.

South America, Day Seven: Patagonia, Chile

Jo Sutherland

Wow, what a day. Granted, we spent nine hours of it on a minibus – but it was well worth it for the views and sights that will be forever etched in our memories.

Today began with a road-trip like no other…

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We got picked up at 7.30am. Actually, it was later than that because nothing in Patagonia runs on time. Then we spent the best part of four hours bearing witness to the clouds and their shadows playing chase across the valleys, as we raced towards the untouchable horizon, while our road meandered along in unison with rivers. We drove across the most breathtaking scenery; mountainous terrain, marine green lagoons, turquoise lakes and every facet of nature, animals a plenty, dotted the land.

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Half way there, we had an enforced pit-stop at a coffee shop in the middle of nowhere. We bought a hot chocolate each (it was bloody…

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South America, Day Six: Patagonia, Chile

Jo Sutherland

A few snoozes on the plane later and we’re in Coyhaique, Patagonia. We arrived around lunchtime and, with our bellies gargling, jumped into a random car with a guy who just nodded and smiled when I said ‘Patagonia Hostel’, with an upwards inflection, clearly not understanding a word I said. But we jumped into the car anyway and, with the howling wind doing its very best to kill us, somehow arrived in one piece.

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The drive from the airport to the hostel was pretty damn breathtaking – and, from what we’ve heard, a sneak peek into what Patagonia might hold in store for our greedy eyes. The landscape stretches beyond the horizon, and mountains frame the picture. Cows, sheep, horses polka-dot the fields, and the wind roars through the valleys and lakes, whipping leaves, stirring waves.

The wind was very strong today. Our plane journey, in the last legs…

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South America, Day Five: Santiago, Chile

Jo Sutherland

I really, really love Santiago. It’s my kind of place! We have to be up in five hours (another plane) and we’ve had multiple terramotos (more on this later), so I’ll bid you buenas noches and I shall fill in the blanks tomorrow while we wait for our flight. #AnotherSuitcaseAnotherHall

Here’s a pic I forgot to post yesterday:

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Ok, so I’m sober now. I’m also shattered so bear with me. (Are you spotting a theme to these blog posts??)

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We went on the free walking tour of Santiago city yesterday. Our guide, Felipe, gave us a thorough overview of Chile’s history as we meandered around the streets. Despite an awful lot of building work, Santiago is such a beautiful capital. The streets hum with creativity – street performers entertain the lines of traffic when they meet a red light. Juggling acts, poi spinning and acrobatics surround cars and pedestrians…

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South America, Day Four: Santiago, Chile

Jo Sutherland

Today we said ‘adios Argentina’ and ‘ciao Chile’ (‘ciao’ can also mean ‘hello’). Our flight with Sky Airline went nice and smoothly and we touched down after a magical journey over the snow-capped Andes. We arrived in Santiago around lunchtime, caught the blue bus (1,500 pesos per adult) and then, at Los Heroes, took the metro to Santa Isabel (red line, then the blue line – don’t leave the station, just change lines). Then we heaved our backpacks across the sunlit streets of Providencia to our lovely, cosy hostel – Ventana Sur Hostel. We met Ivan and I had a whole conversation in Spanish and, what’s more, I understood him! Progress.

We got lunch at a place called Mistura del Peru (Peruvian cuisine in case you couldn’t guess). We ordered the fish of the day (a shellfish saucy thing with rice), and a chicken and beef dish (as you…

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South America, Day Three: Colonia, Uruguay

Jo Sutherland

I’ve just re-rolled my sleeping bag and I can barely function. On top of that, there appears to be a bunch of apes outside our room (aka, gap year youths). I’ll probably give you a proper update while I’m at the airport tomorrow (Buenos Aires to Santiago) but for now I’ll give you a summary. Plus some titbits I’ve forgotten to mention on the way.

One: We tried an Argentine spirit called Fernet, which tasted like mouthwash. A rank version. A fellow backpacker insisted we try it, as to immerse ourselves in the culture. So we did. And we got hammered.

Two: Bring dollars and change them on the street. You’ll get double your money as the exchange rate is unofficially 18 to 1, or something like that. (I don’t really know what that means but you should do what I say anyway).

Three: According to our La Boca tour-guide…

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South America, Day Two: Buenos Aires, Argentina

BA, Argentina… I’m so going back there.

Jo Sutherland

Today we wandered, more confidently, towards Recoleta (take two), where we successfully found the cemetery… and after a few [hundred] wrong turns, Evita’s resting place. The mausoleums are magnificent and, although the cemetery was flooded in sunlight, there was something – actually, a LOT – eerie about the place. Perhaps that’s something to do with the coffins that you can see behind the moth-eaten curtains and the distraught statues wailing overhead. I was expecting to see a lot of cats (we had been warned) but we only saw the one. We overheard a tour guide telling her group of tourists that there’s an old woman who comes to the cemetery every day, just to change the cats water.

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Then we got robbed… by Starbucks. No doubt this was our punishment for not boycotting them in the first place. Two coffees came to around a tenner… well, they did on our…

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