I have a lot of adventures to fill everyone in on. I ditched my previous plans and started going with the options before me. Unfortunately, this means I am still suffering with my Spanish, but now I am travelling sola and everything is changing.
After my last posts, I went out in to the Andes, the fronterra of Chile. The area was very remote, about an hour and half drive further into the mountains from Manzano. There was a lot of climbers in the area, despite being far from everything, and there is also camping down by the river if anyone ever wants to visit. The rock was nice, but climbing on limited and old gear got into this newbie´s head. I was freaked. We ditched the trad and hit up a brand new sport climb that had just been bolted by a German climber named Waldo. There are rocks for days out there and many FA´s to be had. I would recommend NOT going in the middle of summer though. I learned that the hard way (and still returned for more).
La Fiesta de Promiteda en El Talagante
After a long day of climbing I joined my friends Maximo and Fernando at their cousin´s (prima) engagement/ wedding party number one. Basically, I needed a place to stay, we were going climbing the next day, and I needed to meet the parents of the house I would be crashing at. This was a night of immersion into Chilean culture. I was passed between everyone for kisses and those that knew English used as a sign of their education. I drank wine, ate delicious empanadas, and eventually danced until 3:30am. At this point I wanted little more than to die a quick death in my bed, but the primos continued to party on until 7am. People are insane down here! We still were all up at 10:30 to climb.
Punta Las Tralcas
Just to the south of Isla Negra and north of El Quisco lies a beautiful point of granite on a somewhat isolated beach. The climbs are way out on the end where salt spray covers the rock. This makes for very interesting climbing conditions to say the least. Where your feet would normally stick on granite they slip, you get scratched, and salt fills your fresh wound. Wonderful. Oh yeah, and imagine what the bolts look like (las chapas). Don´t use them, just free solo to the top and set up a top rope with some nuts that are 25 years old. Or climb once, praying you live, and then spend the rest of the day drinking beer on the beach with new friends and enjoy a spectacular sunset. Done.
The day after Las Tralcas, I explored Santiago with Tobias and Henrik, my delightful Danes. We enjoyed a sushi dinner and I checked Emma and I into the Bellavista hostel (Tomas, Henrik´s roomate had it with our antics and we got the boot). The next morning Emma and I woke up at 6:30 to head to Quintay. Quintay is a lovely beach enjoyed by fishermen and divers. It is also one of the most difficult places to get to from Santiago. If you want to go, get a car or catch a bus from Valparaiso. After walking from bus terminal to bus terminal, we got tickets to Valparaiso and hopped off at the exit for Quintay. At that point we started hitchhiking. Twenty minutes later we got a ride...
I got to experience Emma´s work firsthand. Basically, she runs up and down and all around trying to find fishermen to interview. Okay, there is way more to it, but that is what I experienced for a while before kicking it on the beach with my book and exploring the town. I recommend Quintay to anyone that wants a day of diving followed by a good (though expensive) meal on the beach. There was a nice restaurant that we went to that was much cheaper and more local (and has great pisco sours), but it would not be worth the travel time to get there. Quintay = great excursion from Valparaiso.
A collectivo to Valpo cost us around $2 each and took about 30 minutes or so. We met Tobias and Henrik there and got comfortable in our hostel (Aurecela) in Cerro Bellavista. The neighborhood was very cute, though pricey, and made for a great kick-off to Tobias and my adventures the next day. We wandered the streets photographing street art and found ourselves in the cementario de disendentes and el cementario uno. I wish I had pictures uploaded on this computer to share, but they will have to come later. To sum our day we had Chorrillanas again and went to Viña del Mar for the Museo de Archeologia. There we saw deadly spiders and shrunken heads. Okay, there was more, but that is what hit home. YUK
Concha Y Toro
Emma and my next excursion was to Concha Y Toro winery. This is very simple. Call the winery, know some Spanish, make a reservation, then take a metro forever, get on a micro (collectivos overcharge gringos), and get off in front of the winery. Or do what everyone else does and take a car. Needless to say, we had a fantastic time and enjoyed many wines. The Marchesa Chardonnay is delightful.
That night I made friends with a pack of guys at the hostel (go figure) and convinced them to do a night out. I can´t imagine how I pulled that off. Anyways, it made for more people at Emma´s going away party the following evening. That will be all for those two nights, but both were hilarious and lots of fun.
Argentina? en serio?
I know I was not planning on going to Argentina until March, but when you have a friend to travel with who is multilingual and lots of fun. Why the hell not? That is what gets you on a night bus to Mendoza with someone you have known for two days. Or maybe it´s being impulsive. Whatever it is, I am glad I went. I got to see Mendoza, did a nice tandem bike riding wine tour with my new friend Diego and ate the best food so far in South America. Sorry Chile, but Argentina has you beat in the food department. I am now en route to the lake district in Chile, which meant another night bus to Cordoba, then another to San Rafael (now without a book, music, or movie), and ANOTHER tonight at 22hrs to Neuquén. It looks like my plans might change again and I will be meeting my Chilean buddies for our volcano trek in Lonquimay.
Before I pass out from the heat, I am going to sign off. Buen viaje :)