Friday, February 27, 2015

Valpraiso, Chile

Valpraiso is a magical little city North of Santiago Chile.  I came here with the intention of staying one week and I ended up getting vortexed in for two weeks.  I volunteered at the Mitico Hostel and had a great time.  The city is so colorful and so vibrant with the best street art I have ever seen.  A very bohemian city with lots of hippies.

The street dogs here were very impressive.  They were very tame and nice.  This famous street dog named Beto has been romanticized in the neighborhood.  Little kids run up to him with their parents yelling ¨Beto I love you¨.  He is a very lazy dog that lies in front of the hostel all day long.  Sometimes he gets up to bark at other dogs that encroach on his territory.
Beto even has a mural painted of him and a two full page spread about him in the newspaper.
Beautiful demonstration of the street art in front of an old French Car.
This kid seriously looks a lot like Justin Beiber... but way cooler.  Dustin (or as I call him J-Biebs).  If you are looking to buy subwoofers or lemon meringue pie while in Valpraiso get in touch with him.
My travel sister Lea from France and me ona  beautiful cero overlooking the harbour... yes thats right Valpo has a harbour.
Valpo its a clean city.
Beto making friends with people in the plaza.
If you want to rent bikes in Valpraiso and go for a ride along the pier rent for free from University of Catholic Valpraiso.
At the right time of day you can even see Sea lions.
Up top of the escalator in Cero Blanco.  Here there was a street art performance last year and many beautiful murals.
Dog sleeps on coach with tattered blanket in front of Graffitti in Cero Blanco.

The port is a marvel.  Copper is a big export of Chile and China is buying a lot.

Japanese friends and I made the best suishi ever one night with salmon, shrimp, avocado, and mango.  Apparently in Japan you dont put mango in suishi but she was down.  Suishi is very famous in Valpraiso.  There are many restaurants selling it.  I think it has to do with the trade with Japan and China.
The beach Las Dockas near Laguna Verde.  Its about an hour drive to get here but so worth it.  The most beautiful beach with free camping.  Only problem is the water is cold and there are lots of jelly fish.

Beautiful flowers in bloom.
My French Canadian brother.  One of the only Canadians I met in Chile.  Not many Canadians seem to be travelling to South America.  There were many in Peru but here the number one tourists were French.

Damn... we make these streets look good.  Two friends from Argentina.
Beatiful character home here in Valpraiso.  The spanish first came here in 1536 so you can imagine the colonial architecture here is to die for.
Bohemian man on bicycle rides by on a Sunny Sunday.

A couple of Videos:

Every Thursday in Plaza Descansar in Valpraiso there is African Dance.
So many good local singers in the streets and other tourists coming through.

Drinking Pisco Sours is one of the most traditional things to do in Chile.  Also in Peru too.  Here is a video I made of how to make a Pisco Sour.  Yes you need to use an egg, but just the White!  Fill the bottle with ice, then juice of three limons.  6 shots of pisco.  egg White, and sugar.  Shake until all the ice is gone and then pour into a cup.  MMMM delicious.  Makes about 3 small cups.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

La Sirena and Valle de Elqui

After San  Pedro, I took a hellish 16 hour bus ride to La Sirena.  It's a charming touristy town on the coast of Chile.  Right now tourists from Chile and all over are flocking here for the beaches.  I really liked my stay here in this charming town mainly because I met up with my friend from Austria here for three days.
In the neighboring city to La Sirena (Coquimbo) is a giant cross on the top of the hill.  
From the cross is a beautiful view of the city.
Me and my friend Pia from Austria (currently working in Buenos Aires) atop the cross.

Children swimming on the pier as a Pirate ship rolls by with tourists (Coquimbo).
In Coquimbo the streets zig zag up and down connecting the neighborhoods with beauitful Caribbean like colors of the houses.

Chilean kid blowing bubbles in the park.
Street dog taking a nap near a milkshake stand.  literally two minutes later a women dropped her milkshake on this poor pup.  It would have been amazing to get a mid-air milkshake spill shot.  The street dogs in Chile are so friendly and are literally everywhere.

After three days in La Sirena it was time to head to Pisco Elqui.  Here the famous Pisco is made which is the most famous alchohol in Peru.  I wanted to camp here, in the dessert.   When I showed up all the young people with tents were going to one campground called Ranchero Rodriguez.  I decided to camp here and it turned out it was a giant party with DJ and bonfire.

Here some beautiful Chilean boys drinking melon with white wine (Melvin).  It is a very famous drink here and something often romanticized by the people of Chile.
Bonfire in full form tonight as the DJ plays his reggaeton.

Wake up the next morning and who is sleeping next to me?  A rowdy street dog, In the bottom of the pic my tent pegs which were evidently not used.
People were so friendly here.  Everyone is cooking BBQ (Parilla/Asado) and everyone is willing to share their chorizos... so nice.  I didn't really want to spend another night here because it was a crazy party place.  It was good for one night but I really wanted to head to Valpo 8 hours down the coast.
Some kids came to me asking if i could help them hotwire their van because they wanted to go to Valpo.  Just my luck.  I asked them for a ride and they offered.  halfway through the journey we stopped at a roadside stand that had the best cheese empanadas in the world.  The kids were very nice but large rugby guys and the van was very full.  With all the Sunday traffic heading to Valpo the supposedly 8 hour ride turned into 12 hours.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

San pedro de Atacamas Chile

After a month and one week in Peru, I decided to go to Chile next instead of Bolivia.  Chile is a very tall country.  The North is all dessert, the middle has famous cities like Santiago, Valpraiso and the south is all beauitful mountains and lakes.  It appealed to me because Chile is more modern than Bolivia and the Chileans I have been meeting this trip are really cool.  But seeing this country means crossing the North, which is nothing but dessert!!

This is a shot from the South of Peru on the bus when the landscapes started to change to dessert.

After spending a night in the bus station in Arica, the first town in Chile, i was finally able to catch a bus to San Pedro.  This small tourist town is loaded with tourists from across the world, but first and foremost tourists from Chile.  I met so many people from Santiago in this small Northern Dessert town.  It reminds me a lot of if you were to mix Banff and Keremeos (Canada) into one town.  Lots of beautiful sightseeing and tourism with loads of hostels, but at the same time in the dessert and quite small and tranquil.

People walking the streets with bicycles.  If you live in this town you own a bicycle.  And if you are visiting you rent one to check out the sights.

A shot of my beautiful hostel.  The structure here is for the tents to give you shade during the day. It was a great hostel and the cheapest in the city for 5000 pesos (or ten dollars canadian a night).  Chile is very expensive compared to Peru and Ecuador.  In Ecuador i could camp for five dollars a night.  That being said my campground in Chile is the best and had two kitchens, a parilla and showers.  The guests from Santiago staying here were so nice and always willing to share their delicious barbequeud meat.

One day I took a tour to Valle de Luna to see the caves.
The caves were filled with beautiful glass like crystals.  Que linda!

Dessert Shot!  it gets hot here during the day like 30 degrees.  At night it cools off a bit but no much.  The climate here in San Pedro is supposed to be the driest in all the world.  There are snowcaped mountains nearby but the town (at only 2000m) rarely gets any rain.

Tres marias rock formation in Valle de luna.

The reason they call it valle de luna is because the landscape is supposed to look like the moon... and it does.

Huge Dune in the dessert.  Some people go sandboarding but I haven't. I am spoiled with the mountains of Canada, i dont want to go on a slow sandboard that you need to stop every two minutes to wax it if you want to go down the hill.  When I get back to Canada April 10, i will still have one month left in snowboard season to hit the slopes.

As the sun sets over the Valle de Luna the dessert is transformed into a yellow paradise.

The time in San pedro was amazing.  Travelling solo here was one of the best locations because everywhere i went, people wanted to hang out with me. Every night there is a campfire on the beach with hippies playing music and doing firespinning.  it is a cool and enchanting dessert town.