We are getting super lazy with these blogs. We have an excuse though – we’ve been entertaining. In the verb sense of the word, not the adjective, although hopefully we are a little of both. As you can see, our Lego chaps are taking this to heart too, enjoying themselves at a lovely vineyard, savagely using pint glasses for a 2013 Malbec.
Last time we wrote a blog we had just done the W, were heading to Valparaiso and we were excited to be welcoming Mark’s parents to Mendoza a few days later. We are now back in Chile and the folks have been and gone, and we’re preparing ourselves for a new country tomorrow, Bolivia, which is Sadie’s 50th country!
I know this will make you roll your eyes at our #firstworldproblems, but non-stop travelling is actually pretty damn tiring. After the W trek we had a whirlwind few days in graffiti-laden, multi-coloured Valparaiso with our friend Josh who we met on the hike. Valpo was a wonderful surprise, a city where street art is on every single corner, funiculars run up and down the perilously steep hillsides and breath-taking views are around every corner. Even an enormous forest fire in the region couldn’t spoil our enjoyment. Two days later, we had to say our goodbyes as we headed to Argentina and Josh headed back to California.
We arrived in Mendoza and breathed a sigh of relief. Due to sharing with 4 people, we had a really nice apartment, and nine whole days in a town, so we could unpack, shop for more than one day at a time, do our washing, and just generally live rather than be on the go all the time. It was Sadie’s idea to stay for that bit longer – largely because juggling her work with being on the road can be somewhat frustrating when you only have a few days to experience a place. As a result, we made the most of our first few days there by doing precisely nothing, other than working and planning our Asia trip for Autumn (now all booked). We also solely ate in and did bugger all in the way of activities, in preparation for the pounding our wallets would take once the parents arrived.
We spent the week in Mendoza as a four being, frankly, ridiculously indulgent. We were spoiled rotten with the food, the wine (obviously) and the sunshine. We had enormous lunches, incredible steaks, toured vineyards and drove to the Andes to see Aconcagua in all its snow-capped glory. We drank more wine and ate more red meat than we had in all our previous weeks on the road combined. It was amazing.
All too soon, it was time to leave and head back to Chile. La Serena was a beach resort with not a whole lot going on, which was fine by us. We wanted a pool, a beach and a balcony, which we had. We broke up our week by taking a trip up the the unbelievably beautiful Elqui Valley, spending our days at what has to be the most stunning poolside I have ever been to, and our night stargazing at an incredible starry sky. Our cameras were incapable of capturing the night sky, but it left all four of us speechless and feeling very, very small.
We also had the opportunity to scratch something off Sadie’s bucket list. We went on a two-hour, twisty, bumpy drive to Punta Choros to go to the Isla Damas marine reserve. Here we spent a good chunk of our time on the boat being surrounded by a playful pod of bottlenose dolphins. The penguins, otters, sea lions and pelicans were all amazing, but the dolphins really were a highlight of our entire trip so far.
Our last few days by the Chilean seaside really flew by, and it was with more than a little sadness that we said goodbye to Mark’s parents. We had become used to our luxury, to our slower pace of travel, to a break from being on the go non-stop, and to having company. It also made us realise what we missed about home. When you’re travelling it is so easy to forget that your friends and family are continuing their lives without you. That although people may take a polite interest in your trip, when you are 10,000 miles away you don’t really play a part in their lives any more. The stark realisation made both of us quite homesick, and the only way we knew how to deal with this was to crack on Northwards.
We are writing this from the Atacama Desert in Chile. It’s a landscape like nothing else on earth. Honestly, it looks like the moon – and it’s at such an altitude that you get similarly light-headed. We head off to the salt flats of Bolivia in the morning, so we’ll see you on the other side.
As always, thanks for following, and sorry for being lazy bloggers.
P.S We only have 8 weeks left in South America before heading Stateside. Insane.