It´s been a while! But lately we`ve been staying in quite desolate areas without any (workable) internet connection. But.. we do not want to let our dearest fans down, so especially and only for you an overview of our activities.
We arrived in the charming town of Salta after taking a bus out of Cafayate. At the Inti Huasi hostel the beautiful “lady of the house” Mariena welcomed us. She tucked us in, after giving us a great massage accompanied with some honey-flavored milk whilst reading our favorite bed time stories. (For David Pocahontas, Tom opted for the sad part in Bambi again). Anyways, could be that we were dreaming or hallucinating, but we slept like roses and woke up with our batteries fully charged. The next day we started off with a visit to the charming town of Salta in the meanwhile further planning our trip . We decided to head towards La Quebrada de Huamaca.
The bus dropped us off in Tilcara, a nice little Quebrada-town. One of the most well known natural sites around town is “El Gargante Del Diablo”. The name seemed quite attractive: we were at least expecting a devilish landscape with a huge waterfall cutting trough a frightening and amazing valley. We asked directions to a friendly man, living in Buenos Aires but camping somewhere nearby. We ended having a conversation lasting for more or less 15 minutes and got to know where exactly each of the man’s family members are living for the moment, how they arrived over there, what their favorite dish is etc,… Finally, the man sent us in the wrong direction. Some moments later we got on the right trail only to find out that the falls were not as satanic as the name made us expect them to be. For Dutch-speaking readers: a bit of a “tegenvaller”. The scenery, however, was well worth the hike: hills covered with cactuses and backed with spectacular snow-white peaks. At noon we walked back towards the city and stepped inside one of the cosy restaurants to taste some of the local specialities: locro and a stew of cabrito. We headed back to the station and got on the bus to Purmamarca, known for its “Cerro de siete colores”: a rock formation with several colors depending on the type of sediments. And again our timing was perfect. After having found our hostel for the night, we witnessed another amazing sunset. We finished the day in style with a party in a local pub together with a diverse crowd of people we met in the hostel.
But… both of us were longing for the next stop. The scream of the seaside and the Pacific Ocean were getting louder and louder. After a short night’s rest, we continued sleeping on the bus towards the city of Calama, famous for its copper mining activities. In town we had a dinner (Pichanga – nice and greasy Chilean food) and a drink in what seemed to be one of the local dodgy pubs (a 100% male public and short skirted girls as waitresses). Around midnight we switched onto the night bus to Arica, having another 8 hours bus drive ahead of us. However, early in the morning whilst stepping out of the bus, the scent of the ocean and the clear bleu skies welcomed us and made us smile. Pretty fast we forgot about our tired muscles and wrecked bodies. Once arrived at the hostel-with-sounding-name “Sunny Days”, we got a warm welcome by Ross, born and raised in New Zealand. The breakfast was surprisingly extensive. Crispy bread! Fresh fruits! Quinoa!
Planning on how to fill in the days in Arica, blessed with Chile’s most consistent waves and warm sea currents didn’t take long . We looked into each others direction and simultaneously screamed out loud: let’s go surfing!. Ross recommended to get some classes with Yoyo, the local eccentric surf guru. Shortly after we were standing on a surfboard, with our teacher explaining about how to simply use the energy of the wave to move along the ocean on a board. Sounded pretty inviting and easy. Fully motivated we jumped in our wetsuits and into the salty water only to find out that “using the energy of the waves” is not as easy as initially assumed. The whole afternoon we drank a lot of seawater and used muscles we did not know the existence of. Finally we witnessed the sunset in an alternative and cool way, this time lying on our boards with cramped muscles but surrounded by flying fish, several types of water birds and jumping sea lions.
Back in the hostel we found out how demanding surfing really is. We climbed in our beds early, to head to the beach again the next morning for another surf session. Yoyo picked us up at the hostel Chilean style (thirty minutes late). We passed by his house and in the meanwhile got a glance on his collection of sufboards and pictures with him flanking world’s most famous surf champions and various celebrities (amongst them Fernando Alonso with his Renault F1 racing team and Kelly Slater). Shortly after we were floating in the water again, leaning on our boards waiting to catch some waves. The motivation, persistence and hands-on approach of Yoyo worked out quite fine, and soon we found ourselves riding some (tiny) waves. Surf’s up!
The next day we packed up and headed towards Iquique, more south along the pacific coast line. The city is famous for its paragliding and huge waves. We dived into the city and arranged ourselves a paragliding trip. The next morning we could not hide our excitement when we were picked up by the pilot of the day and took a cab and collectivo up the hill overlooking both desert, city and beach landscapes. After a short explanation Tom got to be the first to be wrapped up into an old school gangsta’ style paragliding suit. Soon David followed and the both of us found out how birds must feel when they are using the thermic currents to fly high up in the sky.
In the afternoon the both of us split up. David went to check out the Unesco World Heritage site of the abandoned miners village of Humberstone. Constructed in the late nineteenth century, it was one of the worlds main nitrate sources; around which a complete town with swimming pool, theatre and hospital was built. After the discovery of synthetic nitrates in the 1930’s, the town was swiftly left behind to be rediscovered as a ghost town many years later. With no other tourists around and a howling desert wind that was rattling the old doors, the whole place had a mysterious and creepy feeling. Whilst the sunset slowly took over the desert and the old miners’ village, it was the perfect location for some great photography.
Tom on the other hand desired a more active afternoon and wanted to further improve his surfing skills, so he got an extra surf lesson on the beach with Lalo (not to be confounded with Lala), a surfing buddy of Yoyo. After a short but effective crash course of one hour, Tom was left on his own, to find out that 1. The waves in Iquique are way too high for a beginning surfer 2. Getting into a wave the wrong way or with a bad timing pretty much feels like falling into a superpowerful washing machine 3. Sea water does not taste better than mineral water and 4. The ocean deserves all our respect and waves are big and respectful objects that are to be feared.
In the meanwhile we´ve entered Bolivia via the salt flat of Uyuni after passing through the wonderful San Pedro de Atacama desert area. An extensive report on these amazing places will be provided in our next blog post. We want to finish with thanking you all for thinking of us!
All the best!
David y Tom