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Sarah's Travels

Caving with flipflops and my first time with Crampons!!

CHILE | Tuesday, 1 January 2013 | Views [297]

Ok so quite alot to catch up on now :) The days before Xmas were spent in San Pedro de Atacama in the Atacama desert. We had two whole days there camping in the dustiest campsite ever, though at least the showers were vaguely warm. First day was an excursion to the Moon Valley, which wasn't the most lunar like, but very desert like. The highlight was definitely the canyon and cave created by water flow even though the guide didn't want us to go in the cave. Luckily enough people had torches so in we went, even in flipflops!! I did manage to graze my back against the top of the cave in a particularly small part of the cave, but not much damage done. The second day was an excursion to the Salt lake and the Ojos de Salar (the eyes of the salt flats) where we floated in the highly salty lake and watched the flamingoes fly overhead. We finished the day drinking Pisco Sours by another nearly dried up salt lake watching the sun go down. Next day was a very early start to get to Bahia Inglesa for Christmas Eve. My cook group was making dinher that day and once we arrived at the campsite (which was otherwise deserted) we crafted a very fine Jambalaya - though we did cheat a wee bit to save time by using bought roasted chickens and leftover rice. Christmas morning was a little more relaxed than normal drive days and we started the celebrations with cheese/ham toasties and Bucks Fizz!! Once we finally arrived at the beach resort south of La Serena we immediately decided to upgrade to a cabin as a Christmas treat to ourselves. Christmas dinner was a BBQ of chicken, beef and sausages with sauteed potatoes, pasta salad, green salad and tomatoes. Followed by cake and cream!! The punch was pretty lethal and the dancing went on til 11pm when we were moved onto the cabins for the afterparty. Boxing day was spent reading and lounging by the pool, crabs for lunch, a nap and bangers & mash for dinner :) We arrived into Santiago on the afternoon of 27th December and set out to explore the city and sample some local cuisine- namely hot dogs with avocado and mayo :) We all went out for dinner as a group to a Chinese restaurant to say goodbye to the people leaving the group and afterwards some of us went to see the Hobbit in 3D. The next day I wrangled with the Chilean postal service to send a package back jome, which was suprisingly straight forward as they were very helpful :) Boliva 0 Chile 1. Met one of the new people on the truck which will run parallel to our truck all the way to Rio and went out for lunch then wandered around the city. In the evening a couple of us took a metro train out to an area called Provedencia for dinner and only just caught the last train back! On 28th Dec, I got my horrible dry feet sanded back to perfection before going to the Mercado Central for seafood. There was fresh seafood and fish everywhere, with little cafes serving bowlfuls of seafood soup with huge wedges of lemon and chunks of bread. That evening we went for dinner in the Lastarria area at a fairly posh restaurant. I ordered pasta with morcilla (blood sausage) and almonds in a tomato sauce which sadly only tasted of tomatoes, but the blueberry crumble more than made up for that :) The next day was a long drive day to Pucon for the New Year celebrations. We went along to sign up for the Volcano walk, then back to the campsite for dinner and bed early. The weather was pretty good the next morning so once kitted up we set off for the Villarica Volcano. The clouds were passing quickly overhead, but we got the go ahead and started up in the chairlift to the bottom of the snow line. The trek to the top took approx 3 hours and we stopped 3 times to sit down, get a snack and take photos. The first part wasn't too steep until we got to the glaciar and it got steeper and steeper. The final ascent was vey steep and the snow was quite loose. Although we had crampons, it was still pretty slippery and quite scary!!! Once we got to the top, the craterwas smoking amd we could see a bit of lava at the botton. The clouds had surrounded the volcano amd the sky was deep blue. The wind however was very fierce so we only stayed long enough to get photos, then we descended a little bit to start the descent on our bums!!! The first slide was pretty damned steep, so I went down the second slide with a guide to get the hang of using the ice pick to brake. There were several pile ups on the way down with snow drifts accumulating as you slide down in front of you. Once we got down to the snow line, we had to walk all the way down as the chairlift went only one way!! Once back at the buses, we had a celebratory beer and headed back to Pucon for a hot shower and dinner, followed by drinks at the campsite. About 10:30ish we headed to the beach to get a spot for the fireworks at midnight. They were by far the best fireworks I have seen hy far in a long time and were about 20/30 minutes long. The beach was packed and people were setting off bangers and glitter bombs and silly string and fake snow. I bet the clean up was epic!!! Today I have been mostly having lovely cooked brekka, lazy in the heat and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

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