Trip Start Mar 06, 2009
20Trip End Mar 06, 2010
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On arriving in Valdivia we hunted for accommodation which everywhere else has been relatively easy but here it started a 1 hour walk around all sides of the small city. Now there is a song that goes "I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more" etc etc, what the song does not say is "I would walk 500 miles with full backpacks and 40 kilos more."
Before finding the hostel, 30 minutes into our backpacking marathon, a local came up to us with a suggestion of staying in his cabanas. They were a bit too expensive but he was happy to drop the price. Being untrusting city folk we said we'd think about it and check out the hostel first. He directed us to the hostel and waited outside while we popped in, saw what a bad state it was in and charging $3000CLP's (about £4 more) than our man's cabanas. Our final request for him was did he know anywhere closer to the town as we'd been walking for 45 minutes in the wrong direction and were pretty sure we didn't want to do the journey again. Our posture already resembled the Hunchback of Notre Daime. He did!! So after another 15 minutes of trundling along, which included an impromptu guide of the area (although it was hard to appreciate the sights when there were tears of pain in our eyes), we arrived at a ladies house. She had converted part of her house into a separate flat with 3 rooms, 5 beds, a couple of sofas and a tv (cable - happy days) and we had them all to ourselves.. excellent because we couldn't walk anywhere even if we wanted to.
We have really got a sense of Chilean people so far and are so grateful for all the help we receive despite our failings in Spanish. Some local girls helped us when we were lost, fellow trekkers worried that we are ok, to a guy giving us a bottle of fanta as we didn't have anything to wash down our pizza and ladies trying to feed us their snacks on the bus and now the local helping us find our way. This is all unprompted acts of kindness which we are so grateful for, and wonder if these people would be given the same treatment if they were in our countries.
The next day was a Saturday which coincided with the town's market day. Mussels and salmon can be bought here for about 20% of the price we pay back at home, also all the sea loins congregate right next to the stall loading up on free handouts. The sealion (lobos in Spanish) are welcomed in the town and hang about day and night along the river, they're on the left and a huge casino is on the right... rather an odd mix. Later we pinicked in a big park and picked up some beers (this is a University town so bars are plentiful) before heading to the cinema.