Hills and smelly bedrooms

Trip Start Oct 05, 2005
Trip End Apr 06, 2006

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Flag of Chile  ,
Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Left Mendoza with a thumping head and bags under my eyes, but forgot all about the noise and chaos of the hostel as soon as I got on the bus that would take me over the Andes. The scenery quickly turned moutainous and didn't stop until we were well into Chile, eight hours later. I never knew there could be so many different looking mountains; every precarious corner we took produced a new kind -- some brown, some black and white striped, some green with trees. Chile was immediately recognisable by its lush forests and bright flowers; and its people, who are more indigenous-looking than the Argentinians.

I decided to stay in Valparaiso, as I had read it was a charming, hotch-potch, colourful kind of place, but sadly the colour was lost on me as it rained for the whole three days I was there, and thus the predominant shade was grey. After visiting Pablo Neruda's house, La Sebastiana, all that was left was to ride the furniculars up and down the hills, and wander the streets of Concepcion, a hill full of brightly-painted houses and stray cats that reminded me of Brighton. I found some great places to hang out and drink tea, and eat veggie food, which is abundant here, thank God! I was getting sick of watching people tuck into juicy steaks in Argentina, then light up cigarettes, as if they had the best sex of their lives.

There were only three of us staying in the hotel. One was an Icelandic guy, who came down to breakfast one day with a face like a bag of spanners, and told me he had come all the way to Chile to be with a girl, who had subsequently dumped him. I tried to cheer him up and tell him he could make the most of the bad situation and explore the country while he was here, but I could see it was falling on deaf ears. The other person was a really nice Canadian girl called Sharon, who had moved to Valparaiso and was waiting for her boyfriend to join her before they looked for a house. She was great company in the evenings (the Icelandic guy holed himself up in his room and wouldn't come out), and we went to a few nice restaurants together (Ritual, Color Cafe, a Thai place... yes, THAI!!!), dodged the guys in leather hanging around outside Beer + Metal, ate Danky and Egocentric ice-creams, and bought me some new shoes from a very young boy with a ridiculously long combover. If it wasn't for her, I don't think Valparaiso would have been so cool. Oh, and I did have my own room, even if it did stink of onions - so for the first time in a long time I was well-rested. Not long after I left, Sharon got a job teaching English to the young officers at the naval academy, and decided she would make cutting Combover's hair her mission in life.
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