Friday, 30 January 2015

Nazca, Entertaining Touts at the Bus Station …… and The Nazca Lines

Nazca. I was here despite many temptation by fellow traveller to lure me to Cusco for New Year eve. The town was rustic, small, forgotten and only travellers that where here was on a quick run to catch a glimpse of the Nazca Lines. The only attraction of value n Nazca of course was the Nazca lines.

Got off the bus early in the morning at 6am after an overnight bus ride from Arequipa and the only way out of the bus station was through all the hungry touts waiting outside the gates.
Do you want to see the Nazca Lines ??
Fly to see the Nazca Lines ??? Cheap
Bus to Nazca Lines for only 3 Sols …. 
Cheap Hostel ??
Backpacker Hostels ?? Just one Block from the main square
Free Wifi ….
Hot Showers ….
The temptation of giving in to the touts even the thought if speaking to one of them would attract a hoard more. I ignored them and walked through but could not lose two of them which followed me where I walked. I guess even a sneak peak at their hand held broacher’s sparked their enthusiasm of hope.
I have good Backpacker Hostel, Cheap, one of the lady said …. and she proceeded to show me her card all nicely printed up like a high class international standard hostel. 10 Sols …. She said …. That was dirt cheap about 5 SGD and I my attention was caught.
My guard was still up thou since the more you travel the more prone you are to tricks and you be vary of them. Still I was curious since there was once upon a time you stumble upon a diamond in small backwater towns. Let’s have a look first I said.
Walking along the main street suddenly she turned into the next street all the while the lady talking non-stop about how good the hostel was and cheap and just trying to distract me from where I was going.
Backpacker Hostel ??? I asked and taking the name card away from her for detail scrutiny.
We reach the hostel and I could not even see a signboard which match the name card I was holding. Best I could make out of it, it was her own house no signboard whatsoever. Now if it was a huge mansion with many traveller in it I might have considered but this was a run-down shack with me the only dumb traveller to fell for her bait.
Into the house I still stepped giving it some chance and up the stairs with no railing into the second floor which was still under construction and she opened the door to my room. It looked like her son’s room from my point of view with the bed still unmade, doors with no locks, and some shirts lying around.
Mmmmm …. I’ll need to think about it I said …. Walking back downstairs all the while thinking if I did stay there I would probably be rob that very night while asleep. I slowly without trying to look like I was bolting out the door running away as fast as I could, politely thank her for showing me the place and put my best poker face that I was seriously considering it but will need to walk around a bit more
First step out the door and she yelled …. 8 Sols …. I saw the look of disappointment in her as she watch me like a fish that took the bait, nibble at it and got away.
Phew I was glad I have built up a nerve of boldness to turndown awkward situations of guilt. So back to the normal routine and I found a proper good safe hostel in Nazca.
The Nazca Lines …
Not much really to talk about it for everything can be explain in Google. It was still astonishing what the hell these people was thinking doodling in the middle of the dessert.
I decided to avoid the torture of air sickness and save some money so took the 3 Sols bus out into the middle of the desert to go up an observation tower. Mirador was the name and paid 2 sols to go up and have a look. I thought the lines would be bigger than that but then again it was still quite a sight. Only manage to see two of the lines out of so many so I guess for 2 sols it’s not bad.
Nazca Line ... The Tree

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Shit Happens ….. The WORST Bus Ride in Peru - Cruz Del Sur

So people told me that the best bus ride you can get in Peru is with this company called Cruz Del Sur, and the internet don’t lie right, I mean with such good reviews and comments it’s got to be true !!!

Sometimes we forget that the internet is just like another person a mash of opinions wrap together which makes it almost right but not always as humans will be humans. So this is my lousy experience with the best bus company in Peru, Cruz Del Sur
The ride was from Arequipa to Nazca on an overnight journey and it cost me a nice 82 Sols for a semi-cama seat (Half-Bed). I arrived early at the bus station always paranoid not to miss a bus or train or plane due to bad traffic and went to the counter asking where to wait for the bus to depart. They had a VIP lounge for their bus customers, inviting me to check in my backpack ushered me into their nice lounge after scanning my body with a hand held metal detector.
I was glad my Swiss-army knife was safely packed deep inside the backpack.
Into the lounge, free wifi, drinks and nice sofa to pass the one hour waiting time that I had. Staff wore pristine uniforms and behave like a first class airplane stewardess, most of them spoke Basic English and treated everyone like royalty. Best service indeed. Time to board the bus and blankets, pillows were given with lovely seats and not long after the bus departed dinner was served. It was in a way much better than some budget airline and comparable to an economy class flight.
Journey was smooth and we reached Nazca in one piece.
Getting my backpack from the undercarriage I notice it was a little bashed up. Not thinking too much about I proceeded to find a hostel in Nazca. Once checked in I opened up my backpack noticing that it was a little bit more out of order than I thought. Most of my worthless stuff was there but it did not feel right so I took out everything.
My bag was rampage through and through and Cruz Del Sur stole the only two item of value in the backpack
1.       Swiss Army Knife
2.       A broken Made in Malaysia Hand phone

So while the experience is great I now hate that fucking company. First class service is useless if the people at the rear end is still a bastard. Worst is that because Cruz Del Sur gives their baggage handlers metal detectors, they will definitely find any electronics, knife or precious metal that you hide in your backpack. No matter how deep you stash it.
I guess I was fortunate that the only thing lost was the swiss army knife and a broken phone but I was so looking forward to exchanging the broken phone for a new one due to warranty.
Lucky thing they can’t scan the emergency money I expertly stash in there as well.  

Friday, 23 January 2015

One of the Deepest Canyon in the World – Colca Canyon Peru

Colca Canyon. I survived. It’s always the case that I don’t know what I am signing up for so when we hit the road at 3 am in the morning driving to the canyon I was soundly asleep in the van and enjoying the view in the morning rolling up and down the side of the mountain overlooking the Canyon. Colca Canyon is one of the deepest canyon in the world but lack the fame of Grand Canyon. Guess they forgot to put the word Grand in front.

Breakfast stop and I had the first taste of Coca Tea …. Pretty delicious like any other tea but other than that nothing much. The first stop was the Condor Viewing area which was great since we spotted Condor … I thought they would be bigger but well they are big enough. Next stop Hiking time.
So Day One we started high up and slowly went down from 3700 to 2500m about 4 hours walk downhill with great view disappearing as we decent. After about 2 ½ hours my right knee started to act up and was becoming painful. Slow down the pace but still reach there in time for lunch. First day and we camp there with no more hiking. Illiot and Atin went for a side tour hike towards QaQatapay which is an Inca ruin that barely any tourist goes. I sat out that one and just relax at the hostel or lodge nursing my beer and my leg
Day Two was not too bad …. A little uphill and mostly flat walking and then downhill to Sangalle. Just a morning hike to the next stop for lunch and camp for the night. We had so much time the 2nd day to just chill back relax, swim, sleep at the hammock, play some soccer, some cards with other groups from other guide and even light a campfire at night. The bottle of rum we bought along the way was a good friendship maker I guess.
Day Three …. The day I almost gave up. Woke up at 430 am in the morning for a gruesome 4 hours hike uphill non-stop. It was a 1000m uphill elevation climb with a time limit where we need to get there by 8am else no breakfast. I invoked the smokers pace for that climb, super slow and was constantly out of breath. Walking so slowly I lost count how many people passed me including a few donkeys with bloody riders on top.

Vamos Chico (Lets Go) ….. Shouted the guide from far above looking at me with a grin on his face. Thou I could not see the grin I knew it was there. Cursing, swearing I slowly make my way up and finally reach …. Just before 8am. Everyone was so damn fast going up in 3 hours while I took 4.
“Oii Edwin …. Esta Bien ???”  shouted Elliot from above …. ( Are you OK ?? )
“No Fucking Esta Bien” I shouted back …..
Huffing and puffing that last 100meters I was nearly there …. Bite whatever thought I had of pain and just move on …. A step at a time ….
Next time … I am getting a donkey …. Fuck … Still I survived.
After breakfast was a drive to the hot springs, a hot spring never felt so good after that hike. Then it was a slow drive back to Arequipa with a lunch stop and a viewpoint stop at 5100m elevation.  

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Meeting Good Companion in Arequipa Peru

Arequipa was a nice town, one that I would consider living in until you get out of the touristic place which was all perfect and visited the real Arequipa and saw all the rubbish pilling up on the streets and the locals with their laid back life but hungry eyes for more to living. Still it was a perfect place for exploring and hence I love the city.

Background of the city by two majestic mountain, Mount misty and Mount Pichu Pichu the landscape is spectacular with the inner city lined with intricate old colonial building, museums of high standards, plenty of craft especially baby alpaca clothing, this town was no Machu Pichu but it was alluring by itself anyway.

Tourist town or no tourist town each will have a way to charm and keep travellers occupied especially in Peru where they guard tourist more carefully than their own kid. Hence there was the activities of tour bus which give one a glimpse of greater Arequipa not just downtown and then there is the river rafting for 80 Sols and of course trekking in Colca Canyon the deepest canyon in the world where one can even see Condors fly. (I’ll post a separate Post on Colca Canyon)
Breakfast in Peru & New Company
Ah back to where breakfast is served on the table instead of waking up and wondering if I would be bothered to make something or dress up to go out to get something. If I have a hostel of my own in future this would be the way to go. Put one or two table and force everyone at the hostel to eat at the same table. Force socializing the best way to meet people and if they somehow hook up and make a life together I will have a pin board of accomplishment. If I one day have a hostel ….
So that’s how I meet friends which was breakfast where I met Illiot from Australia. He had a crazy story for just travelling 6 weeks and getting food poisoning in Nazca for eating a bad Cerviche (Raw fish marinated in lime and spice) and had to be hospitalized for a day and now his passport was held hostage by the clinic till he pay up or the insurance cleared. So I tag along in the morning to the clinic since it was way too early at 8 am …. I was still in Chile time hence the body thought it was 10am. Fixed his problem after many pestering and phone calls and constant refresh of the internet page, finally the insurance company gave the green light and he got his passport back for 205 Sols … the excess
It was Christmas Eve and nothing better to do but just wonder around the city killing time before the big Christmas dinner back in the hostel where the family organized for all the backpackers for 30 sols. Christmas dinner was on Peruvian time so even thou the owner said 730pm we did not start till 830 which was then a huge feast of food too much for everyone one of us to finish. Force dinner and everyone make friends on the dinner table but since the table was so long only the immediate right left and forward got most of the attention.
That’s when we meet Atin from South Africa. Shit South Africa …. You clean of Ebola? Yeah its overrated he said. Salute more drinks and a new friend. It was a good night but an early one for me since I was way too tired from all the traveling
Christmas Day & White Water Rafting
Atin now tag along me and Illiot walking around the city. The idea was to visit the monastery museum but of course it was close. They did not believe me till they were at the front door with disbelieve on their faces. Walking around town by some miracle the tour agency is still open and we checked and within less than a minute they were booked into a tour for white water rafting. I was dragged along for 80 Sols.
The river that runs from the mountains cuts straight across Arequipa and we hurried back to the hostel chuck our stuff, change and off we were in the van driving upstream to the starting point.
Here you go wet suits, jacket, helmet …. Huh ???? The river water was apparently freezing cold although it was burning hot in the afternoon.
A good two hours later we reach the end of the rafting … class 3 and class 4 … pretty easy really but good fun and apparently cheap as well according to South Africa and Australia standards. I keep remembering it was much much cheaper in Bali …. But oh well …
So Atin decided to join us instead of leave on his own for Colca Canyon. The three amigos were born with such a weird combination. South East Asia, South Africa, Australia.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Border Crossing – Arica to Tacna (Chile to Peru) with a Malaysian Passport

One of the most nerve wrecking time during travels is always crossing borders from one country to another especially when it’s through a tiny border town. Information is always scare for border crossing town somehow and even when there is, its bare minimum enough that you have to think twice if the information is reliable. Everyone crosses the border differently (due to different passport) and crossing like a local is always the aim.
Chile Imigration

So I camped in Arica one night the border town of Chile before crossing over to Tacna the border town of Peru.
There are a few ways to cross the border between Arica and Tacna such as Train, Bus and Taxi but I can only share my experience crossing with a Taxi and base on the local recommendation it is the best method. Not the cheapest but then again it was pretty cheap to cross by taxi.
The International taxi stand is right beside the main bus station which is where I got the shared taxi. They call it “Taxi Colectivo” which means you share the taxi with random strangers crossing the border. The cost is written on the board so any taxi you take will be the same 4000 peso for the trip. However there is a departure tax leaving the International taxi stand and that is 300 peso which you have to pay at the booth on the right side immediate after entering the front door and get a coupon for exit which is handed over to the taxi driver.
The taxi driver also acts like a guide and would get your forms for entry to Peru ready plus he would also guide you step by step where to go (queue up) to cross the border. Facing Immigration thou is on your own so smile.
Getting out of Chile was pretty easy for as long you did not overstay or did not lose the slip of paper during entry they would just stamp you out. Onwards to Peru border and the officer looked at me and my passport.
Malaysia ?? …. Malaysia Passport is rare crossing the local border of Chile and Peru and I guess I was not surprise that he was not sure if I needed a Visa or not. The officer called over the counter to another ranking officer and asked if he knew anything about Malaysia passport
(Conversation in Spanish which I interpreted as such)
Officer 1 : Have you ever done Malaysia before ?
Officer 2 : Yea sure …. No problems the usual …
Officer 1 : Does he need a visa ?
Officer 2 : Nope just the usual stamp in ….
Officer 1 : How many days should I give him ?
Officer 2 : Dunnu ?? Ask him how many days he is visiting Peru
Officer 1 : How many days are you visiting Peru ( He asked in Spanish …. Then in English )
Me : One month ??
STAMP … Ok 30 days visa …. Dammit I should have said two months ….
No Visa Required for Malaysian Passport to Peru and definitely no payment / bribes necessary
Tacna the taxi driver will drop you off in front of the bus station or nearby it. I had to get a general direction pointed before leaving the cab. Border Crossing was easy and not as crazy as I thought it would be. Oh yea and there is a 2 hours time difference between Chile and Peru so factor that in when crossing.
Some things to note though which I was lucky enough due to paranoia
Money …..
I did not see any money changer nor any ATM in Tacna …. Lucky thing I change bare minimum CLP 10,000 to Sol 46.30 at the bus station in Arica. Bus from Tacna to Arequipa was Sol 30 local bus Morqueque taking about 10 hours to arrive. Taxi from Arequipa bus stop to the main plaza is about Sol 8 and its worth it for its damn hell far. ATM at the bus station of Arequipa does not always works such as when I was there so I could not get any money out of it. So I survived and reach the hostel with almost no Peruvian currency on me ….. Good thing is the main Plaza Del Arms is filled with banks which runs 24 hours and is pretty safe. Look for Scotia Bank which does not charge any fee for withdrawing using international ATM Card ….
Hope this helps any Malaysian Passport Holders trying to cross from Arica to Tacna J

Saturday, 17 January 2015

The Place to Chill Out - Iquique , Chile

Iquique is a beautiful town where the Andes Mountain steeps all the way to the sea. The coastal line was beautiful waves for surfers and lot of people just hang around the beach sun bathing, playing football, beach tennis, skating along the boardwalk, cycling, running … a beautiful, muin bonito place to relax.

Sunset at Iquique
Should I visit Iquique?
When I asked this question numerous times most answers I got was that there was nothing to do there but the beach is beautiful. I decided to trust my tired sore gut and give Iquique a try and was rewarded with a lovely place to just chill back and relax.

Iquique however is not a town I would call nothing to do there. There is surfing which the waves looks best in the evening and uniform, Paragliding which looks amazing as they fly from the top of the Andes Mountain all the way down to the beach for at least 30 minutes in the air, Duty free shopping which was awkward as the Mall was huge as hell and sell the most bizarre compilation of junk I have ever seen in one shopping mall, Downtown and some nice old building to walk around, a casino, and a safe compact city to explore. My favourite pastime was just going to the beach at sunset.
Most people go on a day trip to the Ghost Town nearby but I would say Iquique is a good place to stop and lay back awhile after a long travel.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

The unexpected bike ride to Laguna Cejar

Last day in San Pedro de Atacama and I had a whole day to burn waiting for the bus to depart at 7pm. Hanging around the hostel I made two new friends, Xav and Greta. I seem to be always telling people about food and where to get them since I somehow have a nose to find cheap local food out of the gringo trail even at San Pedro. Funny thing is that most of the time the locals are just park next to the tourist places, around the corner. Greta and Xav and they were convince to follow me for lunch for the unbelievable 2000 peso

Waiting at the hostel for the 2pm for lunch for the eating place was not ready, Greta said she wanted to do a bike ride to Laguna Cejar the salt lake so salty ( even more than the dead sea ) and was trying to figure out if she could catch the bus at 8pm. My bus was 7 pm and I was not about to risk it. 2 hours there and 2 hours back by bicycle was what the hostel guy advised.
We went for lunch where both of them could not believe the amount of food for that kinda price. After lunch I tagged along while Greta and Xav went to the bike shop. While they were discussing how much the bike would cost a German couple came back covered in salt. Xav asked how long it took and they say an hour ride and if you pump it maybe 45minutes. I was tempted then …. One cheaper bike ride instead of a tour with good company. Fuck it lets do it.
So I was biking like crazy forgetting that I was a smoker with lousy lungs that never exercise and was at high altitude of 2300m in the middle of a blazing dessert. About 20km of dirt road in blazing hot and dry dessert I survived and we all reached the salt lake. Then we all went for a dip in the salt lake. It was really buoyant so much that it was difficult to swim as there was a high tendency to pop up. Even turning was hard as we laugh our ass off trying to move here and there. It was even awkward swimming. Getting out of the lake the salt would crystalized all over the body making it tingle and itch.
The view of the volcano at the background with no one around but the 3 of us plus maybe 4 other people far on the other side of the lake made the bike ride worth it. 4pm came and it was time to head back else I would have missed the bus. Just as we were about to head back busses after busses came streaming in from the tour company. The tours was visiting the salt lake all at the same time and suddenly the lake was flooded with tourist. Not so serene after that but we had our smile that we would not be sharing the lake with that crowd.  
Back to the hostel and a quick shower I got to the bus station just in time to rest my aching butt for the 10 hours bus ride to Iquique.


Friday, 9 January 2015

Geyser Del Tatio, San Pedro de Atacama - Chile

San Pedro is super touristy for a desert town. There was almost more tourist then locals and as you can guess the locals took advantage of the new hype to supplement their income. Tourist not only to the Gringo but also to the neighbouring Latin America countries. Hot desert very dry air almost everything dusty and rustic and about to crumble and flooded with tourist from everywhere. I did not like it but since I was here might as well do something

So walking around the gringo street where all the tour agency gathers around and could speak somewhat English try to lure you to purchase a tour or tours. The more tours the more discount, it was crazy and I thought it was very costly as well with the cheapest tour about 7000 peso. Cheapest package I found was 45000 peso for 4 different tours but it means I will be stuck in San Pedro for at least 4 days. Tours don’t include entrance fee to the national park as well so if one took the 4 tour package then another 20000 peso can be expected for entrance fee.
The four tours were not the only one around and supplemented by others more adventurous and off the tracks which cost more money. I decided to just go for one at San Pedro which was the Geysers de Tatio at elevation of 4300m above sea level. The geysers shoot out or boil out from below the ground due to the hot magma running underneath. San Pedro was about 2300m altitude and I jumped on the tour the 2nd day in the morning there at 4.30am not caring about acclimatising or altitude sickness.
I was a bit concerned that my body would not take it or acclimatised properly but then I did not want to spend time in an expensive gringo infested tourist city. The journey in the morning at 430am was pretty alright till a certain point when we nearly reach the place. I first got stomach cramps like the one that urge you to go to the toilet to let one big one rip but then when I got it under control, I got cold shivers. I was cold and shivering but I was sweating. Closed my eyes and just focus, hold that asshole in to not soil myself and just bear with the shivers. As fast as it came a few minutes later it was ok again other than the crazy urge and need for a toilet bowl.
We reached and thank the stars, there was a toilet at the entrance of the Geyser de Tatio National park entrance. Everyone went for a toilet break and I let that F*cker shit ripped and discharged from my body. Suddenly everything is ok. I think for me altitude sickness was a like a really bad hangover in the morning. Nothing like a big dump, some food and a cigarette to sober up
Geysers at 6am was freezing cold but thankfully it was not minus so I could still bear with it with my summer gear layering up (3 layers). It was spectacular to see all the boiling geysers steaming in the morning and photos was a sacrilege that must be taken on a tour. To my surprise while trying to get someone to take my photo for me the uncle sitting beside me, his wife with their son asked me to take a family photo for them. I took the picture and then I was somehow in the picture and I was standing there taking pictures with different combination and poses and we all became friends without ever speaking a word of Spanish or English. I did manage to get that they were a family from Ecuador on a holiday.
Next was the hot pool, constructed to collect water from the geysers and discharge continuously. It was a marvellous idea and a splendid way to wake up in high altitude in a cold morning. Once everyone had their enjoyment of a dip for an hour we headed off with the bus on the journey back to San Pedro.

The bus driver was one cheerful guy and would detour and stop and gave lots of explanation of San Pedro de Atacama and its wildlife but this was all in Spanish of course. We saw llamas, vicuna, bischucha, eagles, valleys form by tectonic plate movement and so much more that I could not understand. Back to San Pedro at 1pm and that was the end of the tour and the beginning of my preparation to head on to the next town Iquique.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Dangers in Chile – Coquimbo & Valparaiso

How dangerous is another country one would wonder sometimes before deciding to pay it a visit. I tend to think any danger around the world is the same back home since mugging, kidnapping, pickpocket is almost everywhere and unless one truly ignore the street wise instinct it is mostly uncommon to think it could happen.

News and television or even the internet nowadays gives off the scariest story and those story are the one that get the most highlight so I tend to ignore them thinking it is a rare thing, so rare I treat it as winning the lottery. Imagine being on a craigslist like in Australia where a homicidal maniac pick up backpackers hitchhikers only to slowly gut their life away for pleasure. Almost unthinkable since I believe the human nature is kind hearted.
The first encounter of danger was actually in Valparaiso where such dumb tourist like me and friends would pick a spot on the map and wonder in that direction.

What’s over there? Let’s check it out?
Chile I would say is really a safe place such that if you wander into a bad neighbourhood the locals will give dumb tourist fair warning. So in Valparaiso when we wondered into such one where they would mug or even worst kill you the locals tried their best to warn us which we mistakenly took it as be careful of pick pockets. Yes sure thank you we will be careful. One would think if you see children wandering about the place would be safe enough.
Walking on deeper into the bad neighbourhood of Valparaiso two young girls whistle to us and blocked our path. They spoke only Spanish and we did not understand shit but baring our path and not letting us go was an indicator. Suddenly the international sign of cutting one’s throat a finger slicing the neck was shown and big waves of saying no and pointing to the direction we were heading made it very clear that this was a bad neighbourhood. Fair Warning. U-Turn and never step foot in that territory again.
I picked up one word in Spanish in that encounter … Peligro – Danger
The second such encounter was in Coquimbo a day trip from La Serena which was only 20 minutes away, coastal town with a beautiful Crux on the top of the hill. The town was small but every path that leads to the top of the Hill and the Crux (Big Cross) had beautiful winding steps leading up and into the neighbourhood district and eventually the top of the hill. I knew the view would be worth the climb. Heading to one of the steps
Same thing happen. Walking on just at the base of the steps and I saw family with children and nice people going up so I thought it should be alright but our path was barred this time as well by a local tourist police. They was not even on duty and was just having a cigarette break but seeing us intending to head up the hill they immediately called and stopped us. All the explanation in the world and I could not understand but when I said the word Peligro it was responded with firm head nodding and a grim line of the mouth. More explanation but that was all I needed to hear to be convince to turn around and head back.
If someone ask me if Chile was safe …. I would say very safe for even dumb tourist gets protected more than the locals. As long as you head good advices and don’t be an idiot no harm will come to you. Just have to admire the Crux from down below

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Eating at a Locals House. Pisco Elqui of Valle de Elqui

What did I know about this place? I came here on a whim due to a fellow traveller recommendation and it was in the middle of nowhere, superbly small and beautiful, plantation in the valley of the Andes Mountains but still pretty high up that the sun would burn you without warning and worst of all I had no idea if there was a hostel or not in this place.

Normally I would at lease research the place just to set up a backup plan but this time I had none for the internet says there is no Hostel. Walking up the road where the bus drop me off I saw some locals.
‘Hostal’ I asked?? …… pointed up the road …..
Phew I was saved, there is a hostel at lease so I walked on and saw the first sign ‘Kristen Hostel’. Check in - I felt a relieved that I would be able to relax after a long overnight bus ride from Valparaiso, avoiding trouble from the securidad and another 2 hours bumpy ride on a microbus.
Pisco Elqui was very small, you could see the entire town in less than 10 minutes and easily wondered into the next town walking and the next and the next and suddenly you are very far away from the starting point. Other than tours there is not much to do. Stargazing at night became my favourite past time in Pisco Elqui for it was so high up in elevation and had one of the most clearest non polluted sky in the world.
Google Say: - Southern Cross … look for the brightest start that form a cross …
There was just too many stars and all of them was bright as hell …. Too bad my crappy camera phone can’t capture any of this … just have to burn it into memory, or a blog.
Things I Found in Pisco Elqui
The first thing after dumping my bag in the hostel I had to venture out for food. Walking down the street a suspicious looking guy hanging around at the junction move in to block my way and started talking (in Spanish). I think I have perfected my blur look by now and the locals would know when I had no clue what they were saying. The guy was persistence and out came the sign language and I could finally make out what he was saying …. Food ??? Lunch ???
Do not follow a suspicious looking guy that offer you food …..
That would be my advice to fellow traveller but then again I did the exact opposite and follow him thinking he would bring me to a restaurant. He brought me to a normal looking house and pointed at his shutter door which had a piece of paper stuck onto it …. Comida it said which means Food in Spanish and a price tag of 1500 peso. Into a stranger house I followed, must be the too long bus ride that my head was messed up but I was glad for he was genuinely selling me …. Lunch ….
Sat down in the family dining room, his mother I think came out and started scooping things out of the pot preparing my meal. Warm smiles and many question in Spanish but most I could not understand.
Chino? He pointed and asked ,,,,, No I said ….. Malaysia … Ahhhhh …. That was the most conversation we had …
So that’s was how I found out in Chile people sell food out of their home with simple notices place outside their house. After that in every city in Chile that I go I would hunt for a cheap local food in family homes.
Superbly Local ….