Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bus rides, boat rides and blockades oh my !!!!

So, here we are 2 weeks later and I`m finally able to write. How is everyone? We are great after finishing a 30 plus hour bus trip, on 4 different legs, that took us from Valparaiso to Iquique, Chile in the last 2 days. But that is the recent stuff. You want to hear about what has happened in between, right? Well let me tell you.

The last time I wrote we were about to get on the ferry in Puerto Natales, Chile for a 4 day sail north to Puerto Montt. What a fabulous time we had on the boat. It took a bit longer to get out of Puerto Natales than expected due to a broken cable on the ship`s elevator, but we ended up getting a free night and free meals while waiting to leave. That was fine with us as we met and visited with people from all over the world. The Irish certainly know how to drink and the French aren`t far behind. We enjoyed getting to know all of them. There was a lot of card playing, farkel rolling, reading, taking 3 hour naps, and watching beautiful sunsets and even one sunrise. We saw dolphins, penguins, seals, and also the water spout as a whale breached off in the distance. Only one day, in which we went out into the Pacific Ocean, did we feel sea sick. But after taking a sea sickness pill and a long nap, I was fine. Eric, of course, was in the bridge with the crew saying
"Here comes another one! Look at the size of that wave!" That`s the moment I had to go lie down. But all in all, it was a fabulous experience. Supposedly it is the longest ferry trip in the Southern Hemisphere and maybe even the world... 810 nautical miles. Eric is checking into this as he thinks Bellingham to Juneau is longer.

So, after being on the boat since Friday May 23 we disembarked last Wednesday the
28th at 8:30 AM and immediately hopped a bus to Pucon. Pucon sits at the base of Volcan Villarica, one of the most active in Chile. Locals told us that if the steam stops, start worrying. The last minor eruption was in 1984 and thankfully the steam kept coming and we stayed there for 2 cold nights. When I say cold, it was 44 degrees and, like I said in the picture, that was in our room!!!! I was freezing! But they had plenty of warm blankets... I think I used 5 of them. Two other couples from the ferry ended up going the same way we did and we all ended up at the same hostel in Pucon. It was nice to be with people that we already knew and we all suffered in the cold together. We also took a bus to hotsprings nearby called Los Polzones. It was a beautiful rustic setting of 5 different pools next to a river. We were the only ones there and tried all 5 of them. Some were warmer than the others and we ended up being there for 4 hours. Very nice and a bit pruney!

We left Pucon last Friday and headed north to Valparaiso on an overnight bus along with Iain and Danni, a couple from Manchester, England. We made a stop in a town called Temuco where we had a 7 hour layover and found a mall with a great food court and movie theater in which to burn those hours. Halfway through the new Indiana Jones movie (subtitled) I looked at Eric and said "Hey, this is the first movie we have ever been to in our 14 months of dating." That`s right, we had never been to a movie together in all of that time. Not something we planned, it just never happened... there were always paths to be hiked or falls to swim in. We laughed quietly and watched the rest of the movie happily, unfazed by the dating record we had just broken... Eric says we are waiting another 14 month before we see another. If you see the movie let me know what you think. Anyways, we hopped a 10 PM bus that evening and arrived at 8AM on Saturday in Valparaiso.

It is a lovely town set on 45 hills on the Chilean coast. It is built almost vertically because of the steep hills and thus has about 15 acensores to ride on to get farther up the hills instead of walking aimlessly through the maze of streets. We all stayed in a hostel with an amzing view of the ocean and the city. We walked through some of the town, at times ending up at dead ends and having to turn around but, we had fun. We also took a bus to a small town called Vina del Mar for a day and saw a giant Moai head from Easter island that Eric wanted to see. It is an island about 2200 miles off the coast from Valparaiso known for its polynesian culture and hundreds of Moai (giant statues). Unfortunately, it is too expensive to get to and this was the closest we would get. The towns were great and we enjoyed the time we had with our new British friends.

OK, now back to the 30 plus hour bus ride and our attempts to get farther north in Chile and hopefully, into Peru. But, the bus we had today didn`t run because of a nationwide truck strike, which is blocking all the major roads in Chile. So, we are "stuck" here. Hopefully, they`ll be running tomorrow. But we have enjoyed the 2extra days here, wandering around and discovering more of Iquique.

So that is it for now. We hope everyone is doing well and enjoying what seems to be the start of a hot summer. I`m finally in shorts and a t-shirt! Until next time!


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