Well, that’s a wrap for us. This is the last day of our 10-month (307 day) adventure, for tomorrow we’re Sydney bound.
We’ve been to some incredible places, met amazingly friendly people and been inspired by this wonderful opportunity to up sticks and see a bit more of the world.
Our last few days in Latin America have been spent in Santiago, a place we’ve just realised we’ve been to 9 times in the past year! Not for any real desire to be here exactly but because it became our hub thanks to the Qantas direct flight to Sydney.
To be frank, Santiago is no Buenos Aires. But what it lacks in interesting and beautiful architecture, it wins hands down on its stunning setting, with the snow-capped Andes towering over the city. It’s the last of the summer sunshine here for winter is in the air. Smog now cloaks the city most of the morning, making for hazy days and chilly nights.
We’re staying in our home-away-from-home when in Santiago, the Aubrey Hotel which sits at the base of Cerro San Cristóbal. The cerro rises 880 metres above the city and is the largest green space in Santiago. There are several ways to reach the summit where a snowy-white 14m high statue of the Virgen de la Inmaculada towers, arms stretched wide looking down into the valley below. There’s a funicular on one side and a teleférico (cable car) on the other, whilst a switch-back road wraps around the entire mountain and is often jammed with lycra-clad cyclists huffing and puffing their way to the top then speed-coasting their way down, impervious to all other forms of transport and, in particular, people. It makes for a rather perilous journey if you’re on foot as I was.
We’ve found our favourite restaurant here in Bella Vista, Galindo, serving traditional Chilean food since 1968. I tucked into a delicious Cazuela de Pollo, a sort of elaborate chicken broth that has a large chunk of breast along with pieces of potato, pumpkin, corn cob, rice and some finely chopped herbs, all served piping hot with fresh bread. Another traditional dish on the menu that I haven’t been game to try as yet is Caldillo de Congrio, a Chilean fish dish consisting mainly of Conger Eel. Served in a large hot pot, the dish is made with a stock of fish heads, onion, garlic, coriander, carrots and pepper, then boiled Conger Eel is added along with cream and potatoes. I had some Congrio when in Valparaíso and have to report that it was horrible, slimy and gelatinous. Never again.
Sitting by the pool in the hotel the other day I was stung by una avispa (a wasp) and saw the bugger just as he was unleashing his worst. At first it was a minor sting but it has gradually got worse, a large red swelling that’s now quite painful and itchy. It’s the only medical incident of our entire trip apart of course from bouts of Montezuma’s revenge in Mexico. The less said about that the better. I enquired about medical assistance at the front desk but was warned off as the wait time at a medical centre could be over six, possibly even eight to ten, hours! Oh, and the front desk chap told me that he’s so allergic to bees and wasp stings that he could die, so I kind of felt a bit silly making a fuss. I’ll soldier on.
This is the last post of our amazing trip but probably not the last time I’ll blog. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the writing and photography process, attempting to capture what we’ve seen and experienced at the end of a day of exploring or just wandering around a place. We’ll look forward to poring over the 250 or so posts in the coming months and years which will hopefully bring the memories flooding back.
We’ve had the time of our lives.
Adios amigos (for now) x