Santiago, Los Angeles and Temuco13/11/2011
After another long, and delayed, flight we finally made it South America. First stop, Santiago. Tired from the flight, and still badly jet-lagged we stumbled through security and into the arrivals hall where the first mission was to withdraw some cash. Computer says No! No big problem, change enough US dollars to get us into town and find a cash machine there instead. 3 hours later, we are in the heart of Santiago where no one speaks English and we speak almost no Spanish, and all the cash machines have rejected our card and we don't have any ideas of where to stay. Bad start! Finally we found an internet cafe and used that to find us somewhere to stay. With no map this still wasn't easy but eventually we found a place which would accept our passport and some US dollars as a deposit on the room while we sorted out the cash machines (after a good nights sleep!).
The next day, with a fractionally more clear head we were able to sort out the card and by 11am we had cash, had checked out of our expensive hotel and were on our way to a far cheaper one that we also hoped might have a few more backpackers in that we could talk to so we could start to form a plan for our time in the country. As has since become a recurring theme in this country, we didn't really find the friendly backpackers, or the helpful information we had hoped for but we did have wifi and with wifi (and laptops and/or smart phones) anything is possible.
Our few days in Santiago were mainly about trying to get our bodies adjusted to their new way of life, sleeping, eating, drinking and trying to decide what to do next. The city itself was quite a nice place to be. The main square was busy (even on a Sunday) and livily. The streets where wide and there were lots of open spaces and plazas where people enjoyed the sun or restaurants. We quickly discovered that in Chile Steak, chips and eggs are the stable diet and although it comes in various different forms that is the 3 key ingredients of almost every meal.
Our planning for what to do in Chile lead to Los Angeles, south of Santiago, where to hoped to do some trekking. Unfortunately all the information we had that would have made this trek possible was wrong, so after 2 days in this rather pretty but slightly strange little town we had to leave defeated by our lack of Spanish and their lack of English or any tourist information at all. So, after surviving the 5.1 earthquake, we headed to Temuco in the hope we would have more luck there.
Again Chile succeeded in stopping us from doing what we hoped to do (another trek) as there had been a big snow fall in the last few days which closed the route to us (although the ski lifts had also closed so we couldn't take advantage of the snow for a bit of skiing either). So after further discussion and planning we booked our bus tickets south to Pategonia and hopefully a bit more luck down there with the Torres del Paine... As this involves 36 hours on a bus and crossing into Argentina just to cross back again into Chile, we really really hope that Chile doesn't have any more tricks up its sleeve designed to stop us... The advantage of this bus trip however is that it goes through some beautiful areas of country and so finally we have seen some spectacle views that lifted our hearts and made us feel that may be Chile will still deliver on its promise of great trekking.