SA 30: Wrap-Up from Santiago

Well, it wouldn’t be South America if there wasn’t some sort of issue with a bus.

First things first, though; everything was fine leaving Easter Island today.  Our flight was full of idiots, it seemed, so there was a high annoyance factor, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen more people be asked to put their seats up, turn off their electronics, etc.  However, all was good getting in to Santiago.

Also have to give a big shout to Raul, our 71 year our “character” who ran the Hotel Orongo.  Freaking hilarious in a “How the Hell do you run this place?” type way.  This morning, when it came time to pay, he didn’t know how much I was supposed to pay him in Pesos and let me figure out the conversion rate.  Made sure he was paid fairly, but never had that happen before ever.  Nuts.

So, figured I’d offer a bit of a wrap on each country now that the blog will be “Kirk & A Backpack” for the next week.

Peru:  When I left Angkor Wat two years back, I mentioned that I was expecting something spectacular but had my expectations blown away by the place.  For the most part, that was Peru.  Machu Picchu and Cusco just blew me away, the reed villages in Puno and the Nazca lines were phenomenal even if their respective cities were not, Arequipa was a great idea for a one day stopover and begged for more time and even the three hours in Lima we spent in the main square watching the parade was spectacular.  The best thing I can say about Peru is we could easily go back, to some of the same places even, and see plenty of new things.  Great food, great people, great environment.  Amazing.

Bolivia: Bit harder to judge this one as, realistically, we were only able to see Copacabana and La Paz (and its surrounding areas) due to the whole weather-gone-wrong situation on the Bolivia-Chile border.  LOVED Copacabana, seems like a place you could really just crash in for a few days and not have a care in the world.  La Paz had a great energy to it and is definitely an interesting city and the whole Chacaltaya day was amazing.  I definitely want to see more of the country (ESPECIALLY Uyuni) but there are two things about it that frustrated me a bit:

  1. Bolivia seemed to exemplify the odd South American, “We don’t know” attitude.  As a guy in the hostel today told me, in Canada, something either is or isn’t.  Less so in South America and Bolivia seemed to be the worst in terms of not knowing what’s happening at any point in time.
  2. Nickel and dime.  Somebody has to tell Bolivia that, even if it is just an extra fifty cents here and there, people actually don’t mind paying a few cents more if they don’t have to buy a tour ticket, then an entry ticket, then a museum ticket, then a village ticket…..  Again, it doesn’t add up to much, but it’s just annoying more than anything.

That being said, beautiful country and would definitely go back, just with a thicker hide for delays.

Chile: Kind of the same as Bolivia in terms of “Wish we had seen more”, but from the first few minutes crossing the border to the help we got getting to our plane on time to the friendliness of, well, everybody, I fell in love with this place.  Santiago is a pretty amazing city, Valparaiso was beautiful and Easter Island was everything I thought it would be an more.  This country was definitely a budget buster ( a LOT has changed since the last Lonely Planet guide we used was written) this time around but totally worth it as well.

I would come back to each of these countries, no hesitation.

Another point: This was the first time that Daina and I have done a solo travel experience like this.  Barcelona and Cuba didn’t involve much moving around and we had Laird along for the fun in Asia.  I definitely couldn’t have had a better travel partner for this crazy adventure.  I think we both took turns keeping the other calm at various points in time, pushed each other on adventures but also made sure we took the time to relax.  Amazing guy, that Daina Hodgson.

So D is on a flight to New York as we speak and I’m (hopefully) off to Argentina tomorrow.  Let you know as soon as I know.  Thanks to everybody for following so far, more to come!!!

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