Local Time: 1:53 pm
Time Zone: UTC/GMT -4 hours
How far did we travel this week? 258 miles
How did we get around this week?
I traveled by bus and car this weekend. Elizabeth and I took a trip into the north to Valle del Elqui in the region called Coquimbo. It was a long, long bus ride, which lasted about eight hours! We arrived in the city at around 3:30 in the morning. After sleeping for a few hours at a small hotel, we were off again!
We took another three-hour bus ride to a small town square in Valle Del Elqui. It was a lovely day. The sun was bright and shining and the locals were out in the small square, selling their hand-made jewelry and clothes. This was the trickiest part of our journey. The only way to get down to the campsite we were planning to stay at was to find someone willing to drive us. We had been told many times that there was no bus to Río Mágico (the name of our campsite) and that we would have to find someone there to give us a lift.
We walked over to a sweet looking woman selling hand-made necklaces and rings encrusted with semi-precious stones. I bumbled a sentence in Spanish to her about needing a lift to our campsite and she raised a hand to stop me and smiled sweetly “You have to call Erik,” she told us, “He is the guy who drives people around here.” She gave us his number and said to leave him a message about where we were going. We did and soon enough an old pick-up truck pulled into the plaza’s parking lot and an older, stocky Chilean man in sunglasses stepped out. He picked us out almost immediately. We were the only non-Chileans in the square.
Erik helped our bags up into the back of his van, told us his price and drove us down the bumpy, dusty road. We got there quickly, probably because he drove a little like a mad man, and handed us our back packs outside of the gates for Río Mágico, safe and sound. The trip in its entirety was exhausting, but I learned so much about transportation in Chile, even if it was only that you can’t count on organized transportation, but you can count on finding a way to get there.
What was the most interesting place we visited this week?
The most interesting place I visited was a campsite called Río Mágico, it was out in the middle of nowhere in a town called Cochiguaz [Ko-chi-waz]. It was a big vacation weekend for Chile and the campsite was chock-full of young Chileans relaxing and cooking along the shore of the river. We also set up our tent by the river, and spent all of our days jumping off the bridge into the icy water and warming ourselves on the sandy beach. Everyone there was so kind and warm, it felt like a close community. At night the director of the campsite (who coincidentally looked just Like Capitan Jack Sparrow!) would start a bonfire and everyone would crowd around talking and sharing drinks and food! It really felt like a magical place.
This Week’s Travel News: (short story about what happened this week)
The one big hiccup in our camping plan was how to get back to the bus station. Where we were camped had no cell phone service or public bus service to take us the three-hour journey to La Serena where our bus waited. We had made plans with a man to drive us back early Sunday morning. And by early, I mean we had to be ready to go at 6:30 in the morning! The problem was, our ride never showed. We sat on the cold steps of the tourism building under the brilliant stars waiting for nearly an hour. Everything was looking pretty bleak. No one would be up for hours, but then a miracle happened! Coming towards us from the dusty path out of the town was a bus! The very bus everyone told us not to expect! What’s more, the bus was heading straight to La Serena! Elizabeth and I eagerly piled in, still in disbelief at our luck and promptly slept the whole way back!
Weather Tally (enter the # of days for each weather type):
Partly cloudy: 2
What is the air temperature right now?
How was the weather this week?
The weather was sunny and nice this week, it wasn’t blisteringly hot, and it wasn’t freezing cold. The perfect temperature to spend in your swimsuit on the banks of the river all day!
What animals did we see this week?
At one point during our time in Cochiguaz we saw a hawk up close! It swooped down from above to attack a dove it was hunting and landed in a tree not ten feet away from us! It stopped a moment to gather itself and then flew away.
What was the coolest thing we saw in nature this week?
The coolest thing would still have to be the Hawk. In Colorado you can see red-tailed hawks high in the sky quite often, but to encounter one so close to you is a powerful experience.
What languages are spoken here?
What type of money is used here?
How much does a bottle of water cost?
A bottle of water costs around 1,000 Chilean pesos, or about $2.50.
What was the best meal this week?
The best meal was the steak and hotdogs cooked over the campfire and shared in a communal pot.
What music did we listen to this week?
We listened to the beat of the drums, at the campsite almost every group had a set and they played them from about 11 in the morning until 5 in the morning!
What activity was the most fun this week?
Camping at Ría Mágico.
What did I read this week?
I read a few articles for my history class homework. They were about the dangerous working conditions of the Chilean mines in the beginning of the 20th century. They wrote about very poor conditions like no days off of working, crowded living conditions and even a lack of safe drinking water! The articles were sad, but each one proposed a way to help these poor people and improve their lives as miners, which made me feel a lot better.
What games or sports did I play?
I played a game called linao this week in my gym class. It is a traditional Mapuche game played most like rugby, but with fewer rules! You had to work with your team to get a ball into your opponent’s goal and it was the other team’s job to know you down and steal your ball! My poor friend Elizabeth was caught more than once in the middle of a tug-of-war match, but she was the rope!
Micros look like this, but smaller
As a port town we have lot’s of boats at all times of the day
A historic ascensor in Valpo