Men-doze-ahhhhh it’s too hot to do anything

15 Jan 2014 – 19 Jan 2014

The ride into Mendoza was an incredible sight. On a normal day, the road through the Andes is an experience in itself. You would think that at night, the true beauty of the magnificent Andes would be obscured by the darkness, which is what I thought. But some time around midnight, I was woken up from my slumber by someone sporadically shining a flashlight in my face. I roused myself with half a mind to put them in their place for being idiotic, but it was I who had been the idiot. It was no flashlight, it was the moon, in all her full glory, lighting up the entire Mountain range where her soft light fell. My camera was too shitty to take a good picture, but I spent the next two hours watching the scenery before we arrived at immigration, a painful process that took about 3hrs and killed any hope of getting decent sleep.

Anyway. Fast forward to Mendoza.

If Valpo and Viña were cold enough to warrant wearing my jacket around all day, Mendoza was the complete opposite. I arrived at 7am in the morning and in the 20 minutes it took for me to walk to a cafe with WiFi so I could find a place to stay, I had soaked through the T-shirt I was wearing. I found a hostel and checked in, and was happily eating my second breakfast of the day when some random people at the hostel invited me on a wine tour they were going on – one of the things Mendoza is famous for is Malbec wine. I was dead beat from the exhausting ride to Mendoza, but figured why not and decided to join them anyway.

 

Getting food for our picnic before setting off Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Getting food for our picnic before setting off
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

It turned out to be quite a fun adventure, visiting the vineyards on bicycles, although because we set off kinda late, we only managed to visit one vineyard,

Barrels of wine getting old, getting good Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Barrels of wine getting old, getting good
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Tiny sample of the vineyard Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Tiny sample of the vineyard
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Grapes on the vine! Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Grapes on the vine!
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Making wine is an exact science Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Making wine is an exact science
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

where we had a really nice picnic after the tour,

We wanted to have a fancy picnic indoors because it was so hot out, but the guide didn't let us Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

We wanted to have a fancy picnic indoors because it was so hot out, but the guide didn’t let us
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

one olive plantation

Guide explaining about growing olives Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Guide explaining about growing olives
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Oilve oils and vinegars for sampling! Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Oilve oils and vinegars for sampling!
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

and one beer garden.

Quaint little beer garden Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Quaint little beer garden
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

It was still a delicious experience though, stamping the different wines and oils and dips and spreads and drinks produced by these places.

Cycling back after eating too many samples is tough work Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Cycling back after eating too many samples is tough work
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

We got back to the hostel and headed back out to get some dinner (Mexican food!), which was a pretty good chance to see the city by night.

Music in the plaza Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Music in the plaza
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Lots of stalls at the night market Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Lots of stalls at the night market
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

It’s a really clean city, compared to the other Argentinian cities, and is rather interesting because the entire city sits on an irrigation network that allows trees and plants to grow, despite the dry climate in Mendoza. The city was also almost entirely rebuilt after the earthquake some years ago that practically destroyed everything. Very cool stuff.

I went to bed with the intention of sleeping in the next day, but my stupid body clock woke me up pretty early. Or maybe it was the heat, because it was suffocating. The temperature registered a high of 45deg that day, so the only thing I did all day was go to Rio Mendoza with Dario, a CouchSurfer who offered to show me around, and sit in the cool waters, relaxing.

Bridge over (troubled) water Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Bridge over (troubled) water
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

In the evening, we headed to home of Teresa and José, friends of Dario, and we hung out there, talking about this and that and generally chilling out the best we could in the stifling heat.

Teresa is super cute Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Teresa is super cute
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

They invited us to lunch the next day, so we headed over there for a nice lunch, a wade in the river behind the houseand a short nap before heading to check out some of the main sights of Mendoza.

Lovely garden in Teresa and José's house Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Lovely garden in Teresa and José’s house
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Cool truck in the garden Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Cool truck in the garden
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Cool wagon in the garden Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Cool wagon in the garden
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

 

 

Interesting fountain that supposedly represents the continents, but only four of them feature on it Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Interesting fountain that supposedly represents the continents, but only four of them feature on it
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

The sculpture was slightly  scary Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

The sculpture was slightly scary
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

At the top of Cerro de la Gloria Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

At the top of Cerro de la Gloria
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

View from Parque San Martin Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

View from Mendoza
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

And BAM, suddenly it was raining cats and dogs, and we got drenched sitting in the park, which only moments before had been torturously hot. Crazy weather.

Dinner was an asado (!) with Dario’s friends, which was delicious, but I was completely exhausted by that point, so I went to sleep pretty early.

King of the Asado Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

King of the Asado
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Mmmm, meat Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Mmmm, meat (and veggies)
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Saturday was one hundred times cooler than the previous days, because of the storm and the fact that it rained again during the night. I didn’t feel too well, so I mostly stayed in bed and wandered around the city in the afternoon. It really is quite a pretty little city, and I quite like it.

Interesting sculpture Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Interesting sculpture
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Capitoline wolf in one of the smaller plazas Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Capitoline wolf in one of the smaller plazas
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Glorious gates Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Glorious gates
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Hot afternoons are great for napping in the park Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Hot afternoons are great for napping in the park
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Lake in Parque San Martin Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Lake in Parque San Martin
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

I went to bed pretty early after doing some research on where to head to next, and woke up early as well, seeing as how I had to check out at 10am. I bought my bus ticket from the girl at the reception (how convenient – saved me a trip to the bus station!) and set out to find an Internet cafe to transfer my pictures out of my almost full camera. That was a complete failure – it being a Sunday, absolutely nothing was open. I really need to plan my long bus rides such that they occupy the whole day on Sunday, and I don’t end up with situations like this. -_-

Bye bye Mendoza! Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Bye bye Mendoza!
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Hello Mr. Wolf Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

Hello Mr. Wolf
Mendoza, Argentina, Jan 2014

In any case, I only had a couple of hours to kill before my bus, so it ended up being a pretty chill day before I left for CÓRDOBA!

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Valpo y Viña a.k.a. Valparaiso and Viña del Mar

Written 29 Jan/ 30 Jan

Valparaiso is only 1.5hrs from Santiago, but because it was a weekend, I paid an exorbitant 4500pesos to get there. Ridiculous, but I didn’t want to stay in Santiago any longer, so I paid and left.

The first thing I noticed when I got to Valpo (as the locals call it – first syllable from the name and add the suffix -po, in typical Chilean fashion), was that it reminded me of Lisbon. 😀 You can imagine how pleased I was to be in a place that reminded me so strongly of the wonderful time I had on exchange (: It probably had something to do with the fact that Valpo is built on 42 (or 43, but who’s counting, right?) hills and is a coastal city, while Lisbon is built on 7 hills and is also a coastal city.

The hills are alive with the sound of muuuuusic! Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

The hills are alive with the sound of muuuuusic!
Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

I felt completely at home, climbing up a hill to get to my cheap hostel (Hostel Linancany) which turned out to be super chill, with super nice people. I met a couple of people at the hostel and shared some great pizza and conversations with them that evening. The hostel life really is something different, with the opportunity to meet so many different people from so many different walks of life. That said, I still prefer CouchSurfing because it’s truly a great way to get to know the locals and their culture. I mean, at the end of the day, all the people you meet in a hostel are still travellers, probably just as clueless as yourself.

The next day, Anna (American girl I met at the hostel) and I went to visit Pablo Neruda’s house. He has three houses, one in Santiago, one in Isla Negra and the last in Valpo. And what a quirky house it was! Paintings, statues, furniture, everything was just bursting with quirkyness.

The outside of Pablo Neruda's house because no photography was allowed inside Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

The outside of Pablo Neruda’s house (and some tourists) because no photography was allowed inside
Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

Fancy a chat with the man himself? Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

Fancy a chat with the man himself?
Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

After that, it was off to a free walking tour of Valpo with Tours for Tips which was very informative and a great way to cover the main highlights of the city.

Wealthiest street in Chile (or was it South America?) many, many, many years ago Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

Wealthiest street in Chile (or was it South America?) many, many, many years ago
Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

Odd building with an old facade but modern attachment Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

Odd building with an old facade but modern attachment
Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

Up an ascensore! Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

Up an ascensore!
Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

Hugeass graffiti - something Valpo has lots of Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

Hugeass graffiti – something Valpo has lots of
Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

More graffiti! Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

More graffiti!
Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

After the tour, I continued wandering around for a bit, and eventually found myself in a cosy little restaurant (recommended by the tour guide).

So quaint and quiet Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

So quaint and quiet
Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

It was cold and windy, and after weeks of almost nothing but beef and pork and chicken (which I love), I had a mega craving for seafood or soup. And whaddya know, the place had some sort of shellfish soup!

Happiness in a bowl :D Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

Happiness in a bowl 😀
Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

Really hit the spot, and I was a happy camper after that (:

The next day, I decided to go down to Viña, a town 20minutes away by bus, also along the coast. In my opinion, while Viña was much cleaner than Valpo, there wasn’t really much else to do besides walk the entire length of the beach, which I did, with Caesar, a CouchSurfer living in Valpo. CouchSurfers are awesome.

Miles of coast Viña del Mar, Chile, Jan 2013

Miles of coast
Viña del Mar, Chile, Jan 2013

The weather was really weird, hot, but with cold sea breezes and the water was freezing cold as well, so we didn’t swim, but went to get empanadas instead – camaron y queso (shrimp and cheese). Mmmm yummy (thanks for the recommendation Sher)!

Sea plant we found along the beach Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

Sea plant we found along the beach
Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

Caesar had to go to his office for a bit after that, so I tagged along and man, the view at the top was amazing. Fantastic bird’s eye view of literally the entire city, which because it sits on a bunch of hills and is elevated, can be seen all at once.

Amazing view of Valpo and Viña Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

Amazing view of Valpo and Viña
Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

Amazing view of Valpo and Viña II Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

Amazing view of Valpo and Viña II
Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

After that, it was off to the bus station to buy a ticket to Mendoza, which some of the people at the hostel had strongly recommended. I had no better plan so, why not, right? I spent the evening at the hostel, hanging out with some people who were making an asado (!every day there is an asado somewhere).

My bus to Mendoza was only at 9pm the following day, so I wandered around Valpo a little more the next day,

This man was very proud of the congrillo he was selling Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

This man was very proud of the congrillo he was selling
Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

Five faces Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

Five faces
Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

The old mercado which was condemned by the earthquake of 2010 Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

The old mercado which was condemned by the earthquake of 2010
Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

and had a typical Valparaisan dish, the chorillana – fries, eggs, meat, onions and cheese.

The chorillana should be renamed el infarto (heart attack) Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

The chorillana should be renamed el infarto (heart attack)
Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

Such a bad idea, but at least now I can say I’ve tried it! Besides, walking up and down the hills for a couple of hours definitely burned off the calories.

Over one hundred stairs! Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

Over one hundred stairs!
Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

But why walk when you can take an ascensore? Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

But why walk when you can take an ascensore?
Valparaiso, Chile, Jan 2013

All in all, Valpo is a place I wouldn’t mind returning to at some point in my life, but in the meanwhile, it was back to Argentina!

Oh, and a stupid thing happened when I was about to take the bus to Mendoza. So apparently when you enter Chile, you’re given a piece of paper at immigration, which you need to return to them when you leave the country. The bus conductor asked me for this little piece of paper, which to my dismay, was NOT in my passport, as it should have been. He was all like, oh if you can’t find it, you can’t leave the country, which seemed kinda ridiculous to me, but thanks to my habit of not throwing any ticket stub or map or anything I get on my travels, I managed to recover this magical piece of paper and was free to leave Chile. Phew. Lesson learnt – don’t throw shit away, or at least not shit they give you at immigration.

Sunny days in Santiago

But not really, just hot and sweaty – Written 29 Jan

After the whole purse saga in Concepción, I arrived in Santiago in the afternoon and made my way to my CouchSurfing host, Nico’s, place. I took a little nap and then went to wander around the city for a little while before returning to Nico’s place to chill out for the evening with him and his flatmate, Rod. My first impressions of Santiago were that it was really just a huge city, with nothing much else going on for it, and that it was kinda like Malaysia.

Construction workers chilling out in high places Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

Construction workers chilling out in high places
Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

Santiago has Willy Wonka's chocolate river! Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

Santiago has Willy Wonka’s chocolate river!
Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

Anyway, the next day, I met up with Franco, another CouchSurfer who had very kindly offered to show me around Santiago. We went on a walking tour of the city, covering some of the main attractions of Santiago.

Plaza Italia is now an ad for Canon Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

Plaza Italia is now an ad for Canon
Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

Museum that I didn't go into Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

Museum that I didn’t go into
Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

I even got to try some Mote con Huesillo, a sweet barley drink with peach juice and peaches and barley. It’s usually eaten as a dessert, although for me, it was pretty much lunch.

Cool guy making our Mote con Huesillo Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

Cool guy making our Mote con Huesillo
Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

More walking around and exploring the city, which was unfortunately covered by a huge smog because of forest fires in a neighboring city, a result of 40 degree heat and no rain for weeks on end.

Tribute to Easter Island Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

Tribute to Easter Island
Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

Cerro Santa Lucia Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

Cerro Santa Lucia
Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

It was really nice hanging out with Franco as well, and I was glad for the company (added benefit being a local’s knowledge of the country and the city), so it turned out to be a really fun day in Santiago, despite the ridiculous heat.

At the top of Cerro Santa Lucia, overlooking Santiago obscured by the haze Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

At the top of Cerro Santa Lucia, overlooking Santiago obscured by the haze
Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

In the evening, Franco and I met up with Al (who told me to go to Lota!) to check out Bellavista, a quirky little neighborhood with lots of character, and a vibrant nightlife scene. I also got to try a Terramoto, a yummy drink named for the frequent seismic activity in the region.

Awaiting our terramotos Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

Awaiting our terramotos
Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

I spent the next day wandering around Santiago a little on my own and tried a local dish – pastel de choclo, a corn pie with meat and raisins and some veggies in it. I found the corn rather overwhelming and didn’t like it very much, but hey, at least I tried it!

Pastel del chocolo - not my favorite Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

Pastel del chocolo – not my favorite
Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

Museum of Human Rights Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

Museum of Human Rights
Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

Children's carnival where everything was human-powered! Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

Children’s carnival where everything was human-powered!
Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

In the evening, I met Nico’s other CouchSurfers, Daniel and Bryan, who were touring South America playing gigs. Pretty cool stuff. Even cooler was that Daniel wanted to watch The Hobbit (which I still hadn’t watched), so we made plans to watch that the next day! Yay Hobbit! It was a really good movie and I enjoyed it more than the first. So glad I managed to catch it (:

Anyway, after the movie, Daniel was going to play the opening act with Bryan at concert for a Chilean band, Astro, so he invited me to tag along. My first concert experience haha. It turned out to be really cool – the venue was an amphitheater (Anfiteatro Pablo Neruda) overlooking Santiago on Cerro Cristobal,

Really cool amphitheater Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

Really cool amphitheater
Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

we got backstage/VIP passes and I got to meet all the band members as well. Very cool stuff, and I must say, the life of a rock star is pretty amazing. And I didn’t think I would, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the concert – Astro makes pretty cool music, and they have amazing energy, so the concert was really fun.

Amazing performance by Astro Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

Amazing performance by Astro
Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

Santiago city lights from Anfiteatro Pablo Neruda Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

Santiago city lights from Anfiteatro Pablo Neruda
Santiago, Chile, Jan 2013

 

Well, while Santiago was a nice experience, it is still a city, and when I woke up the next day I felt the overwhelming urge to get out of the city. So I packed up my stuff, and it was off to Valparaiso, a tiny little city along the coast of Chile. Chau, Santiago!

Crappy Concepción and Lovely Little Lota

Written 29 Jan

The bus ride from Pucon to Concepcion passed in a little bit of a daze, after my very exciting Villarica experience. I arrived in Concepcion and took a (rather expensive – 9000pesos for a 15 minute ride; compare this to 15000pesos for the 6hr ride from Pucon to Concepcion) taxi to my host Karem’s place. Once I arrived, it was off to a birthday party for one of her neighbours, where I met her very nice friends. Apparently, they had all lived in the same complex for over ten years, but only got to know each other after the massive earthquake in 2010, which left them without water, electricity and other basic necessities for over a month. Now they’re all really good friends, which just goes to show that there really is some good that comes out of everything.

The next day, we slept in and Karem, her brother and I headed out at about lunchtime to a feria with horses in a tiny little town called Yumbel. It was a traditional feria which happens once a year, so I was pretty lucky to catch it.

Yay feria! Yumbel, Chile, Jan. 2014

Yay feria!
Yumbel, Chile, Jan. 2014

We had some delish cazuela for lunch, a sort of beef stew with potatoes and other veggies.

Deliciousness in a bowl Yumbel, Chile, Jan 2014

Deliciousness in a bowl
Yumbel, Chile, Jan 2014

It reminded me a lot of kambeng soup that we have in Singapore, so I was quite pleased. After lunch, we headed outside the tent to watch the horses run around in circles in a pen full of hay. I have no idea what they were doing, but it was quite a sight.

Run, horsie, run! Yumbel, Chile, Jan 2014

Run, horsie, run!
Yumbel, Chile, Jan 2014

Walk quietly and carry a big pitchfork Yumbel, Chile, Jan 2014

Walk quietly and carry a big pitchfork
Yumbel, Chile, Jan 2014

We hung out a little more at the feria, watching the traditional folk dance

Dance like nobody's watching! Yumbel, Chile, Jan 2014

Dance like nobody’s watching!
Yumbel, Chile, Jan 2014

and drinking wine with peaches soaked in them. Super yummy.

My host Karem enjoying wined-peaches Yumbel, Chile, Jan 2014

My host Karem enjoying wined-peaches
Yumbel, Chile, Jan 2014

There was a football game at 6 that evening which Karem’s brother had to attend, so we did too.

Supporters of...the orange team! Yumbel, Chile, Jan 2014

Supporters of…the orange team!
Yumbel, Chile, Jan 2014

It turned out to be a really boring match, so I self entertained and took random pictures instead.

Cutie pie and his chips Yumbel, Chile,  Jan 2014

Cutie pie and his chips
Yumbel, Chile, Jan 2014

I don’t even know what the score was at the end. In any case, we headed back home to rest for a bit before going for another birthday celebration for another of Karem’s neighbours. The asado was delicious as usual – I really could eat asados every day. Just thinking about it is making me drool, so I will skip ahead to the next day.

Sunday, the day when everything in the city is absolutely dead. Nothing is open, everyone is in hibernation, and if you get lost, good luck trying to find someone to ask for directions. I went to the main city of Concepcion to wander around on my own because Karem had some stuff to prepare for her trip to Ushuaia. I can sum Concepcion up in three words – boring and ugly.

Random church in Concepción Concepción, Chile, Jan 2014

Random church in Concepción
Concepción, Chile, Jan 2014

The main highlights were the University of Concepción

Main entrance of the University Concepción, Chile, Jan 2014

Main entrance of the University
Concepción, Chile, Jan 2014

Mural within the university Concepción, Chile, Jan 2014

Mural within the university
Concepción, Chile, Jan 2014

Togetherness, even as statues Concepción, Chile, Jan 2014

Togetherness, even as statues
Concepción, Chile, Jan 2014

and the huge Parque Ecuador.

Interesting people at Parque Ecuador Concepción, Chile, Jan 2014

Interesting people at Parque Ecuador
Concepción, Chile, Jan 2014

Children's water play area Concepción, Chile, Jan 2014

Children’s water play area
Concepción, Chile, Jan 2014

Hippies singing and dancing Concepción, Chile, Jan 2014

Hippies singing and dancing
Concepción, Chile, Jan 2014

…and that’s all there is in Concepcion. To tell the truth, many people have asked me why I went to Concepcion, even Karem and her friends, and I have no idea haha – that’s what happens when you travel without doing any research whatsoever.

On the recommendation of another CouchSurfer, Al, the next day, I headed down to a tiny little town called Lota, which used to be a prosperous mining town some decades ago, but had slid into poverty in recent years.

Welcome to Lota! Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

Welcome to Lota!
Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

I bought tickets for the full “tour” which included admission to the museum,

Old things in glass boxes Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

Old things in glass boxes
Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

the park,

Abandoned greenhouse Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

Abandoned greenhouse
Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

Tomb of some guy Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

Tomb of some guy
Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

Tour guides have to wear the traditional outfits of that era Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

Tour guides have to wear the traditional outfits of that era
Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

and the abandoned mine, Chiflon del Diablo.

Entering the mine Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

Entering the mine
Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

Ex-miner turned tour guide Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

Ex-miner turned tour guide
Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

Bricks stamped LOTA Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

Bricks stamped LOTA
Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

Lota is more famous than you - it was the set for the film Subterra Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

Lota is more famous than you – it was the set for the film Subterra
Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

It was a lovely day, and I must say that Lota has a lot more character than Concepcion. It’s such a pity that it’s been sidelined because of its impoverishment, which fuels the cycle of poverty, because there definitely is a huge potential for tourism in Lota.

Cute, and with character! Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

Cute, and with character!
Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

Remnants of a mining past Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

Remnants of a mining past
Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

I returned to Concepcion and went to the bus terminal to buy my bus ticket to Santiago the next day, after which I went to the supermarket to get some provisions for the journey, which is when something really stupid happened. I was counting out my change as I walked down the street and I suddenly realized that I didn’t have my purse with me anymore. It had literally only been two minutes between the time that I dropped my purse and the time that I realized it, but in those two minutes, my purse was gone. I walked up and down the street 5 or 6 times, asking people if they had seen my purse, but it was gone 😦 because of my own stupidity and carelessness.

Lost my purse right next to the courts - irony strikes again Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

Lost my purse right next to the courts – irony strikes again
Lota, Chile, Jan 2014

I was pretty upset, not because I’d lost any significant amount of money (10000 pesos/ 20USD), but because I had my credit card and my driver’s license (I couldn’t drive anywhere in South America ever again!!!) in it. And my bus ticket to Santiago the next day. Sigh. I headed over to the police station to make a report, but the policeman simply told me to call my credit card company to cancel the card and not to bother making a report because there was no chance my purse would be returned. 😦

So I went back, got my sister to call Citibank to cancel my card (thanks!) and that was that. I decided to head to the bus station early the next day and explain that I’d lost my purse and bus ticket in the hopes that I wouldn’t have to pay for a new one. But what a surprise I got when I explained my predicament to the guy at the counter. He passed me a slip of paper with a name and a phone number, saying that some kind soul had found my purse, and called the bus company to tell them about it. I immediately called her up and she said she would bring my purse to the bus station in 10 minutes. Can you believe my luck? Not only did I get my purse back (the money was gone, and my cancelled credit card doesn’t work, but my driver’s license was still inside) but I also managed to catch my bus to Santiago!

Thank you guardian angels, for working overtime and watching out for me again! Also, faith in humanity restored – good people do exist (thank you Ana for finding and returning my purse)! I don’t know what I did to generate this much good karma, but thank you, universe! 2014 is turning out to be a year to be thankful!