So it seems like I am finally blogging some of what I´ve been up to in Chile, whilst about to leave the country, ironically. I have come to appreciate Chile, not loving it but certainly not hating it, having been through a worldwind of emotions since I left Peru and struck out truely on my own. It is very difficult to describe Chile to someone who´s never been- it is truely no surprise that in Britain, people have little idea of what the country and its people have to offer because of the expense of variety and because of the links and contrasts it has to the West. To me, I feel like it was the beacon of South America (due to its protected economy and obvious wealth) yet still parts are horrendously dated and pretty ugly.
I figured that this would be a good time to update, as I feel that I am nearly on the verge of the next chapter of my adventures, with Argentina looming in the distance. San Pedro, having been promised to me by various people of being amazing, was just that- pretty spectacular. I grew fond of my hostel and of the locals in San Pedro that were, for some mystery, not hateful and distrustful of gringos but genuinely welcoming. In fact, I made a good friend there called Enrique, whom I booked my riding tour through, who was very informative about the local party scene, and all that that entails. Like Britain, there is a big north, south divide but unlike Britain, Northerners are not dismissive of the superiority of the South. Enrique, being a ´lake district boy (his words not mine) was convinced he´d hate the desert and miss the lush and expanse of greenery in the South, but it is impossible for the beauty of the Actacama Desert not to stir something in you. (Trying not to sound like a Lonely Planet pounce ...).
One interesting thing in San Pedro, was that it lived up to every preconception I have of a Wild Western town including the odd drunk passed out on the pavement at one o´clock in the afternoon. Enrique told me, that whilst he was in to other drugs, the strongest cocaine you could get in northern Chile was in San Pedro and was as easy to come across as cigarettes. He informed me that the people passed out on the pavement were once respectable wealthy businessmen who´d made their fortune in Santiago but blown it all on the white powder. I left San Pedro after two days but frankly, if I were made of money, I´d have happily have stayed a week longer. The trouble is, is that absolutely nothing can be done independently, and as a little gringo, I was paying gringo prices for everything so I decided to cut my loses and head south.
From San pedro, having experienced the beauty of the salt flats and survived a 30 hr bus journey to Santiago with a broken seat and an addiction to sleeping pills, I arrived in Santiago. The Actacama Desert lost all of its appeal on this journey, with nothing to watch but miles and miles of sand reaching out to the horizon and the odd Condor here and there. I did a lot of thinking on this journey, mainly because my ipod died after two hours and Avengers in silence with Spanish subtitles could only hold my attention for so long. Still at least the Chileans have caught on to the fact that not everyone wants to watch violent movies through the night on top volumn, something their Peruvian counterparts have yet to realise.