Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Lost Days of Santiago

Wednesday 21st to Saturday 24th

Santiago is a blur..... an alcohol fuelled mish mash of caleidoscopic images and random events. Everyone is here at the Atacama hostel. It´s a well earned party break right in the middle of the tour....

Manchester United win the European Cup after penalties....

(Richard, Chris, Ulli, Emma, Emily, That man from Manchester)

Night bike rides in the city...

We meet Braulio, a Brazilian kid Michael met in Torres del Paine - a cyclista wannabe studying in Santiago. We persuade him onto his first tour and we agree to cross to Mendoza riding as a three. The kid has no idea what he is letting himself in for.... But then neither do we...

Day rides in the city and parks...

(Chris, Michael, Braulio)

A day trip to nearby Valparaiso - a gritty town that oozes down hillsides to a beautiful bay complete with incredible bohemian street art.

We find a rooftop terrace in a cafe overlooking the bay and watch a sunset. It´s mesmerising, intocicating and full of edgy contrasts as we are asailed by incredible beauty alongside local drunks and street thiefs. I catch one with a hand in my rucksack and he slinks guiltily off into a crowd.

(Chris, Emily, Ulli, Emma, That man again, Suzanne)

The hostel stages a farewell party for us on the last night and we hit the local clubs hard on a Saturday night until 6am...

It´s probably not the best preparation for the next day´s ride in to the snowy mountains and we disagree on directions....

Santiago defies description and warrants way more days than the paltry 4 I have to offer. I haven´t yet mentioned the street bussle, hawkers, noise, beautiful women, the fabulous mix of European/American architecture, graffiti, smog etc. etc. and all backgrounded by the distant, magestic snow capped peaks of the Andes.

400kms and a 3500m pass through those mountains seperate us from Argentina´s wine capital Mendoza. The road is closed as often as it is open now due to snow, but the rumour is it will be open in a couple of days when we arrive.... Time to go and take a look.... We have a new team member to break in. Braulio Vamos!!


Anonymous said...

ahh Santiago ... the memories :)

... and the hangovers.

We walked to bellavista.. you did 90km on a bike! Muy impressivo! :)

Em n' Em


Anonymous said...

Congratulations!!! You have made it!!! We have thought a lot about you those days in rainy Santiago with the tunnels above closed due to heavy snow falls...
Now, we are curious to go on reading!!!
Abrazos de Iguazu, Brazil
de Jose y Ulli (las bicis en Santiago...)

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