Tomorrow morning I will leave the capital of Chile, where I have hung out for three weeks, and travel south to many small towns in the Lake District of this country. It is gorgeous down there, with Andes mountains, Pacific coastline, and so much natural beauty. This is a sportsman´s paradise and I hope to describe it from the many quaint towns along the way. Hopefully, I´ll have more computer access than I have here and can keep these blog posts more up-to-date.
My transportation will be by private backpacker´s bus – www.Pachamamabybus.com and it comes to me in the morning, eliminating a trip to the bus station. Instead of following the usual commercial bus route, this special traveler´s bus goes to all the cool places that backpackers have on their lists. If one is in a hurry, they can do an entire loop in seven days, going as far down as Puerto Montt and Chiloe Island and returning to Santiago. Bus fare for the whole route comes to $250, which is only slightly more than a commercial bus ticket would cost. Two buses a week leave the capital, several days apart, so it is possible to hop on and hop off – with advance planning to assure a seat – and stay in the towns as long as you want.
I´m going to spend about five days in each town and absorb the whole month of February covering southern Chile. Three years ago, I flew from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, Argentina, so I have already been all the way to the bottom of this long spine of the Andes and don´t feel a need to return as it is not easy to travel overland there from Chile.
I know that I am going to be wowed during the whole scenic drive between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains. I can tell that because I have been so pleased to stay in this clean and exciting city. Just this evening, walking back from a lovely dinner in the BellaVista Plaza, I realized that if I had to chose a favorite foreign capital, it would be this one. And that´s saying something because I generally just don´t like cities.
This one has a gajillion university campuses, although not too long ago, Chilean students led riots and protests about the costs of their education – about $60,000 US dollars equivalent per year. It´s peaceful now but the cost question has not been solved yet, so we may hear more. My hostel is close to a portion of a university so there´s a youthful feeling in the air. One reason we get the impression of so many places of higher education is that the many colleges and universities that are here, don´t have clearly defined campuses but have buildings all over town. So, there´s always an engineering or a business or a medical training facility. Pretty brainy place.
My hostel is a nice quiet one and I have had plenty of deep sleep, even in an 8-bed dorm with constantly changing male and female roommates. Hope I have the same luck for the rest of the month.
Okay, the next post will be written from the road!