Welcome to YQtravelling’s FoodFriday. The day of the week when I show off some of the lovely eats I had while travelling.
Today we’re still in South America and we’ll take a look at the yummy things in Chile.
I spent a short time in Chile. In fact, I made the decision to go to Chile less than 24 hours before the flight. Initially I had planned to visit Ecuador but there were flight complications so I ended up buying a US$400 ticket to Chile.
The only reason why I was in Chile was to hang around for sometime before heading to Peru where I would be spending a month with a 30-day visa.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have reached the last South American country of this trip (unless some millionaire decides to whisk me off to Bolivia/ Ecuador/ French Guiana/ Colombia.) I am now in Peru, the land of Machu Picchu and cerviche.
Before we all head out for a Pisco Sour, let me recount my 11-hour journey from my hostel in Arica, Chile to my homestay house in Arequipa, Peru. This trip involved a lot of deserts and not so much desserts.
My Arequipa language school advised me to reach Arequipa between 5pm and 8pm. I did a bit of calculations on a paper napkin and concluded that leaving the hostel at 11am should be OK.
What I didn’t realize was that the distance between Arica and Tacna was really really far. It took about 1 hour 30 minutes for me to get there from Arica’s terminal.
I took one of the shared taxis (collectivo) to Tacna. The front seat was modified to fit two slim people and the driver. However, my big butt ended p in the front seat with a slim Peruvian girl while the back seat held three other people.
From Arica to Peru’s border, the taxi played greatest hits from Backstreet Boys. I sang along softly to songs such as “I want it that way”, “Larger than life”, “Show me the meaning of being lonely” while I watched the desert fly by.
In the desert, the sun seemed to shine extra strongly. I had my sunglasses on but the rest of my face was still affected by the rays.
After a long while, we finally reached Chile’s border. Everyone got out the car and showed themselves to the custom officer.
Then we got on the car and drove about 2km to Peru’s side of the border. Here, we took our bags out (I had 4!) and went through customs and X-ray machines.
I was given 30 days in Peru which is just right since I’m leaving on August 4.
Then we got on the car again and drove for a long long long time before we reached Tacna. I dragged all my belongings with me and changed my Chilean pesos into Peruvian soles. My 20,000 pesos turned into a 100 soles note and a few coins which depressed me a little.
I dragged everything to the national terminal just outside of the international terminal. I found the booth for Flores and bought a 25 soles (S$12.50) bus ticket to Arequipa. Everything was just too easy.
After I finished buying the ticket, I was approached by 3 Peruvian girls, who asked if they could interview me for a school project.
At first I was worried that they were a pickpocket gang. Then I remembered that I can’t even reach my important stuff so how could they?
One of the girls pointed a phone camera at me as I sat through several Spanish questions about how I find Peru, where I was heading to, what we language we speak in Malaysia and what sort of dance we do.
In the end, I was asked to say a few words in my language. I did a very awkward Chinese monologue about how I just reached Peru and Thank You Very Much.
This was all very strange.
I eventually got on my bus and sat there for the next 6 hours or so. I napped a lot as it was too hot to admire the scenery. I did take some photos for you.
The sun set completely at about 6pm. While the bus wound through the curvy mountain road, I saw stars for maybe the first time in South America. I couldn’t tell if they were satellites or stars but the sky was beautiful.
The bus reached Arequiapa at about 7:15pm. I followed the school’s instructions and waited for a cab to drive into the terminal compound instead of catching one outside.
I was ushered into a car with three other ladies who were squashed in the backseat. I believe I was charged the Foreigner price so I could sit comfortably in front.
When we reached the home stay place, te cab waited for me while I rang the bell. The host mother came out and I grabbed my bags.
So I’ll be staying with Srna G and her two late-teens for the week. Stay tuned for more home stay fun!
I usually pride myself in being one of the first few people who wake up earliest for breakfast. It’s some stupid thing I think of to feel superior over others who drink themselves silly the night before.
However, at Arica Surfhouse where I was staying, I was the last to wake up at 8:30am. There were 11 other beds in my room but I the only one in the room when I woke up.
Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.
I guess I have to explain a little about this hostel. It’s called Arica Surfhouse and surfing is one of its selling points. There are surfboards everywhere and people just look tanned and happy. Oh, at 6:30pm, there is a free yoga session (tips happily accepted).
Oh, a guy with a beard was doing yoga when I left the room for lunch.
I guess all signs point to a health hostel and not a party hostel which totally fits me. Plus, the Brazilian receptionist looks like a cute non-Hulk Edward Norton but is unfortunately sexist (the things you learn by being at the wrong place at the right time.
Anyway, I decided to extend one night’s stay here in Arica because sitting on a bus for several hours to Arequipa kind of scares me now.
What do I do with an extra day in Chile? Nothing, like in Kandy and Athens.
Still, I don’t want to leave Arica and tell everyone that I didn’t take a look at the town so I went out around noon for lunch and some photos.
Views of Arica
After being in the big Europe-like cities of Buenos Aires and Santiago, I felt that I finally had a real taste of South America. Well, at least small town South America.
Buildings here don’t go too high up. Buildings are painted in bright colors but they are all in harmony with their neighbors.
Christopher Columbus Square
I decided to tick one thing off my Things to See in Arica. I checked my location on Google Map and walked down San Marco street to the San Marcos de Arica Cathedral. This church was commissioned to Gustave Eiffel, not that I could tell.
I debated whether I should check out the beach which was about 5 minutes away. I decided not to because I don’t care much for the beach, even if there are seals.
After the walk, I headed back to the hostel for a good nap. Now it’s about 7pm and it’s pitch black. I should go out and find food but I’ll take my time.
For me, while sitting on the bus for 23 hours is torturous, it is not as torturous as forking out a large chunk of the remaining of my savings. That was how I found myself on seat 20 on a semi-cama bus.
I broke down the journey into two: Santiago to La Serena and La Serena to Arica. Somehow, 23 hours of journey felt better than 30 hours straight on the bus.
I decided not to do a post similar to 31 hours of travelling because I get motion sickness when I try to read or write on a vehicle with wheels. I wish I didn’t have this problem since I would be able to read a lot more books when travelling.
I was seated next to a Chilean guy with large arms. I still had the aisle to put the rest of my arm and my feet so it wasn’t that bad.
On the bus, I managed to watch A Good Day to Die Hard and Hitchcock in Spanish. The first film didn’t require much listening skills since it’s all about blowing things up. Thankfully I’ve watched Hitchcock on the plane before.
Tur-Bus has a built in warning system that rings whenever the bus goes more than 100km/hour. There is a beeeeeep and the bus would slow down a little.
The bus was had air conditioning, which was great since I believe we passed through many places where the temperature was really cold. At one point, we were driving among the fog/clouds on a windy mountain road.
When we stopped at terminals to pick up people, I would go off the bus to breathe some of the cold fresh air. Ventilation on the bus wasn’t fantastic.
Food on a 23-hour bus ride
Some snacks and breakfast was included in my bus ride. However, the food provided was not enough to satisfy even a sedentary adult.
I had 6 green apples from Santiago and munched on them when I felt a bit of motion sickness. The sweet juicy apples helped keep things from coming up my throat.
Arriving in Arica
I figured out we were in Arica when everybody got off the bus. I only had 10,000 notes and 60 cents with me so I broke my note by topping up 1,000 peso on my phone.
Armed with a few 1,000 pesos, I followed the directions from the hostel and went to the opposite side of the road. Bus #8 came, I got on, asking in terrible Spanish if the bus went to the road I was going to. It did.
Using Google Maps [Tip! Save a spot on your app and the map for the area will still be there when you need it.], I found my hostel. I checked in, took a shower, tried to blog, napped and woke up for dinner. I had to walk to the main street for some local fast food but my belly thanked me for putting something–anything!–in it.
I’m now finishing up this post in my 12-bed (beds, not bunk beds, thankfully) in Arica Surfhouse. There’s no heating here but the temperature feels like a nice 17 degrees.
For some strange reason, the small town of La Serena has a large concentration of malls. Besides Plaza Mall Serena where I bought my suitcase, there was Plata del Mar mall where I went to in the morning for the DIY store.
The left part of my glasses has a crack and I am afraid that this crack would lead to a complete break off of my glasses. That’s why I’ve been checking out supermarkets for superglue or anything similar.
Eventually I found a 100gm tube of glue at the DIY store. However, after multiple times of trying to glue the crack together, my glasses still has the crack. Hope I can work it out before it breaks and I have to use my backup glasses.
After getting the glue, I had plenty of time in La Serena before my bus to Arica at 4:20pm. I walked around, mentally ticking off the different Places of Interest, including:
Archaeological Museum – La Serena
I wanted to visit two museums in La Serena but I only found the Archaeological Museum. The entrance was 600 pesos and I got to see two Incan mummies and one Moai.
The Moai was very impressive but it looked kind of lonely standing on its own in a building.
By the time I got out of the museum, I was hungry for coffee and lunch. The cafe I went into didn’t serve their menu of the day until 1pm so I got a cafe latte to sip and wait till 1pm.
After collecting my multiple bags from the guesthouse, I walked to the bus station, walking alongside Panamericana Ruta 5 which is a shorter and easier route compared to what the guesthouse has on its website.
The bus came about 4:32pm. I thought I still had some time to use the bathroom since I heard the driver said, “Quince.”
However, when I got back, the bus driver waved me onto the bus. As soon as I sat in my seat, the bus pulled out. I was the last person to board. How very embarrassing.
There wasn’t any official rest stops along the way. I was thankful for my 6 green apples which also helped with altitude and motion sickness.
I woke up at 8:05am and began packing all my things. Back on Day 1, I only had a backpack and my slingbag. Now, besides my sling bag, I have a backpack that is bursting at its seams, a huge Carrefour cloth shopping bag for my laptop and other important things and another smaller Carrefour shopping bag for water and food.
My luggage has gone out of hand. I even had to wear my two jackets simultaneously because there wasn’t space to put them in. By the time I was ready to leave, I looked like a hobo with my three bags and multi-layered jackets.
Thank goodness for the jackets because it was 8 degrees C when I got out. Instead of shivering, I was warm and snug, although a bit tired from my bags.
I initially thought I would reach the bus terminal in half an hour but it took a bit more time than that as there was a bit of traffic jam. Thankfully I left one hour earlier.
The Tur-Bus terminal is pretty good. In fact, the whole place is much better than bus terminals in Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru. There weren’t any strange smell of piss or drunk/ drugged people hanging around.
My bus didn’t come until 10:34am. As soon as I got on the bus, the bus started pulling out of the parking space and off we went. That was fast.
The bus I booked was a “semi-cama” (semi bed) and the seats were quite comfortable. I could lean back about 150 degrees if I wanted to.
Through out the 6-hour journey, we were treated to three movies and no snack break. Luckily there was a toilet on the bus.
There was a very quirky Wes Anderson movie “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou“, the sleep inducing “Another Day to Die Hard” and the funny “Parental Guidance”. The latter two movies were dubbed in Spanish.
The view along the way was gorgeous. We passed by mountains and even the sea where the waves were gigantic.
I snoozed a lot along the way, mainly during Bruce Willis’s movie.
We reached La Serena on time and most of the people got off the bus. Using a print-screened version of the hostel map, I slowly walked to the place I would spend the night at.
During the walk uphill, the straps of my bag dug into my shoulder. My hands felt like they would rather fall off than carry all the crap. So I decided there and then that I would get a suitcase with wheels.
Where do you find a suitcase in small town La Serena? After putting my luggage in the 4-bed hostel room, I walked back to the bus terminal where I saw what looked like a mall.
Indeed, it was the local mall. The inside looked exactly like one of the malls in San Jose. I was excited. I haven’t been in a “real mall” since coming to South America!
I walked around, admiring consumerism. My dinner was from a fast food place–a quarter chicken with rice and french fries at the price of S$8.
I managed to find a suitcase I like. At the cashier, I was given a discount for using a foreign credit card. My lovely black suitcase (actually, the only color they had) cost about S$100. I’ll show it to you one day.
The sun had set by the time I left the mall. I felt safe walking back the dimly lit roads because I figured that there would be less crime in a small town.
Now I’m back in my hostel room, in my warm bed. I’ll need plenty of rest for my 20-hour bus ride tomorrow. See you then!
Sunday was election day so no museum was open while Monday was the day all museums close so I only had Tuesday to visit Santiago’s museums.
The Museum of Memory and Human Rights was the #2 tourist attraction in Santiago on Tripadvisor. Being the sheep that I am, I went to the museum just to see what the fuss was about.
There wasn’t an entrance fee for the museum which was “dedicated to commemorate the victims of Human Rights violations during the Military Regime led by Augusto Pinochet between 1973 and 1990″ as noted by Wikipedia.
I shed big fat tears when I watched some of the interviews of those who were around during the coup. Luckily I was wearing glasses and a scarf so the tears could be hidden away.
After the sad museum, I went across the street to the contemporary art museum. I lied that I was a student and paid the 400 peso entrance fee instead of the 600 peso.
Unlike the Museum of Memory and Human Rights, the contemporary art museum made my laugh. Some of the works on display were clearly just trolling the audience and the organizers.
My favorite was a tiny glass bottle with eraser shred. The piece was titled something like “Copy of someimportantdrawing but erased”.
After the museum, I got on a bus to the city center. However, the bus stopped halfway and I had to take another bus. I realized much later that everyone got out of the bus because the terminal was nearby.
I hung around some sort of rundown mall and had a lunch of hotdog. Even though it was a fast food stall, the queue took forever to end and the food took even longer to come.
My hotdog was garnished with avocado and tomato, an interesting combination that was destroyed by the limpy hotdog bun.
After heading back to my hostel for another round of honey lemon drink, I went out for museums. This time, it was the Museo de Bellas Artes near my hostel.
I went to the wrong direction of the museum and entered another branch of Santiago Museum of Contemporary Art. After this round of modern art viewing, I decided that contemporary art is not my cup of tea.
The collection at the real Museo de Bellas Artes was pretty good. However, there was a large exhibition on Gordon Matta-Clark so I thought the museum had a bit of a confused identity.
The night ended well since I got to try out Pineapple Champagne! (Just regular sparkling wine with pineapple pulp.)