After my adventure on Lake Titicaca, I had some time to enjoy city life!
I spent a few days in Lima and then headed south to Santiago, Chile. In both cities, I traveled with my friend Vanessa, who is also traveling through South America and our paths happened to cross. ¡Que suerte! So in both cities, we had great couchsurfing experiences and stayed with wonderful hosts who were both incredibly generous and gracious. I love South American culture for many reasons, but especially because the people are so warm and hospitable.
In Lima, we walked around the old and new parts of the city, enjoyed the beach, and had the best ceviche in the whole world. I would go back to Lima just to have more of that ceviche. Mmmm
In Santiago, we also walked around the city center and happened to walk directly into the middle of a student strike demonstration. The students in Chile have been on strike for a while, and we witnessed them chanting and throwing rocks at the police. We could see and smell the tear gas that the police threw and the students, and we even had to duck into a store to avoid getting sprayed by the tanks that were shooting water to disrupt the riot.
After Santiago, Vanessa and I took a weekend trip to Viña del Mar and Valparaiso, two coastal towns right next to each other, but worlds apart in so many ways. Viña is a relaxed resort town with beautiful beaches while Valparaiso reminds me of a grittier version of San Francisco. We stayed in Viña with another great couchsurfing host and took a day to explore Valparaiso. I loved all the colored buildings stacked up on the hills and tons of graffiti and street art that covered nearly every building. Valparaiso is also famous for its "ascensores" They are like elevators or cable cars that ride tracks up and down the hills, providing for easier transport and also access to some great viewpoints overlooking the city and the sea.
Back near Santiago, we took a day trip with our wonderful host, Diego, to the little town of Pomaire. We had to try the famous 1-kilo empanada and pastel de choclo (sort of a mix between shepherd's pie and corn bread). They were both delicious although all 3 of us felt a bit sick the next day....oh well, it was bound to happen eventually. It's the only time I have ever gotten sick while traveling, and it wasn't even too bad. Hoping it doesn't happen again (knocking on wood!).
After our city travels together, Vanessa left for Uruguay and Argentina, and I spent some more time in Chile. I am really in love with this country. There is so much to see here and such a diverse landscape! After much debating, I decided not to head south to Patagonia (so I already know I have to come back someday to go there...) but instead to head north to a little down in the desert called San Pedro de Atacama. But I have un montón to say about that trip, so I'll have to tell you in a separate post!
While I will always be a city girl, on this trip I have preferred my travels that involve seeing God's beautiful, natural creation. I have definitely learned that I prefer to live in the city, but to travel for nature. More to come on that later!