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Zoe and Dan's South American Adventures: Chile sin Carne

Category: Exhibitions
Date: 27 January 2004


Here we are on the eve of Danīs 32nd birthday (no presents, just donations to MCFC this year please), on the Chilean island of Chiloe. The island is very green (due to the copious amounts of rain they get, which we are witnessing this afternoon) and the landscape very much like the British countryside. In fact, we could be on a wet weekend in Wales. Hopefully itīll clear up a bit tomorrow so we can go to the national park here without fear of drowning. Chiloe has an interesting history - it was quite isolated from the Spanish, but later the islanders were the last supporters of the Spanish. The then governor offered the island to the English but they turned it down!

Went for a long walk yesterday with a couple staying in our hostal - a Lancastrian and a Swede. He is a City fan so Dan had someone with whom to share the burden of recent results. It managed to rain for most of our walk, but saw some nice old wooden houses and a church, and local people travelling on horseback.

Since we last wrote we have been working our way down through Chile. After San Pedro, we travelled to La Serena on the coast. As soon as we got off the bus, we felt as if we were in a Spanish seaside resort, everything was so modern compared to Bolivia, Peru etc. They even have huge shopping malls here!! In La Serena we went for some nice walks along the beach, and generally just chilled out. We also had a trip to a place called Vicuna, which is in a valley famous for its observatories (due to the clearness of the night sky there) and for pisco production (a spirit made from grapes which we of course had to sample on a tour of two production plants - well it was free!). We went to one of the observatories and had amazing views of the night sky and planets - including seeing Saturn (and its rings and moons!!) through a telescope. Absolutely amazing.

After La Serena we journeyed further down the coast to the city of Valparaiso which we loved - one of our favourite towns so far. Splashed out the princely sum of 14 pounds a night for comparative luxury in a newly renovated 19th century house on one of the UNESCO protected hills. Valparaiso is set on several hills next to the coast, with the hills covered in brightly coloured houses and walls filled with murals. Had great views of the city from a boat ride across the bay.

We also fell on our football feet once again, as taking place in Valparaiso and nearby Vina del Mar were the final South American qualifiers for the football part of the Olympics. Taking part were the under 23 teams of Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. We watched the first games of the round robin on the telly on the night we arrived. Chile unfortunately lost 2-1 to Paraguay, while Argentina beat Brazil. We managed to get tickets for the next the first game the Chileans amazingly cheered on Argentina due to their hatred for the Paraguayans who had beat them two nights earlier. We didnīt understand all the songs, but they were pretty insulting to Paraguay! Then the main event - Chile needing to beat Brazil to stand a chance of qualification. It all looked to be going pretty well - although Brazil went a goal up, Chile managed to equalise. However, despite being awarded a penalty (they missed!) and a sending off of a Brazil player, and a "homer" referee, they went down 3-1, all hope of qualifying lost for another four years. Better luck next time.

And now weīre in Chiloe, before heading to the Chilean lakes for a couple of days, and then onto Bariloche in Argentina and the long trek South through Patagonia.

Self catering becoming tedious already - no more pasta please! Have become addicted to cheapo boxed Chilean red wine - too good to resist.

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