After a couple of weeks on the road with auntie, we returned to Sweet Valparaiso.
Mario and Edith, our hostel owners, informed us they were fully booked, so they put us up in their home. Now, how is that for hospitality? It very soon felt like staying with family.
We ventured out into the Valparaisian night and ended up having dinner in a local tango club. it turned out to be exactly one of those great surprises that leave you smiling all over.
After tearful goodbyes, auntie went back to Denmark and the fox and I were about to get ready to hit the road again. I changed all the fluids in the fox (under the watchful eye of a professional), installed new filters where needed and had planned to head to the wine capital of Argentina, Mendoza. However, as luck would have it, a fellow biker needed a house sitter for her beach house and four dogs, only 200 kilometers north of Valparaiso.
So off we went to Huaquen del Mar for a month long stay at the most charming cabin, right on the Pacific coast. Wow!
Days were spent taking long walks on the beach, reading good books, writing and cuddling with the mutts.
While staying in the cabin I hooked up with Marilyn Ball from Speaking of Travel for a chat about our trip so far.
Listen to the interview here
On the morning of the 17th March just after 5am, I was surrounded by the dogs, whimpering and seeming quite alarmed. A second later the whole house started shaking. Only a single tremor but enough to knock a few things off the shelves. Yikes! I later found out that we had experienced a 4.8 magnitude earthquake and that it was one of four that day in Chile. The locals are so used to these quakes, they react with a slight shrug on the shoulder. I have to admit I was a bit shaken. Literally.
Although the company of the dogs was lovely, it did get a little lonely after a while, so I was delighted to receive a message from my riding buddies, Siri and Thorsten, who announced that they were in the neighborhood and their arrival was imminent. Hooorahh! The fox was finally reunited with their Penguin…aww.
Hilarity and wine-drinking ensued and I enjoyed their company for a couple of days before they continued their travels towards Buenos Aires.
Back in the company of just the dogs, and a scorpion that had taken up residence in my trousers, I feverishly continued writing about my experiences and drinking vast amounts of coffee. Days turned into weeks and I slowly turned into a recluse, social skills quickly deteriorating.
Finally, the day came when I was relieved of dog-sitting duties and made my way to the capital, Santiago. The bustle of city life was a welcome change to rustic beach-hut life, but it was heart-breaking waving goodbye to the mutts, whom I had gotten very attached to by then.
In Santiago I stayed in a Moto hostel and I met some great people from all over the world. An impromptu asado (barbecue) was arranged one night and before long, the Malpaso Pisco was brought out. Pisco is a brandy made on fermented grapes and ironically, Malpaso translates to Bad Step, Bad Decision or Slip-Up. It was hard to keep the tears back, when later in the evening an elderly, very neat, Japanese gentleman, strongly under the influence of the “bad step” had to steady himself on a tall cactus in order not to sit on the barbecue, which was still glowing hot by the way. Not long after, another very presentable, Irish gentleman leant back in his chair and knocked over a KTM motorcycle, which caused a domino effect and knocked over another two bikes. Thankfully the fox was well out of reach.
At the end of the night I had to negotiate getting into my top bunk in the hostel dorm room. Of course I had picked the top bunk! I vaguely remember looking at the small, rickety ladder and after a brief risk assessment, I finally took a dive straight into the bottom one, which fortunately was uninhabited. Not the best nights sleep I must admit, I got to taste the Pisco twice….
Finally the fox and I are back on the road. We crossed the border from Chile to Argentina via the Los Libertadores Pass which involves numerous switchbacks, tunnels and a climb to 3200m through the Andes. Absolutely stunning!
We camped in a small town called Uspallata and continued the following day to Mendoza, Argentina.
Temperature is dropping steadily and the leaves are falling here in Mendoza…winter is coming.
It’s time to head north.
See you out there!