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Highway Express South Then North

After saying "see ya later" to Ilo and the menacing waves, we had discovered, we travelled to Arica, Chile. Our primary goal in this area was to see the two famous waves called El Gringo and El Buey breaking. Unfortunately, we had timed our travels here without much, if any swell. We discovered cheap but divine wine to make up for this loss, which had been lacking on our journey so far. Hello Chili and it's famous wine! We also discovered that Chili wasn't full of motos revving around with regatron rattling the windows as they passed. Instead, we found decent live music we could jive.

With Christmas just three weeks away, the pressure of escaping to somewhere much cheaper and quieter was growing into a reality. Feeling sad to miss El Gringo, we jumped aboard a bus for Iquique, which fellow travellers told us was a city with a great surfing vibe to it. On our bus ride from Arica to Iquique, we drove past a nine span centre pivot irrigator in the middle of the Atacama Desert. This view is a strange sight to see in one of the driest deserts in the world. Upon arriving in Iquique, we found a hostel and some more of that cheap and divine wine. Not long after arriving, we were relaxed and sipping drinks in front of the sunset.

Nine span irrigation pivot in the Atacama Desert, Chile
Nine span irrigation pivot in the Atacama Desert, Chile

We had been in contact with Jake and Claire. They are in Santiago, only twenty-five hours by bus away. With the decision of breaking up the journey to see Jake and Claire into smaller legs or hauling it twenty-five hours in the one go. We held our faith in a coin that would choose the correct decision for us. The lady selling us the tickets jaw nearly broke the counter when the coin had us by our hand and said we must travel straight to Santiago in one go.

Twenty-five hours later, feeling fresh as a daisy and landing in a very hot Santiago, we found where Jake and Claire were hiding. The first night with our amigos we found some live music, something we had been missing and it was death metal!

The following day, Jake packed his climbing gear, and we all set off for the countryside. An excellent day for rock climbing, the sun was out, and better still, the travel journey out of Santiago's city is short. Jake set up the wall for us by putting on an awe-inspiring display of lead climbing. None of us could reach anywhere near the top from which Jake had climbed to without a top rope.

We spent four nights in Santiago before we said bye to Jake and Claire. It has been wonderful catching up with them, and we hope to see them further on in our travels. We jumped aboard another bus towards the surf town Pichilemu. We found a clean and cheap self-contained cabin here. The wave Punta de Lobos was long and easy as there still wasn't much swell around. We would have stayed more than three nights here, but intending to be in Bolivia for Christmas and New Years looming, we had to move fast.

Surfing Punta de Lobos in Chile
Surfing Punta de Lobos in Chile

We said goodbye to Chile with thoughts of coming back here without surfboards but snowboards instead. This journey would take us through to Patagonia. These thoughts warmed us up as we climbed the Andes before busing it down to Mendoza, Argentina, where more wine was greeting us.

Mendoza is best known on the tourist trail for a city to stop with the proximity in enjoying the close wine regions. One way to enjoy a sixteen-hour bus drive to Salta is by drinking yourself legless on a bike with great tasting wine and absinth hours before the bus departs. This delightful day of riding through local wineries, parking our bikes and tasting all the different wines that were on offer culminating into a highlight of our travels.

We enjoyed relaxing in Salta, drinking more wine and lifting our iron levels with a hefty dose of red meat. Salta is a beautiful city full of trees. Our time here is our last stop in Argentina before we travel to Bolivia. We are happy with what we have seen in Argentina. We do hope to travel to the south of Argentina and visit Patagonia in the future.

Bronnie in a vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina
Bronnie in a vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina

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