There’s not much to say about Arica. A town of about 200,000 people perched at the northern point of Atacama and a stone’s throw from the border with Peru the town is dusty, heaving with backpackers and trucks moving north or south. The one amazing thing about Arica however is the surfing.
Before I left for Athens we agreed that it’d make sense to meet in Arica, a town on the boarder with Peru famed for its surf. We also agreed that till I got a passport in my hands it made little sense to plan further, book tickets etc. So whilst we were apart Andy was slowly making his way through Salta and I was enjoying all the modern day luxuries in Athens (decaf skinny lattes, Zara, haircut…).
Passport is here. In my hands!!!!!!!!!!
The race is on for our randevouz in Arica. 4 flights for me; 2 of which have not been booked. 20hr drive for Andy who is still in the Chile – Argentina boarder.
Needless to say I’ve only got 3 hours to pack and head to the airport.
Huge thanks to my mum, dad, Andy’s mum and sister, Georgina, Paris, Leah, Zoe, Rich, Em, Deppy, Thanassis, the “feel good thread” gang and Pammy for their daily support and encouragement. Special mention to my bro who patiently accumulated dozens of Amazon parcels and shipped them to Greece and Angelina who flew over from Stockholm for my birthday. And everyone else who I am sure I am forgetting now (this feels like an Oscars speech).
Part deux is on!
I got into Athens a week ago now on a very early morning flight from rainy London. Athens is enjoying its halcyon days, the sky is an electric blue and the sun is warm, inviting everyone to be outside.
Unfortunately I have not been able to enjoy much of it. Of the seven days I’ve been here I’ve been cooped up in various public offices every morning.
as some of you know the last month and a bit has not been easy. Since our car was broken into in Trelew I have become increasingly agoraphobic and anxious. I insist that we always park Gellan in estacionamentos when in cities, take my few remaining valuables up on the tent with us at night despite the perfectly adequate safebox in the car… As the day of my flight to Athens loomed over us I became more and more worried over the possibility of flying all the way to Athens but failing to get an emergency passport which would see me ‘stuck’ in Greece. I know there’s a lot worse places for one to be stuck, but that’s not where I want to be for the next three months. There’s still surfing to be enjoyed, a wedding to attend and spending some time with tribes in the Amazon.
I know I am being paranoid. I know that worrying, stressing and lying sleepless in the middle of the night will not magically produce a passport. As someone far wiser than me said “In every life we have some trouble, but when you worry you make it double”.
Nevertheless, three months to the day since we first got to South America I am boarding a plane back to Athens. And so until I get a new passport I am password protecting this site so that noone other than you can see what we are up to. It will ease some of my paranoia so please bear with me.
The password? Could not be anything else other than ‘goingloco’ 🙂
p.s. apologies for any spelling mistakes. I am writting to you from my BA hotel on an ancient computer where everything is in Spanish (including spell checking so that I get a red line under every word). And obviously this is a Windows computer which I have not used since 2009 #firstworldproblems
First of all a disclaimer. This is being written in Mendoza, after a four course lunch with paired wines where I have had to consume most of the wines (one of the small perks of having your drivers license stolen and technically not being able to drive).
Now, to the chase. A lot of friends and family ask me how we are doing, what we are up to etc. But one of our dearest colleagues asked me the killer question. “What is the most precious thing you’ve learnt so far?”. Boom.
So, Claudia Woah-Shea this is for you (as Andy always refers to you as).
The most precious thing i have learned is that planning is not the be all and end all. For those of you who know me, you know that I like boxes, and organisation, and lists and bullet points. For those of you who know Andy you are probably thinking “how has she not killed him yet?”
Ain’t gonna lie to you. It’s been close. Like the time he suggested a 35k detour down a horrible gravel road to get to Villa Traful. But then that ended up being one of the nicest locations on our trip. Or the time he suggested a winery lunch. Which brought us at the most award winning winery in Mendoza.
The most precious thing I’ve learned is that I need a broad directional plan. I don’t to have a detailed military expedition outlining every stop for the next 10days. Because the fun stuff, the stuff that take centre stage in my short list of favourite things we’ve done so far were not on any detailed plan.
To paraphrase one of the most famous Greek poems, it’s about the journey not the destination. And to be more precise
“As you set out to Ithaka,
Hope the voyage is a long none,
Full of adventure full of discovery.”
…and further down…
” And if you find her poor, Ithaka will not have fooled you.
Wise as you have become, so full of experience,
You will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean”
Full poem here
We arrived in Mendoza on Sunday afternoon. The sky was grey, filled with heavy clouds and the Andes were nowhere to be seen.
Getting into cities is always a stress, more so now. Where do we park? Is there a hostel with secure parking where we can possibly stay in Gellan but use their facilities? A thorough review of iOverlander and a look through the guide book – the answer is no. We do manage to find a parking lot in Plaza Independencia which has a small (and filthy) bathroom and which will let us stay for the night for the “bargain” price of 300ARG. We are being robbed but there’s no alternative.
We left pristine and tidy San Martin to head to Mendoza a couple of days ago. The total drive is 1400km on so once again we arm ourselves with fresh music and podcasts and we set off. On a whim we decided not to take Routa 40, the national highway that runs parallel to the Argentine – Chilean border, but rather take Routa 23 and explore the Mapuche villages on the foots of the Andes…
On Wednesday we set of on a three day trek in the Andes. By the end of the day Friday we had trekked 40+ km, ascended a total of 1400m, celebrated Andy’s 39th in the Andes and toasted the three month anniversary of our sabbatical.
If you want the technical details of our trek have a look here. What follows is an account of our journey through photos. (To balance to lack of images in the last post. Click on the images for captions.)