There isn’t really any need to talk about the lodge, if you’re very interested please read our earlier post from our month long stay a month ago. Things are the same, except it is warmer and sometimes I can make dessert for the guests. And I’m running. A few times a week for a while now but I think I’m actually enjoying it now. And I just signed myself up for a half marathon training schedule. Not because I intend to do one anytime soon, just because I need a bit of structure so I don’t push myself to hard now that 5k is a constable distance. I’ll see how that goes, if any running updates creep in it is more a motivator for me than interesting for you, so, sorry.
So finally to Pichilemu, a tiny town that on first acquaintance reminded me quite a lot of Felixstowe. Egg not so much, but he’s never been, so how could it. We must go to Felixstowe, mhmmmm chips. With regards to the resemblance, I just mean not much there, a wee bit run down, lots of questionable restaurants and that feeling mid week like you shouldn’t be there, so quiet.
As it goes I love the odd visit to Felixstowe, and the same became true of this seaside town, in fact we have already made a second visit for a weekend (as we are at the lodge in San Fernando again as I write, only 2 hours away by bus).
Having thought we would have been staying in a dorm room for two weeks in Valparaiso egg had booked us a double room in the beautiful Natural Surf Lodge as a treat. Now we found it on hostelbookers, so we had good reason to believe it was a hostel however this was not the case and it was a much nicer place than we are accustomed to dumping our backpacks. In fact I believe we lowered the style of their clientele considerably; everyone else had cars (cars!) and were just “weekending” and looked very grown up and, well, rich. And there we were scruffy as hell and being upset that we aren’t allowed to use the kitchen (at this point we were carrying nearly 2 kilos of various dry dried pulses, still are in fact. Long story but we really wanted to use them up). Anyhoo there we found ourselves, albeit in the “budget cabin”- it was gorgeous, we both feel it is the nicest room there and half the cost of the rooms inside the main hotel area. We did express this to the owner when it got quieter and he offered us the apparently better rooms for the same price. He thought we were crazy (“but these rooms have televisions?!)”).
I think I can say hands down best breakfast in South America, I’m not even asking egg for his opinion on this one and if I recall correctly he looked like a cat after being gifted a large salmon after consuming: pancakes, sour dough bread, toast, goats cheese, cheddar, Nutella, peanut butter, freshly blended smoothie, fruit salad, granola, yoghurt and jam. I was pretty happy with a fruit salad and a spoonful of peanut butter, felt like Dr Kelso, if anyone remembers that episode of scrubs
We arrived there in the evening just before sunset and went for a walk along the beach. It is so quiet and beautiful. The waves that Pichilemu is renowned for crashing consistently against the shore beat a relaxing rhythm and we were happy.
So, the owner hooked us up with his brother for a surf lesson and that was that, Ismael picked us up, sorted us out with wetsuits and boards, showed us technique and said so many things I couldn’t understand about the movement of the waves. We really loved it. Egg was up on his board really quickly but I, with my natural grace and agility, spent a lot of time on my belly and forgetting not to hold my board in front of me so being whacked with it when each wave came. It sounds like I shouldn’t have liked it but I really did. Maybe just because I love being in the water and the wetsuits mean you need no suncream and feel no cold. The ocean temperature is always similar to that in England thanks to the current from the Antarctic but our wetsuits were really good.
Quick aside, I loved my wetsuit! Felt like a super hero. Thinking about buying one and attaching a cape. But how have I never realised how hard they are to get on- first attempt took a long time. Did not help my self image as a graceful human being. Nor egg’s.
So having met Ismael and discovered mazapanchitos ( a brand of Alfajor that is gluten free due to bring fudge wedged between two layers of marzipan and covered with chocolate) we agreed to stay with him for the rest of the time in Pichilemu. This was a great situation as we got to stay in his really cute surfy house and pretty much all our food and surf lessons, in exchange for some work setting up his website. A nice meeting of interests which worked really well.
The first day after our lesson we were achy and not up to much surfwise, but there was a competition at punto de lobos (the really good waves are here. We learnt here. On the baby waves) so we watched the kind of surfers we might one day never become. It was a lot more fun than I thought it would be; a big crowd, constant surfing and an announcer I couldn’t really understand at all.
My surfing didn’t improve much during our next lesson, I did manage to stand for maybe a second before falling in, egg was doing really well, I got tired paddling against the current and looked so pathetic Ismael towed me out, paddling for us both. I should have been embarrassed but it was so easy!
Many nights we ate in a restaurant called Manatee, the first time because we both like the word and the animal (I wanna marry a manatee), and again and again because they had delicious fresh half price sushi and mojitos for the holiday weekend. The chocolate and strawberry was so delicious. And now I’m hungry.
That was pretty much Pichilemu. Surfing, chilling, finished my second hat, (now egg has one too. I don’t think he wants it much), seafood (oh yeah we tried machas a la Parmesana, literally razor clams and parmesan, and a traditional dish. Horrible), a great sweet sweep that did gf goodies and dried fruit and nuts for egg.
From here we went back to Tumuñan Lodge to do three more weeks as we agreed as it’s the start of fishing season and they are getting busy. That’s the reason. Not because it’s hot and they have a pool. That’s not the reason.
Valpo, as the cool kids call it, so I won’t anymore, is a port city just west of Santiago, that is famous for both its street art, and the ridiculous way the city spread over the surrounding hills. These combined give it a very unique appearance, that either appeals or not, as it does often have the look of a shanty town; a bit grimey and rough around the edges. We took it as charming and settled in for a two week stay.
where in this case we had a double room, breakfast and dinner as well on work days in exchange for a evening reception shift every other day. Egg got a very easy ride here due to his Spanish muteness and occasionally folded sheets whilst I did the reception work, which in itself want to challenging either. The hostel isn’t massive so you get to know all the guests and a lot of the time all that was needed was to be around to help guests out and answer the phone/door so even when I was working I spent a lot of time eating, chatting, watching TV etc. We were very lucky to find this place and everyone was so nice and friendly it was a really nice time.
with pretty much nada in the way of English so all the communicating with our bosses was in Spanish. The guests were probably fifty fifty English and Spanish speakers. I was really pleased at how I coped in my new Spanish only environment and the first time I checked in non English speakers I even allowed my self a jubilant Facebook gloat. I felt it was earned as I had handled a call from the tourist board, dealt with one walk-in and one booking, explained all the hostel stuff and the map and key sights of Valparaiso and learnt a new word (candado, padlock!). This was definitely another really worthwhile workaway experience.
So, what did we do in our spare time you ask? Well, egg took more Spanish classes and I built on my newly acquired fondness for jogging. We walked a lot around Valparaiso and did a tour with the same company as in Santiago (tours 4 tips) but this one was really good, I recommend it to anyone visiting the city. We also went to the cultural centre, which is a converted prison- not much was happening but it has a nice open grassy space in a city that is sometimes lacking good picnic areas.
The open air museum is an area of town that commissioned twenty or so murals on its buildings, which are for the main part residential, a few years ago but when we looked around we were a bit disappointed as there were more exciting pieces all over town. The area that hosted the first south american graffiti festival on the other hand was incredible, really vibrant and fresh. This part of town is also where the most exciting ascensor is, ascensor Polanco. Acsensors are all over town, and they are just little funiculars ferrying people and down the hills for 20p a ride. They’re kind of fun when you get fed up of leg cramp but Polanco stands out as it is the only vertical one, which makes it more interesting to look at.
Our favourite bar here was Fauna, which had this big terrace with views over the whole city so it was great for watching the sunset.
Vina is very pretty and this was the first combination of good beach and good weather in south america.
A big greasy pile of chips, onions, eggs and meat meant for two and devoured by me. The place we went to, J Cruz, is a complete dive and a lot of fun and is supposedly the place they invented the dish, but who knows.
So sadly we left Valparaiso and headed to Pichilemu, via Santiago. We were lucky to get a bus as it was a four day weekend in Chile and everyone was headed to the beach so after arriving in Santiago we were greeted by sold out signs in all the booths that go to Pichilemu. Luckily, something funny was going on with one of the companies and having enquired and looked desperate a couple of times some one approached us and told us the companies only sell the top deck in advance so we hurriedly plomped ourselves down stairs on the bud and hoped we had understood. We had, thankfully and we were off!
Now realising this is a really long post I shall cover Pichilemu in a separate one…ooh the suspense!
Also this post, I fell in love with almendra confitada (candied almonds), egg tried his first mote con huesillo (wheat drink with dried peach), I made my own postcards, we learnt running up hills will hurt you the next day, I learnt to crochet, and we played with plastic animals.