Chile

arid : storms : dust : stunning

getting here was post-apocalyptical, burnt out car, bus and truck wrecks; abandoned mining infrastructure and the ubiquitous road side graves and headstones

Calama to San Pedro de Atacama  

Calama to San Pedro de Atacama  

so much diversity surrounding the arid high plateau: desert, blinding salt flats and blue skies, volcanoes, sand dunes, moonlike rocks, craters, canyons all at a lazy 2400m to 4500m

just waiting for aliens

watchmen over old salt mine

watchmen over old salt mine

dust swirls, electrical storms

quebrada de diablo - sans lightning

quebrada de diablo - sans lightning

valle de muerte

valle de muerte

salt flats & lagoons  

salt flats & lagoons  

not just flamingoes but foxes, vicuñas, llamas, donkeys - and for those who know my distaste for emus, alas the remarkably similar - puna rhea

 

feeding

feeding

pisco, cervezas y ennio morricone

Vicuña chosen on the basis of the amazing observatories and brilliant star gazing with the naked eye.  Undoubtedly impressive.  Including finally seeing my first shooting star.

 

the glorious late afternoon light: Vicuña  

the glorious late afternoon light: Vicuña  

dustbowl BMX track: Vicuña  

dustbowl BMX track: Vicuña  

What I unexpectedly fell for was the landscape, cactus filled mountains, barren rocky barren mountains, sleepy dusty villages and shimmering reflective heat.

 

persimmon orchards need rocks: San Isidro

persimmon orchards need rocks: San Isidro

best not stack on ones bike: Valle de Elqui

best not stack on ones bike: Valle de Elqui

Oh and the river. Which makes for the perfect climate driven triumvirate:

  • pisco distilleries
  • microbreweries
  • set scouting for spaghetti westerns
Citroen car porn: San Isidro

Citroen car porn: San Isidro

ramshackle: Villaseca  

ramshackle: Villaseca  

made for gunslinging: Diaguitas

made for gunslinging: Diaguitas

Pucon = national parking

Incredibly difficult for me to capture in words just how stunning surrounds of Lake Villarrica are.

Better to let the pictures talk.

Volcán Villarrica  

Volcán Villarrica  

chemamulles in plaza pucon  

chemamulles in plaza pucon  

los pozones

los pozones

lago cabulga

lago cabulga

lago villarrica  

lago villarrica  

suspect suspension quelihue

suspect suspension quelihue

Dumbstruck by being surrounded with volcanoes, the blueness of the sky above the cloud line, rickety suspension bridges, volcanic rock beaches both black & white as well as natural and man made, thermal springs right next to the river.

And hiking to die for.

 

irresistible 

irresistible 

Isolation = awesome architecture

absolutely no idea until arrival in Chiloe that the unique style of architecture and materials extends beyond the palafitos to chalets to UNESCO listed churches

Palafitos - Ruta 5, Castro (yep right on Chile's longest route & the main road)

Palafitos - Ruta 5, Castro (yep right on Chile's longest route & the main road)

leans heavily on crazy melding of 16th C. Spanish Catholicism, Chiloean mythology (perfect balance of evil murderous gods with a few good ones, heavy on the evil side) and German of 18th C. 

nearly exclusively wood / wood shingles / wood pegs with some minor concessions to nails, rivets and galvanised iron

Iglesia de Santa Maria de Loreto, Achao mid fumigation

Iglesia de Santa Maria de Loreto, Achao mid fumigation

boat building reminiscent, set to keep out the perpetual cold and damp  

buttressed ceilings, glowing amber or unadorned

outsides either bare to lay out craftsmanship or strong central colours with popping highlights

chalet life, Chonchi  

chalet life, Chonchi  

stunning

very partial to bonsai esque street trees - Achao, Isla Quinchao

very partial to bonsai esque street trees - Achao, Isla Quinchao

Deliciousness: Santiago

I wasn't expecting any kind of food scene in Santiago, but have been super pleasantly pleased to discover it definitely exists.

The deliciousness:

  • La Vega Central - fresh produce of amazing quality, dedicated stalls to just a few ingredients my quick favourite were the avocado, tomato and limón, closely followed by pickled vegetables
  • Mercado Central - fish vendors and hole in the wall "restaurants".  $1 for about 500g prawns pretty happy!
  • Barrio markets- taking up a couple of blocks, narrows fruit and vegetable and refrigerated trucks for fish.  Butchers for some reason seem to have permanent shops.
  • Ceviche to die for
  • 187ml bottles of Chilean wines is de rigour - and after the strength of the Pisco Sours in the barrio bars definitely prudent

The less so:

  • Although Santiago's fast food, "food in passing" is cooked to order, it's what meat do you want, what style of potatoes both topped with a fried egg, and some salad, not my idea of deliciousness

Decided that each Country is going to warrant one amazing rated/raved restaurant visit.

Loads of local press around this place:  www.peumayenchile.cl

sorbet palate cleanser: Atacama Desert plants

sorbet palate cleanser: Atacama Desert plants

A modern version of “ancestral food" based on the cuisine of Chilean indigenous groups. Who doesn't love a totally stunning mostly tasting menu.

  • "Bread" Tasting Board spanning whole country north to south, eight morsels the best pea purée and white bean purée
  • Palate cleansers like no other: crisps with white bean purée; fried seaweed and avocado; and plant sorbet
  • Starter tasting plate, 6 tastes proteins rabbit, chicken and cuttlefish. Standout dish was mushroom pate and smoked cauliflower
  • A la carte mains spanning horses, pork, lamb, fishes. Smoked fish amazing, just past raw vegetables highlighted with fruit and more cooked vegetable purees
  • Desert tasting plate, 6 tastes. Standout tiny tart with lucuma curd

Next we head south: penguins, black sand and houses on stilts.