Saturday, April 29, 2006

Pichilemu, Chile (2 days)

Pichilemu is a surf town about 3 hours south of Santiago. Ali and I don´t surf but we like to visit surf towns because there are usually chilled out surfers and a cool vibe about them. Plus, they´re on the ocean, so throw in beautiful sunsets and a sea salt smell. So that pretty much sums up what we found in Pichilemu, Chile. It´s fame is one of the most consistent left breaks around, as waves break out at the point and gently roll in forever towards the town.

Travelling in two is a constant matter of compromise- where will we eat, what we will do, who we will do it with. So sometimes we do our own thing, naturally. With the buses in South America, Ali is always looking for comfort and I am always looking to save money. So we decided to take separate buses from Pucon to Rancagua, the town that we need to connect through to Pichilemu. We were on night buses, so arrived at an obscenely early time of 5 and 6am into the bus station. An hour later we were on a slow local bus out to Pichi, which was interesting since at that time everyone was on their way to work. On the way, we passed through the wine region of Santa Cruz, and were treated to a landscape of vineyards for our eyes to feast upon.

Once in Pichi, we head straight for a hotel that someone had recommended, the Hotel Chile-Espana. It´s a great place, with large glass picture windows, lots of wood- hardwood floors throughout, and a lush courtyard. In the summer, there is a restaurant on the first floor in the courtyard, but now in the off-season, it´s shut. However, they let the guests use the kitchen, so we had a well-stocked and shiny stainless steel kitchen in which to cook. The rooms are connected by a generous hall, hardwood floor and large windows into the courtyard. Outside the rooms, surfboards line the hallway. One morning, I had to walk around a surfer doing yoga in the hall. All this and the place costs just $14 US a night. Since it is not summer, the hotel is rather quiet with just a handful of weathered-looking surfers who are staying long-term here, and a few short-term surfers. We are the only non-surfer gringos.

Meet two blonde girls from Oregon, Jessica and her sister. They had started their South American trip with a spanish school in Pichi (note to anyone wanting to study spanish, this would be the place to do it), and loved it so much that they stayed for 2 months. Now, they have travelled around a little, but have come back to their beloved Pichi to surf some more. Needless to say, our 2 days weren´t nearly enough time and I seriously wished we could have stayed at least a week here.

Once settled in, we headed for the beach of course. Sat out at the point for several hours, watching surfers come and go and do stretching exercises before getting in the water. Surfers are very fit and strong individuals! Sat until the sun set, and then went for a walk, visiting an old hotel that has gotten somewhat delapitated, and a park of huge palm trees. Back at the hotel, cook dinner and eat with a dutch couple and an aussie. The dutch couple are on a unique one year around-the-world trip of visiting only surf destinations, how cool! So they tell us stories of exotic beaches and we look at their Easter Island (Rapanui) photos on their camera.

Next day, Ali has had enough of her flea problem. Somewhere along the way, Ali picked up some friends of the small black and biting variety. She thinks it was from these two Argentinian hippy guys (Marino and Adriano) that we befriended in Bariloche, from their dog, Caprichosi, who liked to jump up on us. So now it is day 4 or 5 of the fleas and because of our constant travelling, she has been unable to properly wash all of her clothes. This morning, we actually see a flea in her bed. She wants to head straight for Santiago this day for laundry services with a dryer, but I convince her to wait one day as planned since it is so so so nice in Pichi. We have a similar day to the previous, hanging out at the beach and cooking in the hotel. This night the sunset is gorgeous. Next morning, catch early bus to Santiago, the big smoke!


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