March 2017 – Monthly Recap – From Chile to Perù

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March 2017 - Monthly Recap

Alright, I skipped February but I promise I’ll add it as soon as I’ll have time. I’m now gathering thoughts for the March 2017 – Monthly Recap.

It’s been a tough month, full of experiences and traveling. Tired of hitchhiking in Argentina, I came back to Punta Arenas, Chile to take a bus to Santiago. A very, very long ride, in which I finished the amazing book about one of the greatest explorer of all time, titled The Last Viking: The Life of Roald Amundsen.

After that, I got to Valparaiso, where I spent some days. I got lost in the city’s tiny alleyways, shopped at the local market, took a boat ride through the harbor (one of the worst thing I did in 3 months of traveling). I didn’t find myself comfortable in this city. That was because I was continuously warned about the high chance of being robbed and I couldn’t find a single spot without the smell of pee or poo – having the hostel right above the local market didn’t help. Therefore, as you can imagine, I don’t feel like suggesting Valparaiso as a must see.

I moved soon to La Serena: a completely different story. Clean, facing the ocean, cheap enough, clear skies. An amazing city. I really felt sorry when I had to leave it, after 4 days. Furthermore, I skipped one thing I really wanted to do: biking along the beach from La Serena to Coquimbo and back. 13 km of playa just in front of the ocean. I’ll surely come back one day! I went visiting the neighboring Valle de Elqui with its pisquerias and observatories. Worth to mention the city of Vicuña, with the museum of Gabriela Mistral.

Stray dogs in La Serena, Chile

Stray dogs in La Serena, Chile

Next stop: San Pedro de Atacama. Since a friend of mine lent me the book of Sepúlveda Historias Marginales, I have been always dreaming of visiting this place. And finally, I was there, visiting ruins and biking in the alien landscapes of the Valle de la Luna and of the Valle de la Muerte.

I soon moved to Bolivia through the Salar the Uyuni. I did really understand why a visit to this immense salt flat is included in everyone’s South American itinerary. It was another incredible experience. Not only did we see the world’s largest salt flat, but an incredible number of lagoons and pampas thriving with nature.

After a day in Uyuni, I took the not-so-terrible-as-reviewed night bus to La Paz. I almost managed to sleep this time, a great achievement.

La Paz surprised me with its bustling markets. Worth to mention the Feria de El Alto, one of the biggest open-air markets I have ever seen in my life. And I went to pretty a few. and the Witches’ Market. Here, the cholitas try to sell you magic powders and lama’s fetuses. They are mainly used as sacrifices when little constructions are built, buried in the foundation.

Not only markets: I was stunned by the Museum of Musical Instrument. This big collection has its house in Calle Jaen and it’s been raised by a single man, the maestro charanguista Ernesto Cavour. I was also lucky to visit it on the right day: every Saturday, a concert with him and the muyu-muyu guitar player Franz Valverde. The concert (20 bolivianos, a bit more than 2 dollars) was an absolute beauty, a blaze of sweet sounds.

Seeking a boost of adrenaline, I decided to bike the Death Road. This is just regarded as an attraction, but in reality, I found it dangerous. This is not an experience for faint-hearted nor has it to be taken with superficiality. If you are not fit or you are not a good biker, just avoid it.

My trip continued to Copacabana and to the Isla del Sol. According to the books, here the Inca empire saw the light. I spent two days with an Italian girl, Federica, and we walked together from North to South and back. It’s been wonderful not encountering cars and any kind of city-related noise.

Fermin, an Isla del Sol Native

Fermin, an Isla del Sol Native

From there, I headed back to Copacabana and then to Cuzco, the archaeological capital of South America. And you straight away get to know why: the city itself is plenty of Inca-built walls and remains. Qoriqancha, the temple of the moon and Sacsayhuaman are just three of them. I decided to challenge the altitude and after one day in Cuzco. Anyway, I had already been three weeks at more than 3000 m, on average. So, I took a tour to the Rainbow Mountains. The mud made the hike pretty slow and difficult. But, I ended up on top and luckily the clouds faded away just before descending.

Not even a full day of break, in the darkness of the night I left to walk the Salkantay Trek. A 5-days hike through nature and little, secluded pueblos. Amazing landscapes, wonderful people, and mystical herbs. The last day we visited Machu Picchu. The idea to visit all the Seven Wonders of the World has seriously taken place. Considering the Colosseum, I’m already at 2/7. 🙂

Here ended my personal March. As you have probably understood, it’s been pretty full and non-stop.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have time (and proper wifi connection) to write a lot on the blog, but I have gathered ideas and drafted many articles on my endless bus rides. I will publish them as soon as I can, meanwhile follow the Facebook Page (it’s the only thing I’m keeping up to date!).

Place of the month: Isla del Sol, Bolivia

Book of the month: The Last Viking: The Life of Roald Amundsen, by Stephen R. Brown

I little foretaste: I won’t stop travelling. See you at the end of April for another chapter!

Stefano