Katharina’s english review of our 1st two months in southamerica
geschrieben von Katharina (23. August 2009)

After a long flight from Auckland we arrived in Santiago de Chile with Ursula and Klaus. Bernhard (Johannes’ brother) picked us up at the airport. He has a very nice appartment close to Santiagos city center and there he gave us a home to stay. Right at the first night we had an awesome BBQ on his terrace and a lot of beer and wine. While Ursula and Klaus went to see Santiago, Johannes and I used the time to chill, watch some movies and write some emails because we already knew the city from our earlier SA-trip.

After these lazy days we took a plane to easter island, originally called “Rapa Nui”, located about 3700 KMs west of Chiles mainland in the middle of the pacific ocean.
Teresa, the lady of our hostal picked us up and welcomed us with some flowers around our necks.
Our hostal was beautiful and had a nice garden with a lots of different flowers, fruits and animals. The room was big and we’ve got a very good breakfast every morning.
As we had 5 full days on this Island we used the 1st to walk through Hanga Roa, the main village to get some info about the island and to check out what and how to do. In the afternoon we started with a taxi up to the crater of the vulcano “rano kau” which is a national park today. Here we walked around, admired the beautiful landscape and visited the old ceremonial village “orongo”. After walking back down to Hanga Roa we enjoyed the beautiful sunset at “ahu tahai”, where we also took our first pictures of some “Moais”, the mystic stone figures this island is famous for.
After a good dinner we decided to book a tour with Patrizio (the hostel-owners brother in law) for the following day, it was a little more expensive but a very private tour.
The exploration started at a place called “ahu vinapu” - two altars built with such a perfection, that there must be some connection to the inkas in peru. And that ist also one of many theories that exist. You can find a lot of Moais all around the island, lying around and all in different stades of destruction and eroded by wind and rain.
A theory says that during a conflict on the island everyone stopped working and left everything behind at the same moment and thats what it definitely looks like.
“Ahu Akahanga” was another place we visited, with a destroyed altar and some moais.
“Rano Raraku”, was the stonequarry where all the Moais from the whole island where made, actually the 2nd of 3 not active vulcanos. They carved all these monolithic sculptures out of grey vulcanic stone in one piece and their hats where made of a different, red stone, made at another place. One single moai weighs up to or even more than 80 tons and there are many theories how people where able to move them around the island - but still only theories.
Close to Rano Raraku there is “Ahu Tongariki” an altar where a japanese crane-company restored and replaced 15 moais next to each other on their original spot. Very fascinating to see and imagine how the whole island must or could have looked like some centuries ago.
The so called navel of the world - a stone with magnetic features was the next and last sight of the day because we had a flat tire and a flat sparetire. But Patrizio found some friends who took us all home.
It was a great day and he told us a lot about the history and life of Rapa Nui. Next morning we rented a quad to discover the island by ourselves - a lot of fun with Johannes as my personal and very ambitioned driver. At the end of another fantastic day where we saw more of the island, it started to rain and we were soaking wet when we arrived at our hostel in Hanga Roa.
On Sunday we got up early to go to church, it was something special because the service was held in Rapa Nui, the original langage with a lot of traditional songs. It was a great experience - the whole visit.

Back in Santiago, we kept our promise to go to southern Chile to visit Andreas and Karina and their newborn son Andreas jun. in Gorbea (we met them last Oktober in Nepal at the beginning of our trip), but first we had to say good bye to Ursula and Klaus who left us and continued their trip to Quito/Equador after travelling almost 1,5 months (on/off) together.

In Gorbea we spent a very comfortable time with our frieds and also Bernhard had time for the weekend to join us. We went for walks together, they showed us their home and their workplaces, we had very interesting conversations and of course good food and chilean wine. Thanks for your friendship and hospitality. These days did not feel like backpacking!

Neither did our lazy time in Santiago with Bernhard, staying with him meant having a home far far away from home.
But these days were counted and we had to leave Chile torwards Argentina. On our last evening in Santiago we were invited for dinner to our friends Cathy and Sergio, a chilean couple we met 3 years ago on our first trip to Chile. They prepared a wonderful dinner and it was nice to meet them again. Thanks a lot for this special evening.

For the following 4 day long weekend Bernhard took us to Mendoza. It started with a boring traffic jam at the argentinian boarder, but later we had a lot of fun, listening to cologne karneval- and austrian folkmusic, drinking some beer and making friends with the people in the cars around us. After about 7 hours of waiting some people became very unpatient and started some kind of a concert with their horns that we conducted, standing on Bernhards pick-up truck.
When we finally made it to Mendoza we found a hostel, went to eat and then to bed very quickly. The whole time in Mendoza was only a little sightseeing and lot of partying. One day we made a tour to the wineregion including a visit of two wineries and a little family business where they make licores, chocolate and much more.
After this exhausting weekend we had to say good bye to Bernhard and took a bus to San Luis our next station in Argentina. After arriving we checked in at the (probably only one) hostel of the city with it’s only one doubleroom that had the charme of a prison cell with bunkbed. The small town itself was discovered quite quick and so we made a day-tour to the national park “sierras de las quijadas” close to San Luis. Argentinian seem not to learn english so we had to deal with a spanish speaking guide the whole day in the national park, that reminded me a ittle of the australian outback.
In the evening in our hostal we met Tracey (OZ) and Chris (UK) a very nice, funny and interesting couple that we made new friends with. After spending nearly 2 days in San Luis together we decided to meet again in Buenos Aires later this week. In the meanwhile Johannes and I went to see Cordoba, where we kind of had to go because austrian football history was written there 31 years ago (Aut03 : Ger02 at WC 1978). The city itself did not impress me much, it has a lot of universities but despite that nothing special.
Well, we took the bus out of the city to 1st, visit the “Che Guevara museum” in the village Alta Garcia and 2nd, to see the football stadion and of course to make some pictures of this austrian sacred lawn !!! ;-)
Our next stop was Rosario and because of our plans with Tracey and Chris we only had one night there. Compared to Cordoba I really liked Rosario with its colonial houses and the beautiful old stock exchange building “Bolsa de Comercio de Rosario” which we were also able visit from the inside.

Then we left for Buenos Aires (B.A.), the federal capital of Argentina, where we met Tracey and Chris again and spent another 4 days together including drinking, dancing, looking for a Tangoshow, going to the sunday market and a football match (famous La Boca vs. San Martin) together. Thanks guys - we had so much fun.
After they left us, we had 2 more days to discover B.A. before we took the ferryboat for 3 hours to Uruguay’s capital Montevideo. Uruguay was not on our tavellist when we started, but we got it recommend a couple of times and so we went. I liked Montevideo, escpecially because we stayed in a newly opened hostal of 3 really nice young people. We also made a citytour to see the main sights. I really liked the bears on the plaza indepencia, a expedition of about 140 bears, each designed by a different artist, representing his own country. www.buddy-bear.com

Then we left for Colonia del Sacramento, a small city 3,5 hours west of Montevideo. With it’s little streets, cute buildings, the lighthouse, everything directly at Rio de la Plata’s huge mouth to the atlantic ocean, it could have been somewhere in Italy or Portugal, especially the city center. According to the fancy restaurants and shops, there must be a lot of rich argentinian tourists during the summer months. Our plan to go further north fit perfectly with the new idea to stay a little bit longer in Uruguay and so we took another bus, another 8 hours to Salto, in the middle of Uruguays thermal region where we spent 1,5 days in 11 different pools with different temperatures but all abover 35degC.
It was a public spa and really a lot better and cleaner then we expected. The sun was shining the whole time and after this bath we were really clean again :-)
Time has come to leave Uruguay torwards Argentina again and with a one-day-stop in Posadaswe went to Puerto Igazu.
When we arrived it was pouring but rain stoppet the following day and so we started to discover the famous igazu falls. It was still cloudy but we made it to the biggest fall - so called devils throat - first. Impressive, breath taking, no fitting words that could describe the scenery. The unbelievable amount of water, the spray when you come closer and the power you can feel when it falls towards the ground. We spent at least an hour right there, made pictures and tried to soak in the atmospehre you can only feel when you are there and so close.
After that we had to visit the brasilian side of the falls as well and as lucky as we were, we had great sunshine. The brasilian side is not as impressive because you do not come as close, but it is also very beautiful and you get a much better overview of the whole scenery with its 280 different sized falls in total and a lot of them accompanied with rainbows through the sun that shines into the spray of the waterfalls.
The 3rd day of our stay we spent at the falls on the argentinian side again and made a lot of pictures with sunshine this time and discovered some more views and falls. Definitive one of my personal highlights on this trip.
But our time was up and so we left for Salta. Another two long and boring overnight buses with one “overday-stop” in Corrientes to see somthing during de day und use the nights for driving. So we save on time and on nights in hostels.

Our last stop in Argentina was Salta, where we rented a car for 2 days. The first day we have been 5 people, a german, a swiss, an american and us and we drove along the tracks of the “tren de las nubes” to San Antonio de los Cobres. I really liked the landscape - dry, red an lots of cactus. It reminded me a little of the comic “Lucky Luke”. The highest point was 4100 and the village itself is at 3800, thats when your heart begins to beat quicker when you walk and breathing becomes harder.
On our second day we went to cafayate. Again a beautiful way through a canyon with interesting rockformations. Cafayate is a nice little village where we rested a bit before we had to drive back.
On our last evening in Salta, the hostal organised an asado (=BBQ) where we had a lot of very good food and 3 young guys who played some gaucho music until everyone danced.
Too bad we had to catch our bus to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile the next day. Again our way lead us through the beautiful altiplano landscape between 3500 und 4000m above sealevel. And on this busride Johannes discovered that his slr-camera had a major technical problem that has to be fixed. So we stayed on the bus and went on to antofagsta (another 4 hours) and hoped, that we would find someone there who is able to help us with this problem.
But thats another story …

3 Kommentare zu "Katharina’s english review of our 1st two months in southamerica"
ineke en jan wilschut am 23. August 2009 um 07:34

mit viel interessen alles gelesen.
Geniessen Sie weiter von jeden Tag.

d am 23. August 2009 um 20:05

Und viele Bussis, :-) !!!
Am 1.9. wird euch schönes, warmes Sommerwetter begrüßen ~ also, nachtmäßig eben ;-)
Nochmals Bussis

d am 23. August 2009 um 20:09

Und endlich läuft wieder eure Zeitmessung!

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