Hi Everybody.... so just over one week ago I was in Colombia, and just 2 days ago I arrived in Argentina, (go look on a map, it's a bloody long way)! As I sat on the bus to my current destination (Santa Fe, Argentina), I began to realise that in a 7 day period I had traveled through 5 countries. Monday I was still sat on a bus in Colombia, passing through Ecuador on Tuesday and Peru on Wednesday. Thursday I had arrived back in Chile for a lovely weekend, before hitting Argentina on Monday! The realisation of such a trip brought some much needed realisation that I need to stick around somewhere for a while, as I also begun to realise just how tired I had become!
After arriving back in Santiago I had enjoyed my second lecture at the University of Chile, (Santiago), organised between a University lecturer and the student body. It was great to both familiar students and University professors again, who were all very welcoming! The student group are being very proactive in getting foreign therapists to visit and give lectures, so it was honour to be one of the first to do this, they even gave me a present! Big thanks go to Diego (my translator for the second time, and Tamy for their help in making this happen). Here's a couple of pictures from the day.
My social life in Santiago has fortunately been in constant motion ever since arriving for the conference, and this return was no different, as I went out for drinks and food with a few different students, in between watching the world cup football matches! Two students in particular (from a different University) dropped by to say hello, and so that night we headed out for some drinks in central Santiago. It was great to see Coni and Maka again, as despite having to decline their offer to head out of Santiago for a trip to a casino, we did have time to have a good catch up over some fancy drinks.. well a beer for me!
A very amusing train ride later, I said bye to the girls and headed for home - my favourite hostel (La Casa Roja)! I definitely recommend it to anyone staying here! I was caught out by the weather on my first evening back in Santiago as in the afternoon it was warm enough (for me, if no reasonably sane Chilean person) to wear shorts, a t-shirt and flip flops. unfortunately I had not expected to be inside an Internet cafe for several hours, and when I eventually left around 6pm, it was dark, and so bloody cold, that I could barely utter a word due to my jaw trembling. Everyone in the street had hats, scarfs, big coats and gloves on, and here was I, in a small t-shirt and shorts, I got some funny looks from people on the way back to the hostel.
The reason for an early (ish) night was a little weekend trip to 'Valparaiso', a coastal town 2 hours from Santiago. I had heard many positive reports about this place and with it being so close I decided to check it out. The town turned out to be something very different from anything else I had seen in Chile. Once a big port, set by the hillside, this place was full of colour, (street paintings, colourful houses and murals almost all over the place). The very distinctive houses, literally built on top on one and other flooded the hillside, and at almost every 500 metres was some kind of small cable car up the hill, to which you had to pay a small fee to use! Many houses were made from wood, metal or had small tin roofs on, and this gave the place a really unique feel. The town even had the old electronic buses, as seen in a fair few eastern European countries. There were plenty of stray cats and dogs around the place too, so here's a selection of some of the trip highlights!
On returning to Santiago, I was invited to lunch at the friends of one of the University lecturers. This was a nice surprise and a great way to meet more local people, practice my Spanish (not 'Spanglish' anymore, I am so proud!) and have some delicious food and wine! Yet another very real experience for me which no guidebook can direct you to! Better still, I was offered accommodation for the night, as I had a very early trip to the airport the following morning! Thanks Gaby - that was a big help!
So Monday the 5th of July had arrived, and it was originally the date I was due to fly home.. but with the much appreciated help of James (from STA Travel) I had managed to change flights and extend my trip a little). So instead of finding myself crossing the Atlantic ocean, I simply fly over some spectacular scenery (see below)
and then arrived in Buenos Aires (The continent's 'coolest city', apparently). My final destination that day was Santa Fe, so with no time for rest, I found a bus from the airport to the centre of Buenos Aires, and then searched for the bus terminal! With my book/map in hand, I stood out as a tourist like a shark in the desert! Luckily for me a passing English Guy (Andrew) asked where I was going, and then proceeded to take me the 5 minute walk to the bus station, he also then very kindly let me use his phone to call my friend, to let her know what time I would be arriving in Santa Fe. Another really helpful small act of kindness that made my trip that so much easier.. thanks Andrew!
Even more randomly, as I boarded the 'Flechabus' for the 6 hour journey to Santa Fe, my neighbouring passenger began chatting to me. When she asked where I was going, and what I was doing "'going to Santa Fe to give a lecture in the University, for the Occupational Therapy Student"), she seemed a little shocked. The reason for her reaction was because she was an Occupational Therapist, and she worked at the University! What a small small world! On arriving at the bus terminal I was greeted Paparazzi style by four of the students I met on the last night of the conference in Santiago, with flashing cameras, and even better than that - big smiles! My new city guides, not only helped me find the only real hostel in town (it is not a tourist city!) but then took me for some beers and pizza whilst we had a good chat and catch up! (see below)
The rest of the week has been well planned out for me with lectures at the University and visits to hospitals, but that will be for the next blog, go have a cuppa, enjoy the Germany vs Spain game, as I am about to do, and thanks for reading!
Regards from Argentina!