13.11.2006 - 16.11.2006
The road towards the bottom of South America has taken us from Pichilemu, through San Fernando, Talca, and Temuco. On the latter half of this leg, we ran into Julio. He is a Chilean, born in Santiago but who currently resides in Melbourne, Australia. His life in between has been quite eventful and taking us through it took up a good chunk of the long bus ride. In short, Julio´s business card lists the following credentials: Honorary Member of His Majesty the King´s Cabinet with Rank of Minister, and, Official Biographer of His Majesty the King of Cambodia. Not too shabby. He has already published 3 books and had to collect most of the accounts from France because of the king´s exile. He has also lived in Vietnam and Beijing. Right now, he´s in Australia working with an NGO he started to help curb illegal sex trade in Cambodia as well as other Southeastern Asian countries. Because our Spanish isn´t too great, it´s been a challenge so far to get a grasp on the culture and history here. For that alone, Julio was incredibly well-spoken and informative. When asked how a Chilean became so prominently involved with Cambodian politics, he replied, ¨I was just interested in Southeast Asia when I was younger.¨ The lesson - get interested in something and leave the rest alone.
We´re currently in Villarica in the southern half of Chile, just off the main highway that stretches north-south through this dynamic country. It´s a bit of a tourist town because it´s one of the main gateways to the surrounding outdoor playground that exists around here. Actually, it really reminds me of Banff.
Despite the location, we´ve done a good job of avoiding the tourist sites and activities so far this trip. Not that we have anything really against it, but I think the 3 of us have done that travelling route before and are looking for something different this time around. We´ll definitely hit some of the big attractions (e.g. Torres del Paine, Salar de Uyuni, Macchu Picchu) but I´m pretty content with the laissez-faire style we´re enjoying now.
The best discovery so far has been cabanas that families rent out. They´re essentially just a detached section of the house that is fully complete with bedrooms, bathrooms, and a kitchen. Some advertise outside their homes for vacancies and some are just told of through restaurant managers and informed locals. We´ve found them both ways and they are cheaper than hostels plus you get the opportunity to interact with the families. I´m hoping this will be consistent throughout the voyage.
Because we aren´t staying in hostels, we´re pretty much isolated from other travellers. In fact, we haven´t even seen too many in the towns and the ones that we have bumped into were usually older European couples. It makes me wonder whether I have trips like this left in my tank for my later years.