After saying "see ya later" to Ilo and the menacing waves we found there; we travelled to Arica, Chile. Our main goal in this area was to see the two famous waves called El Gringo and El Buey breaking. Unfortunately we had timed our travels here without much if any swell. To make up for this loss, we discovered cheap but divine wine, which had been lacking on our journey so far. We also discovered that Chili wasn't full of motos revving around with regaton rattling the windows as they passed. Instead we discovered decent live music we could jive to.
With Christmas just three weeks away; the pressure of escaping to somewhere much cheaper and quieter was growing into a reality. Feeling sad to miss El Gringo, we jumped aboard a bus for Iquique, which we were told was a city with a great surfing vibe to it. On our bus ride from Arica to Iquique we drove past a nine span centre pivot irrigator in the middle of the Atacama Desert. This is a strange site to see in one of the driest deserts in the world. On arriving in Iquique we found a hostel and some more of that cheap and divine wine and relaxed in front of the sunset.
We had been in contact with Jake and Claire. They are in Santiago, only twenty five hours by bus away. With the decision of breaking up the journey to see Jake and Claire into smaller legs or hauling it twenty five hours in the one go. We held our faith in a coin that it would choose the correct decision for us. The lady selling us the tickets jaw nearly broke the counter when the coin held us by our hand and said we must travel straight to Santiago in one go.
Feeling fresh as a daisy and landing in a very hot Santiago, we found where Jake and Claire were hiding. The first night with our amigos we found some live music, something we had been missing and it was death metal!
The following day, Jake packed his climbing gear and we all set off for the countryside. This was an excellent day for rock climbing, the sun was out and better still the travel journey out off the city of Santiago is short. Jake set up the wall for us by putting on a very impressive display of lead climbing. None of us could reach anywhere near the top from which Jake had climbed to without a top rope.
We spent four nights in Santiago before we said bye to Jake and Claire. It has been wonderful catching up with them and we hope to see them further on in our travels. We jumped aboard another bus towards the surf town Pichilemu. We found a clean and cheap self contained cabin here. The wave Punta de Lobos was long and easy as there still wasn't much swell around. We would have stayed more than three nights here but with the aim of being in Bolivia for Christmas and New Years looming; we had to move fast.
We said goodbye to Chile with thoughts of coming back here without surfboards but snowboards and to travel through Patagonia. These thoughts warmed us up as we climbed the Andes before busing it down to Mendoza, Argentina where more wine was greeting us.
Mendoza; known on the tourist trail for a city to stop at for enjoying the close wine regions. One way to enjoy a sixteen hour bus drive to Salta is by drinking yourself legless on a bike with great tasting wine and absinth hours before the bus departs. This was an extremely enjoyable day of riding through local wineries, parking our bikes and tasting all the different wines that were on offer.
We enjoyed relaxing in Salta, drinking more wine and lifting our iron levels with a big dose of red meat. Salta is a very pretty city full of trees. This is our last stop in Argentina before we travel onto Bolivia. We are happy with what we have seen in Argentina. We do hope to travel to the south of Argentina and visit Patagonia.