We had an eventful and adventurous Christmas and New Years spent with wonderful friends in some pretty incredible places. I’m going to let the pictures do most of the talking with this one…
We spent Christmas in our South American home of Sucre. Mary and Kosta joined us there and our friend/Spanish teacher/favourite-person-ever Vicente was in town, so we did a lot of hanging out, drinking, and relaxing. Showing Mary and Kosta the sights of Sucre took about 2 hours, so we had a lot of time to chill.
On Christmas Eve we all Skyped our families.
On Christmas Day we exchanged presents and cooked a roast.
We had a home-made Christmas presents only rule.
Mary and Kosta brought crackers. Here’s a fun fact: Americans don’t do Christmas crackers! Apparently it’s just an Aussie/British thing… It certainly felt more festive in our paper crowns.
Boxing Day we headed to Uyuni (a 6 hour drive from Sucre) ahead of our Salt Flats Tour.
Day One of the Salt Flats Tour was the Salt Flats themselves. They were pretty incredible. Flat, with a hexagonal crust, that stretches all the way to the horizon. It gets a bit mirage-y and reflection-y and hills or cars on the horizon are reflected. It’s trippy.
We started with a visit to the Train Cemetery:
We rode bikes:
We took the obligatory perspective-based photos.
Here’s when it goes right:
Here’s when it goes wrong:
And here’s what everyone looks like when you’re not looking through the camera:
Then we visited Incahuasi Island. So, basically (very, very basically) this region formed when two tectonic plates pushed up together and raised the ground out of the ocean. This little island in the salt flats is all fossilised coral and really old cacti. It was cool.
Then there was a cave:
And the best part was a freakin’ mind-blowing sunset. Photos don’t do it justice, but the colours changed all the time, the whole sky was beautiful, and it last for aaaaages.
We took some more fun photos:
Fish was inspired enough to get nude:
The next day involved lots of four-wheel driving across the desert and a constant struggle with out driver to get him to play any music that didn’t involve pan pipes. We saw volcanoes, flamingos, and some cool train-tracks:
The final day had us up and out of bed at 4am to see the sunrise at some geysers, see another lagoon with more flamingos, and then deliver us to the Chilean border.
With a lot of bollocking about with cars, transfers, waiting in airports, we made it to our next destination of Valparaiso.
Valparaiso (Val-pah-rah-ee-so) is one of those places that you never hear a bad word about, and we were pretty interested to explore it for ourselves. It’s also well-known as the best destination for New Years Eve in South America after Rio. And the prices reflect that. We were paying $40 for a bed in an 8-bed dorm, so we were pretty keen to have our socks knocked off by this city.
And our socks were knocked. Fish says Valpo is his favourite city in South America. I’m not willing to make that commitment but I’d definitely say it’d be in my Top 3. It’s a UNESCO Heritage Listed city of eclectic architecture covering a huge hill. Everywhere has views out over the bay and the ocean, and every building is at least painted a bright colour, but most are covered in impressive street-art murals. It’s cool, it’s bohemian. It’s just the vibe.
New Year’s Eve did not disappoint. We drank our BYO alcohol on one of the public terraces with hundreds of other revelers and when midnight struck we were treated to an half hour firework display which stretched all around the bay. A MASSIVE street party ensues. It was crazy. We retreated to the rooftop of our hostel which had a stunning view all across the city. Kosta played tunes, Mary and I talked utter rubbish, Fish went to bed. If how you spend New Year’s Eve is indicative of how you’ll spend the rest of the New Year, I’m not unhappy.
Mary and Kosta left to head home. Fish and I started another of our epic cross-country long-haul bus journeys to get back up to Peru. Which is where we are now. That’ll be our last long-haul bus journey and our last border crossing. We have three more weeks in Peru, then it’s back to LA, then back to Adelaide. This whole thing is nearly done….
Title Time: ‘How To Make Gravy’ by Paul Kelly; the best and yet most depressing Christmas song ever written.