Another change of culture in sight with our arrival on the South American continent, Santiago de Chile being the first port of call. The city is big, hot, surrounded by hills seemingly scorched by the sun, and we didn’t have much courage to engage in a thorough visit . We settled in a ‘hostal’ for a couple of nights in the funky area of Bellavista. Lots of amazing tags along the streets, pleasant restaurant terraces, good atmosphere and a practical place to visit a few spots of interest. One being the house of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, another the Santuario de la Immaculada Concepcion for views overlooking the city. But our main visit there turned out to be a catch up with Frédéric, my French fruit-picking colleague from Australia in 1998, and his lovely family. Playing with the kids, mountain biking in the cactus covered hills, talking about life in general… A real pleasure to spend some fun and relaxed time with them, and to see that we could just pick up from where we had left after leaving Batlow and its apples all those years ago!
We also took a couple of days to visit Valparaiso, and some of the beaches preferred by the rich people of Santiago. A sure contrast of styles between the old city with its eclectic, coloured houses piled high over the hills, more or less derelict, with amazing tags painted on the walls, and the luxury mansions/designer houses with their perfect seafront/beach location. Different worlds, and I suppose we could have spent more time in Valparaiso, but the next stops to the South were awaiting us.