|Well we finally made it all the way to Chile, in South America. This continent has always seemed like a far away and exotic place to us, so we weren't quite sure what to expect. But we were pleasantly surprised. Chile is a very easy place to travel; the country has a good infrastructure and the people are mellow, and very friendly. The buses here run on time and most places to stay are pretty clean. Another interesting thing about Chile is that it has a huge middle class, that is something that you don't normally find in developing nations. The Chileans have the means to go on vacation as a family, to dine in restaurants, and to take advantage of the great leisure time activities that their country offers. The tourist activities were geared to serve the locals, rather than the Gringo travelers. In fact, we have not seen too many other foreigners here.
By now you know that we have one track minds- we came to Chile because it has some of the worlds largest and most consistent surf! And true to form the waves were huge and very powerful. We based ourselves in Pichilemu, the epicenter of Chile's surf scene, and a popular beach resort for locals. There are several excellent breaks in the area that can handle the big waves created by Antarctic storms. On the right day, rides of up to 1/2 mile are possible!
It's certainly not tropical here though. Chile is a little like an extreme version California, just flipped to the Southern Hemisphere. Like CA, there are deserts (the driest on Earth), Mountains (the 22,000ft Andes), warm inland valleys and the coast has a nearly constant marine layer. The ¨June Gloom¨ lasts year-round here, due to extremely cold ocean water. But the cold water doesn't keep the Chileans away, and the beaches were packed with sunbathers every day. And then by night, the locals love to party- bars would not close until 5AM. Then it seemed like everyone slept until at least 10 in the morning, we couldn't even find a taxi until almost lunch time!!
We have had a nice time meeting local people and exploring Chile's wild coast. The big waves gave Marc lots of fun surf sessions (Lisy was sensible enough to stay dry and safe) and we ate some great local food (fresh seafood and cheese stuffed Empandas are specialties). Next we are going to head inland and North a few hundred miles, to Santiago and see what it has to offer.