Time in Chile Coming to an End

As we get closer to our departure from Chile it is a good time to reflect upon all of the fun things that we have been able to do while here. We have been able to see many pretty places and eat a lot of good food. It’s been a while since I have lived in a South American country and it has been good for me to continue practicing my Spanish.

Mika doesn’t want to think about the departure because it means that she will no longer be so close to her parents and other family, but it is almost time for us to go and continue our own adventures.

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Every month Mika and I try to go on a special date. Last week she decided to surprise me and take me to Concon and drive along the coast and then we watched the sunset while eating all kinds of snacks. It was a good time and a fun way to enjoy our time together.

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We’ve also made it a tradition that almost every time we go to the Centro of Quilpue that we go and get ice cream. It’s so cheap that it almost doesn’t make sense not to……well that’s my way of justifying it at least.

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Quilpue Zoo and Chorillanas from J Cruz in Valparaiso

I know it has been a while since I have written but I have a good excuse. After 3 weeks of being sick, I went to the doctor and found out that I had strep throat! I’m not sure what hurt worse being sick or getting the penicillin vaccine in my butt. I’ve never had a penicillin shot before and everyone that I talked said it hurt really bad, I now know that they were not kidding. It was hard feeling horrible and not being able to go out and do things, but my sickness was more grave than what I had anticipated and I was hesitant to go to the doctors.

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Now I’m feeling good and ready to explore, yesterday we went to the Quilpue Zoo. It was nice and refreshing to finally get out of the house and do something different.

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Most of the zoos that I have been to are concrete jungles and flat but the Quilpue Zoo is on the side of a hill. It has a more rustic or park feel with dirt paths going to different animal cages.

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We saw many different types of animals but my wife and I enjoyed watching the monkeys play around. All of the monkeys were accustomed to ask for food and it was funny when they would stick their arms out through the fence holes.

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We spent a good time at the zoo and then went and got lunch at a quaint restaurant in Quilpue Centro to end our day date.

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Totally unrelated to the zoo we went to a place called J Cruz in Valparaiso and ate a traditional Chilean fast food called Chorillana. It is a very famous touristy place in Valparaiso city center and is in a place you wouldn’t expect it to be. When we got inside it is decorated with all kinds of random things and people have posted pictures/written things on the wall. There was also a guy playing an acoustic guitar when we first got there.

The food was really yummy! They serve in 2 sizes, massive and even bigger for 2 or 3 people. We ate like pigs and enjoyed every moment of it. Their natural juice was also really good, I would definitely recommend going there if you ever visit Valparaiso.

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Koko Head Crater Hike Oahu, Hawaii

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Some people call this hike The Stairs of Doom but I think it is a great hike to see Hawaii Kai as well as much of the Southern part of Oahu. Yes, it is about 1050 steps going up but it’s a good workout with a great view at the end.  I have done it 5 times and always enjoy being up top.

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Koko Crater Trail is a 1.8 mile hike and from the top, you are able to see Hanauma Bay, Hawaii Kai, a part of Sandy’s Beach, Makupu’u and obviously Koko Crater. As you can see in the other pictures you climb up railroad tie almost all the way to the top. At certain parts of the trail, it is a lot steeper and more strenuous.

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Depending on how fast you walk or climb it could take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. My wife and I hike it in about 25 minutes and with my parents, it was an hour.

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There is anther way to way to climb up but it is much longer and more dangerous, you can start in the botanical garden and hike along the ridge all the way up to the top, it has great views along the way but is much longer.

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It is definitely a hike I would recommend if you find yourself in Waikiki and are looking for a good quick hike to do. It is easy to find, free to hike and has plenty of parking down at the bottom.

Pichilemu and Punta de Lobos, Chilean Surf Capital

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So the day started off kind of rough we woke up at 5 so we could get rolling by 6……which did not happen. Mikaela’s grandma initially wanted to come but then once we were on our way you could tell that she had regretted the idea. It is a 3 and a half hour drive from Quilpue and she was not liking being in the car that long. I mean I understand why, but we all knew that it would be a long drive to get there. We finally made it to Pichilemu and as we were arriving at the city I noticed that the swell was coming in pretty strong.

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I had looked at reports and knew that is was going to be big, but it’s one thing to see it on a report as compared to seeing it in person. As we drove through Pichilemu to get to Punta de Lobos it was interesting to see the change in houses and style of life from Pichilemu city center to Punta de Lobos. Near Punta de Lobos there were a ton of upscale houses and tons of vacation rental properties.

We finally made it to our destination Punta de Lobos and were excited to get out of the car to see some waves! Punta de Lobos didn’t disappoint, the waves were firing. I was stoked to see the waves but realized I had made a mistake…… I forgot my freaking memory card for my camera! I was so bummed that I hadn’t thought of that when packing things for the trip. The camera on my phone was the only good option left.

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Since I have started surfing I haven’t been to many point break surfing spots but Punta de Lobos was awesome. It was extremely consistent with how many waves were coming through and ranged from 7-12 feet. I personally think that some of the sets were even bigger than that but I couldn’t tell you for sure. After watching some people catch waves at the famous big wave spot behind the two rocks I wanted to give it a try, but not where it broke as big. I put on my wetsuit and watched a couple of people paddle out to try and figure out what to do.

I put on my wetsuit and watched a couple of people paddle out to try and figure out what to do. After watching I felt comfortable to paddle out and I made it out past some rocks and got taken by the current, it took me a while to paddle to the spot that I wanted to be. After watching some waves I caught what felt like a massive wave and rode it for a good while and then paddled a little bit deeper than where I was before. I only have one board and unfortunately, it is not really made for those kinds of waves because it is only a 5’4″ and I’m 5’11”. Anyway I was deeper trying to catch a good size wave and a massive set came through, I paddled through the first 2 or 3 waves and then got destroyed by one of the bigger waves that had broken a lot deeper than where I was. I got wrecked and was underwater for about 10-15 second but it always feels a lot longer when you’re getting thrown around like clothes in a washing machine. I then decided to paddle closer to shore to catch some less intimidating waves.

After surfing we decided to go back to Pichilemu to see what was over there and we ate at a restaurant overlooking one of the main beaches. Mika’s grandma wasn’t happy about being so far away from home so late so we decided to head back even though Mika and I didn’t want to leave yet.

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Overall it was a fun experience and I really enjoyed the views of Punta de Lobos and Pichilemu. I would definitely recommend it if you enjoy surfing or just want to see something different in Chile.

 

 

Chilean Currency, Value of each bill compared to US Dollars and tipping guide

Managing money in other countries can be difficult, especially when you don’t understand the value of each bill it can make it hard. For those of you traveling to Chile here are some examples of Chilean Pesos and their value as compared to US Dollars.

 

As of right now, 665 Chilean Pesos is equal to 1 US Dollar. Here in Chile tips aren’t always expected but are appreciated. For example, if you go to a grocery store and someone is there bagging your food you can give them anywhere from 100 to 1000 pesos depending on how many bags you have and that is considered acceptable. If you are driving a car in Chile and someone helps you enter or exit a parking space most people tip 100-500 pesos depending on how much they actually help you.

 

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Bill Comparison

 

If you have any further questions feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

 

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Sunset in Reñaca Chile

 

Day Trips Driving Along the Chilean Central Coast

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Chile has many beautiful sights to see. I have been fortunate enough to be able to drive North and South of Viña del Mar with my in-laws and wife. There is a lot to see and it reminds me of California with a highway going along the coast similar to the Pacific Coast Highway. On Wednesday we went to Maitencillo, Cachagua, Zapallar, and Horcon in search of some waves to surf. We drove to Maitencillo and didn’t find any great spots to surf so we continued up the highway to Cachagua which was beautiful and there was only one other family on the beach.

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A nice deserted beach in Cachagua Chile

Side note: Chile is a great place to visit from March-May because most of the summer tourist have left which makes it a lot less crowded.

We walked the beach and found a rock pathway that went along the coast and was next to some huge houses. After walking around we decided to go Zapallar (further North) to continue the wave search but Zapallar is very enclosed and had no waves. As we went down into the city of Zapallar we passed through the quaint city center and as we were driving down the hill getting closer to the beach the houses started to get larger and looked like the belonged to affluent people. We made it down to one of the beaches and as we were walking down the stairs off in the distance my wife saw dolphins so we ran over to some rocks to try and get a better view. The dolphin was shy at first and then it started jumping around not too long after and we stayed and watched it for a while.

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After watching the dolphin we decided to head back home. On the way, we decided to make one more stop in Horcon. It wasn’t the prettiest place because it is a humble fishing town but we saw a rock arch and made our way over to it.

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Horcon Chile

We walked past an artisan market and there was a bridge with many ribbons tied to it, they call it the bridge of desires puente de deseos, because you write your desire on a ribbon and then tie it to the bridge. We took some pics and continued to the arch.

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Puente de Deseos

 

We then walked back and on the way back we were able to watch a beautiful sunset, it was unexpected because it was such a great view from a place that wasn’t as pretty as all of the other places we had visited.

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Procrastination; Everyone’s Worst Enemy. Trip to El Cajon de Maipo

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Yes, we are still alive and well but the struggle is real. At first I didn’t have any trouble thinking of things to write about and expound upon but we have fallen out of the routine of writing and updating the blog. I still have a lot of fun things and trips to write about but it can be hard to sit down and actually do it. If there is something that you are prorastinating find the best way for YOU to get it done as soon as possible. Personally I can have a hard time starting projects. No excuses should be made, I know it might sound cliche but Just Do It!

Once I start, my focus is set on completing a task as soon as possible. For example I recently made a video edit of some of our adventures in Chile. I started it one day, worked on it for about 2 and a half hours then finished it the next day in about an hour or so. It still a skill that I am developing but video editing and filming is fun for me. I like being able to capture moments that we have enjoyed and having the ability to go back and relive them later. It’s the same as photos. I don’t like being in photos but it’s fun looking back at all the memories I’ve had with my wife.

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Largest Pool in the World Algarrobo

 

Back to the adventure part of our stories, we have been doing a lot of fun things here in Chile. We have been to the sand dunes in Concon, surfing in Reñaca and Concon, made a trip along the coast from Valparaiso heading down to San Antonio, day trips to around the city of Valparaiso, and a trip to El Cajon de Maipo.

We had planned the trip to El Cajon de Maipo 2 weeks ago but were unable to go one weekend because of the weather up in the mountains. The next week we made the trip over to La Cordillera Chilena, Chilean Mountain Range. It was a long trip because we didn’t want to go through the tolled part of Santiago, the tolls can be pretty expensive but can cut your trip in half, it also didn’t help that the family dog decided to join the trip. We were about to leave the house and their family dog figured out that we were leaving and got inside the car and wouldn’t get out. They decided to bring him but he didn’t cope too well with all the traveling and the cold. The un-tolled roads en route to El Cajon de Maipo had so many curves and turns, I don’t usually get motion sickness but it was too much for me this time. Most of the highways here have many turns and it can be hard to get used too. The dog, Doki was freaking out most of the drive, he was changing seats and moving all around. It took us a long time to reach El Cajon de Maipo because my In-laws insisted on taking pictures every 5 minutes it felt like.

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Chile, the land of many curves

 

Finally we made it to our destination a natural hot springs camping area called Termas Valle de Colina. After about an hour and a half of Mika’s mom dissaproving of various camping sites we finally found one and set up camp. Doki wasn’t feeling good and started to decorate our campsite with what he had eaten. We set up camp and then made our way over to the hot springs, it was extremely crowded with tourists and many people from Santiago. There were two hot springs at the very top the highest one being the hottest, which nobody was in, and I put my feet in the second hottest one for about 5 minutes and my feet turned red, it felt like I was boiling. We then went down two more levels to be with Mika’s parents and some friends.

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The views were great from that hot spring, you coud see snow in the mountains and the valley below, but it was lukewarm so we went up to the next hot spring which was more like a jacuzzi. We stayed there as long as we could switching back and forth from lukewarm to hot enjoying the scenery.

 

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Mika enjoying the hot springs and view

 

After a couple of hours we went back to camp had barbequed some pork then prepared to go to bed. Doki slept in our tent and was walking over everyone the whole night. One of the friends, Francisco, helped let Doki out five times for him to do his business. Needless to say I didn’t really sleep that well because it was freezing and because Doki walked on my face two times.

 

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Sunset views from the tent

 

I woke up around 8 in the morning and left the tent because it smelt horrible! It was like an several animals had died and a sulfur factory, I wanted to burn my clothes to get rid of the stench. I quickly changed and invited others to go but nobody followed. It was a nice relief getting into the hot springs because I was no longer cold. After a while more and more people started funneling into the hot springs as well as my wife and everyone else that I came with.

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After a couple more hours of relaxation we went back to camp and packed up. Doki had made landmines almost everywhere and it wasn’t a pleasant smell when packing up so we were glad to get that done.

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We stopped several times on the way back becuase Doki was sick and we went to a waterfall we had seen from the road driving up to the hot springs.

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On the way back we decided to go check out a natural water resevoir that provide the water to the City of Santiago, it was 22 km up a road we passed on the way to the hot springs. Guess what, it had a lot of curves as well! We made almost to the top but decided to get out and walk because there were about a thousand cars that were blocking the entrance and exit and had made a ton of traffic where there shouldn’t be. We made it to the resevoir and it was a pretty sight.

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We walked back down and got back on our way down to the main road. Like I said before there were many curves and Doki wasn’t enjoying it, in fact he threw up, mostly water, in the very back of the car with Francisco. We stopped as soon as we could and did some quick clean up and continued on our way…..like usual making stops every hour or so.

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New Day New Blog Post, Sickness in South America and Valparaiso

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Being in South America has been great except for the fact that I’ve had diarrhea for almost 2 weeks. This may seem weird to talk about, but it seems to be a common problem because of something in the water. When I lived in Uruguay before I got food poisoning 2 times and it was miserable. Until about 2 days ago I wasn’t exactly sure what it was but now it seems to be either a virus or stomach flu. I am fortunate enough to get it when we just got here and now everyone including my in-laws think that they know what it is and how to cure it, as well as telling me not to eat practically everything.

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Having your in-laws tell you what you can’t eat really limits your diet, they have also been making me take disgusting medicines and herbal teas (which I can’t stand). I know they are trying to help but not being able to drink tap water and eat is terrible. In conclusion to my rant, the water is bad and you should avoid drinking it. Many people from the States get sick here in South America from the water so it might be more safe to either boil water or to not drink the water unless you want to be very familiar with your in-laws or hotels toilet!

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Enough of that boring stuff we can now continue with adventures. Recently we went to Valparaiso and had a good time touring around the city.

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It reminds me a lof of San Francisco but with a South American spin. There is a lot of great street art/graffiti. I have never been to a place where I have seen so much good and detailed graffiti, which makes the city unique. It also has many steep hills like San Francisco and narrow roads.

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We went to Valpo with Mika’s parents and her grandma/aunt. Her aunt and Grandma were freaking out when we were driving up one of the roads to the top. They were covering their eyes and saying how they didn’t want to die. We made it to a high spot and had a great lookout view.

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On the way down they were scared again while the rest of us were having a good laugh. We made it to the bottom and continued driving around the city center (centro). We then went and drove along the coast and stopped at a couple of places to walk around and take pictures.

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Chile, Cool places to see around Viña del Mar and Valparaiso Region.

After a fun and stressful experiences, we made it to Chile! Mikaela’s parents came to the Santiago airport to pick us up. We drove all the way back to my Inlaws house in the town Quilpue which is on the outskirts of Viña del Mar and is very laid back.

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We have been enjoying our time here. Mika’s parents have been treating us very well and had a welcome party/reception for us.

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I have been looking for a surfboard and wetsuit for the waves in Viña del Mar, Concon, and Reñaca. Last time I was here in Chile I was able to surf in Reñaca and had a good time.

It has been fun getting to spend more time here and getting to know Viña del Mar and surrounding cities better. The other day we went and walked around the by the beach and the pier in Viña, they recently restored the pier and it is a pretty place to walk around.

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Yesterday we went to the beach in Concon then made our way over to Reñaca for the sunset. Mika is loving being home and had a good time laughing with her dad trying to take a jump picture.

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Today we went to the dunes in Concon and had a really good time. We rented a sand board and I was able to ride it several times. I thought it would be more like surfing but I had a lot less control. I ate it several times and was covered in sand, which made me look like I had a full beard. We went back to the house and I still trying to get all the sand off of me.

Peru! Lima, Not A Place For the Faint of Heart

 

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El Gringo In Machupicchu November 2015

 

Where do I start? Peru has it’s pretty parts as well as it’s not so pretty parts. Most people are familiar with Machupicchu and recognize it as one of the 7 Wonders of the World. 2 Novembers ago I went to Uruguay, Peru and Chile and was able to go to Machupicchu and see other pretty things in South America but recently my wife and I spent 3 nights in Lima and it was completely different.

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Torres Family, who let us stay with them at their house

 

 

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the interior (not city part of Peru) but Lima was mind blowing for me! I lived in Montevideo Uruguay and Vancouver Canada for almost a year and neither are similar to how crazy Lima is.

 

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Mika with our tiny Kia Picanto

 

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First of all NEVER I MEAN NEVER rent a car in Lima! It was insane driving there in Lima. We almost were ran into more than 50 times in less than 2 days. Everyone there is extremely aggressive when driving and never follow any of the so called “rules”. The police hardly do anything to help. Public transit drivers are the craziest, bus and taxi drivers will do anything to steal your lane. My wife was freaking out most of the time becasue she was scared we were going to get hit. I was trying to stay calm and not show that I was nervous as well. I used the car horn like I was going to be in an accident pretty much the whole time I was there and it felt like it could happen at any moment.

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We rented a car the second day were there and met up with some friends of Mikaelas brother and then we went to the city center (Centro), and parked in a playa (which are parking places around Lima). We walked all over the city center and saw many cool buildings and old architecture. After being in Centro for a while we were hungry and went back to Callao where we were staying with some friends. Mika and I got my favorite dish Lomo Saltado and we decided to pay for their lunch as well and in total it ended up only being $17 which I found ridiculously cheap for 4 people to eat.

Later on, we drove to El Barranco (the cliff) and walked around that neighborhood which is more lively at night. It was fun seeing all the interesting people walking around and some crazies dancing humorously.

The second day we wanted to take it easier and wanted to go surfing at the beach Miraflores. The drive from Callao to Miraflores is different because it is right on the coast and has a lot of trash and rubble everywhere. Even though they are close to a pretty coastline it isn’t very well kept. The highway down to Miraflores is nice and they don’t drive as crazily over there. As we were driving from Callao to Miraflores the scenery gets progressively nicer, they are working on cleaning up the coastline and making it look more touristy I think. The surf there was pretty decent on the day we went and we decided to rent boards. We walked to many vendors and we asked them prices for a board for the day. Most of them are 20 Soles which is about 6 dollars but their selections are pretty limited and not very nice. We finally got one to lend us 2 boards for 30 Soles. We surfed for 2 or 3 hours and had a great time in the water.

 

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La Chilena enjoying the beach at Miraflores

 

On the way back to the airport before we returned the car there were 4 legal lanes of traffic which was then funneled into 5 by local traffic. We were bumper to bumper for about 15 minutes and I was very liberal with the horn when taxis or buses tried to steal my spot.

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