Santiago, Valparaiso and Mendoza
18.02.2013 - 02.03.2013 30 °C
The patient presented with chest pain, but unfortunately it wasn’t Pam’s time to shine – he was a Spanish speaker and apparently communication is important in the nurse-patient relationship. Some med students assisted instead. Another announcement told of a pending early landing in light of the medical emergency. Meanwhile a second passenger suffers chest pain and is attended to by the over-worked med students. I ask Hayley if chest pain is contagious.
Relieved at the answer and the fact that the landing is aborted given the patient’s new-found well-being, I go back to catching zzzz’s.
Some hours later we are again awakened by an announcement by a very shaken airhostess asking for medical assistance once more. Thinking that our amigo had had a relapse and given we were now mid-Atlantic, it seemed quite the pickle. Alas, it was actually an airhostess having a seizure. HPL again whipped down the back to assist and did stuff with a stethoscope. Again language was an issue (German crew) so this patient was also left to the med students. With that her shift was over. The airhostess bounced back (we believe) and thankfully no more patients were admitted.
Some sweet views along the way
After almost two days in transit, we were stoked to arrive in our hostel in Santiago, get horizontal and try and revert kankles back to ankles.
The following day and ½ was spent taking in the city. Perhaps that wasn’t long enough to give a good assessment, or we weren’t where we should be, but we felt a little underwhelmed. Aside from the spectacular backdrop of the Andes (which can be seen from some convenient mole-hills in the city) the city itself felt like it was in need of a good urban planner and a dash more soul.
The next stop was Valpariso – a port city on the hills overlooking the Pacific. Famous for its cerros (hills), heritage-protected ascensors (hill-side elevators/cable cars), seafood and pickpockets we were (mostly) excited to get amongst. At the bus station we were wooed by ‘Nelly’ who had a self-contained cabana out the back of her place. Sold.
Valpo, as the locals call it, has its charms; pastel-coloured houses on the hills, golden beaches and spectacular vistas. Equally it has its fair share of draw-backs, namely the common tang of stale urine in the air and a rather unappealing downtown area. We had three stunning days in Valpo and I even enjoyed a dip in the freezing pacific – think ice-cream headache-on-your-feet-cold.
Gorgeous golden beaches
Funny little piers
Playing up in the hills and admiring the colourfull houses!
A fun ride in the Ascensor
Colourful graffiti everywhere
View from atop our cerro!
The trip to Valpo was a means to bide time until our week of Spanish lessons was due to kick off in Mendoza, Argentina. So, we retraced our steps a little and headed across the Andes to Argy overnight (with a 0230-off the bus, on the bus, walk-through of customs = less than conducive to a good nights’ sleep).
Mendoza is vino-mecca for Argentina – I’m told the region produces 70% of the nation’s drop. Situated on the flat next to the Andes in the middle of the desert – it really is a beautiful oasis. To keep the city green – there are mini irrigation canals running along every street next to the trees (which have all been planted one-by-one in this artificially lush town).
Quite fortuitously and unintentionally, our visit to Mendoza coincided with the annual harvest festival, which is a big deal here. Think – pink ‘wine’ fountains, fiestas every night for a fortnight, a tightly contested beauty pageant and parades where the ‘queens’ toss fruit to/at the crowd (including melons. Yes, melons – we were thankful not to sustain any head injuries).
Wine degustation on night one
Hanging out at one of the events. Free wine and music on the rooftop - sure thing!
Wine fountain anyone??
Whilst we did enjoy some of these extra-curricular activities - the focus was 4hours/day of lessons, a bit of homework and perfecting the art of the siesta. Now at the end of the week we have a few of the basic concepts on board to build on our survival Spanglish.
Hitting the books
Believe it or not we are studying in the park here. Great way to meet people is to hang out at these intercambios where the locals can practice English and we can practice the ol Espanol
The last day of school was spent in the kitchen learning how to cook empanadas (all in Español). Harder than it looks to fold these puppies up
Our last day in Mendoza was spent riding around the vineyards of Maipu sampling the local specialties like Malbec and Torontes and avoiding the crowds back in town who were itching to find out who Miss Mendoza 2013 will be… Results to follow.
Beautiful Scenery of Maipu Valley
Sweet Bikers - Pretty much sons of Anarchy right there
Wine tasting bneath the Andes
Chillaxing after the really tough day out
Random fact: They put their rubbish out daily in Mendoza... Cray CRAY
Next stop – Pucon, Chile on the road south.
Hopefully we can find a washing machine so we can stop with the handwashing