Iquique for Christmas–Valparaiso for New years


 

So Christmas relaxing on a gorgeous beach it was. If you remember from a previous post, we were planning on heading to Santiago/Mendoza for Christmas, but the Lord had other plans. Heading to Iquique, we didn’t know much about the town except for the fact that it was a beach town in Northern Chile with some really great waves to catch, whether that be through surfing, body boarding, or body surfing.

 

We boarded our bus from San Pedro de Atacama and had about a two-hour drive to Calama where we would wait for a couple hours before our bus to Iquique took off around 11:30pm. In Calama, we hung out in the bus station playing cards and enjoying the Christmas music they had playing in English. We felt like we were waiting in a US airport about ready to go home and surprise everyone for Christmas. It was a really good time!

 

Our bus arrived, and before we knew it we were on our way to Iquique. We got into Iquique around 5:00 am, and didn’t have a hostel or anything. We were hoping to find a place to camp for our time there, but everything was closed with it being that early in the morning. We spent an hour or two walking around going in and out of different hostels before we found Backpacker’s Hostel. This hostel was amazing and we got an overwhelming sense that we should stay there for the night.

 

{Traveler’s Tip… Stay at Backpacker’s Hostel!! The man that runs the place is extremely nice, the kitchen is full of all the necessities and is cleaned every night, you can bring in your own alcohol, great wifi, nice terraces, it’s just steps away from the beach, and there is a goodie grab bag of beach toys and umbrellas, all while being one of the cheapest ones in Iquique that we saw.}

 

Now those of you reading and thinking, well obviously you would get an overwhelming sense that you should stay there with all that, but we only knew that it was near the beach when we booked at the Backpacker’s Hostel. As we said in our previous blog, we now know that the overwhelming sense that we should stay there was because the Lord wanted Heather to get her hands on a specific book that He would later use to speak clearly to us. Check out the blog No Coincidence. Only God. to read about how the Lord used that book on our trip so far.

 

The view from our terrace at Backpacker's Hostel.

The view from our terrace at Backpacker’s Hostel.

Jason decided to brush out his beard.. looking umm.. fresh??!!

Jason decided to brush out his beard.. looking umm.. fresh??!!

 

As you can assume, we had such an amazing time in Iquique. The hostel was literally right off the beach, making us be beach bums every day for a week. It was flat out, straight up awesome. Our daily routine was to get up, have breakfast, head to the beach, go back to the hostel for lunch (usually homemade guacamole and chips) then back to the beach until around 5/6:00 when we would head back to the hostel, shower, and prepare dinner. Our time on the beach was filled with lots of reading, hanging out with great friends, naps, body surfing, soccer, and paddle ball. Our evenings were filled with great pool games, hanging out with Jake and Taylor, (two Americans that we actually ended up traveling with for three weeks), and chatting with loads of people at the hostel.

 

Paddle ball!!

Paddle ball!!

This is what our December looked like!!

This is what our December looked like!!

 

Needless to say, our Christmas week was quite a bit different than what we are used to in Oregon. Palm trees instead of Christmas trees, sand angels instead of snow angels, and a nice tan instead of goosebumps!! Before we knew it was Christmas Eve, and we tried watching The Santa Claus (a family tradition we started last year) but it wouldn’t work. So instead our Christmas Eve was spent playing our awesome pool game, FaceTiming family back home, and having a great conversation between the two of us of what Christmas will look like for our future family.

 

Sunsets in Iquique weren't always the best.. but the days there were awesome!

Sunsets in Iquique weren’t always the best.. but the days there were awesome!

 

To both our surprises being away from family was difficult, but honestly not as hard as we thought it was going to be. We were able to FaceTime friends and family back home to get our family fix in, and then really relax and enjoy Christmas day with just the two of us, a bit different than the fun craziness we are used to at the Green house!

 

Christmas morning we woke up and tried to make French toast like we had outside of the canyon in Peru. It definitely wasn’t as good as the French toast the man made us, but it was fun trying to make it. After breakfast, we got ready to head down to the beach to spend the day body boarding. We realized it was about 8:00 am back at home and decided to try and FaceTime the family to see Jonathan and Alexa’s faces when they saw what Santa brought them.

 

The timing could not have been better. Everyone was just getting up and the kids were just about to race to the living room and we got to see it all! It was awesome! After a long FaceTime, we said our goodbyes and hit the waves. We had an awesome Christmas dinner with two Australian girls and ended the night watching The Santa Claus! (Jason got it to work!!)

 

Our Christmas!!

Our Christmas!!

Christmas morning from the Green house!! It's like we were there!!

Christmas morning from the Green house!! It’s like we were there!!

Christmas dinner!! Mashed potatoes, pork, veggies, and an apple thing for dessert!

Christmas dinner!! Mashed potatoes, pork, veggies, and an apple thing for dessert!

 

We spent a few more days soaking in the sun and walking around the town before catching a bus down to Santiago so we could spend New Years in Valparaiso.

 

Clock Tower in Iquique

Clock Tower in Iquique

Iquique's main plaza

Iquique’s main plaza

Huge birds that we sat and watched from the harbor.

Huge birds that we sat and watched from the harbor.

And again.. mid flight.

And again.. mid flight.

These things were massive!!

These things were massive!!

It's a pirate's life for someone!! This is the remake of Esmeralda.

It’s a pirate’s life for someone!! This is the remake of Esmeralda.

Bow of the Esmeralda.

The back of the Esmeralda.

Yo Ho Yo Ho a pirates life fo me!!

Yo Ho Yo Ho a pirates life for me!!

Watching the sea lions eat and play.

Watching the sea lions eat and play.

 

Iquique to Santiago.. Heading South for our Valparaiso New Years

The bus from Iquique to Santiago is a 24-hour ride along the coast. It was a really pretty drive and actually went by quite quickly. We got on the bus and we were so stoked about our awesome seats. We were on the coast side, with a window that opened right next to us, the air conditioning and lights worked in our seats, the TV was in perfect position for us to see the movies, and both our seats reclined without any trouble. All was perfect!!

 

Or so we thought.. About ten minutes into the drive the girl behind us started throwing up. We politely asked the bus attendant if we could move seats, but all the seats were taken. We would have to deal with her being sick the whole time. And yes, when we say the whole time we mean it. She literally threw up the entire 24-hour bus ride. Yes, sitting in the seat directly behind us! We put in headphones and tried to block out what was happening, but we both felt so bad for her!

 

{Traveler’s Tip… Take CikTur from Iquique to Santiago. The food on the bus was decent, the seats were really comfortable, and they had two different drivers for the long ride. Yes, the throwing up behind us was unfortunate, but that’s not the company’s fault. It was the cheapest tickets and they still served two meals on the ride.}

 

We finally made it to Santiago and made our way to our couch surfing host’s work to get his keys. We found his work with no problem, and he took us to his house. It was a bit out of town, but had an amazing view of the city, and was worth the metro and bus ride. Luis, our host, was amazing. Super friendly, energetic, and really nice. He had to work until 8:00, so we had some time to just relax at his place after our long trip down. We made nachos for dinner, enjoyed having conversations with Luis where he spoke English and we spoke Spanish so we could both work on our second languages, and then headed off to bed.

 

Valparasio New Years

In the morning, we caught our bus to Vina Del Mar. Vina Del Mar is a city right next to Valparaiso on the coast of Chile about 1.5 hours away from Santiago. Vina is a bit more touristy and safe, and with the town of Valparaiso jumping from 300,000 people to over 1,000,000 people for New Years, the hostels in Vina were a bit cheaper. We were extremely pleased with the hostel we chose in Vina. It was someone’s house that they made into a hostel and they kept it extremely homey and clean.

 

{Traveler’s Tip… Stay at Jaguar Hostel in Vina Del Mar. The breakfast there is extremely good, and the atmosphere makes you feel at home!}

 

Our first day in Vina was spent exploring the city and eating amazing sushi!! We made our way down to the coastline and walked until the end of the sidewalk where we sat for about an hour watching the sunset and standing with our jaws dropped as skim boarders performed in front of us.

 

The skim boarders were doing flips and landing back on their boards and riding waves out and then basically surfing them back in, they were awesome. We then made our way back to the hostel, where Jason nearly got drenched by a huge wave that crashed against the rocks, and Heather got chewed out for walking too close to the rock wall.

 

We don't even have to go to Easter Island to see one of these things!! This one is in Vina Del Mar!!

We don’t even have to go to Easter Island to see one of these things!! This one is in Vina Del Mar!!

 

{Traveler’s Tip… Go to the coastline and then walk all the way to the left until you can’t walk anymore. This is where the river joins the ocean, and there is amazing skim boarding there!!}

 

Our amazing Sushi dinner!!!

Our amazing Sushi dinner!!!

Church in Valparaiso.

Church in Vina Del Mar.

Sunset with the beautiful castle!!

Sunset with the beautiful castle!!

Sunset and skim boarding in Vina Del Mar.

Sunset and skim boarding in Vina Del Mar.

Sunset in Vina Del Mar.. right before Jason almost got soaked by the waves!!

Sunset in Vina Del Mar.. right before Jason almost got soaked by the waves!!

 

Taylor and Jake came into Vina our second day there, which was New Years Eve.  The four of us took the local bus into Valparaiso, got off at a random stop, and took one of the escalators up to where great graffiti was supposed to be. As we were walking around, everyone was stopping what they were doing and just staring at us. Literally people were staring from their cars, our their windows, and on the roads. We figured it was just because we were a bunch of white people walking around, but we were so wrong.

 

We stopped at one place to take some pictures of some graffiti, when an older woman came out of her store and started frantically talking to us in Spanish. We all looked at each other and then told her we only speak a bit of Spanish and asked her to talk a bit more slowly. She then repeated herself slowly with gestures, and told us that we needed to get out of the area, take care and really watch around us because we were in the area of the Mafia. After us all freaking out a bit, and realizing that’s why everyone was staring at us, and we asked which way was the quickest to get out of that area. She pointed and we walked real fast in that direction. Luckily we were right above the main road and we all made it out safely.

 

{Traveler’s Tip… Although there is great graffiti in the neighborhood of Cerro Polanco, this is not a safe place to be wondering around. There is great graffiti all over Valparaiso, so stay safe and wonder around somewhere else!!}

 

These were awesome houses on our way up to the graffiti!!

These were awesome houses on our way up to the graffiti!!

The Ascensor that we went up.. a good idea that actually wasn't so good!

The Ascensor that we went up.. a good idea that actually wasn’t so good!

Vina Del Mar from the Ascensor Polanco.

Vina Del Mar from the Ascensor Polanco.

Awesome graffiti!!

Awesome graffiti!!

The people in this area pay for others to come graffiti their walls so that nobody else does it with bad graffiti.

The people in this area pay for others to come graffiti their walls so that nobody else does it with bad graffiti.

Such creative minds!!

Such creative minds!!

It's crazy that they literally graffiti the entire wall.. top to bottom, left to right!!

It’s crazy that they literally graffiti the entire wall.. top to bottom, left to right!!

One of Heather's favorites!!

One of Heather’s favorites!!

They were all so different...

They were all so different…

...and so unique

…and so unique

One of the craziest ones we saw.. the way it's done on the corner is so hard to understand!!

One of the craziest ones we saw.. the way it’s done on the corner is so hard to understand!!

Crazy Hair!! Almost matches Jason's!!

Crazy Hair!! Almost matches Jason’s!!

 

After wondering around the city a bit more, getting the most refreshing drink ever, and searching forever for bus 612, we decided to start asking people where we could get the 612 bus. This bus is supposedly like a roller coaster ride through the city, so we really wanted to get on the bus just for fun. Everyone we asked kept pointing us in the same direction, and saying just a few more blocks up.

 

We eventually ran into Ascensor Artilleria and decided to take that to the Mirador 21 de Mayo to get a great lookout of the city. When we were in line for the ascensor, bus 612 drove by. We couldn’t believe it. We literally were looking for this bus for like three hours and didn’t see one of them, then when we were in line one just happened to drive by. Since we were in line, we couldn’t catch the bus, and just decided to go to the mirador anyways.

 

Captured the boys trying to find where we were on the map!

Captured the boys trying to find where we were on the map!

Downtown Valparaiso!! This picture reminds us of one we took in Europe a while back!!

Downtown Valparaiso!! This picture reminds us of one we took in Europe a while back!!

Hey girl hey!!

Hey girl hey!!

This one is extremely strange!!

This one is extremely strange!!


{Traveler’s Tip.. Ride the Ascensor Artilleria up to the Mirador 21 de Mayo. There is a naval museum at the top, and it’s a great view of the city. It costs 500 pesos to get up to the mirador, so if you want to spend a little less, you can also take a bus up, but those are a bit difficult to find!}

 

Mirador 21 de Mayo was amazing. It was an awesome view of the entire city of Valparaiso and the coastline up to Vina Del Mar and even further north! At the top, there were loads of people already setting up camp for the firework show, and we decided that after dinner we would head back up to the same spot to watch the fireworks. From the mirador, we walked up the hill a little bit further to try and find bus 612. This was an impossible task that ended with us getting drinks and walking around the city with our drinks in black plastic bags.

 

This was apparently a sight to see, because locals were pointing and laughing at us, and were extremely friendly saying how funny it is that we were drinking. We talked to a man in a meat shop about bus 612 and he basically said we were stupid for wanting to get on a bus just to ride it with no destination in mind. We laughed with him about how dumb we were, and searched for a new bus to get us back to Vina so we could grab some dinner, our drinks, and get changed for our New Years night.

 

Riding the Ascensor Artilleria up to Mirador 21 de Mayo.

Riding the Ascensor Artilleria up to Mirador 21 de Mayo.

This is how the ascendor works.. the cable goes around this big wheel pulling one car up while the other moves the cable going down!!

This is how the ascendor works.. the cable goes around this big wheel pulling one car up while the other moves the cable going down!!

Pretty sweet set up!!

Pretty sweet set up!!

Mirador 21 de Mayo lookout.

Mirador 21 de Mayo lookout.

Beer and cider on the streets of Valparaiso! Yes.. after not having cider in months we finally found a place that had some. Heather was happy!

Beer and cider on the streets of Valparaiso! Yes.. after not having cider in months we finally found a place that had some. Heather was happy!

 

We didn’t realize that everything was going to be closed this night, so instead of making a quick dinner, we had to go out to dinner instead. Options for places to eat were extremely limited, but we eventually found a sushi place for actually really cheap. We got over 100 pieces of sushi to split between the four of us, thoroughly enjoyed every piece, and then caught the bus back into Valparaiso.

 

This bus was jam-packed!! So many people were heading into Valparaiso for the firework show and huge party that we didn’t even think we would fit on the bus. But if there’s a will there’s a way, and not only did we fit on the bus, but they stopped a couple more times to squeeze more people in too!! Heather chatted with a nice lady the entire ride, who we actually ended up walking to the main part of Valparaiso with. She invited us to go with her to where he brother worked to hang out for the evening, but we wanted to go back up to the mirador, so we thanked her for the offer and parted ways.

 

Hello one million people!!

Hello one million people!!

 

Trying to get to the mirador was a joke. Streets were closed and people were everywhere. We were shoulder to shoulder with everyone around. We squeezed our way to the main road where we found a gap in between people big enough for the four of us and we camped out there for the fireworks. The show was absolutely amazing!

 

There’s a reason it’s one of the top five fireworks shows in the world! After the fireworks were over, we were heading to a bar to hang out at for a bit when we ran into our friends Flick and Luke! These are the friends we were hoping to meet up with from Sucre, but we never in a million years thought that we would find each other in a crowd of literally one million people. We hung out with them for a bit, and headed back to our hostel at around 4:00 in the morning. (Update on Flick and Luke, we recently met up with them in London in September!)

 

It's New Years Eve!!!

It’s New Years Eve!!!

Amazing Show!!

Amazing Show!!

And again.. they went on for so long.. and you can kind of tell in this picture that you can see the firework shows all the way up the coastline!! Truly amazing!!

And again.. they went on for so long.. and you can kind of tell in this picture that you can see the firework shows all the way up the coastline!! Truly amazing!!

Perfect Spot!!

Perfect Spot!!

Not so sure who would get a hot dog from these people!! Doesn't sound like very tasty meat!!

Not so sure who would get a hot dog from these people!! Doesn’t sound like very tasty meat!!

Taylor's Toy Story backpack did us well that night.. Taylor was a walking bar tender!!

Taylor’s Toy Story backpack did us well that night.. Taylor was a walking bar tender!!

We found Flick and Luke!!!

We found Flick and Luke!!!

 

The next day we literally slept all day. We finally left the hostel at 5:00 pm to get some fresh air and grab some dinner, and then went back to bed. In the morning we caught our bus to Mendoza for some wine tasting.

 

You could say it was a bit crowded on New Years day at the beach!

You could say it was a bit crowded on New Years day at the beach!

The shore of Vina Del Mar.

The shore of Vina Del Mar.

First picture together in 2015!!

First picture together in 2015!!

 


…Where We Are Now and Where We Are Heading…

 Since Valparaiso, we have spent three days in Mendoza, a week in Santiago, and have made our way down to Pucon, Chile, where we are currently. We have been here for about five days, and will stay here through the weekend. Our plan from here is to go south. Not exactly sure what that means or where we will be heading, but eventually we want to be trekking Torres Del Paine in the southern part of Patagonia on the Chilean side. We are hoping to catch up on our blog before heading further south, but the amazing campsite and awesome lake here has kept our attention outdoors instead of on the computer!! Sorry!! We will post again though soon!!

…Obviously, this update was from back in January of 2015.. nearly a year ago now!! How crazy the time is flying! As for a current update…For those of you who don’t know, Jason just finished up his first year of his master’s program in Scotland, and we have one more year left here. We’ll still be traveling at any chance we get, however, don’t even know where we’ll be this Christmas (2016). We’ll keep you all posted!


…Prayer Requests…

 *Jason’s health. That is always a prayer request if you haven’t caught on.. Thank the Lord for healing him from Crohn’s, and pray that the Lord keeps it away and takes away the symptoms he is having now.

*Pray for guidance for us as to where the Lord is leading us. We know we are supposed to be down here now, and that we need to get back to Oregon by the beginning of August, but we aren’t sure what the time in between is looking like.

*Pray that we can continue to give time to the Lord and really surround our thoughts, actions, and entire days around Him.

*Praise the Lord for the safety He has provided us so far, and pray that He continues to keep us safe!

*Pray that we are lights to all we come in contact with!!


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