The One About Chile

Some time last year Fiji Airways started its WOW Sales [with really WOW! fares]. The first set of sale fares included Nadi-Auckland return trip for around 500FJD. I remember we were having a weekend getaway at Bularangi Vila [our favourite Vila in Fiji] when the whole lot of us bought our tickets to Auckland for a road trip that wouldn’t pan out.

Post purchase, I started looking at direct flights our of Auckland because I wanted something more exotic. Chile popped up among the list of destinations together with Thailand, Indonesia and Tahiti. I had already visited Thailand and Indonesia, and the visa for Tahiti was too much hassle, so Chile was an easy choice – and so was convincing my travel buddies. And so it was decided, we would be chilling in Chile for a week!

There were exactly two places I wanted to visit in Chile: Atacama Dessert and Easter Island. Due to the time constraints and flights costing a fortune, we gave Easter Island a miss. We spent a couple of nights in Santiago and then headed to San Pedro Atacama. While in Santiago, we stayed at an Airbnb close to the market and Bela Vista so that we are in close proximity to both food and drinks.

There are of course numerous things to do and see while in Chile, but I shall write only of the two which will be ingrained in my memory forever. My must do while in Santiago was to grab a drink in one of the oldest dive bars in Chile, La Piojera. After some 14 hours of flight we got into Santiago on a Saturday afternoon. After a bit of rest, we headed out on the direction of husband dearest and ended up finding ourselves in front of a questionable entrance which made us do a double take. Since both our Google map and Maps.me were indicating that we were in fact at our destination, we ventured in.

We knew this place to be old, but once you get in, you realise it hasn’t undergone a renovation since 1896, surprisingly it doesn’t need to either. Beyond the crowd in the courtyard, is the bar area where we ordered our terremoto [the Chilean national drink fondly called: the earthquake]. Armed with our terremotos we headed back to the courtyard where we found a standing spot among many a slurred accents. And after a few drinks we also found some new friends!

After Santiago, we headed to San Pedro de Atacama. Unfortunately, there was heavy rain and flooding just before we had arrived and a number of the sightseeing spots were unfortunately closed. Lucky for us, the one thing we really wanted to do was accessible – the Valle de la Luna. The name is a dead giveaway to what to expect from this place, but I gotta tell ya – of all the places I have been, nothing has taken my breath away quite like this, both figuratively and literally. The valley is so vast and diverse, I couldn’t help but marvel at the wondrous landscape.

Protip when visiting the Moon Valley: take plenty of water, sunscreen, and wear comfortable and durable shoes. Also take a power bank for your phone – you are gonna need it for a full day of photography 🙂

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Shaiza Janif

A thirty-something who finds pleasure in creating beautiful things. I am equal parts creative and lazy, so at times just the thought of creating suffices for me :)

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