Campana mountain climb

Trip Start Mar 31, 2010
Trip End Mar 31, 2011

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Flag of Chile  , Valparaíso,
Tuesday, January 18, 2011

We drove south again through the miles of nothingness, seeing even fewer cars now it was midweek - and we later learned that this was one of the more populated areas in the country!   We stopped in a small village called Olmue so that we could go to the nearby national park and
climb La Campana, which Charles Darwin had climbed and then enthused about.  We set off without giving it much thought and it turned out to be an extremely tough climb, up and down 1500m in blazing sunshine with a time limit because the car park was locked at 5.30pm.  It was too hazy to see the sea but to the east we could see some fantastic snowy Andean peaks.  The climb and the view were excellent but as ever the downhill was interminable and left our out-of-practise legs very sore for days afterwards.

The hills around Olmue were much greener and are immediately somewhere that feels more homely than the harsh desert of the north.  Although there was plenty of water in the Elqui valley and survival was probably very easy with the perfect food growing conditions, there was something forbidding on an elemental subconcious level about the barren surroundings that had said it wasn't a place for human habitation.

In Olmue we were also to begin to appreciate Chile's incredible fast food addiction.  The food of choice is a hot dog with sauerkraut, guacamole, tomato and mayonnaise called a 'completo'.  In the supermarket there was precious little evidence of the lovely turbocharged vegetables we saw in the Elqui valley: everyone was buying white rolls, frankfurters and huge packets of mayonnaise.  There was a little shop selling excellent homemade ice cream, but business was languishing as most people preferred the rubbish cornettos sold over the road.  As you would expect, the Chileans are probably the blobbiest and unhealthy looking people we've come across on our trip so far.   They can also be a rather dour bunch, not particularly welcoming at first, although they tend to loosen up after a little while. 

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Dean Lake on

What has happened to the commentary? My welcome escape from the pain of being in the office offered by the witty comments detailing life on the road appear no more (well for 3 entries anyway)

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