Today we were supposed to go to Valparaiso but Valentina could not get a bus big enough for all of us to come pick us up so we ended up cancelling our trip and Anny gave us a free day. I was excited because I was tired and I was planning on finishing the book I was reading and starting my first paper. When I was about to crawl back into my bed and start reading, Dan came knocking on my door and asked if I wanted to go hiking. I was so set on staying in the room and chilling all day but I thought when would I get the chance to hike in Chile again? Probably not for a long, long time. So Dan, Ian and I set out on an adventure. We took two trains in order to get to a bus station were we planned to take a bus to this huge camping and hiking complex that was supposedly very well known. When we got to the bus station, the bus that we expected to get on wasn’t there and we were directed towards a “colectiva” something we haven’t yet heard of. It is like a taxi but it’s cheaper because they stop and pick up people on the way and go all over the place. We paid only 5000 pesos (about ten dollars) for him to drive us thirty kilometers. That ride would have been well over 20000 pesos in a normal cab. So we got in with one older lady and drove for about 40 minutes. He did not understand where we wanted to go but he knew we wanted to go walking in the mountains (our way of saying hiking in Spanish). He though it was very weird. Anyways, after driving us for so long, he stopped across the street from this very dark tunnel and told us that if we walked through the tunnel we could hike anywhere on the other side. He asked us if we had a lantern and Dan said yes even though we didn’t. We thanked him and headed for the tunnel.
We wished we had a lantern when we got there. The tunnel was so long we couldn’t see light on the other side. We decided we would try to make it through even though we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. There could’ve been bats, snakes, or even homeless people living in the tunnel. But, we went for it. I put the light on my video camera on and we all slowly made our way down, grasping onto each other’s arms with white knuckles. It was probably the scariest thing I’ve done in my life. We made it to the other side and realized we could have easily just walked on the road and that the colectiva driver was messing with us. It didn’t matter though now we started searching for a hill that was unfenced so that we could hike to the top of it. We walked along the road for probably a mile and our search was fruitless. We finally made it to a shop where two people were closing up and about to drive home. They told us that they could drive us five kilometers down the road to the police station and the cops would be able to tell us where we could hike. How nice of them to offer to drive us! We hopped in and when we got to the station the cops just pointed us further down the road. We kept walking ad found nothing that wasn’t fenced off. So, we just stayed on the road and walked for miles. It was beautiful though, snowcapped mountains on either side of us and two converging rivers next to the street that we were walking on. As we trekked, a pack of dog started to follow us, one in particular never left our side. We named him Jim. Then a duck started to follow us to. It was like Noah’s Ark we had six animal hiking with us at one point. We had a great day enjoying the scenery and the beautiful weather in whatever town we ended up in.
We started to walk back around 4:30 so that we could get home before dark and we didn’t really have a plan. If we could get a bus or a colectiva great, if not, we were hitch hiking. We ended up getting empenadas and thumbing. We walked for probably 25 minutes and I’d say 40 cars passed us without stopping. Then one white truck stopped and we hopped in grinning ear to ear. It was two guys, two mechanics, who were heading to Santiago! Which we learned was 70 kilometers away. They drove us 70 kilometers home asking us about American music and teaching us Spanish swears. It was incredible. How did we get hooked up with such nice guys. All we did was buy them a pack of cigarettes (800 pesos, or two dollars) and they drove us all the way to Santiago. It was an unforgettable day. Good thing I didn’t stay in to read!