leticia hughes

travel blog & photography



Posted by Leticia Hughes on January 26, 2010 at 10:09 PM

1 pisco sour, a few beers and some tinto vino, I am picking my first blog of our 2010 adventure should flow pretty well!!!

NB:  For those not up with the play, boy wonder Mazza and I are traveling again (we ended up spending all of 2009 working our butts off).  This time we have 10 months to explore South / Central America (getting married to the Caribbean), UK, Turkey, Egypt and India.  Ding ding!!  WIll be a trip of a lifetime - again.


Today was one of those days where I actually needed to pinch myself…  The sun is shining and it’s a warm 27’C with a cool sea breeze.  Mazza and I are wandering the crowded and somewhat quaint streets of Vina del Mar in Chile and we discover a local Latin band playing in Plaza Vergara.  We stop and sit on the grass with the locals and enjoy some of the most captivating and magic live music I have ever heard.  The panpipes are fabulous, the guitarists are awesome (not to mention pretty damn cute) and it is at this point that I have a moment of “this is what travel is all about”!!!

We started our Sth American adventure 5 days ago in Santiago where the heat is not dissimilar to the arid heat of Western Australia. On our first evening it does not take us long to sniff out the local street restaurant, which serves very large pitchers of Chilean beer and snacks.  We enjoy the cerveza and attempt to order from the Spanish menu – we end up with queso (cheese) covered pizza and a friggin hot dog.  Good one gringo (tourist)!!!  After devouring our nutrious meal, we stumble back to our hostel and fall into bed exhausted.

We spend the next 2 days exploring Santiago and only discover its enormity after climbing a hill!!  With a population of 7 million spanning over 15km2, it makes this condensed city somewhat smoggy – am I in China again??  Despite the air pollution, I am however captivated by the relaxed Chilean atmosphere and the contrast of old versus new in all the buildings.  I am also surprised that no one is hassling us to buy things, even in the tourist markets.

After Santiago we head for bohemian Valparaiso.  First impressions were not good as we landed in gang land (oops we should have read the lonely planet a little more closely).  Thankfully we arrived in the morning and while we were greeted by the smell of urine and vomit, we were thankful that most of the derelicts were still pissed / passed out from their Saturday night antics.  I thought I looked understated in my nike shorts, adidas t-shirt and brookes trainers (yeah right) however to the locals, I looked like a walking ATM.

Head down, I hauled my broken arse up some very steep hills that make Dunedin and San Francisco seem flat, to locate the hostel we booked online.  Time for another “oh dear” moment – we got this wrong.  The hostel we booked can only be described as ferrell, so needless to say we found another place to stay in the historical, safe part of town.  Our new hostel turned out to be more of a home stay with a lovely old Chilean couple that made us feel like royalty.


Our only hassle in Valparaiso was when we got locked on the bloody roof of our 4 storey hostel by a couple of locals who obviously thought it was a great joke.  Little did they know that they were contending with a tired, hungry, premenstrual and jet lagged Leticia!!!  After banging on the window and door for half an hour, we were rescued by a lovely American couple.  No not funny.  OK just a little funny in hindsight.


I won’t go into too much detail (don’t want to freak mum out!!) but we eventually got the courage to explore Valparaiso.  It does not take long to figure out where gringos are not wanted.  

My biggest learning’s over the last week…

  1. Speaking Spanish is not an option, so I am frantically learning Espanol and keeping the locals amused with my pronunciation.
  2. Backpacks are now front packs to discourage pick-pocketers.
  3. Chilean’s eat their main meal at lunchtime and most restaurants don’t open until 20:00 for evening meals.  We have adjusted our eating habits by drinking from 18:00 – 20:00.

We are constantly blown away by locals stopping us for a chat…  some speak English but most of the time I find myself nodding and saying si (yes) as they rattle off in Spanish!!  Hopefully I can partake in more meaningful conversation during our five months in Central and South America!!!

We are now spending the next four nights in Vina del Mar and plan to explore the coast.  But for now, it is time for bed – buenas noches!!!


PS:  I am now known as Lee – teeee – seeee – ahhhhh.  I love having a Spanish name in South America : ))


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Reply Jace & Shar
4:36 PM on January 28, 2010 
Hola gringos!
You are a hilarious blogger! Sounds like you're off to a good start and getting amongst it again. Safe travels and we look forward to the next update...
Reply CLare Hughes
2:35 PM on February 3, 2010 
Hi Guys
Enjoyed the blog, could just imagine you on that roof....... scary stuff lol !!! All sounds like good fun, take good care xx