We would like to write that we were true to our August words and discovered every nook and cranny of Santiago. We would like to pretend that we wandered its streets in search of hidden gems and forgotten wanders, peeling away its big-city facade layer by layer, alley by alley.
However that would all be a lie. Instead, we basked in the rare chance to set up a home and put our wanderlust in temporary storage.
Mario and Pfiffi
Since we’ve left our little temporary home in Santiago, reminiscing about these two has become a daily occurrence.
After spending five and a bit weeks with them, they really started to feel like our own pets and it was pretty heart wrenching to say bye to them. They had very distinct personalities.
Mario, the elder statesman, was calm and dignified indoors but became a maniac as soon as he left the house. He was fantastic with people, often sitting on our laps whilst we worked but a switch would flip whenever he saw another dog; this entailed picking him up each and every time we were in the vicinity of a canine on our walks (and our walks took place in an exceedingly popular dog walking park). However, with that face and that hairstyle, who couldn’t love him? In fact Mario was not short of admirers wherever he went and with everyone it was love at first sight.
With Pfiffi, it took a little longer for us to fall in love. Rescued from the streets, she still had the mentality of a dog unsure of where its next meal was coming from which unfortunately resulted in her stealing ours on more than one occasion, including gobbling 100 grams of our precious cheddar cheese from the table. She would never sit when asked, never come back when we called and could poop for the country yet, after a week or so, those big brown eyes won us over.
We bloody loved them both.
One of the great things about house sitting? Having your own pets. One of the worst things? Having to say goodbye to them.
A terremoto or two
It’s always nice to end up in a country and discover you’re there for a national celebration or special event (unless that means hostels jack the prices up). So far, we’ve had Semana Santa in Belize and Colombia, plus joined in the Independence Day celebrations in El Salvador and Peru.
On September 18th, we joined over a thousand Chileans in Parque O'Higgins at an Independence Day fonda for the afternoon. Empanadas everywhere, metre long meat sticks, live music and our first ever taste of the drink everyone had in their hands - the terremoto. Meaning 'earthquake' we had heard quite a lot about it in the lead up to our visit to Chile, with numerous other travellers warning us that if you have more than three, you're going to be blind drunk. At just under £2 per glass, it was ridiculously sweet with a base of cheap white wine and a big scoop of pineapple ice-cream - and after only two we were certainly feeling the affects.
The highlight of the whole day was when the second band started to play more traditional music and couples, old and young, made it to the floor to dance cueca, the traditional dance of Chile. With white handkerchiefs fluttering in the air, feet stomping and hands clapping, it was a real treat to watch.
Those drinks weren't our only experience with terremotos in Chile. Just a couple of days before, the country was shaken by an earthquake measuring 8.3. Coming from the UK, neither of us were that acquainted with earthquakes prior to this trip, but we've now witnessed about eight of them, with this being by far the strongest.
Andrew was out walking the dogs and, whisper it, but was completely oblivious to what was going on at the time (his audiobook really was that interesting!). It wasn't until he got home and Emily rushed out to greet him (a rarity) that he realised what had happened. For Emily, who had been in our house, it was a little more concerning. We've experienced a few earthquakes on this trip, but when the house was still violently shaking 30 seconds in, it was time to grab her most valuable possessions (laptop and camera, obviously) and run for a door frame and watch the trees, street signs and surrounding houses shake back and forth. It only lasted a few minutes, but it felt like forever!
We were lucky though. Although there were several aftershocks throughout the night, the house suffered no damage and there was no real drama for those of us in the capital.
A little bit of Santiago
So, aside from our house, the dog park and the inside of the supermarket, what else did we actually see in Santiago?
As we were in the city during the tail end of winter, we weren't blessed with great weather. In fact, it was pretty awful (dreech would be the world that sums it up best if you speak doric). So, when we did get lucky with some sunny days, we headed to Bellavista for some drinks on the pavement and cheap pizza with buskers in the background and street art on the walls.
A day wandering around the centre of town took us to a few museums, including the excellent Museum of Remembrance and Human Rights which documents the 1973 Coup and subsequent dictatorship of General Pinochet; if you're in the city, it's definitely worth a visit. After that, we wandered around the main square, people watching, taking some photos, munching on empanadas and belly-laughing at this mime artist.
However, after being in Latin America so long, we weren't especially motivated to spend very much time in the city. Instead, we were very content being in our little bubble in the quite wealthy area of Viticura, putting our money towards good food and wine and just enjoying having our own space.
A new look
In August's post, we mentioned that we had long-standing plans for this site which we hadn't been able to put into action due to constantly travelling. Well, as you've hopefully already seen, September's more sedentary life gave us the chance to make big changes.
When we started out, we both wanted to create something which was beautiful and would help out and inspire other travellers. This was our first ever attempt at building a website thought and, after a year of building an audience, online authority and learning a bunch of stuff, we knew that it could be better in a number of ways. So, for the last two weeks of the month, we were pretty much glued to our computers working on the new design for Along Dusty Roads.
It took more than a few late nights towards the end, but we managed to meet our deadline for launching and we're both so happy with the results. We've vastly improved the 'places' pages so people planning their next trip have easier access to our most important posts whilst our new 'photography' section is a much more visually appealing platform for sharing our favourite images from our travels. We hope you guys like the changes as much as we do.
Packing our bags again
And so, after a lovely first taste of house sitting, it was time to transfer our lives and worldly possessions back into our battered rucksacks which, in Emily's case, is pretty much held together with a combination of duct-tape, safety pins and blind faith.
Were we ready to hit the road again? Absolutely. However, over the next six months, we're hoping to travel a little better, learning the lessons of the last eighteen months, to ensure that we make the most of all the opportunities that come our way and avoid burn-out. There are many miles ahead before we return to the UK but would we choose to be doing anything else right now? Not a chance.