I wake up feeling like death! Something is very wrong.. I take a few sips of water and immediately my body decides that an exit strategy for the h2o is needed. This is not good at all. Some form of stomach bug has made my system its home for the next 24 hours. This sucks! Punto Urbano Hostel has an excellent breakfast of omelettes and chocolate pancakes that I won’t get to enjoy.
I manage to keep down a very salty mini omelette and half a banana, but still feel like trampled meat left out in the sun. The idea of getting on to a bus for 8 hours or so for a scenic drive through the Andes mountain range is not appealing at all right now. I was so looking forward to it actually, as it is an epic ride with iconic scenery – another once in a lifetime experience. I drink some anti-nausea, anti-vomiting and anti-stomach cramp meds from our trusty mini medical kit and hope for the very best.
We board the bus around lunch time ant T starts munching some left over pizza from the night before. And I just feel like I might die..the aroma of day old cheese gets stuck in my nostrils and I feel very queasy as the bus starts on the winding roads. Eventually I force an apple down, knowing that I need the nutrients. The bus is filled with gringos. A Canadian with his Spanish girlfriend, a western European of some kind who keeps stealing my pen and an Aussie couple on their way home after a 6 month trip around the continent who share their coco tea bonbons with me in the hopes that it will banish the nausea.
The scenery through the mighty Andes is almost alien. It is rocky and grey – not beautiful or lush, but definitely something to be seen. High up the caps are covered in snow and every now and then a turquoise lake appears seemingly out of nowhere. Water spills from mountain rocks like miracles and the winding roads seem to stretch on forever. Unfortunately I only have flashing memories of this landscape and no photographs to show as the thought of staring out the window through a lens nearly made me vomit in that fragile state.
Halfway through the trip we make it to the Chilean border, where customs is extremely strict. Bags are opened and checked, we are questioned about our belongings and our intentions before being let back onto the bus that heads to Santiago. We accidently smuggled in some Argentinian carrots – I do not recommend this, and it WAS an accident.
The Chilean side of the Andes is greener and more of a pleasant sight than the Argentinian side. We arrive in Santiago – but not before I puke apple all over the bus toilet, try in vain to clean it up and cry my eyes out while all this is happening. I really hate being sick!
The bus terminal in Central Santiago is insane at 8pm on a Thursday in January. I am drained, sickly and weak. My backpack has never been heavier and a tiny part of me wishes I was at my mom’s house right now.
But first we must venture into this unknown city.