Monday, 29 October 2012


In classic Chilean style, I was invited on a hiking expedition over an extended lunch one day. The trip was over 2 days, up into the Andes mountain range just to the East of Santiago, climbing a mountain called Cerro Provincia, a relatively small 2750 metres high. Despite Wikipedia telling me the trip was doable in a day, I was assured by Enrique (the other teacher I was going with) that the kids we were taking would take at least double this. We were going with 15 children from Primero Medio, which is pretty much year 9, aka 15 year olds. Yay.

Enrique's orange trousers
We left at 8.30am on the Friday, and I rapidly realised that Enrique was entirely correct and these were some of the slowest people I'd ever walked with. This being Chile, we also had an extended 90 minute lunch break for everyone to have their food and a nap. The walk up was pretty easy, and we arrived at the campsite by 1500 that day where the boys went off to find water (no taps here!) which we collected from a nearby stream. Because there's really no wildlife up that far (save the odd Mountain Lion) and it's remote, the water is drinkable straight out of the stream - at least this is what I was told. However, no cholera so far, so it seems as if it was indeed legit. Arriving back at the campsite (basically a clearing) we put up the tent and had a nap, followed by a dinner of chicken and rice that Enrique's friend had brought with her. Then, marshmallows over the bonfire and an early night, after a suitable amount of time admiring the insane views over night-time Santiago.

Defying health and safety
The next day we were up early (well, 7) and after a quick trip for water the one group that was still keen headed up towards the summit. On this trip the path became a gradually less well-defined concept, and at some points we were essentially climbing, minus safety equipment. However, still alive, we reached the summit after about 2 hours climbing and found it to be considerably colder than expected; snow was still on the ground from last week's bad weather. After a few group pictures we rapidly headed back down, and made it back to the campsite in good time, amazingly without any major casualties. Finding the girls had wandered off somewhere, and decided to do nothing in our absence (like take their tents down) we settled down for another nap and waited for them to arrive. 2 hours later we were ready to head back down to Santiago, and set off with me at the front attempting to set a slightly faster pace. This rapidly failed, especially when combined with the steep slopes and massive lack of traction - lots of slipping and falling ensued, and meaning I accidentally taught some of the kids a few more colourful words in the English language.

If you really want, you can watch my video of the trip below, and notice how, for some reason, I go massively rah at sunset. But that's about it.

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