Well there is a common thread emerging to our South American travel story - long bus rides! We knew this was always going to be part of the equation, SA is a very big place, air travel is expensive and we want to spend a reasonable amount of time in a few places rather than a little time in a lot of places.
We left Beunos Aries with two destinations in mind: the first was Santiago where our bus was bound; and the second was Pichilemu which would require another bus.
Option 2 was our preference, because having just spent time in cities we weren't desparate to experience another and Pichilemu offered a place to chill for two weeks and hopefully score some waves.
The travel went smoothly enough for the most part, the bus was comfortable and travelling through the Andes at day break was simply spectactular. The Argentine / Chile border is right in the mountains and the going was quite slow with many trucks and icy roads to contend with - not to mention the ever present military presence.
Our bus was equipped with a border crossing officer and it was his job to make sure all the necessary documents were in order to facilitate a speedy crossing. This all felt like a good idea to us, particularly given our language limitations. At the border everyone filed off the bus and into the control office. We both got our passports stamped and even managed a short Spanglish chat with the control officer. However, while this was going on all our luggage was being offloaded and instead of just getting back onto the bus and on our way as we were promised all the passengers were filed into another room where all the luggage was piled up. I was called up first to open up my surfboard cover and explain what they were and what I intended to do with them. This would have been very funny to watch with me using what Spanish I could combined with a bad charade that resembled the 1990's "can you tell us where the waves are?" Coke commercial - I guess surfing isn't that popular in the Andes?!?!?
I obviously gave them a satisfactory performance because they turned their attention to someone else, and I happily hid back amongst the group. Shortly after we were back on the bus and happily on our way down the other side, again very beautiful scenery. What I didn't realise at that point and would only find out later, was that my backpack had also received some attention while we weren't aound and was a bit lighter for the experience. My jacket, which was a really a cool black cord lined with wool, had been stolen - bastards!
Anyway, having arrived in Santiago I did a quick once round the bus station while Suzie watched over our gear and found out that we could be on a bus to Pichilemu in 15 mins - "lets go" I can still hear Suzie saying and 5 hours later we were standing in the main street of Pichilemu (which was deserted) with all our kit and no plan. We landed on our feet pretty quickly, finding a comfortable hostel close by and even managed to find a shop open that sold killer empanadas - and so began a love affair.
The next morning we awakened to a beautiful morning and my questions about the location of the surf and was there any were quickly answered. The town is right on the coast with a surf break right out front (Puntilla) and there were waves! Before the surf though we had decided to familiarise ourselves with the town and the cabanas recommended to us by our new friends in Perth Steve and Ant. We accomplished both these tasks quickly and were happily settled into our beachside cabanas by lunch time (see photo of Suzie in the window).
So my attention quickly turned to the surf, and having not surfed since we left California I was getting very keen to get wet. Puntilla, the break right out front of our cabana is a long left point with a really nice beach break section. The surf at the point was a solid 8 foot so I decided to warm up with the beachie which was still 4-5 and pretty heavy.
Once I got past the first bank it was apparent that current was a killer and that surf fitness was very poor. As a result I did a lot of paddling and got very few waves - tomorrow I would head to the point and beat the current that way.
This strategy sounded good except the current at the point was even stronger with the surf still holding at 8 foot and my fitness no better. The result was that I got wisked away down the beach pretty quickly - again not too many waves to brag about. This pattern continued for the next two days, but bit by bit my surf fitness increased and so did the amount of time I was able to stay in the break. Anyway after much perserverence and patience from Suzie (my mobile prosthesis transport system) I got it and spent the next 10 days surfing some of the most amazing waves I have ever experienced.
While the surf is an obvious highlight for me it would be a mistake to say that was it for Pichilemu. Suzie was able to ride horses on the beach as often as she wanted, we played racquet ball almost daily while the sun sunk into the sea and met some amazing people who welcomed us into their world very quickly and openly. Meeting Chris, Val, Dan, Adam and Monica made our time in Pichilemu better then we could have hoped - we can't wait to see you all again in Pichilemu (soon I hope!).