Trying to find information about a bus from Puerto Montt to Pichilemu online was no where to be found. So before we had left Puerto Montt for our Patagonia adventure two weeks before, we inquired at the bus station and discovered we had to buy a ticket to San Fernando and then once we arrived there, buy a ticket to Pichilemu. We bought a ticket right then with Pullman Bus for CLP$22,000 ($44 US) each to Borja Terminal in San Fernando for January 18th, 2013.
It was the end of our Patagonia journey and time to leave on our 9:30pm bus. The bus was headed for Santiago, so we made sure to tell the attendant about our midway stop. Not long after we woke up at around 8am, the attendant told us to grab our stuff, we we’re almost there. The bus came to halt along the side of the highway at a bench. Beyond confused, Abe asked in Spanish, when the next bus to Pichilemu was coming. The attendant said about 15 minutes. We thought, oh okay, that’s not bad. So we stood on the side of the highway as bus after to bus to Santiago passed us by. Eventually, a man walked by and we asked him about the buses to Pichilemu. He said we had to walk down into the town to catch a bus. We shook our heads in disbelief, grabbed our 2 large rolly bags, 1 small rolly bag, surfboard bag, duffle bag, purse and backpack and headed down the off-ramp into the town of San Fernando. At the bottom of the off-ramp and across the street, we waited for a collectivo (shared taxi) with other Chileans. A nice one-legged man told us to hop in with him. He was also headed to the bus station. The next available bus wasn’t for another 2 hours. So we ate some breakfast in a small dingy bus station cafe and waited for our bus to depart. It took another 3 1/2 hours through beautiful wine county to reach Pichilemu. It was the Colchagua Valley. This is how we expected the wine country to look when we visited the Maipo Valley in December. Vineyards lined the roads. The scenery was absolutely stunning! To our surprise though, as we got closer to Pichilemu, there was a drug check like we were at a border crossing. Officers came up and down the aisle with dogs and rummaged through the luggage compartment below. Were cleared to go!
I had already booked our hostel online, Natural Surflodge for CLP$27,000 ($54 US) per night for a funky loft cottage. The rooms in the main building were modern and a little more expensive. The owner said to call when we arrived and he would pick us up. Unfortunately, it was a poor connection, so we just took a taxi for CLP$5,000 ($10 US). The surflodge is located halfway between the main part of town and the main wave break, Punto de Lobos. It was a beautiful stone building with a pool, heated by a fire burning stove. It took hours and lots of wood to heat, so we never actually got to experience it, but it looked cool. We loved our little cottage. It was private and very spacious. It was the perfect place to chill out after our long journey. We booked in for 2 nights and stayed 4. Our friend Sjererd from Holland that we had met in Canoa, Ecuador back in November was at a nearby hostel called Casa Green, waiting for our arrival. We walked up and down the side roads trying to find it, but were unsuccessful. All that searching made us hungry, so we stopped for the most delicious empanadas we had in all of South America at El Diabilitos. Yum!! We asked the owner of El Diabilitos if he knew the location of Casa Verde. He gave us the same directions as our hostel owner, so we decided to give it another shot. We went back up the same road we had before. Just as Abe was turning around, I said I would run up to the top of the hill and see if I couldn’t find it. Sure enough, we just hadn’t walked far enough. It was a ranch style building and property on the top of the hill overlooking the ocean just two dirt roads over from ours. Sjererd was still out surfing, so we passed along a message and headed back to the surflodge. On the way back down we passed a few Chileans enjoying afternoon drinks. Since they had seen us pass them by so many times, they insisted we take a shot of a local liquor. They didn’t take no for an answer, so we joined in for a toast. It tasted like a strange aperitif. I don’t think we will be searching for it in the shop anytime soon. We thanked them and continued on our path. A few hours later Sjererd emailed and we walked back over for drinks with his fellow hostel travellers. Our surflodge was really nice, more of a peaceful getaway. Casa Green was designed for socializing. They even had an outdoor fire pit set away from the main building for late night fun. I think if we were to stay in Pichilemu again, we would stay half the time at the surflodge and half the time at Casa Green. Since our bellies were still full of empanadas, we skipped dinner and joined them all for drinks by the fire.
Lucky for us Sjererd decided one night just wasn’t enough with his American friends, so he stayed another day. We rented bikes for the day, not realizing that a collectivo (shared taxi) was actually much cheaper. Bike rental was CLP $4,000/ day (about $8 US), where a collectivo cost about clp$500/person ($1 US) to Punto de Lobos or downtown. We spent most of the day at the beach. The surf was small and the sky was cloudy, but enjoyable nonetheless. That night, Sjererd, a few other new friends from his hostel and us shared two collectivos to nice a restaurant downtown on the beach called Secreto. It was some of the best food we have seen in Chile. My seafood pasta was to die for! Getting drinks was the only problem. Once we could finally get the waitresses attention to order a new beer or mojito, it would literally take at least 30-40 minutes for it to arrive. But you know, the waitress and bartender were busy. There was at least 4 to 6 other people in the restaurant too. We just had to laugh. After dinner, we moved to a fire pit in the sand and shared stories of all our different travels. We said farewell to our dear friend Sjererd, sad to say goodbye or at least until next time.
Over the next two days, Abe and I relaxed in our cottage and at the cloudy beach, surfed, caught up on our blog, ate many more empanadas and explored the town. On our last day in Chile, we took the 1pm bus back to Santiago (4 hours) via Melipillia (which is faster than going back through San Fernando). We had no idea, where the bus would drop us off. But it turned out to be on the far west side of Santiago (close to the airport) and right next door to a station that had direct airport transfers for only a couple bucks. Finally easy and affordable transportation! If only we knew there were bus transfers before taking all those expensive airport taxis! Our flight on Aeromexico to Mexico City left at 11:45pm and was set to arrive at 5:35am. We we’re about to see Abe’s parents for the first time in 7 months. Plus eat Mexican food and beer for 3 weeks. Excited doesn’t do it justice!