As great as life is in Santiago, it’s definitely necessary to escape the hectic hustle and bustle of the city once in a while. To breath clean air and listen to the birds rather than the traffic, to walk along forest paths rather than concrete pavements, to be surrounded by mountains rather than infinite multi-story buildings.
Last Sunday we decided to take a trip to Quebrada de Macul, on the outskirts of Santiago. Day trips such as this would probably start at around 9am in England, but being in Chile with a group of Chileans meant we arranged to meet at 1pm, actually setting off for the park at 2pm once everyone had arrived. After taking the metro to Grecia we had to take a bus to the very end of the road, dropping us off right by the huge hills that mark the end of the city. We then realised we were still nowhere near where we needed to be, so had to take a taxi for another 10 minutes. There wasn’t a taxi in sight, but in the end a random old man offered to take all 8 of us in his 5 seater car, 2 in the front, 4 in the back and 2 in the boot, for a total of £3. Can’t really complain.
We arrived at an idyllic ranch type complex, surrounded by horses, chickens and dogs. We registered our entry at a wooden cabin and were indicated the “emergency number” we were to call if there were any accidents, which didn’t turn out to be very helpful as we lost phone signal as soon as we entered the mountainous park, and didn’t recover it again until we were back at the entrance.
After a few minutes we found somewhere to buy some water; a little farmhouse with a shop attached. We asked to use the toilet that the signs were pointing towards, but a toothless old farmer invited us to use his personal one; we felt obliged to accept. We walked through his kitchen, a few bedrooms and were greeted by his entire family before reaching the bathroom, which we ended up getting locked inside of. Not a great start to the day. Once we escaped the toilet and the farmhouse we set off; it was after 3pm by this point and we had a lot of walking to do.
We soon realised we had not come best prepared; most of us were wearing flimsy plimsolls, which was in hindsight a stupid idea seeing as we had lugged our walking boots all the way to Chile primarily for this purpose. The path was super dusty, slippery and steep for 90% of the walk, on many occasions we were clinging onto each other for dear life as we scrambled up and skied down sections of path.
We saw some equally laughable hiking gear along the way; predominantly people wearing trendy (?) t-shirts brandshing slogans in English. The funniest were “It’s not easy being easy” and “I’m a loser”. It really makes you wonder whether these people have any idea what the slogans mean, or if they are perfectly aware and think that they are at the height of fashion.
In the end we trekked for a few hours up to a waterfall, stopping for a picnic lunch by the river on the way. It was mainly very peaceful, passing by the occasional walker or wild animal, including a huge spider and a snake. It was absolutely boiling and we were still sweltering in our shorts at 7pm when we made it to the bottom again.
Bizarrely the same “taxi” we had got on the way was parked at the bottom. The driver leapt out when he saw us and told us that he had been waiting for us… for 4 hours, really? Better just to hop in and not question these bizarre happenings. We got home an hour or so later, covered in dust but content. There are so many places like this just outside the city to explore, the question is which one to visit next!