Turn off the tele;  Live your life.

The TurBus Diaries - turn off the tele, live your life

A shop window in Castro, Chiloe

This story is based on the emails I sent home from a trip I did between late March and early June of 2006 with my then partner Angelica.

The destination was her country of birth, Chile, and the plan was fairly loose. There was family to catch up with in at least three cities and some places Angelica knew she wanted to take me, but, apart from that, there was not a lot worked out.

We ended up as far south as Castro, on Chiloé Island, north to San Pedro de Atacama and managed to see a few places in between. One of the many highlights of the trip for me was stopping off for three days on the strange and mysterious Rapa Nui on the way home.

I went back for just a few weeks in 2009, but would love to go again. Six months in Chile, Argentina and maybe little bit of Peru would be about right I think.

Richard and Angelica are going to Chile

Firstly, apologies for the bulk email. Some of you are overdue for a real email. If I can manage a spare second before we leave, you may even get one!

As the subject suggests, we are soon to be heading to the wilds of South America. Very soon in fact. Like frighteningly soon, like OMG soon, like this Tuesday soon!

Here I actually am, about to go overseas when I haven't finished exploring my own country yet. Really not something I ever thought I would find myself doing. It's a little bit exciting and more than a little bit terrifying, which is good.

The main reason for this email is to let you know that you may be receiving exciting travelogues from this address at some time during the next 2 months.

Any messages you would like to send to me/us while we're away will be gratefully received - when we do get them - and will be replied to as we can. Be aware that we will be in some fairly remote places at times though, so if you don't immediately hear back, don't get too worried.

Look forward to catching up with you all when we return!

Arrived safely

Wing of the Airbus A340 that took us to Chile

Wing of the Airbus A340 that took us to Chile, over the Pacific just after dawn, with six long hours still to go.

Just a quicky to let you all know we arrived safe 'n' sound. Flight was not altogether pleasant - just long and cramped really - but we survived it OK. We are staying with Angelica's brother Gustavo and his family in Santiago. They are really nice people who are treating us with much hospitality.

Gustavo, Ignatio, Camilla, Chofi & Angelica

From left: Gustavo, Ignatio, Camilla, Chofi & Angelica.

Haven't done much yet but confirmed today that they have shopping malls here too. Not usually my cup of tea, but everything is pretty interesting here at the moment. Tomorrow we're going to head into the city to see some real Chilenos, according Ang.

Not sure how long we'll stay in Santiago but, as much as we have been warmly welcomed here, we're both itching to get away from the city which has seriously full on air pollution. First though, we'll check out the sights and maybe some of the night life. Angelica is threatening/promising to take me to a real latin nightclub where they play real latin music. Looking forward to this.

We'll be available by email for the next few days at least and are going to buy a new sim card for the phone so we can send and receive text messages also.

Picture of Gustavo and Chofi's house

Gustavo and Chofi's house in Santiago.

Still getting used to being here on many levels, as one would expect. Many things are strangely normal, like the mall today for example, while others - Gustavo and Chofi, who are not by any means rich, have a live in maid - are bizarre to me and somewhat confronting. Feeling very tired still and a bit fragile emotionally, but this doesn't seem hugely surprising. Had to fight back tears a few times today witnessing the incredible gulf between rich and poor. In the supermarket which was in many ways like a Safeway, there were mestizo (mixed race) youths waiting near the checkouts who would pack shopping bags, carry them and even push trolleys for the wealthy shoppers. They do this for tips only. The only dark skinned people in the whole mall were workers, the shoppers are all light skinned and earn anywhere from 100 to 1000 times what the mestizos get. And we are only in a middle class area.

Anyway, more soon. I must go so that Gustavo & Chofi's daughter, whose room the computer is in, can go to bed.

* TurBus is the name of a major bus company in Chile