26 February 2011, 250km south of Arica – Northern Chile – 10:17am

On a Thursday night, 29 minutes walk from my hostel I find Club Mist and a group of guys with long hair and leather jackets unloading amps and guitars from a van. I meet Sam, the guitarist/singer from the band who welcomes me and introduces me to the rest of the guys. The two bands set set up and soundcheck in a venue that reminds me of fibbers in Dublin, a small sweaty rock club. We head across the road for some food before the gig and discuss SXSW in Texas and the state of music in Ireland and yes, U2 are one of the very few bands they've heard of. The drummer has lived in Paris for the past 10 years so I get invited to go see his bands there if I make it to that part of the world on my trip.
Yajaaira backstage after the gig in Santiago, Chile

Around midnight Hielo Negro from Patagonia take to the stage and it's not long before they have a mosh pit bouncing around in front of them. Then the original line up of Yajaira take to the stage. They are a bunch of guys who met in school and about 18 years later are celebrating the re-release of their first album on vinyl for the first time. It's a pretty tough venue to shoot in, with few lights and lots of bodies jumping and pushing at the front of the stage.

I get a taxi back to the hostel at 3:30am and sneak into the 9 bed dorm for two and a half hours sleep. Before I'm up at 6 to get me and my bags ready to head off on the metro to the bus station. Just after 7:40am, My epic bus journey begins. It's a rather peculiar sensation seeing the sun rise when you first get on a bus and 24hours later seeing it rise again, whilst still sitting in the same seat (number 25 if you're interested) The landscape of northern Chile doesn't vary all that much. In some ways it reminds me of the north Antrim coast, lots of headlands, rocky points jutting out into the sea. But it's mostly dusty rocks and sand in this part of the world. We stop in a few of the bigger towns to let people off and let people on but I'm one of the very few making the full 1600km journey.

The Atacama desert sunset from a bus window

I'm sure when most people take a long bus journey they hope to have an empty seat beside them or maybe someone who's got lots of interesting stories or someone who's really attractive who wants to flirt with you. I doubt anybody is all that excited when somebody with not one, but two small children sit beside you. So for lots of my trip it has been squealing, climbing, whinging, giggling beside me.

The place I am now I believe is the Atacama desert, the worlds driest place. The landscape has no plants that I can see, there are no clouds, just hills and mountains of brown dust as far as I can see. Small religious monuments litter the sides of the road, obviously the scenes of various traffic accidents over the years. But only another 250km to go till I get to stand up, have a shower, change my clothes and plan the next leg of my journey into Peru and the epic Machu Picchu.


  1. Thanks again for the birthday wishes. Sorry to hear the bus journey sucked.

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