Category Archives: Chile

Arequipa to Arica, Saturday, 12 January 2013, Day 193

Straight roads to the hills!

Then twisty in the hills

I am in a bit of a funny mood I have been to Machu Picchu I have got me new tyres so all of my immediate goals I had have been achieved leaving nothing else left to do except the big one and that is the bottom of South America and that one seems miles away and that is what is so daunting and at this stage looking at the maps I am doubting my ability to be able to do it. I have no idea what is causing this lack of confidence perhaps I know more now than when I started and I was totally naïve when I set of on this adventure in June but as I have progressed my knowledge about the road ahead has grown and this is what is scary if only I could go back to being totally ignorant maybe that could help. Knowledge is king so they say but in this case I rather not know and meet up with it blindly and deal with it as it comes but at the moment I am fretting about the road ahead rather than looking forward to the road ahead. Ho hum onward and forward and all that. (Suck it up you ponce!)

Today is time to say goodbye to Peru and hello to a new country Chile maybe that will lift my spirits. ( I think I am a new country junkie :-))

Hope they where not aiming at fast moving yellow objects!

I had big plans on getting on the road early as I was heading to Arica, which was 430km away plus a border crossing. Out of the mountain Type Mountains into the desert Type Mountains so in other words still huge mountains only the colour changes from green to brown and temperature from cool to warm I stopped for breakfast in a strip of Road Side Cafe’s I have no idea which one to pick so I chose the one in the yellow Inca Kola livery and order some fried eggs and they also had some nice pork sandwiches as well so that perked me up. A lovely but cautious ride to the border as I was feeling out the new tyre set up as I had no idea how the new combination would  work but seem to be okay most of the issues are in my head and in reality they seem to be working as they should no strange feedback except the odd twitchiness over the tar mac banding where they have tried to fix the road but you get that with all tyres so it looks like my gamble (lots of in depth research actually) on the replacement tyres may have worked.

Had to go in the one with the Yellow Inca Kola livery 🙂 for breakfast.

I got to the border at 3pm and my GPS was telling me I would not reach Arica till 6pm and it was only 20km. So before I start another GPS rant it was right as there is a 2 hour time difference between Chile and Peru do not ask me why but meant that I was going to be late getting to my final destination as I still had to get over the border.

First the simple bit get Daisy exported out of Peru. Problem one huge queue one lady doing both export and import but she did export first as that is just a rubber stamp exercise. Problem 2 I needed a form not sure what it is called but it is the holy grail document at this crossing it had all your details on it and it gets stamped at every part of the process on both the Peru and Chile side and when you get all the stamps they let into Chile so first thing I had to do was to locate this form and get it filled in then next the stamps you need are

  • Export Bike Peru
  • Export self Immigration Peru
  • Import self immigration Chile
  • Customs Check Personal Chile
  • Import Bike Chile

So when you have all 5 stamps you hand in this special form and you are now in a new country.

This all took 1.5 hours so patience and the ability to stand in queues is a most and little more Spanish on my side would help enormously but I got through and made some new friends along the way.

Short run to Arica to a place called Sunny Days Hostel and I am booked in I have a complementary Lemon Juice and small piece of cake which is nice it about 8.30pm here so later than planned next stop money and food all within a stones throw from where I am staying. There’s a market but it is closed already but I find a sandwich shop and end having a huge meat ham cheese sandwich, which really hits the spot.

I went for a walk down to the beach caught the tail end of the sunset and stumbled on a 7 a side rugby full contact competition being played on the beach. So I settled in to watch this and it was great. There was sand flying everywhere, which added a whole new dynamic to a 7 a side rugby match. Unfortunately I got there to late and the game finished quite quickly so I wandered back to the hostel and worked on the never-ending chore of Phillys Big trip Blog. It was late when I went to bed but in my reality early due to the 2-hour time difference.

Another pleasant sunset!

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Arica to Iquique, Sunday, 13 January 2013, Day 194

Which side left or right

You may have probably noticed I have decided to go to Chile and skip Bolivia and here is my rational;

  • The only thing I knew about Bolivia that I wanted to see where the famous salt flats and maybe La Paz (even with the horrors stories I heard about the place)
  • It was the rainy season
  • The roads are bad and worse still in the rainy season
  • I would have to double back via  Juliaca!
  • No one I had talked to recently had anything good to say about Bolivia it was all negative.
  • I need to get my arse moving South or it going to be very cold trip if winter sets in
  • Chile is the quicker route with better roads see point above

So the plan was to move south and maybe hopefully see some of the Dakar Rally but it looks like I maybe ahead of it now so I would have to slow down and stop for a while if I was going to see some of it and I am not sure how easy it is to get to see the race as the course is unknown up until the moment that it starts so where would I stand in the hope that it may go past where Phillys is happens to be standing.

So I am heading to a place called Iquique just because I like the name. The Hostel did a good breakfast with everyone sitting down together chatting, which was nice and it was hard to pull myself away from, as dialog was interesting and engaging. So I am back in the desert however this desert different than the one in Peru it seems to be much more hilly and not so dusty but its still a desert so still very dusty and sand everywhere but engaging enough and very pleasant riding.

Sculptures in the middle of the Desert Why!

 

          

I stopped for some sculptures out in the middle of no where and was thoroughly enjoying the ride my mood and spirit lifting moving south so the trick it seems is just to get busy and hit the road and leave your blues behind you 🙂

It was a short ish ride and I had heard about a ghost town called Santiago Humberstone which was an old Saltpeter mine and the town that was build next to it to house and support the workers so a total self contained little town that was in operation from 1872 until 1960 when production stopped and the town was deserted and left to go to ruin. It is now a museum and you can wander around this place and its like a ghost town the building are still there in various states of repair as much is metal that has eroded some parts have been done up slightly and its quite large. So it took me a couple of hours before I seen the majority of it. Similar to Beamish and the Canadian Historical outpost I had visited not quite as slick and done up but that added to its charm of the place and we all know that Philly loves these types of places and I can spend hours just wandering around these and this place was no different so I had a great couple of hours discovering this lost town first to the factory with the old rusting building and locomotives and then to the town with the posh houses for the managers and then to the workers cottages the church, the market, the shops, tennis court, and a huge theatre and the piece de resistance a huge metal swimming pool I am guessing if you are in the middle of a desert so that does kind of make sense. So this village was there for the workers and had everything there I am not sure what the working conditions where like and I cannot imagine what it was like in its hay day as not much in the way of info but all in all a couple of hours well entertained on my mini voyage of discovery of this derelict ghost town.

      

      

      

      

      

      

Big metal swimming pool in the desert it does makes sense!

      

I spent longer than anticipated at the ghost town and I could easily have spent longer but I needed to find somewhere to kip so that is onwards towards Iquique. First place full, second place no safe parking, third place full. Oh dear its going to be one of those nights. I had an address of a Paragliding club that had rooms and the worse case scenario camping facilities! So I tried to locate this, which was difficult as it was just out of town and my GPS was not playing ball. So I stopped to ask 3 coppers on Horseback on the seafront and was quite an amusing dialog and chat one because my Spanish accent is so bad a I cannot get the double ll pronounced right at all so they had no idea what I was wittering on about but I showed them the address and out came the IPhone and Google maps and we are sort of there but then they had to explain the directions to me in Spanish.

Well in the end I found it a Paragliding club at the far end of town on the side of cliff gorgeous views but no they where full but I could camp. Oh well nice evening gorgeous setting so why not so the tent is pulled out of its bag for the first time since the 19th August last year so I have been lugging the tent and kit around for 120 days and never used it well it does makes a great back rest when I am riding and I guess it will be used more in the coming months yuk!

Back Under Canvas 😦

View not bad!

No food available but there is a small shop at the bottom of the hill that may sell something as I did not want to go back into town and it was a Sunday. I found the shop and brought the ingredients for a turkey and cheese sandwich not the kind of things you expect to find in a corner shop that is in the middle of an area where all I could see was a containers shipping yard and love motels and a club having a beach pool party the music you could hear all the way up to the Paragliding club.

I walked back to the Paragliding club and and I had my dinner chatting to a retired German chap who was travelling around in his van called Bernard who was kind enough to lend me his adaptor as the plugs here are different in Chile they are not the American type but similar to the Europe type plug only thinner so you can try and ram your European plugs into the socket but it will probably end up breaking them (This sort of worked last night!) so I need another adaptor.

Nice sunset nice location Paragliding folk not that friendly but Bernard nice and I had my computer and the Internet so a pleasant evening and then back on my hands and knees crawling into the tent. I am always putting camping down because of the hassle and the hands and knees stuff but I do get my best night sleep in the tent and tonight was no exception I went to sleep to the sound of the club pool party and latest south American pop songs nice.

Iquique to Antofagasta, Monday, 14 January 2013, Day 195

Eerie but Beautiful Cemetery one yellow grave!

Oops I have let this slip again so what happened today I had better check the photos. Well in short quite a quite day again in the desert but in the hilly part. The highlight if you can call a cemetery a highlight was I have given it away already was an old cemetery between the hills (keep calling them hills they are pretty huge so guess they may be mountains) and the beach. It looked like it had been abandoned and obviously the folks buried there were not that rich as no stone gravestones but all weather worn wooden ones. It was really eerie as well as being beautiful and sad all the same time.

      

I spent some time just wandering around trying to be respectful but I was also enjoying this place very much so mixed emotions. I kept getting flash backs of the good the bad and the ugly or was it for a few dollars more by Sergio Leone a spaghetti westerns where they are all at the old graveyard looking for the buried money with my favourite soundtrack by Ennio Morricone which was buzzing in my head for most of the day. The saddest part was the children toys on the kid’s graves this always get to me.

kiddies grave sad 😦

Quite a long day but not much to report I hit Antofagasta as planned problem again was trying to find somewhere to stay. I tried a couple of hostels they were all full then I went down the coast a bit to try some campsites first one closed due landslide risks, second one no water but still wanted to charge full price third one private for students from the University only. Bugger back to town tried another hotel on the beach who directed me to another one in town as it was full who also then directed me to another one as they where full as well so not looking good when I stopped next to 2 German bikers and asked them where they where going and they said to a hostel so I followed them and it turned out there was room at this place and safe parking so I am sharing a room with Markus and Patrick (www.gstour.eu) from Germany as I had followed them there I decided to move in with them as well 🙂

It was late so I needed food and also needed Chilean adaptor for my electrical equipment and it was a bit of a repeat of the accommodation problem I just described above with me being sent from one electrical shop to another as they did not have European to Chile plug adaptors or they all did but they where 3 prong plugs and as yet I have not seen a 3 prong socket in Chile so not much use. I finally got a US/Latin America plug to Chile Plug adaptor so I will use European to US to Chile adaptors so 2 adaptors I hope I do not end up burning somewhere down 🙂

Mission accomplished including feeding myself so back to the room chatting to Markus picking his brains on the route they had taken from the south this saves me figuring it all out 🙂

Antofagasta Art

It has been a long hard day beddy byes the room smells like a navy’s armpit but I am to tired to care 3 sets of smelly motorcycle boots have been ceremoniously placed in the hall but this does not help with the pongs in the room this evening,

Antofagasta to Bana Salido, Tuesday, 15 January 2013, Day 196

Mandatory Hand in the Desert Shot all travels blogs through Chile must have one of these. Daisy is actually the right size for me in this shot 🙂

      

The guys want to be up early and I have no problem with that so up at 7am even though I do not hit the road till 9am say Ta ta to the guys and first stop petrol and buy a good road map from COPEC. I had also been trying to find the famous hand in the desert sculpture as I knew it was round Antofagasta somewhere and I was getting close and I was determined as I had missed the mandatory Equator photo shot in Ecuador I was not going to miss this one.

First dilemma it was on Route 5 which is the main drag through Chile and I wanted to take the coast road so this would mean going 17km down the road for a photo and then doubling back and we all know Phillys views on doubling back so decision made stick to route 5 and get the money shot.

I had the place to myself for while sculpture itself is pretty crap looks like a kid made it however in it’s setting its quite interesting. I am joined by some Brazilian Gold Wing riders so we take each other’s pictures and then it is back on the road.

Pull Over Wide Load

I had not had breakfast yet but I was again in the middle of nowhere miles from anywhere when I spotted a shack in the middle of the desert which was a café so I found my breakfast 3 fried eggs and bread in a mini individual frying pan local way of serving eggs and exactly what I wanted.

possible start scene of Tarantino film From Dusk till Dawn

Place is empty except for 1 lorry driver who has 2 hitchhikers a French guy and Chilean girl so speaking a mix of French English and Spanish which is confusing and amusing at the same time they leave and I get chatting to the girls working in this god forsaken place and they are Peruvian students working there in the school holidays. My Spanish dialog and conversation getting longer and more complex. One did law and one did marketing and neither spoke English so I can kind of communicate with the locals now 🙂 (This scene could the beginning of a crap B movie)

Back on the road have been given a recommendation by Markus to go along the coast road it’s a dirt road but this one is actually a salt road (compressed Salt) and allegedly quite manageable. I am going to do some wild camping tonight as it in the middle of nowhere I am bit scared of this option so I am looking for an out clause and alternatives all along the way as I am really not that brave on my own.

I stop for Fish and Chips in the nice seaside town of Caldera as I am expecting very little in the way of facilities on the next bit of road that I am planning to do for the next 200km and I fill up with Petrol as well and then hit the dirt or is it the salt.

Nice seaside Town Caldera

The road is strange its like polished tarmac quite smooth so I can keep up the speed only problem is very rough in patches and not sure how much grip there really is so cautious at first but I am soon speeding along at a fair rate of Knots.

Phillys fan club can find him even in a Desert!

Its gorgeous I am in the desert it is quite flat but have the coast on my right and I am going from one gorgeous bay to another and then inland and then back to the coast. All the time looking for somewhere to camp but forever rolling forward as nothing is ideal (It is its just me) It getting late and the sun is going down so I have got to bite the bullet sooner or later the road is now more inland so I turn of onto a dirt road and 10km down to the beach. It is deserted except for a few fisherman’s huts so this will be my home for tonight the dirt track to the beach was hard but doable then I had a choice left along the beach on a road or to the right a road that looked like deep soft sand the one to left looked a bit better so I headed down there and before I knew it the back wheel had buried itself quite deep into soft sand that deep that I could stand up above the seat where as usually my feet struggle to reach the ground so a complete new experience for me but it keeps on bogging down and the front wheel has started digging in as well. Oh well its only short bit to the first fisherman hut I should be able to get there. I stalled it and it dug in a couple of times more and when I was moving forward the front wheel dug in and the bike was fighting me all the way so more speed was needed! Nope that did not work I ended up in a heap on the floor with Daisy on top of me. I just had my first crash of the trip. Soft sand so not hurt but I have one foot stuck under the bike between the ground and the panniers. I try to lift Daisy of me but from the position I am in its impossible. I am quite calm even though I am in the middle of nowhere trapped under my bike (Wonderful drug adrenalin) so I decided to pull out my camera and take a picture!

Foot trapped under Pannier oops a Daisy !

I try lifting the bike again nope so the next plan is try and take my boot of as its seems to be a bit loose. Nope that’s not working either. In the distance I see the Fisherman Family coming out of their hut so that is a relief I am not totally alone then I have the idea of digging my foot out as it very soft sand and that works I am free all I need to is get Daisy upright and make my way out of this soft sand.

I wave to my audience to tell them I am okay I heave the old girl upright and try walking beside her with the engine running but this is not working so I hop back on to try and get some traction and wobble and struggle all the way to the fisherman hut.

I have a giggle with Bernard and his family as I had now introduced my self formerly and I had asked whether I could camp on his beach next to an empty house to get out of the wind.

It was late and later I had calculated I had done 600km that day so I put the crash down to fatigue rather than my of road abilities :-). Or I could blame the new tyres but nope it is me I am clueless off road 😦

Today Daisy hit two milestones first one was she had hit the 50,000km mark and then on her special day I went and dropped her I am sorry Daisy I will try and keep you upright in the future 🙂

50,000km happy KM day Daisy

So I am camping again in a beautiful spot I am pumped full of adrenalin and setting up camp was a slow process as I was knackered and I am just enjoying the environment.

Gorgeous wild Camping Spot

I walked up a hill to watch the sunset and just enjoy where I was. It is good to be brave when it works out but then again!

See I told you the sun shone out of my .. .. ….!

I walked back to the tent and the four dogs went wild they had not bothered me till then so Bernard came out kicked one of them and then I went over to get them familiar with me as I would be staying the night and did not want them going off when I was having a pee in the middle of the night. Bernard was with his little girl who introduced me to all of the dogs and then went to get her kittens as well and was rabbiting away in Spanish some of which I actually understood a lot of it just gibberish to me but it was entertaining as she just kept on chatting away whether or not I was following any of this was not that important. So I have chatted with my neighbours and sort of made friends with the dogs and it was getting dark so I retired to the tent to work on this and to finish Winston Churchill Biography and it was quite late when I turned my torch out to go to sleep. I need to pee and was dreading going out just in case I set the dogs of again but no bother quick pee and back in the tent before they even noticed. I am wild camping but I feel safe next to Bernard and his family and his dogs looking after me as well getting to sleep was no problem what a day!

Tough day at the Office!

Bana Salido to La Serena, Wednesday, 16 January 2013, Day 197

Breakfast view very pleasant 🙂

As usual slept well in the tent and woke up at 9am ish which is late for me but a good nights sleep. Remember yesterday I said I was sort of friends with the dogs well this morning it looked like they had been visiting as Daisy had a wet patch on both her front and back tyre so the dogs had been marking there territory whilst I was having a lie in sorry about that Daisy first being dropped and now being pissed on not the way you wanted to spend your 50k km milestone oh well.

packed up Daisy is fine after yesterdays dumping

I packed the bike and then as I pulled out dogs go wild again little bastards, I am getting tired of being barked and chased by dogs and its getting seriously old. The other day I was at a set of traffic lights for a zebra crossing for a shopping street and 2 large dogs come straight at me jumping up on the front of the bike they normal come at your sides and run a long side trying to nip at your legs but this was new to me and was not sure what to do huge audience as well so just nailed it and got the hell out of there bugger the dogs. I was back there as a pedestrian a couple of hours later and they where chasing everything that stopped not just bikes they must do that all day!

back on Salt Roads

So I waved goodbye to my fisherman family over the noise of the dogs and took a harder as in compound road than the one I came in on as I did not want to end up on my arse again.A lovely ride again but I was in the need of some nourishment when I came across a beautiful bay called Carrizal Bajo and there overlooking this bay was a nice little restaurant a perfect place for breakfast I am a jammy bastard sometimes.

To keep folks in church they are now knocking the wheels of all vehicles that arrive

Long leisurely breakfast chatting to some locals about how this town used to be British and it was the way they got the silver from the mines out later I was chatting to the owner and his grand daughter who was asking me about veterinary schools in the UK as she wanted to study there all this in broken Spanish 🙂

Finally I pulled myself from this gorgeous place and I hit the road to La Serena finished of the salt road and then back to route 5 and to a hostel I had the name of in La Serena. Yes they had a bed or a bunk bed I could pay for the full room but she the German owner was pretty dam certain they could rent the other bed out as it was still early and I would only have to pay half the room. So after trying to do a deal and spread the risk I decided to go for it bloody expensive if no one shows up reasonable if someone does but she was pretty confident the bed would go and I trusted her judgement. You can tell by the last statement I got screwed no one turned up and I had the most expensive no bathroom bunk bed room of the trip, bitch but I guess it is my fault for taking all the risk she was quid’s in either way I do hate being done over.

I had a shower and then went for a walk round town watched an amusing puppet show in the park and then went for a Chinese restaurant which was empty except for a surly Chinese adolescent working there I felt like walking out at one stage as his attitude sucked so much but I fancied some Chinese noodles so I just cussed him every time he left and ignored me.

He is behind you in Spanish of Course

Pleasant enough town nothing special and I had soon exhausted all I wanted to see so back to the hostel to work on this and my photographs. The German lady owner kept saying someone would be coming not sure now if she was taking the piss. Beddy byes in my expensive bunk bed

La Serena to Valparaiso, Thursday, 17 January 2013, Day 198

Off road again supposed to be a salt road but on hills it is like corrugated iron this is quite a smooth bit!

I checked out and asked about splitting the difference on the room but she was having none of it saying she had said that she could not guarantee that someone else would come she was very persuasive and confident yesterday so in short what a bitch and I left with a very bad taste in my mouth I will not get burnt like this again.

Heading for Valparaiso heading inland again on the salt roads as they where pretty good yesterday. Even told a Dutch English couple from Canada that these roads are doable well I would like to retract that statement the one I took today was a lot rougher and on the slopes it was like driving on corrugated iron so quite slow going. Scenery is changing from brown to more green with stubbly bits as I move south with lots of Cactuses. So after heading inland I am back to the coast where it’s much greener and a nice long day in the saddle and I get to Valparaiso quite late. Heading to a place called Villa Kunterbunt a Motorcyclist Hostel I had heard about.

They use Cactuses as fences and occasionally as guard rails so make sure you do not end up in them!

I find it but they are full but they put a mattress on the floor in the office a total contrast from yesterday they where very accommodating and made sure I was ok unlike the attitude I got from that queen bitch in La Serena.

I was planning on going round the corner for dinner but I ended up wandering all over town which is built on hills so quite hard work it is a bit run down but this place has a cool vibe to it which I like even though very rough around the edges in some places. Back to the hostel which is full of bikers, some waiting for there bikes to arrive some just starting there trip those who had finished and where shipping there bikes back so lots of tall stories been exchanged. I will keep this place in mind when it comes to shipping back as the prices seem reasonable which is weird as we are on the Pacific side not the Atlantic side which is closer.

Valparaiso rough old working town with a certain charm 🙂

They arrange import and export of motorcycles here as well.

So a big thumbs up for Enzo and Martine Tesser of villakuntabuntvalpo and the great place that they run 🙂

Night shot!

Valparaiso, Friday, 18 January 2013, Day 199

Valparaiso Graffiti really rather good in my view

I have being pushing south hard since I hit Chile and I have been averaging 450km a day for the last week so a rest day is called for, as I am a wee bit tired. A good night’s sleep and lie in on the mattress on the floor under the piano a lazy morning first a Skype call to the folks as it has been a while and then just chatting to folks at the hostel in general. The plan is to go Vina del Mar to see if I can get an Oil Filter and a possible service for Daisy so I eventually tear myself away from the hostel and head down the hill to catch the metro to Vina. Nice walk pick up an empanada on the way and then 15 minutes on the train along the coast and I am there. I have two addresses of bike shops the first one I walk right past and miles further up the road before I realize and when I get back they are closing for lunch and will not open till 4pm so ask if they have an oil filter and they sort of ignore me and are quite rude and they pretend not to understand by bad Spanish and they tell me to come back at 4pm but I do not want to hang around only to find they do not stock any. No joy they are gone left talking to a nice guy customer who helps with the location of the second address I have and its quite a walk but I have plenty time as this shop will not be open again till 4pm

Its quite hot and this morning it was cold so I packed my jumper and coat so again I am lugging these around when I do not need to be one day I will get the weather and clothes combination right. A long traipse out to the other shop no they do have the parts but the guy there could not be more helpful he checked out shops in Santiago for me and they have them in stock there and he gave me the address of the main street for Motorcycle parts in Santiago called Lira. And to top it all he gave me his card and number and said I should call him if I need some help or cannot find what I am looking for so that is what I call service cheers mate. Jose Lopez Gallardo of Kilometro Cero Motorcycles step forward and take a bow for outstanding service.

Long hot walk back to the other shop taking in a bit of Vina Del Mar which was not that interesting but I had time to kill and then at 4pm back to the other shop nope they did not have any specific oil filters for Suzuki but had some Generic ones if I brought the old one in. Brilliant they could have told me that about 2 and half an hours ago and when I asked one of the blokes if I could use the loo he totally blanked me. Nice so not happy as I needed a pee and had an unsuccessful day so far and had walked for miles so back to Valparaiso the place I really wanted to spend more time in but first some dinner to get my energy levels up and then I went wandering. It was a gorgeous evening and I walked everywhere up hills and downhills different neighbourhoods I loved the place each corner was a new discovery. Totally run down and decrepit in places but I think that adds to the charm and the graffiti in places was brilliant as well as the different views. I spent hours just wandering admiring the old funicular railways they had here taking loads of picture of street art and of the different places.

Funicular railways in Valparaiso

I was smitten by this place and it had turned from a mediocre day into an excellent one. I was finally knackered and still had to get up yet another hill to the hostel and I had been trying for a couple of days to get a decent picture of the old trolley busses they have her and think I managed to get one  so I slowly walked up the hill to the hostel which was a bit quieter tonight but I had a good chat with the remaining folks and managed to get my washing done as well I finally crashed well pleased with my decision to come to Valparaiso I liked the hostel and I really liked this dirty old town 🙂

                  

Villa Kuntabunt and Valparaiso graffiti whats not to like!