30.06.2019 – The switch of plans

Dace is writing:
On the morning of June 30, we are waking up in Los Choros cabana in the desert, with no neighbors anywhere near us. The breakfast is at one of the two apartments that have been given to us. Our plan is to go to the wharf Puntos Choros and take a boat to the nearby islands to see the local wildlife. This plan is moved to tomorrow as boats are not allowed to leave due to strong winds.

We are going back, stopping by for some photos of the desert cacti fields. The cacti are really sharp. We notice a fox who is not running away, so a lot of photos of it are taken from all angles. A moment later close to the road we notice wild guanacos, the ancestors of llamas. Again, the animals are being photographed thoroughly for a while. Like everything in wilderness, they look graceful and free and self-sufficient, which makes the humans admire them.

In La Serena we fill up on the gas, but even before reaching the city, we check the 3000 km mark. Further on, we go to Elqui valley. With grape fields and wineries all around surrounded by the mountains makes a picturesque view. We pass by a dam and water reservoir full of greenish water like any mountain lake. We want to have a lunch in Vicuna. On the side of the central street there’s a restaurant where they are grilling meat outdoors – it seems attracting. The indoors is brightly and pompously colored, but we are not staying here and move on to a brewery. There our guide is a very vigorous Chilean guy, who likes to entertain people in Spanish with theatrical storytelling. His snow-white teeth are shining whenever he laughs.

Eclipse watchers have gathered in Vicuna, a colorful audience from all around the world, souvenir markets and other attractions are rustling and bustling away. On we go. We Visit Aba pisco distillery, where the excursion and the story tells about things both yet to do and already done. At the end there is a tasting and shopping for those who liked something. Here, they grow white grapes. Next we go to the Paihuano neighbourhood mountains, where the great mountain ranges are shining in the last rays of the setting sun. When the roads end, we turn back to our home in La Serena. Home, dinner and beds. This day as well has come to an end.

29.06.2019 – An excursion in La Silla observatory

Agnese is writing:
Waking up in La Serena’s sleeping district. There were enough blankets during night, so it was warm. Ilgonis and Andra are preparing breakfast, another really tasty omelette. Most of yesterday’s washing has not dried during the night, but at least we’ve got some clean clothes again.

When everyone is fed and packed we go to La Serena’s center to see the goods in the marketplace. We only have about 1.5h before we need to leave for further adventures so the walking around city is left for other days. The market now is finally a kind of bazaar – you can get both fresh meat and fish as well as shirts, earrings, alpaca wool scarves and jackets. Many booths take bank cards, some don’t charge extra for paying by card.

After reluctantly leaving the market and fueling up we leave La Serena and go north to La Silla observatory where we have booked an excursion for today. The scenery becomes more and more mountainous, sometime one can even feel the altitude in their ears. Soon we can spot some observatories on hilltops. There is not only one in this region, but La Silla is the oldest and the most famous scientifically. It is one of the ESO (European South Observatory) institutions that Europeans have built in Chile over last century to get access to the depths of the Southern hemisphere sky.

We arrive at the gate, register with the guard and get accepted. There are many more people here already, some wearing eclipse t-shirts or bandanas. While standing in the long queue to baño (toilet) we meet some Asian people from New York and share our eclipse plans.
Three big buses have arrived to take people up to the observatory but that is not enough, so some of us board a (quite large) minibus. They do excursions every Saturday and 150 people can apply (for free).

We are taken up, get nice views of the observatory on the way and also see some donkeys, guanacos and some animal that looks like a hare. The views to the surrounding mountains are beautiful. The height difference from the bottom to the top is about 1.5km. We took our nice fleece jackets, but when arriving at the top it appears to not to be enough. It is cold and we wish for gloves and hats as well. It also is cold inside the hall where we are shown an ESO promotion video. After that the guides ask for Spanish speaking guests – there are about 5 of such, so everyone else is in the English group.

First we are shown and told about the NTT – New Technology Telescope installed in 1989 with adaptive optics (the mirror gets pushed in the needed places to account for irregularities in gravity and other conditions). It only is able to rotate vertically and the building takes care of the horizontal one by rotating itself. There is also a special wind curtain to avoid too strong breezes.
After the story we get into buses again to go further up to the 3.6m telescope. There are smaller telescope domes scattered around, those are used for initial observations as the telescope-time of the big ones is expensive.

The 3.6m telescope with equatorial mount is indeed huge, much bigger than the 2.5m Hooker telescope that we saw in Mt. Wilson observatory during last eclipse tour. Also this one has a cage underneath where the operator of the telescope used to sit. Nowadays everything is managed from the operations centre in the small observatory village a bit lower down.

We take some pictures inside and outside and then get inside the buses for defrosting. On the way down there are donkeys crossing the road and guanacos grazing right next to it. When we get at the bottom, the wet clothes from yesterday’s washing left to dry in the cars are almost dry, but the sun is no more visible so we hurry up to the other side of the valley to see sunset.

There also is some TV news crew from Brazil and they are delighted to meet a group of eclipse chasers. We get filmed and interviewed and might appear on Brazilian news the following day. Watch it here!

After the sunset going to tonight’s chalet in Los Choros. We settle in, eat dinner and then Ilgonis drives away in dark to photograph stars and cactuses. Others join later on to observe a brilliant Milky way, constellations of the Southern hemisphere and Magellanic clouds. After seeing the constellation of dolphin to jump backwards over a hill, finding Southern Cross, Cantaurus, Crane, Peacock, Fly, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Scorpio and parts of Argonout ship as well as spotting a very bright meteor (and a few fainter ones) we go back to our cabaña (cabin) leaving Ilgonis alone with stars and cactuses again.

28.06.2019 – Penguins and a new mobile phone

Imants is writing:
The first day in a longer period of time when I woke up before the alarm. Since I am not the only one who has a desire to sleep longer today, Ilgonis starts Inquisition and turns on all the lights in the bedroom. This is the real signal that now we have to rise and shine. We eat breakfast quickly and get ready for a trip to the north of Chile. Most importantly today is to get to La Serena.

We start driving around 9 in the morning and soon we are experiencing some traffic jams. However, they do not really delay us. By a chance our way passes by our car rental office. Passing by we send greetings by smiling and waving. Soon the road leads us out of the city. As a result of an error in the navigation device or deliberate malfunction of it, at some place we take the wrong exit from the Route 5 and return to the streets of the city. Having gone through several turns, we return to the highway and no longer rely on the provocations of electronics.

Since Santiago has a lower price for fuel, we had planned to refuel in the city. Unfortunately, along our way, petrol stations start appearing only outside the city and fuel is more expensive there again. That’s why we continue to drive without stopping.
We would very much like to adhere to the permitted speed, but local drivers are so skillful that we have to adapt to local virtues and drive +10 to + 15kmh faster. The road is good and the only nuisance on it is slow riders, especially trucks.

That’s how we drive north until we reach the Aconcagua River. We are a little surprised how big it is marked on the map. In nature it looks like a very small river. Coming soon into a rather long tunnel, and shortly after we pass it, we have to take the exit and go to another road. Unfortunately, phone navigation once again disappoints us and we miss the necessary junction. As a result we need to drive more for about 14km to make a U-turn and continue along to the Pacific ocean.

Around 11.30 we have reached the ocean shore. We take a short stop at the Mirador near Los Caleja, where we photograph nature and the ocean, and then continue to drive through the coastal villages. Our first destination is the village of Cachagua. It takes half an hour to get there and we are heading to the beach right away. Here we have a small walk along the beach where we can watch different kinds of birds. Then we go closer to the island of Cachagua which is located near the coast. On the island we see not only cormorants, but also some Humboldt penguins. They are exactly what we wanted to see here. We spend there a full hour and a half till we go further. We refuel in Zapallar village and discuss lunch options. Unfortunately there is nothing that fits our expectations right here, so we think we’ll go and see what’s available along the road. This is how we come to the village of Papudo, where the Banana pub is located right by the ocean. We choose to eat here and order empanadas. They are fresh, hot and delicious.

Having had lunch, we are ready to continue to La Serena. It is about 340km, so we need to try to drive fast.
When approaching the destination, the gray car crew must complete the mission. Dora wants to buy a new mobile phone. A specific one. She has found out that she can only get one in two places in Chile (because they are not sold in Europe anymore) and one of these places is the city of Coquimbo near La Serena.
We arrive at Coquimbo at about seven o’clock in the evening and look for the supermarket. Here we find a clothing store that sells mobile phones by the way. Dora is happy because the phone can really be bought here. With this purchase, we go to La Serena, where we have accommodation at Jardines de Pinamar. We do not notice the gates from the beginning and we miss them, but then we enter the territory and the guide show us an apartment where we will spend the night. Our guide can not unlock the door immediately, but after a little effort the door is open.

The second car arrives soon after the grocery shopping. Tonight are have a washing machine in the flat so it’s the laundry evening along preparing the dinner. Unfortunately, we are no so lucky with the shower because there is no hot water in the apartment. It can be said that we can call it a day and soon after the dinner and few beers we are about to sleep.

Agnese’s comment:
The heating and hot water in Chile is a special case and deserves a book written on it. But in this case there was a trick to actually get the hot water – one had to open the tap at maximum and then wait a minute or so. Then one would start to get hot water which held hot for a while. If the tap was not opened so much one would only get cold one. Unfortunately we discovered this trick only after some of us had already tried to use the shower.

27.06.2019 – A day when the rain turned into wine

Ilgonis is writing:
After a tasty breakfast, especially omelette, we said goodbye to the cozy Midsummer house and continued to drive north. And the rain continued to come down from the heaven. Luckily about midday the rain FINALLY ceased and we were able to see mountains still partially covered by clouds. We were joking that the mountains are given back, because on the way to the south when mountains disappeared from the view, Agnes said that they are closed for reconstruction.
We left Panamerican highway and reached Santa Cruz city. At first we visited another Lider supermarket, then it was time for pleasure. Local Eco Bazar does not fulfilled our expectations because it turned out to be a simple craftsman shop.

But the local museum visited by the team of the white car was excellent. There were different fossils, artifacts of Nasca people and other South American Indian cultures. Exposition about colonial times was splendid as well. Unfortunately we had only 20 minutes time to stay there because we had to move forward to wine tasting. One should spend 2 hours at this museum.

We were first tourists who visited Las Ninas winery after a long break. They showed us the vines that of course are not blossoming during the winter, then we admired huge stainless steel and French oak barrels that are used to make and store wine. Then came the most important part, a wine tasting itself. They offered us 5 different wines from the Reserve category – white Chardonnay followed by increasingly thicker and aromatic red wines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre and Syrah grapes.
There was plenty of wine so after the tasting we were in a very good mood and continued our drive to the Santiago arriving there when it was already dark. Our drivers were not so joyful but we kept the tasting wine for them in small bottles. After quite a long drive through the city we reached our accommodation that was very simple where we were sleeping all together in one big room and ate instant soups for dinner. But that’s OK, we are matured travelers.

26.06.2019 – The day of The Soup

Dora is writing:
New day – new adventures! Unfortunately, this day starts with the unpleasant notification, that our housing reservation in La Serena has been cancelled, but Agnese is sure that booking.com will find us a new place to stay.

Anyway – we are getting up and rolling out of our beds, packing up and eating the yummy omelet made by Ilgonis. Despite the most recent weather forecast (rain and/or wet snow), we are determined to go and see some of the waterfalls nearby, and, after a later reevaluation of the situation, decide on the further program for the day – to try again going to Laguna del Laja waterfalls or not.

With the washed flags blowing in the wind we put our bags in cars and are on our way. All around the horizon is made up by foggy hilltops and a while later – Hello, Snow! How we missed Thee! Going further in the snow and mud, we slide to the first stop – waterfall Saltos el Leon, where we are welcomed by a pair of cows. In spite of the rain and snow all around us, we go to take a look – after all you don’t get to see a 97 m high wall of water every day. Quietly we get past the house there without paying the entrance fee, cross 300m of snow and water slush, until we finally get to the waterfall itself. It’s so beautiful, at least someone’s breath is taken away! Some get brave enough to get to the end of the visitor’s path as close to the water as possible and take some photos. It might not be the biggest waterfall in the world, not even in Chile, but it definitely is the most beautiful one we get to see this day. Because sadly once more EverythingIsWet.lv and the majority decides not to visit the other wonders of nature planned for this morning. This saddens Agnese, who tells us that the other waterfall is 170 m high and looks magnificent even with no cascades. It’s left for the next time.

As the weather has not gotten any better, the hopes to visit Laguna del Laja has shrunk as small as can be and still exist. The next main stop for today – the cabin where we spent the Līgo night and are sleeping tonight as well.
The long way back takes us by Villarica lake where we see waves as high as in our sea.

Soon it’s lunch time and the inhabitants of the white car are asking for soup, but the chances to find someplace nice by the highway seem quite small. Meanwhile, flooded meadows, stands of planted trees and lonely houses replace one another on the roadside landscape. Imants’s sudden outcry “Will you ever stop?!” wakes (me) up from the view watching trance. Yes, it’s still raining and doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon.

After a while Agnese notices a sign with a bowl on it directing to an eatery, and we decide to see what’s on the menu. When we drive into the yard, we get a little confused – two eateries on opposite sides, each with their own active parking guy. Which one is the right one? Ilgonis full of confidence marches into En Borde Rio and soon we get an approval over the walkie-talkie – they have THE soup! It’s not long until eight bowls full of traditional Chilean cazuela with big pieces of meat and a portion of corn porridge with cheese and ham are on the table. The eating is accompanied by happy and awed comments and soon everyone has been assured that it is possible to eat the whole portion and a dessert besides. After sating out hunger and curiosity, we get back on our way.

At around 4 in the afternoon we are at the cabin. While Agnese is checking the availability of hot water in showers, our gentlemen are sitting around the fireplace with glasswares full of drinks in their hands. A moment later everyone is settling in the sofas, thinking over and writing down their experiences and other revelations, some sing a few songs. A calm evening. We go to sleep by the sounds of winds whistling all around and raindrops hitting the roof.
The housing situation in La Serena is still unsolved..

25.06.2019 – Una caminata fría y un baño caliente

Anders is writing:

The weather forecast for Pucon June 25: rain with chances of even more rain. Today’s plan was to hike up to Nido de Aguila (1547m) in Santuario El Cani, from where we’d have a grand view of the surrounding volcanoes. This private reserve managed by the Lahuen foundation is located 22 km to the east of Pucon. The trail starts at the El Cani administration building, right by the road. It is possible to drive about 1,5 km up a dirt road and park the car there. The hike is rather steep from the dirt road, zigzagging up the slope through the forest. We started off in rain, but it was clearly visible from the valley floor that there would be snow at higher altitude. And so it was, the rain slowly changed into snowfall and the ground was covered with a layer of snow that got thicker the higher we got. A few cows greeted us along the trail. Ilgonis went back to the cars after a while. About halfway up (at 1047m) was a hut where we could take shelter from snow and wind. I decided to go no further from here, partly because I was a bit ill with a cold and didn’t want to push myself too much physically, partly because of the weather conditions and the presumption that there would be no view of anything from the top. The others pressed on. I had a few hours to kill in this place, which just was a big hall around a fireplace with some simple wooden benches/sleeping pads. I spent my time trying to keep warm, with gymnastic exercises but also by huddling up on one of the benches. After an hour or so I realized I was going to have company. A threat to my peaceful existence in this desolate shelter presented itself. It was not human and it was moving with speed and determination towards the hut.

Across the snow came a small mouse. Soon it was inside and my first instinct was to chase it away. The mouse wasn’t easily scared off though. It just hid somewhere then came back looking for some more leftovers to feast on. I eventually started to accept it’s presence. As long as it didn’t try to steal my chocolate bar, everything was fine. In the end I almost cherished it as a friend.

After 3,5 hours Dora and Andra returned and was soon followed by Juris. Imants hurried past and after a while Dace and Agnese also had made their way back. They had not been able to reach the top, the snow was too deep. The descent to the cars was a bit slippery, but I managed to stay on my feet.

By the end of the hike most of the group was more or less wet and cold. After turning our living room into a big drying cabinet, Ilgonis made us some delicious soup. All but Imants then went to Los Pozones thermal baths, a 40 minute drive from Pucon. There were several pools, varying in temperature, next to the thundering Liucura river. The hottest one was about 45 degrees warm, a bit to much for me, at least initially. There were a few other people there, but not many. It was possible to occasionally have a pool all for yourself. Leaning against a boulder with the warm water waist high and the cold rain drizzling down my head and shoulders, I listened to the sounds of the river and was for a moment mesmerized by the patterns on the water surface created by the falling rain.

Agnese’s comments:
Initially the plan was to reach the top no matter the snow or the view. The hike was steep, but soon after the hut where Anders decided to stay, it became more level and more beautiful with ancient huge trees pretending to come out of Hobbit or Lord of the Rings. Some time after that we reached a frozen lake. Two Chilean guys who passed us on the way to the hut had had a break here and showed us the Chilean national tree Araucania through the fog on the other side of the lake. We let them again go in front of us as they knew much better where they were supposed to go and it was much easier to follow in their footprints. We had a map as well, but navigating plain snow between the trees is not that straightforward after all.
After some quite level walk we came up to a group of araucania trees. They were really beautiful and our new Chilean friends told they are endangered species and the tallest of them in the group was some 2000 years old. On a close-up view they look a bit like cactus and their ‘needles’ are very sharp.
The snow had become deeper and deeper and by this time we were walking almost knee-deep in the previous person’s footsteps. Imants, Dace and Agnese went right after the Chileans and reached the second hut at Laguna Negra. This place was next to another lake, supposedly about 20min walk from the top, but since there was no end to the fog and also it had started to snow, we decided to turn back. I had had a small hope to reach the level above clouds, but at this point it seemed to not be so smart an idea due to all the snow and the slow pace it forced on us. So the beautiful view stays there for out next time in Pucon.

24.06.2019 – Snows like it’s John’s day

Dace is writing:
After the Midsummer’s (Līgo) night we are waking up for John’s day, and a very rich breakfast table is set.
Afterwards we are passing through Antuco to Laguna del Laja National park, to hike to waterfalls. The plans change a bit as it starts to snow during our drive there. Very unexpected, but nevertheless beautiful. A strong wind is blowing, and it’s decided to skip the long trail, just make a small tour around. Everyone takes photos of the snowy landscapes. On the way back we stop at a roadside diner, so that everyone could get two different kinds of empanadas. They are warm and tasty. For some more fun we try out quite a muddy dirt road.

Further up we visit the 20 m high waterfall Saltos del Laja. Glorious. Walking past the souvenir vendors some of us buy some things. While driving towards Temuco we also get hailed on. For a while it gets charmingly sunny. Such a great variety for one day.

At around four in the afternoon we get stuck in our first big traffic jam. In the next lane there is a car with a trunk full of apples. Juris suggests going to it, Ilgonis does so and buys a big juicy apple for each of us.

25 km after Villarica in a place called Pucon after 8 o’clock in the evening we arrive at our housing. In a two-story row house territory. We get comfy there, prepare and eat our dinner. Ilgonis sings some Christmas songs, everything is as it should be.

Agnese’s comments:
When we see the first falling snow we are all excited, wondering if it will be enough to build a snowman. When later the ground and the roofs already have a snow cover we jump out of cars and build snowmen, endimg up with a whole family of 3 one bigger than another.
But later on we start to worry because our cars, even though having a big clearance, don’t have winter tyres while the snow is already till the ankles. When we reach the gate of the national park we are not allowed to go further by cars due to the snow, but there are still 3km to the beginning of the path while the path itself is 2km long. We decide that we don’t want to walk the 8km in wind and snow so walk a little bit near the gate to a Mirador, which today shows only fog. On the way back it clears up a bit and sometimes beautiful mountains are visible.

We stay in the traffic jam for at least half an hour because of a sudden couple of km section closure of the pan-american highway. Thankfully we have Waze and local mobile data – from the place where everyone is sent to the opposite lane to go back we can find a way to go around the closed section.

23.06.2019 – Midsummer in mid winter

Andra is writing:
The day starts in Santiago with a brisk walk to car rental place. We are accompanied by a dog, that switches with another one halfway to our destination. We have to wait for half an hour while our Suzuki and Brilliance are getting washed. Agnese explains to Anders that it’s better to talk in Latvian in case the other people around understand English, to which Anders tells all the Latvian words he knows: sūds pa kreisi zilonis burkāns (shit to the left elephant carrot).

Today in Latvia everyone’s going away to celebrate Midsummer’s eve. For some it’s closer, for some it’s further away. To our celebration place Salto del Laja we have 500 km to go. But that is worth it. When we arrive we see a wooden house which we will now call Midsummer cabin. Here there is everything needed for celebrating. Somebody already starts to bustle around the beautiful kitchen part, someone else manages the fire in the fireplace, someone else laying the big feasting table. Outside there’s winter so the big room will be useful as it will be possible to dance there.

Soon after our arrival the dusk is setting in. Nevertheless, Agnese is going out to look for some flowers. The chances are small, as we didn’t see any on our way. Meanwhile, the rest who are staying at the cabin are preparing beef steaks. Turns out the roadside commercials were telling the truth. Chilean meat IS the best meat in the world.

After sating our hunger, we venture outside to look at the stars. Most of us has never seen the Southern Cross before. We’re getting worried about Agnese, as it darkened a good while ago. Suddenly we hear Agnese’s happy voice and she appears with John’s day flowers, that she picked in the torchlight. The bouquet is divided in four even parts, so that there’s a clover in each wreath.

John’s fire is lit in the fireplace, wreaths are on the heads, there’s beer in the glasses and John’s cheese and rye bread on the table: we are celebrating John’s day, the Midsummer’s eve. At first only Agnese and Dora are dancing, then Ilgonis as well joins in for the wild Krakovjaks dance with both girls, Anders and Andra join in as well and soon everyone awake is dancing. At around half past ten Agnese says, that the Sun has risen in Latvia and we can go to sleep. We have whiled away the shortest night in Latvia during the longest night in Chile. Tomorrow it’s Christmas celebration, but that’s a story for tomorrow.

22.06.2019 – It is worth to travel the world

Ilgonis is writing:
It is worth to travel around the world to experience a day like this. In the morning subway delivered us to the Araucano park in the outer part of Santiago with many skyscrapers.
It is a sunny and warm Saturday, Chileans peacefully walk along the pathways and make some exercises. Green parrots wander around. While I was sitting on the bench, one small dog came and sat on my lap. On one side of the park there is a view towards the city covered by smog. In another direction high buildings are reflecting blue sky and majestic mountains are visible.
Then we saw an ice skating rink, of course we could not pass by. It was great to skate on June 22, surrounded by palm trees. Some people including me skated slowly, Dora an Anders looked like professionals.

Our next point of visit was the tallest building in Latin America – Sky Costanera. Elevator delivered us to the floor 61 on 300 m altitude. The view there is fantastic. Down there are city blocks covered by layer of smog. Up there are snowy Andes mountains and blue sky. Impressive combination. Here we met a Russian eclipse chaser and talked about our previous expeditions.
I sat on a free bench, took some pictures and a feeling of happiness came to me. This not a frequent thing and is a sign of a successful trip, at least the beginning of the trip. At the souvenir shop other people bought postcards, I bought mate drinking set, a bowl and a straw. Now I need to buy mate tea itself.

Now the stomach insisted to get some food. We found a remote pizzeria visited by local people. What happened next is best characterized by the word ‘huge’. Imants and other ate huge pizzas, Anders ate by his own words the largest burger in Latin America. I and Andra consumed not so huge but very tasty lasagna.

Our final point for today was San Cristobal hill that is reachable by a cable car. While going up, the panoramic view became wider and wider until we could see almost the whole city surrounded by mountains – it was beautiful. On the top of the hill there is a statue of Holy Mother but the panorama is restricted. But the sunset was fantastic, Even Chileans were unusually silent, sitting on the steps and looking around. Clouds became yellow then purple. With a funicular car we descended towards illuminated city where Saturday night fever was on, people wandering in all directions and many of them sitting in pubs drinking beer. But we went to our apartment to to have some rest.

21.06.2019 – The long way to resting in peace

Juris writing:
As we board the plane from Rome to Santiago (~15h), it appears that the plane is either old or planned for shorter flights. The seats are located very close to each other and it is clear that there will be hardly any sleep for me. As I have spent last couple of nights finishing up different tasks back home, the prospect of staying up another 14 hours is not looking good. Still, vino rosso, warm meal and exaustions does its job and I fell asleep.

During the flight, the sleep positions are constantly changed between different shades of uncomfortable.
Towards the second half of the flight I realize that all those movie fantasies about lavatory sex in planes are not about sex at all. It is more of a convenient way to flex muscles after long flight hours. As toilets were significantly larger than seats, I started to play arround a thought to sleep there.

Despite the announcement about “turbulenzas excepcionales” over “Cordilleras los Andes” we land quite peacefully. Chile meets us with one lost and soon found bag and Customs dogs which were very keen on our last sandwich (biešu maize) in Daces bag.

It is early morning and we go to the city to drop our bags in bus station locker, meet Anders and have a walk arround the center. After taking out some local cash we feel quite wealthy- walking arround with couple of hundred thousand Chilean pesos each. Chile does not have small and large money units like Euro and cents, its all just pesos. It takes some time to get used to counting in thousands.

On our walking tour we climb the central cliff in Santa Lucia park, take a look at the National library, some other objects until we reach the market. The old market has become a tourist place with restaurants and we are glad we had our meal in much more authentic local marketplace with all its mess, noise and realities. Some of us top up the dinner with some “churros” in outside stand (thanks, Ilgoni, for suggesting- they were tasty!).

In the evening we take our bags from the locker and go to our apartment on the 14th floor. The flat is quite tight for all of us, but is feels heavenly to have a shower and sleep horizontally. The long day that started halfway across the globe, has ended.