Three become two

We finally made it to Santiago on Wednesday afternoon. We did not plan to be there that early; I was hoping we’d spend the day exploring Valparaiso, visiting Pablo Neruda’s house and shooting a dress series shot in front of some of Valparaiso’s iconic graffiti. But from the moment we woke up we could tell something was wrong.

Whilst petrol stations were open the little shops and restaurants in them were all closed. There were no trucks on the streets. We counted 3 cars in a 250km stretch of road. In Valparaiso, everything was closed. Deserted streets with only bewildered tourists and homeless people. We asked a police officer were everyone was. “Censo” (census). Turns out Chileans take their civic duty very seriously and they all stayed at home.

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Leaving Santiago – Act II

Act II

This picks up the story later that day. We had driven through the ‘smokey mountains’ south of Santiago. Not a clever name, the wild bush fires we had seen on the previous night’s news were in the next valley creating a dense blue pall obscuring the spectacular Andean peaks to the west.

We cut off Ruta 5, heading for wine country. High spirits, glad to finally be moving and underway. But night was coming in fast so we decided to sniff out a place to park-up over night. Obviously, chances are higher off the main routes so we roll through a small village, past the small square, the community building and out the other side. Spying a dirt track with an old building behind trees we bank it for later, U-turn and park up back by the square. Like some kind of organised bus tour, we happened to arrive minutes before the annual ‘village procession of the waring grapes’. Four floats, two red, two white, obviously, drove down the main street followed by kids with balloons, cars honking horns and various dignitaries. Stopping only to wave at old mamas, for a photo in front of the community building and when Rafael the float driver stopped to get another beer from his friends, the parade passed through the village and, as far as can tell may still be going.

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Leaving Santiago – Act I

The following story takes place over the course of 48hrs in Santiago and the Central Valley, Chile.

Main characters are:

  • Tall english man,
  • Mediterranean woman who everyone assumes will be fluent in Spanish,
  • a short dark haired junkie called Sebastian aka ‘Perro Danger’ or ‘The Guard Dog’,
  • two police officers
  • a short stubby tobacco farmer
  • San Francisco’s class of 2017

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Settling in

First proper night in South America. I say ‘proper night’ because on our first night we got into our Lima hotel in a jet-lagged induced daze and then last night we only got into our tiny AirBnB apartment at midnight (still in aforementioned daze) and spent the first 30′ trying to figure out how to silence the alarm.

This morning, after a good night’s sleep we took a leisurely walk down Av Santa Isabella to go find the young Aussie couple whom we bought the car from. Yes we bought a car. More details on how to buy a car and pictures of the car coming soon.

Suffice to say that it took us all day to find a mechanic, have the car checked, negotiate with the mechanic in broken spanish on which of the long list of repairs (totalling £2,000) we would actually go ahead with, patiently wait in a nearby cafe for the agreed-to fixes to take place, and then find a place to safely park our new prized possession. But alas it’s all done, we are the proud owners of a green 4×4 which is surprisingly clean and well maintained given that in the last 4 months it has been driven through Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, down Argentina and then over to Chile again. Name for the car is still TBC – I am sure separate post with full details of its christening ceremony will follow.

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