San-hattenJuly 14 in Chile
We spent two days charging up the boring Ruta 5 highway - fortunately mostly on our argentinan petrol tanks at half the price of the Chilean gas.
We spent a couple of nights outside a lovely Airbnb place despite the fact we were staying in our van. Claudia and Patricio are wannabe overlanders and they couldn't have been more accommodating. We hung out with them for a couple of days, watching the footy on his massive TV, and chatting away into the small hours. They didn't charge us anything and you couldn't have met nicer folks.
We checked into our Airbnb nice and early so we could enjoy the England v Croatia semi final. We hit an Irish bar which had a whole floor devoted to England fans - rather bizarrely I got stuck next to a yank from NY who spent the entire game trying to convince me of his englishness, and Jo had a Danish guy who wouldn't shut up either. On top of that Fox Sports were there shining a camera and bright light right into our faces, but fortunately they didn't try to interview us in Spanish. We managed to ignore all the distractions as much as we could to enjoy the game, as England inevitably succumbed to beatable opponents.
That night I had the weirdest experience: I took Maya out for her nighttime widdle and saw a load of fire engines at the end of our road. I paid little attention to them but jumped into the van to grab a few things before heading back upstairs. Then there was a knock at the door and a lovely, English speaking, volunteer fireman explained that a gas leak had been reported, we were parked right outside the French embassy - hence the big emergency vehicle response! They had found the leak was from our van and repaired it. If I hadn't had gone to the van we would have no idea of the drama we caused! That serves us right for filling the gas for the new owner - they somehow managed to squeeze in way more than ever before, but at least we got it fixed for free :)
The drama didn't end there when a drunk crazy woman accosted me. She was blathering all sorts of stuff and trying to get into the van. Fortunately a security guy who was driving the streets (not police, so I don't know who was paying him?) calmed it down. A few minutes later she was back and shouting at me to lie down on the street like she was, but I love the security dude for sticking around and whilst she was offloading onto him I snuck out the back. The whole thing was probably the strangest experience we've had on the whole way down!
Santiago is so westernised and different from the rest of our trip, that when I learnt they called it San-hatten I could totally understand it. It probably was a good readjustment back to the real world, but it was kinda hard to get used to not being on the road.
We spent a couple of weeks in a nice little apartment really close to the centre. We had a lot to do to get ourselves sorted.
I went to the airport to visit customs and sign over the van, but the guy there flat out refused and said we had to drive to the border over 3 hours and 3,000m altitude gain away! The next day we thought it worth popping back in to the airport before the long drive and low and behold they stamped the paperwork within 5 minutes :)
The rest of the week was spent sorting ourselves out, getting Maya's paperwork ready and a little bit of time enjoying the city. This new sedentary lifestyle took some getting used to, for Maya particularly, and we ended both ended up running a lot just to blow through some excess energy.
Eventually Patricio took us to the airport and Jo & Maya got home safely, albeit by a horrible circuitous route via Madrid & Frankfurt before her parents picked them up and saw them safely home.
I left a few days later, as contingency against problems with the van or Maya, but with the luxury of a direct flight home. My heart fell when I saw 60+ school kids waiting to board the plane, and with all the commotion it wasn't until I was queuing to board that I realised I'd been upgraded :) What a great way to finish off the trip!Read more