CHILE - 2017

1) Zuber's Apartment;  Vina del Mar
2) Valpariso
3) La Laguna; Zapallar; Los Vilos
4) Flowers; Countryside
5) Birds
6) Journal


October 26, 2017
afternoon we finally got to Santiago.  Getting through immigration and customs was very easy and Dick spotted Sandi and Ben first- standing outside in the ‘receiving line’.  Sandi immediately let out her Woop Woop Woop call and I almost cried seeing them again!  We went to the rental car they’d gotten for our visit and were on our way.  Sandi and I brought each other up to date on family and I really never looked at the scenery for more than a glance during the hour it took to get to Vina del Mar.  We went to their apartment on the second floor of a large apartment building- Very nice with lots of carved wood especially on the furniture.  It’s right across from the sea and a horse and carriage awaits tourists outside our window.  Sandi says one day she was serenaded by a mariachi band standing right outside her window when she was in bed!

We walked to a local restaurant La Dolce Vita that they frequent. The streets were lined with with beautiful flowers including a Bird of Paradise in the front yard of their apartment.  Ben ordered a plate of  prosciutto, Mozzarella cheese and bread and we ate that while we waited for our main course.  I had very good asparagus soup and Dick had a soup with chicken pasta and a Greek salad which he brought home for the most part.  Sandi won a good bit of money- a million pesos, I think, so she thinks they should pay for all meals but we’ll see about that.

We walked by the sea with Sandi while Ben went to the grocery store to get orange juice.  Shortly after we went to bed because they get up very early to get ready for their morning of teaching and we were just plain tired- although Dick probably had a reasonable night’s sleep with all his napping on the planes.

Friday, October 27
I had a good night’s sleep and woke around 7:30.  Dick was already up but not out birding yet.  Somewhere in the process of getting his battery charger out, the router for the computers got disrupted and Ben had to work with it to get back to his teaching.  Dick went out after birds and I did my internet stuff and began this journal.

When Dick got back I walked down the beach and found a few neat shells- mostly limpets but a lot of beach glass- mostly small pieces.  There was a hot air balloon tethered on the beach and people paid to go up in it.  I walked down on the beach and back by the sidewalk where I saw the sundial but didn’t realize what it was.  It was warm enough to take off me jacket, but we may not get down to wearing short sleeved shirts we brought.

When Ben and Sandi finished teaching we drove down to the Sheraton to return the rental car, then walked back along the seaside seeing pelicans on rocks and Wullf Castle.  There are beautiful flowers everywhere.  We ate at a very nice seaside restaurant and I had great chicken and two glasses of wine.  Both Sandi and I took naps then had yogurt and nuts for our evening meal.

I worked on my photos from the day and Dick was thrilled to find he had three new species of birds- one he didn’t even know existed until today.

Saturday, October  28, 2017
Dick went out to photograph birds but came back feeling tired and sick with a cold.  I went out and found a fair amount of beach glass but few shells.  I was out about two hours.  By the ocean there were groups of people doing aerobic dancing and calisthenics.  Lots of booths selling merchandise were set up as well.

Dick was up and feeling a bit better.  We went to a Chinese restaurant then to the casino where we saw the buffet then Sandi and I played the slots.  She gave me money to play and I broke even and gave it back to her, but she did better.  Ben called a Uber car and we went across the river to wander through stores. Dick walked back to the apartment to rest.  I bought him some Vitamin C to try to cut his cold short.

We wandered through a market building with lots of stalls.  I bought Pokemon cards for the kids, two small purses (Sandi mentioned putting foreign money in them as little gifts), and dragonfly earrings.  We walked through a square where groups of young people were dancing and doing martial arts routines.  Ben got a taxi and we rode home passing a woman juggling in the street for donations.

Ben and I went out to look at the vendors along the street, hoping to find pyramids made of native Chilean stones like Sandi has.  We didn’t find them but I bought some
kaleidoscopes (for me, Liam and Gracie).  A mime/clown was playing with the passing cars, jumping in back of a truck, stopping cars, etc.  Lots of people were watching and laughing.  There was a ‘living statue’ person dressed as a cowboy and a man playing the digeridoo.  The waves sometimes came over the seawall, surprising the passersby.

We came back and I reheated some of our Chinese lunch.  I downloaded the day’s pictures and worked on them.

We watched politics and I headed for bed around 8:30.  Dick spent a lot of the evening in bed and decided to sleep in the other bedroom to give me a better night’s sleep (and probably himself too!)

Sunday, October 29
 I got up around 7.  Dick was about the same but joined us on our dinner trip to the casino buffet.  At 11 I went out to do my daily beach walk.

We walked to the casino looking at vendors on the way.  One had a pyramid but not with all the Chilean rocks, but when Ben asked, the man said he had one and got it for us.  They talked him down a bit and I got my souvenir from Chile.  We had a good dinner at the buffet including too many desserts for me!  Dick went out after and spent some time laying in the sun before heading back to the apartment.  We played the slots and I ended up tripling the amount on my last machine.

We stopped by a coffee shop/bar where Ben and Sandi were very warmly greeted by the staff, one of whom, Cristian they teach English to.  Sandi kidded about wanting them to give her a large carved wooden turtle and we got photos taken with it.  We went back to the apartment for a while, then went back out to get drinks and Sandi found a necklace she really liked.  The oceanside restaurant wouldn’t let us have just drinks there so we went to La Dolce Vita and had raspberry juice.

Monday, October 30, 2017
Up around 7, did computer stuff, did laundry with Ben’s help, and showered.

Indictments came down on Manafort and Gates.  We watched a lot of it on TV.  Later we learned that George Popadopolous had previously pled guilty to similar collusion with the Russians.

Dick and I walked the shore for an hour.  I found more shells, some blue glass, and a small shark tooth.

When Ben and Sandi finished work, we went out for lunch and ended up having champagne and pizza at La Dolce and I had a great chocolate mousse.

We walked to the Archeological Museum and saw the Easter Island moui ( large head statue) although the museum was closed for lunch.  On the way we stopped at a second hand store and I got small forks with polished rocks wired on.  Ben and Sandi bought the other small white topped forks.  Ben tried to get a watch battery.

Tuesday, October 31
I got up around 7 and showered after breakfast.  We’re still using the hot water from the Zuber’s heater, but someone was working on the apartment’s hot water when we got home.

Dick and I walked over to the Sheraton to try to change the rental car pick up time until the night before but they weren’t open long enough for us to do it within the 24 hours.  We walked a short way to the Floral Clock, took photos and walked back to the apartment by streets a block or so back from the oceanfront.

We rested a bit then headed out to Valpariso. Ben called an Uber driver and we left from in front of the apartment. We walked a bit uphill to a restaurant Ben and Sandi like.  I had a great steak and Dick had a quinoa dish he thought was his best meal in years. We walked back down by degrees, stopping to go into art galleries, gift stores, etc.  Many many of the buildings had murals and graffiti, some very artistic.  We stopped for juice (blueberry for me, mango for Dick) at an open air restaurant.  Then we took a cab back to the apartment.  The weather was lovely and sunny and it was a great afternoon.

I had a very stuffy head so went back to bed from 5 to 6.  I filled the Coke bottle Ben got for Dan and Kelly with smaller beach treasures.  We watched news of a terrorist who drove a truck through a crowded NYC sidewalk.  I had leftover pizza and a glass of wine.

Wednesday, Nov.1,2017
Got up about 7;30 after a restless night.  My cold was worse. When the Zubers were finished with work we went to La Dolce where I had strawberry juice, asparagus soup and chocolate mousse.

We went back to the apartment for a short time, then we walked along the seafront to the casino.  On the way we saw another multi stone pyramid, and also bought a tourmaline crystal and a lapis small pyramid.  At the casino we both lost money although  Ben made a profit.

We laid low when we got back.  The hot water was on again.

Dick went to the grocery store and stocked up on water, kleenex, cough drops, etc.

I took some cold pills that Ben had and felt a bit better.

Tomorrow morning Dick will get the car and we’ll be off up north along the coast.

Thursday, Nov. 2
Dick was off early to get the car.  The Zubers were teaching when we left so wrote them a good-bye note.  We went back to the car dealer at the Sheraton to find out how to get the car in reverse (By pulling up on a switch below the gear shift). We drove north along the coast stopping in a couple of country places for Dick to hunt for birds to photograph.  He found a few new ones.

We headed toward the ocean and had a good chicken dinner at a beachside restaurant in La Laguna.  We walked the beach for a good while and Dick got birds on the shore and in a lagoon beyond.  I found a good few stones I thought were nice.  There was one place on the beach where a triangular patch of stones were at water's edge.

When we tried to leave, we got very frustrated trying to find our way off the peninsula.
Multiple times we found ourselves back at the one-way main street and the GPS was little help.  But eventually we were headed north again.  We stopped at the Marabella resort hotel but the price of $245 for a night stopped us.  We drove further north and on the way to another hotel saw the Isla Seca In Zapallar, a very nice place.  Dick managed to talk them down to $150 for the night- more than we wanted to pay but it’s a lovely room with neat tiled bathroom and views of the sea.

We got settled in and Dick went out in search of birds.  When he came back a little later, he had found the way down to the beach- a way that included steep roads, paths and stairways.  But the houses lining the way were beautiful with massive gardens going up the hillsides.  We came back via more gently rising roads and watched the sunset from our porch window.  We drank water and ate the rolls from the restaurant- not being very hungry and did our computer “work” until bedtime.  A maid came by and gave us each an elegant little chocolate.  All-in-all a nice experience.

Friday, Nov. 3
 We got up, showered and were in the dining room for breakfast by 8:30 when it started.  We had yogurt, fruit, bread, muffins, coffee cake and tea.  We left shortly thereafter and drove north on Route 30 to Route 5 along the seacoast.  We stopped at several towns with nice beaches including Papudo where pelicans were waiting for treats from the fishermen who were cleaning their catches by their boats.  Dick took photos of that while I beach combed and found a purple sea urchin and more shells than I found on earlier beaches..

We made another stop at Pichicuy- a small village with a seaside shrine.

Our destination for the rest of the day and night was Los Vilos where we found a reasonable hotel with an enclosed courtyard for parking the car.  We drove south along their road and found a rocky area where we could get down to the sea.  There was a mosaic sculpture and a bench with various polished rocks on it.  We went down to the rocky beach and poked around for a while.  Dick saw oystercatchers but the birds weren’t terribly cooperative with him.  There was a small basic village there and I photographed some people in the field.

When we finished there we found a restaurant- neatly made of logs with bottles in the bar like in the restaurant Ben and Sandi took us.  We had some difficulty making our wishes known but both got chicken (Thigh and Leg) and Dick had a salad while I had French fries.

When we left we drove north again trying to find a way to a nature path that we saw off Route 5.  We tried a few times but never found a way down to it.

So we drove through a tunnel under the road to another beach.  A man was working near the entry and we thought maybe he was closing it off- but Dick thinks he was just collecting wood for a fire and may have been a squatter.  I found a few shells and rocks but not much and Dick chased birds.

We went off the road on the mountain side to find a different environment and maybe different birds for Dick.  We stopped by a winery that had an open gate and Dick chased birds while I explored a dry river bed looking for interesting rocks and found a few.

We went back to the hotel at that point and spent a few hours working on our photos.  Dick found an outlet to charge computers, but we never managed to get online though it looked like they gave us passwords on a note by the bathroom door.  Busy day and ready for a good night's sleep!

Saturday, November 4, 2017
We stopped for gas at a rest stop with beautiful gardens. We crawled through a tear in fence.  Dick got bird photos and I looked for rocks, as usual.

Our next stop was a campground in Pichadanqui.  The trails were poop covered in places- rabbit and much larger poop.  There were many flowering cacti with beautiful blossoms and the land was really desert-like. I found an old campsite with piles of snail and limpet shells, probably providing meals for campers.  Under one bush was an old skull, probably from a sheep.  The sheep down below were able to roam across the road even.  We spent an hour or so roaming and checking it out- Dick for birds, of course.

On our way back south we stopped in La Laguna where we had stopped on way down.  The piles of stones made a neat Rattling noise as waves receded.  Dick wandered around the lagoon and  met a birding tour bus group with an English speaking guide.  I found one really lovely stone.  There were  other nice ones but being more selective now., knowing that I have to lug everything back to the States.

We ate at same restaurant as before and had a great English speaking waitress.  It was a fun meal.  Dick had a flounder-like fish and I had chicken again, plus we shared salad- various veggies on plate to take what you wanted.  I had wine.  Chile does have very good wine!

From there we drove to Santiago and had a bit of a frustrating time finding the airport. We got gas and returned the rental car..

We flew off around 8:10PM and were in Lima at 9:55.

Sunday November 5, 2017- Not much to say except it felt very long flying home.  There was a pretty sunrise somewhere in there.  The stats were: Left Lima 12:45 AM, go to Miami at 6:35. Charlotte 10:20 with rush to catch 11:10 flight to Myrtle Beach.  It was very nice to be back home, but a lovely trip and great seeing Ben and Sandi again!