Return Visit

21st Nov. 2016

Cathedral rock off ConstitucionWe’ll only visit four places on this trip that we’ve been to before and today we’re heading to the third of these – Santiago. (The first two were Playa del Carmen and Lima and the last is Buenos Aires from where we are flying home in just a couple of weeks time). Before we get there we have to get back to Talca in order to drop the car off and then catch the bus up to Santiago, which seems like it has been a goal all through our time in Chile (and was a long way away when we arrived in Arica).

Looking down the coastFirst though, we need to do a final check around Constitucion to make sure we have seen everything and that we’ve got all the photos that we want. As we struggled against the setting sun behind the dramatic rocks just offshore we thought we’d head back and see if we can do any better in the grey overcast light of this morning. The flat light says ‘black & white photography’ and I’m quite pleased with the outcome of the contrast of the surf against the rocks and the dark coloured sand.

Waiting for touristsThen we say goodbye to the Pacific Ocean – I don’t know when we’ll see it again – and follow a dirt track road around the headland and along the bank of the estuary of the Maule. Here we find the boats that take tourists on trips around the estuary all moored up – don’t forget that this is Chile and it will be a good couple of hours before any of them think about moving! And finally, it is back in to the main square for the obligatory church and statues (and to take advantage of the coffee shop that has just opened).

Not a usual hobby here!We’re not in a particular rush to get back to Talca – we haven’t yet bought our bus tickets so there is no specific deadline – but we know we have a 3 hour bus journey ahead of us and so we don’t want to be too late. Amongst other things, we’re in the red (or, rather, the grey) with our laundry and so need to get a wash on ASAP. En-route to Talca, we stop off in the small town of San Javier. In addition to the ubiquitous Plaza de Armas (and a rather disappointing, modern, single-story church) there is a small winery on the outskirts of town. Once again, this looks to be completely deserted – and given that one of us has to drive and our desire to crack on, we content ourselves with a couple of photos and head on. We know how wine is made and we have no space to carry around any bottles.

Kia Rio 5 - Not big & not clever (but good enough)We have rather abused our little Kia Rio 5 by taking it down rather more bumpy dirt track roads than we’d envisaged and we’ve cringed a few times as there has been the clunk of a stone thrown up against the underside of the car. Now we know why there are so many 4x4s and pick-up trucks on the roads here (often from Chinese manufacturers that I’ve never heard of before). It is a bit of a relief then when the car is accepted back at the rental office with a ‘muy bien’ and the guarantee is released on my credit card.

That well known combination - Talca, Paris & LondonAfter a 10 minute walk (about par for the course with our backpacks on) we’re at the bus station shortly after 1pm. When we first arrived in Talca, we saw a bus emblazoned with  ‘Talca Paris London’ and so immediately knew what company we wanted to use for this final leg to Santiago. Fortunately, the next bus they had left at 2pm and they had seats available. That left us with just enough time to grab a couple of empanadas for lunch and to settle down and gather our thoughts.

Shaking hands with O'HigginsThe TPL bus is fine, a bit newer and with slightly plusher seats than we’ve had with most TurBus journeys, but ultimately, it is still just a bus and we just while away the time writing up the blog or listening to books / podcasts. The last few hundred metres are frustrating as the rush-hour traffic has clogged up the approach to the terminal. Despite appearances, we do try and do some prep before arriving in each new place, and this time there is a bit of treat for us as we can refer to the blog entries for our previous time in Santiago. We arrive in the same bus terminal as before (as like last time we are coming up from the south) and we know there is a metro station nearby and that we should purchase Bip! Smartcards for the metro. There’s a sense of familiarity as we navigate our way around the metro and find our apartment.

Sunset over Santiago from our apartmentJust as we think we can relax having arrived a little earlier than we thought we might, we get a reminder that we’re not yet finished for the day. We chose to stay in an apartment as we get more space and it is more flexible – but that means that we need to sort out our own breakfast, so it is off to the supermarket. Or at least off to where Google says the supermarket is – it isn’t there and it isn’t obvious. Eventually, with the help of a local we find one, but nothing we want is in an obvious place and then there is a long queue at the checkout. To cap it all, as we walk back we find a bigger supermarket just round the corner from our apartment. At least, now, having found an Indian restaurant in Chile, we can relax on our return visit to Santiago and enjoy the sunset view out over the city from the roof of our apartment building.

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