New encounters

So, after our adventures in Bolivia and the North of Chile it was time to take a break of traveling. Nina has some cousins and an aunt living in or near Santiago so she asked if we could stay with them for some days to relax. Furthermore, Nina’s uncle Miguel, who lives in Belgium, also has a house in Villa Alemana, a town near the coast a couple of hours from Santiago. There we could also stay for some weeks if needed.

Another reason to stay a bit longer in Santiago was that Jonas, Nina’s brother, would arrive there a week later to join us in our travels for a while. He would go on with us for almost 2 months on our way down south until Patagonia.

But, first things first, on our way down from the north of Chile to Santiago we only planned one short stop at La Serena, a city at the coast. We had an unpleasant experience when we arrived there as the camp spot we reserved at a hostel was already taken. After a lot of hassle with the guy of the hostel we finally decided to search for another hostel.

La Serena was nice but not really special. We spent an afternoon on the beach and enjoyed the summer fair which was going on during our stay. Besides that, we had some good food too of course and got into a relaxing mood by watching some movies on the computer with a bag of crisps and a beer.

When we arrived in Santiago on Saturday we were welcomed by Nina’s cousin Luz and her partner Juan Carlos. They picked us up at the bus station and took us to their tiny apartment with a lovely view over the city. Nina’s aunt and her husband joined us for the delicious lunch Luz prepared for us: pastel de choclo. In the evening, we went to the city center to have dinner and some beers with Luz and Juan Carlos. Their welcome and hospitality was simply overwhelming!

All in all, we lived as kings during our stay with Luz and Juan Carlos and their sweet dog Nicky. They took us to the “Gran Torre Santiago”, the tallest building in South America so we could enjoy the view over this big city. They went to the local market with us, and we could enjoy the pool on the roof of the apartment building. And most of all, they stuffed us with all this amazing food and drinks until we felt like we could explode.

Sunday evening, we also hooked up with James again! We travelled with him in Uyuni and San Pedro de Atacama, and now it was his last evening in South America. We went out and had a nice evening with some beers and playing games.

Next Wednesday Luz and Juan Carlos took us to Villa Alemana to bring us to the house of tio Miguel where we would stay for the rest of the week before returning to Santiago in order to pick up Jonas from the airport. We shared the house with the sister of Nolvia, Miguel’s wife, soon she was referred to by Nina as “het tantetje”. We had some conversations with her but most of the time she was minding her own business, so we could have a quiet time. We also went for a visit to Valparaiso, a coastal town which is very popular with both Chileans and tourists. For us it was a bit disappointing though. That is to say, it was not that we disliked Valparaiso, but we expected more of it after all the praise we heard on the beforehand. During the weekend, Luz and Juan Carlos joined us in Villa Alemana again and took us to the beach for the day.

On Monday, we went back to Luz and Juan Carlos in Santiago as Jonas would arrive on Tuesday morning. The reunification of brother and sister was of course a very nice moment as it was about 7.5 months ago since they last saw each other. We took Jonas with us to Luz and Juan Carlos so he could be fed too ?. Then we went back to Villa Alemana once again for a couple of days of extra relaxing with Jonas. We went to the beach in Viña del Mar so he could get used to the Chilean summer.

After that it was time for some change. Enough of the cities, time for some country side. Nina had arranged to stay with Patricia, another cousin of her, and sister of Luz. She lives in San José de Maipo, a little village in the mountains outside of Santiago. Patricia and Javier picked us up in Santiago and took us to their home. Again, we were welcomed with a lot of love and of course, food! The change to the country side was very welcome and we enjoyed the garden of Patty and Javier. They also took us sightseeing in the surrounding mountains and even arranged an affordable horse riding tour of 7 hours to a glacier lake up in the mountains. That was an amazing trip, but if you are not used to riding a horse 7 hours is a lot! ?

All in all, we had another amazing week with Patty and Javier. We connected very well with them and made a lot of fun.

So, after our travel break of almost 3 weeks it was time to go further south! Our first stop would be the Chiloe island south of Puerto Montt.