Tales from the Man who would be King

Rex Jaeschke's Personal Blog

Travel: Memories of Chile

© 1991, 2020 Rex Jaeschke. All rights reserved.

[Originally, this diary was written by hand in a spiral notebook during the trip; however, now I've transcribed and edited it. The diary cover reads, "Diario de Viaje a Chile y Argentina, Octubre y Noviembre 1991." To get in the spirit of the Spanish language, I wrote each day's name in Spanish, and I added "new Spanish word" lists to various days. I also glued all kinds of things into the paper version: postcards, bus tickets, receipts, and so forth. The Spanish content was not transcribed, and the add-ins have been omitted from this electronic version, as were the food and drink samples I'd spilled on several pages.]

This was my second big adventure trip, and involved two weeks with a group crossing southern Chile and Argentina, billed as a Patagonia Walking trip, preceded by some days on my own in Chile getting in a Spanish-speaking mood.

[Diary] We touched down in the capital, Santiago, at 7:30 am, local time, and my luggage arrived soon after. From there I went to change some money. The Chilean Peso wasn't worth a whole lot, and for US$150, I got 53,250! Coins were in dominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, and 100 pesos, and banknotes of 500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, and higher. You certainly can't buy anything for 1 peso!

By 8 am, I had all my gear and was ready to depart. Unfortunately, the tourist office didn't open until 9 am, so I set out for the city anyway. After waiting at the place the signs appeared to indicate, I watched a number of buses pass me by. Finally, one stopped, and we set off on the 26-km run to the capital. The one-way trip cost 350 pesos, a little less than $1. It was a comfortable coach and the price was right. As we approached the city, the smog seemed to increase. While many places looked to be, and were, run-down, things were relatively clean with not much litter, which was a good sign. On the outskirts of town, an Italian circus was setting up its tents.

The main street of the city is called La Avenida de O'Higgins. Now while O'Higgins was a famous local general, his name doesn't sound very Hispanic. However, there are streets, hotels, and even a bank named after him. Traffic was hectic with small buses darting in and out constantly.

My first stop was the hotel from which my adventure tour group would depart several days later. It was quite up-scale with rooms running $100–200/night. There were doormen and staff everywhere. I walked into the foyer dressed in my sweat pants and green parka, carrying a daypack and duffle bag, and wearing hiking boots with bright red laces. They probably thought I was lost or just another of those eccentric, rich foreigners. I certainly got looks from lots of people as I came up the grand staircase to the front desk. I confirmed my reservation for several days later and left my duffle bag in their storage room. I had no desire to stay in such a place at all, and wanted to get the feel of the "real" Chile.

It was a short 6-block walk to the tourist office, or at least to where it used to be. On my arrival, a kindly gentleman informed me it had moved. (Don't you just hate that when that happens!) From what I gathered from his Spanish the new location wasn't too far away, but he suggested I take the subway. I decided to walk anyway, which turned out to be a mistake. It took me an hour and my feet got tired and sore. Along the way I spied an old pickup truck, so I stopped to chat with the proud owner. He informed me it was a 1938 Chevy. By that time, I wished I had waited the extra hour at the airport for that tourist office to open.

At the tourist office, a young woman helped me with maps and information regarding the subway system, so I rode that to the main bus station. The flat fare was 100 pesos. The system was very modern and efficient. At the bus station, I bought a one-way ticket to Valparaiso, the country's main port and second largest city. The fare was 650 pesos. The coach was very nice and had a driver and two staff all dressed in uniforms. On-board one could buy food and drink, and there was a toilet. The service was outstanding; in fact, I would have paid at least 675 pesos! A radio was broadcasting throughout the bus, and Tom Jones used that to serenade us in English en route. Driving time was 1:45 hours. I sat next to somebody's grandma, and we chatted a bit with me asking her lots of questions and she replying so fast I understood about two words per sentence, although when hearing rapid-spoken Spanish, it's hard to tell where one sentence ends and the next one starts. For all I know she may well have telling me about a boil on her butt!

While I was making progress on my Spanish reading and speaking, it was clear I was very deficient in comprehension. My most common responses were "no entiendo" (I don't understand) and "mas despacio" (speak more slowly).

Out the window, I saw green fields full of golden and orange flowers. En route, I ate leftover airline food for lunch. Soon we came to pine forests, which also contained many eucalypts, something that surprised me. (I thought they grew only in Australia; silly me!)

The good news was that there was a tourist office right at the Valparaiso bus station. The bad news was that it closed 30 minutes before I arrived, for a 2-hour lunch break. (I could see a pattern developing here with respect to tourist offices.) However, another office stayed open during lunch if I cared to walk the 15 minutes to get there. I took a while to get my bearings and a young woman from the bus station escorted me to a local bus stop, put me on a bus, and told the driver where to take me. Just as the bus started, I noticed that I'd left my daypack in her office, and I jumped off just in time, but lost my ticket in the process. They were just locking up the station, but I managed to retrieve my bag. Finally, another bus came along and, don't you know, it dropped me right at the street for which she had given me directions. The only problem was that it was in the adjoining town some 3–4 miles away and she had written down the wrong town. Don't you just hate that?

Perhaps it was fate that brought me there, but the town of Viña del Mar (literally, vineyard of the sea) was very much up-market, so much so that I didn't think I'd be able to find cheap accommodation. I got wind of a hostel, but after 45 minutes of walking, I discovered it had closed. After that long walk had tired me out what to do but stop at a supermarket and buy a bag of dried sultanas (US: golden raisins) and sit in the sun and eat them. They didn't help my feet any, but they sure tasted good.

Well, my travel motto is, "Always have a plan B, even for Plan B!" I finally found a place right downtown on Agua Santa. It was your typical hostel with mix-and-match furniture. The share-bathroom had a cold-water basin and shower in a tub. A large gas cylinder sat at the end of the tub, and one just switched on the gas, struck a match, and "let her rip!" The price was $5/night, which was just fine with me.

As it happened, my adventures for the day had not yet ended. Today was the day the staff had chosen to replace some of the furniture and bedding in my very room. So, when I say that I had to make my bed, I mean that I had to make my bed, literally. Being much taller than the guys assembling the double bunk beds, I offered to help them, and we become buddies even though we could barely understand each other. However, there was one bit of good news. One of the bolt holes in the bed was drilled incorrectly, and the bolt wouldn't fit properly. Just that very morning I had been learning some new Spanish verbs, one of which was the verb "to fit," and lo and behold I got a chance to use it in a real-life situation, "it won't fit," or as we'd say in Australian-Spanish, "No bloody fitto, Jose!"

We assembled three bunks and put on new mattresses, sheets, and blankets. My mattress was rock-hard, just as I like it. The old mattresses we replaced sagged almost to the floor. With them, I reckon I could have rocked myself to sleep trying to get out of bed.

My room had two big windows, one at the head of my bed and one on the side, and the cool breeze blew right on in. A rock band started practicing in the house next door, but it wasn't too loud.

At 7:15 pm, I ventured out to find some food. I spied a family bakery with deli, and the staff was just filling the bins with hot rolls as I arrived. I bought some fresh rolls along with liter containers of chocolate milk, orange juice, and apple juice, and ham and Gouda cheese. Hey, I'm a growing boy! In my haste to race home and devour my purchases I had forgotten to buy butter, so my rolls were a bit dry.

I checked out the gas shower and after coaxing the burner gently, I got a good wash. By 8:30, my personal lights were starting to dim. Apparently, I had two roommates, and I hoped they wouldn't be too noisy when they got in. In any event, with all the new furniture, they might think they've come to the wrong room.

So, how was my first full day? I confirmed that relatively speaking, I don't know much Spanish. The day could have been better, and it could have been worse. As I had no big expectations, there were no big disappointments. Besides, if everything had have gone smoothly, I wouldn't have anything interesting to write about. Both heels finished up with sizeable blisters on the bottom, and two toes were a little squashed. I guess they need more toughening before the real hiking starts in a few days.

[Diary] I got up at 11 am, to find that I was sharing a room with two guys from Columbia and one from Chile. As I had long missed breakfast, I made my own from leftover supper and some milk. I did learn one important lesson; if you are 6'4" (195 cms) tall and sleeping on the bottom bunk, don't sit straight up in bed as you'll hit your !@#$ing head!

The weather was nice with temperatures in the high 60s F, and I made my way outside around noon. I headed for the beach nearby where some babes were taking in the sun. Students from several universities nearby were out in force. I stopped in at a small museum dedicated to a well-known local writer and adventurer. It was housed in a small castle-like building built on the rocks overlooking the sea.

There really was no litter and the gardens were blooming. Date palms lined the beach road along with numerous other trees. Viña del Mar is where wealthy people had their summer homes. I came across a rather swank-looking casino. Numerous high-rise apartment buildings lined the beach.

I spent quite some time at a large supermarket comparing prices and trying to figure out what some things were. There was a lot of Chilean wine for about $2/bottle. As the potato chips looked inviting, I bought a packet. I wrote some postcards and discovered empanadas, which involved meat wrapped in pastry. I bought two and the vendor offered to heat them for me. They also contained egg and, to my unpleasant surprise when I bit one, a black olive, which I quickly spat into the gutter.

At 7:15 pm, I was seated in the city's grand theater awaiting a choral performance by a university choir. Although there was no charge, I was hoping to get more than my money's worth. Although I was not able to decipher the program, it seemed to have something to do with the 500th anniversary of Columbus's discovery of the Americas. Some women were wearing furs, and some men had on ties. As for me, I was in my hiking gear and carrying a daypack!

The choir warmed up and there was a lot of humming; perhaps they hadn't yet learned all the words. Patrons filled a number of private boxes on the main level and two upper balconies. The ceiling was a large dome. The program I'd been trying to decipher turned out to be details of the university's plan for education. The public-address system featured Lennon and McCartney songs played on an Andean flute, which was quite conducive to my absorbing some of the local culture. Although the performance started 15 minutes late, three choirs sang for 90 minutes total. At the end, the three groups (80-odd voices) sang together. According to my attempt at translation, the title of the program was "We Sing in Spring."

[Diary] I lay in bed a good while and joined the 10-am-breakfast shift. There I met a young Chilean woman who lived in Stockholm with her Swedish husband, and taught Spanish. To make it interesting her father was German, and her maiden name was Müller. We had a conversation in a mixture of Spanish and English.

I took my last look around my room and noticed that the "quaint" curtain rods really were strands of heavy-gauge wire. The dilapidated clothes closet had a door that wouldn't close, just like the door on the room itself. "Spartan" was probably the most appropriate description. However, at $10 for two nights with a continental breakfast included, it was a good deal.

Around noon, I caught a bus back to Valparaiso, the town in which I had intended to stay originally. That town was bustling, and I sat and watched the goings on in the fruit and vegetable market before finding a large park. The order of the day was to wander about, write postcards, buy some stamps, and find a place to stay. The weather was cloudy but not at all cold. A young university student sat next to me as I fed some sparrows and a pigeon. As he spoke no English, my Spanish was pushed to the limit. I gathered that his name was Louis and that he was studying Chemistry.

I found the main Post Office, bought stamps and more cards, and posted some cards. From there I went to the main square, Plaza Solomayor. And right across the street, I spied the Hotel Reina Victoria (The Queen Victoria), but I doubt she'd have been very proud of it, at least not in its current state. The front desk was up a flight of stairs and it was tended by a kindly grandmother. We got along famously and soon, I was ensconced in my own large private room on the 3rd floor. The room had a washbasin, two face washers, a mirror, and a power outlet. There was a large wardrobe and a bed that sagged quite badly. The bedside stand had a small reading lamp on it along with—yes Ladies and Gentlemen—a chamber pot! A small table, chair, and a rug completed the décor. The two windows opened out over the plaza. To my left was the Chilean Navy Port and to my right was the Naval Headquarters. A window seat was built into the wall, and as I sat, I could see sailors coming and going to/from the Armada de Chile building.

Now, I ask you Ladies and Gentlemen, how much would you expect to pay for such luxury and a view? Well I paid 2,000 pesos per night, a little less than $6. Continental breakfast was included and would be delivered to my room. A share bath was down the hall and ran on a gas-fired apparatus. I even had a view of the plaza from the toilet seat. But wait, there was even more; my room came with a living pot plant!

At 7:30 pm, I asked the woman at the desk to fire up the hot water, to lay out my silk pajamas, and to get some bearers to carry me down to "el tubbo." Well, the water was very hot and plentiful, and I had a good soak under the shower. It was good to be able to stand straight and still fit under the showerhead. I noticed that toilet paper was supplied, and was in strips of 2' laid atop the cistern. (Most cheap places did not supply it.) During my nap, I'd dreamed I was staying in a 5-star villa and when I awoke, viola, there it was! Perhaps it will all be turned back into a pumpkin at midnight.

Back in my room, I rubbed some secret-recipe liniment into my tired and aching calf muscles, after which the place smelled like a men's locker room. I guess they will have to change my sheets this week after all given the smell I'll leave behind. The ceiling was at least 12' high and the light hanging down was so bright I could almost see enough to find the switch on the wall to check if the light was actually on. By the way, the electricity supply was 220V (unlike the US) and with screw-in bulbs (just like the US). The power outlets were 2-pin European-style.

After lying in bed a while, it was clear that I wasn't going to get to sleep with my butt dragging near the floor in the saggy mattress. And my feet were higher than my head. So, I dragged the mattress and bedding onto the floor, which was an improvement. All night, there was traffic outside my window, but as the noise was constant, it was not at all annoying.

[Diary] The tea that I'd ordered for 9 am arrived at 8:30, and it was coffee! Don't you just hate that when that happens! It sure is hard to get good help nowadays! And just as I finished eating, my alarm sounded. Actually, the coffee was not so strong; in fact, the spoon needed some help before it could stand up on its own. The bread was fresh and came with lots of butter, and made a hearty start to the day.

[Diary] Back in the capital, I came across the Residencial Londres hotel next to the main cathedral, and I rented a room. The marble staircase was most impressive, and the place was built like a castle, with solid walls, wood paneling, and plaster moldings. As I glanced at the guest registry, I saw several Finns, a Dutchman, and two Argentines, among others. For 2,600 pesos ($8), I had a double room to myself. The beds looked decent, towels were provided, and there was a writing table and chair, armchair, robe, and a bed lamp that made electrical-short-type sounds when switched on. The window opened out onto the street and I was on the ground floor. There were heavy indoor shutters to make the room dark and quiet. The share-bathroom was next door, and it had hot water all the time, a huge shower alcove—perhaps the guests all shower together—and toilet paper. All room doors were huge and well-made with solid locks, and swung easily. There was a small courtyard with garden.

After resting in my room, around 5:30 pm, I headed out for a stroll. I took in the new movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner. It was in English with Spanish subtitles, and was preceded by a Disney cartoon along with a newsreel on Germany. At $2.50, it was good value.

From the theater, I walked down a long mall and ran smack-dead into a large student demonstration coming towards me. I could hear them chanting as I got closer. Then something set them off, and they started running towards me, and I guessed the police were breaking them up. I and numerous other pedestrians turned into a side street. That street had many people selling things on tables and blankets on the ground with small children playing. I tried not to step on anyone with my Seven-League boots. As I moved away from the intersection I turned to see an armored car with a water canon spraying high-pressure water all around. Then I heard a metallic sound as a tear gas canister started rolling towards me. Some smoke grenades exploded nearby.

As I moved further away, the crowd was very orderly, and two blocks further on, the shoppers were oblivious to what was happening behind me. When I reached the main street, the police were out in force in full riot gear, with shields and helmets. I decided that was as close as I wanted to get to a Chilean jail!

Back at the hotel, I told my tale to the front desk clerk, and he said that was a regular occurrence. The students got a permit to march, and they always went further than was permitted, leading to a confrontation with the police, so it was sort-of choreographed. While it was good to know that I wasn't in any real danger, my heart rate did race there for a bit.

[Diary] I sat down for breakfast at 9 o'clock, having apricot jam on bread with tea. I chatted with two American woman working with the Peace Corps in Paraguay, and another American traveling around the continent. While eating, we started to hear singing and speech-making outside, over a public-address system. Frankly, it sounded like a 1930s Nazi rally! It was indeed a political rally, for the Radical Party of Chile, and it was taking place right outside my hotel. We watched it from a balcony. After the previous evening's events, I had visions of a SWAT team landing on the roof and rappelling down the hotel walls to break things up.

The demonstrations were mostly about political prisoners. I found it impossible to relate to the local politics. One cannot hope to appreciate the loss of something until one has lost it. Somehow it always seems to happen to people "in other countries," but here I was in one of those other countries! Sadly, I expect the impact on me will wear off in a few days when I'll be off on another adventure. [See Human rights violations in Pinochet's Chile.]

[Diary] Back at the swank Hotel Carerra, I found that I was sharing a room with Thomas from Brooklyn, New York City, who was in my tour group. He told me we had a 5:30-am wake-up call the next morning. Say what, I'm on vacation!

[Diary] At 6 o'clock, I met the whole group downstairs, and we boarded a small bus for the airport for an 8-am flight to Punta Arenas at the southern tip of the continent, with a stop at Puerto Mott. I sat with Stan, our trip leader. His partner, Kate, was in charge of trip logistics. My other seatmate was a delightful Chilean businessman who owned boats that fished for bass and swordfish. He also had the biggest kelp-harvesting operation in the country. A breakfast omelet with fruit and coffee was served in-flight.

From my brief encounter, there seemed to be an interesting mix of people in my group. Thomas was a retired policeman from NYC, who carved wooden figures in his spare time, and was interested in opera and fine arts. There was a retired couple from Utah (Virgil and Jackie), he a doctor and she a dietician. He'd gotten bored, so went back to work becoming the medical director of the Mormon Missionary program. (During the trip, the four of us became friends.) There were also two women from Montana.

The sky was clear, and we followed the Andes all the way down to their end. Along the way, we saw more than a few volcanos, none of which was spewing ash that day. (There was a significant eruption several months earlier, from which ash was still settling.)

After collecting our baggage, we boarded a mini-bus for the 4-hour drive north to Puerta Natales, a fishing town located on Última Esperanza Sound (Last Hope Sound). Along the way, we were served empanadas for lunch. We saw quite a few rheas, a smaller version of emu/ostrich. The landscape reminded me of Iceland: windswept with rocks and small brush. Although there were lots of trees, none of them was large enough for lumber. All posts, poles, and houses were made of concrete, the houses having corrugated-iron roofs. After we arrived in town, I went for a walk and spoke to two young high school students who knew some English.

At out hotel, The Eberhardt, I sat in an upstairs lounge, and took in the view over the sound with snow-capped mountains straight ahead and all around to the right.

[Diary] We left town around 10:30, and had a long, slow drive over dirt roads. We stopped along the way for a picnic lunch. We saw a lot of large rabbits and several eagles. Later, we came across large numbers of guanacos near the road, and six Andean condors circling overhead. Further on, we saw more guanacos, condors, geese, ibis, and other birds. We stopped off at a magnificent, large waterfall, Salto Grande (Grand Falls). The wind blew something fierce although it wasn't cold. We finally reached our destination, Torres del Paine National Park, and arrived at the park's HQ, some 30 km away from the park entrance, where we had an orientation from a park ranger. The glaciers, snow-covered mountains, and windswept bushes were much like parts of Alaska, Scotland, and Iceland, all rolled together.

We had switched to camp-mode, and the campsite was set up by 7 pm. Each guest pair had to erect their own 2-person tent. They were dome-shaped and quite roomy with a small annex, although not tall enough to stand. I was pleasantly surprised that Nestlé Milo hot/cold-chocolate drink was very popular in Chile, and the camp kitchen had copious quantities. The camp table was set, complete with crockery, with places for 14 diners, which included the two American guides and the Chilean cook and bus driver. The camp fire was roaring, and pots were bubbling.

[Diary] I was awake at 6:30 am, and small birds were chirping outside my tent. Some 20 feet away some geese swam in a river. The crew brought us hot water and we did our ablutions before packing our gear. We broke our luggage into two parts: the main part would stay on the bus while the other would go on pack horses for an overnight hike. My new sleeping bag and self-inflating mattress had worked really well on their maiden outing. Tom went to sleep in 60 seconds and snored a lot. At 8 o'clock, we ate scrambled eggs, which I washed down with some strawberry milk. We'd each been assigned a plastic lunchbox, and into that we packed a lunch, from cheese, salami, chocolate bars, fruit, and trail mix. We loaded the bus, and rode it to the trailhead to start our hike at 10:30.

We met up with three cowboys and their six horses, which would carry our gear and food for two nights away. The first few hours of the hike were over flat, open grassland, between two separate mountain groups. We were surrounded by snow- and ice-covered peaks, glaciers, and very cold rivers with pieces of ice floating in them. There were lots of flowers and birds, and the sun was strong all day. The rivers were grey with glacial flour.

After a while, we started going up and down, and I raised a sweat. As I had a lot of clothes on, I started to shed some outer layers. If one were ever to get excited by a view, then this would a good place to do that. The big mountain lake before us was very blue, and the snow-covered peaks reflected were in it like a jigsaw puzzle picture. Although we saw an occasional tree, none was near the trail, so there was no shade in which to rest. The light wind combined with the sun to burn the skin, and my exposed hands got quite red. As we walked at different speeds, the group spread out, and after six hours, I reached camp with half of the people still behind me. The final hour was the most strenuous. When we arrived at our destination, another group was just departing. A solo hiker headed in the direction we'd come.

Supper was noodle soup, chicken, rice, peas, beans, corn, and mashed potato. Although cooked, the peas, beans, and corn were served cold, as is the Chilean custom. Those of us not accustomed to this, rectified the "problem" by loading them into the hot soup. We finished off with hot tea and pieces of chocolate. For this part of the trip, we had a large dining tent with folding seats.

[Diary] After a breakfast of oatmeal with hot milk, tea, and bread, we packed a picnic lunch, and we hit the trail about 9:15. It was overcast with a threat of rain. As we left, Virgil played his harmonica. The wind was quite fearsome, and come straight at us. Just before lunch, it rained a few drops. Grey Lake is fed by Grey Glacier, and ultimately runs into Grey River. We saw quite a few small ice floes, many of which had been blown to the end of the lake. As we neared the glacier, we saw several large icebergs that had run aground.

The glacier forked into two parts behind a hill, and the front of each head was about 200 yards across. Many bergs were waiting to calve off the heads. Where it was really packed down, the ice reflected only blue light. We sat on a huge rock outcrop from which the glacier had retreated. The boulders in front us were scoured with deep, regular furrows that looked man-made. There was forest around much of the lake, and we could see a number of waterfalls and swift-flowing streams.

[Diary] We packed up our tents and were on the trail around 9:15. After yesterday's "Death March," my big boots took over and propelled me well ahead of the others.

We stopped for lunch, and then after four hours, we arrived "home" before the pack horses. Hot showers were promised later, and I looked forward to that. The aches in my body had evaporated, although I hoped it hadn't gotten too used to exercise! The shower was great, and I celebrated with the rest of my carton of strawberry milk, and bought another at the camp store. With only one shower, it took a good while for the group to get through. Some of us watched a big, brown hawk in a tree nearby, and it was very interested in the garbage bin.

Around 4:15, we departed for Laguna Azul (Blue Lake). The ride was rough and took several hours. One of the cowboys, Jose, rode with us and we dropped him off at his home. Along the way he and I spoke at length. We saw geese, guanacos, rheas, and one condor.

The location of our new campground was fantastic; I immediately decided to move there, permanently! There was a large lake surrounded by mountains, which were more like grass-covered rolling hills. A herd of horses roamed the bottom meadow. There were some very colorful pintos and a young colt. A herd of guanacos grazed near the campground. By the time we erected our tents, it was 9 pm, but it was still quite light with the sun just having dropped below the hills. Some of us collected firewood. After the sun went down, I walked to the lake to see the snow-covered mountains with a ring of grey clouds, reflected in the water.

[Diary] We all did laundry, and the surrounding bushes were decorated with our clothes. The day's hike was optional, and I chose to stay in camp, to read, write, and to go off to watch the guanaco herd. During the morning, Eliacer (the cook), baked a large chocolate cake, and iced it with white and brown frosting. (Like I said earlier, this is not just any old camping trip!)

It was a lazy day, with the sun alternating with light drizzle, and the laundry got dry, mostly. Karen had decided to stay in camp as well, and we went off on an animal-finding expedition, but had no luck except for several hares, and some birds and flowers. The countryside reminded me of Scotland. Eventually, I saw some pink flamingos (now you know where they go south in the northern winter), some swallows, and a flock of parrots. I rigged up a place near the campfire to dry my socks.

For an evening appetizer, we ate Chilean camembert and edam cheese and drank local wine. Supper was lasagna with broccoli. The iced, chocolate cake followed. Then Virgil recited some poems, one of which he wrote. We kept the fire stoked even though it wasn't cold; after all, you can't camp without a fire! Lights out at 10:30.

The next day, we crossed the border into Argentina, where we spent five more days, eventually staying our final night in Buenos Aires.

[Diary] The trip was definitely worth the money. I practiced my Spanish a lot, met some interesting people with whom I planned to stay in touch, sampled some new cultures and food, and most importantly I slept very well most of the time. After having three weeks off following a hectic work schedule, it made me even more determined to work only half-time the following year!