Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Chilean Coast.

We have a few days to spare before having to be in Santiago, so we decide to explore this region of the Chilean coast. From Los Andes, it is only a couple of hours drive to the coast area of Vina del Mar and Valparaiso. The weather is gorgeous with bright sun and virtually no wind or clouds. As we approach the ocean, our spirits soar. We have not seen the Pacific for a long time and we are excited to be by the sea once again. We had heard of a campground in the beach town of Con Con but after seeing it we were disappointed to find that is was not even close to the beach but further inland in the mountains. Although not quite what we were looking for, we decide to stay for a couple of days and get some laundry and other regular chores out of the way. Winston was allowed to run free with a couple of other dogs who live on site and he had a grand time. We, on the other hand just wanted to be closer to the beach. We also want to find the mechanic that Michael, a German traveler had told us about, whose business is in Algarobbo. In addition to regular maintenance, Tom wants him to check the brakes and the muffler, which is making a bit of noise. We decide to stay on the coast road through Vina del Mar and Valparaiso and then take the road inland through Valle de Casablanca, one of Chile’s wine regions and then back to the coast to Algarobbo. The coast line in Chile is incredible. Topographically, there is only a thin stretch of land between the ocean and the Andes and in areas it seems as though the mountains touch the shore. At both Vina del Mar and Valparaiso, the hills in town are so steep that there are trams running up the sides of the mountains to transport you from one street to the next. It is amazing to watch them stop on the hillsides and let people off. There are so many homes, apartments and businesses that are built into the mountain sides and it is difficult to imagine how they get used to living in such a precarious position when as we know earthquakes happen frequently. Outside of Japan, Chile is probably the most volatile of countries when it comes to big quakes. We are from California, which is known for earthquakes but in Chile a 4.5 on the Richter scale is a cradle rock. Try an 8+ quake which is often times followed by a tsunami! Also it is Sunday and the towns are packed with people who both live here and day visitors from Santiago. We really want to explore the towns but decide to come back another time. Passing through Valle de Casablanca, we notice that the grapes have been harvested and the vines are empty. We see quite a few of the larger bodegas from the highway and signs to many others. Yet another area we need to visit before leaving. When we arrive in Algarobbo, it is much smaller and far less people than Valparaiso but it is also getting late. We drive a little way out of town and find a place to park for the night right by the ocean. It was a great spot except for one sign, a permanent reminder of the dangers of parking on the beach. “Tsunami Zone”. There are also signs showing the evacuation route should the alarm sound. We figure “what are the chances of that happening?” and position the motorhome so our door opens to the sea. Winston goes crazy and runs around the beach, in and out of the water, like a dog possessed. Even he is happy to be camped by the water again. It will only be for one night as tomorrow we will find the mechanic but right now we are content with a glass of wine and since we are now on the west coast, a marvelous sunset.

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