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         North-Central Chile (6)

     12/12 2012 - 11/2 2013

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Diary  1  2  3  4  5  6    Western Argentina

  Finally escaping the death landscape of the Atacama, I now reach slightly more civilized areas. Still plenty of nature, cacti and adventures will follow:

 3/2 13. I head the way my compass suggest, not what I remembered. Turned out I actually remembered right for once! I find breakfast for the car and a farmers market. I have seen vegetables enough, and head on. Several old walls have lost their clay plastering in the old neighbourhood, due to the recent earth shake.

 I planned to eat breakfast, when I turned out the minor road, but here, I pick-up two girls, heading for the beach at Barranquilla. I warn them; I might be stopping to photo plants, but they alternative will be sitting, waiting there for hours. They even claim liking my music, general Scandinavian pop.

 It actually turn out good for them; here are only tiny shrubs, and I only stop shortly twice. I drop them off in the makeshift plywood village; Barranquilla, and drive a bit back, to check some rocks. Here I find a familiar cactus, several succulents and what might be a new Copiapoas cacti. Little, round and with loads of thick needles. Later, I find them up to 30 centimetres long, and with pale orange flowers.

 The sun hides away, and it actually start to drizzle a bit. Feels completely wrong in this dry environment. The rocks are granite, kind of the same same as Ayres Rock: Layers on layers. The next found is not pleasing: It looks like the village solves their trash problem by dumping it on a high ground, leaving it to the wind to remove it. I have to admit; it does work, except now it is scatted over a huge area.

 I drive back to main road, and along the first part, only annuals and scrub can be found. The only green is the large lichen. The ground is covered in snail encasings: There must be numerous generations, conserved by the dry environment. The live one must be buried, and that is what the fox is digging up.

 It is mainly sand, but the few rocks I find, are petrified sea button, with shells and all. A single plant is flowering and showing an astonishing amount of green leaves, the dry ground considered. I reach another area with rocks - could be sandstone - and here, a new cacti are found. It is, I think, another Copiapoas, but this one have shorter needles and grow in clusters.

 Along with it, I find a new Maihueniopsis cacti. The old Eulychnia iquiquensis is all over the place and rather big. It is both on the hills and in the dry riverbeds. Here, I find some real big bushes, one is a flowering Asteraceae, the other is a Fabaceae with only a few flowers.

 The next dry river have its own cactus; Copiapoa fiedleriana, a little round one with loads of fat needles. A few flowers are red outside and yellow inside. It continues over the flat planes, and quite numerous. Up here, I also find a real spiny "cucumber" cactus with heavy needles; Miqueliopuntia miquelii. It grow in clusters, some up to five metres in diameter.

 Several of the succulents are flowering, I guess it might be just before the rainy season - or what should have been it. One is real fascinating: The stems are completely covered in tiny leaves, and the inflorescent make it look like a spear. A new Eulychnia breviflora, which is smaller than the close related E. iquiquensis.

 Some of the Eulychnia iquiquensis have a parasitic plant within it; Tristerix aphyllus, and it is flowering, almost hiding the host, with red flowers. Then a new cacti catch my eyes: A rather large Copiapoa-type with short needles in rows, making it look like a starfish. It have yellow flowers as well.

 Either it have a flat form, or here is actually another new cactus as well. It looks like the last, but it is real flat and wider. I drive along the coast, but some hundreds metres inland. A new stem succulent have no leaves, but the yellow flowers have started emerging. If it wasn't for them, I would have thought it was dead.

 I see what appears like thousands of Copiapoas in huge clusters, covering hill after hill. When I get closer, I hardly believe my eyes: It is the Copiapoa dealbata cacti! They covers half the surface, and as fare as I can see, in every direction. Some clusters (actually one plant) covers 3-4 square metres, and some are more than a meter high. Many have pale yellow flowers, and I really wished the sun would break through.

 I drive on, after having taken way too many photos. Then the sun actually start to peak through tiny gabs in the clouds, and I start all over again. I end up pulling my self away, before I get an overdose of cacti. The next gathering of rocks reveals its special cacti; a Eulychnia-like with thick spines - might be Eulychnia acida. It is less than a meter high, and have only a few branches. It tend to grow on bare rocks, finding tiny cracks to establish.

 I reach a large gorge with an ancient river, now dried out in the bottom. The sides are covered in three different cacti and lots of succulents. Several of these old rivers crosses the road, all filled with cacti. Then I reach a real large one, containing a bit of water. It is Punta Carriza.

 I now have to decide, if I want to turn into Parque Nacional Llanos de Challe or stay at this cacti-rich road. Unexplainable, I chooses the first. It is huge hills, made-up of gravel. At first, here are cacti, and either the old Eulychnia or a new is forming some real fat and low plants, which might be Eulychnia castanea.

 A few, new Copiapoa which are fatter and quite green sits on the edges of the walls. I finally catch up with one of the lightning fast lizards. Then the plants more or less vanish, and only some huge Eulychnia-like ones grow on the flat planes.

 In the distance, some huge man-made hills and the vanishing mountain feeding them, dominates the horizon. It is the reason for Vallenar's existence. I reach the Ruta 5, just where the earth shake had its epic centre. It look like it have been raining: Some hills have fallen down on the road, but besides from that, nothing else seems out of the ordinarily.

 I reach the city, but passes the first exit; Vallenar North. It turns out to be the only exit! The town is in the long, narrow stretch of a valley, and I actually manages to find the centre. A huge hotel have a underground parking lot, and I drive down. The hotel have no vacant beds, but I leave the car. The next charge 38,000 pesos for a single, and I let them have it. I have now learned Recidencials is places with beds on daily basis too.

 I find one further down the street, but the only person present, is around 200 years old. It takes forever for her to - I never find out what she actually wanted to achieve. I drop the bag, and head out to the Sunday closed city. Only a few shops are open, and one restaurant. I get some dinner, walk the main street and return.

 The daughter have turned up, and she sign me in for 9,500 pesos. From outside, it looked small, but I get room number 32, way back. I sit down in the rather large restaurant and start working. Then I'm treated with some great lemonade and an awesome lemon meringue cake. I can find their Wi-Fi, but I can't hack it. The grandson turns up, and he have the code. He is around 50.

 The 400 photos of the day is a big mouthful to go through, finding Latin names, deleting, re-sizing and treat. It is almost two in the morning, before I give in.

 4/2 13. My room was oozing with mouldiness, but I thought I could clean the air, opening both windows. It turns out I can't. I wake up every half hour due to the odour. First, I thought I would get use to it, but neither that either.

 I have a slight headache, when I decides to quit trying sleeping and comfort my selves with two fried eggs, easy-over and a fresh bread. Then I drive out to the costal road I missed yesterday. Considering how rich the other part was, this is a real disappointment. It was not the 180 Km de-tour worth.

 Where the other had a new cactus for each ravine, this part have the same five species, all the way. Back through Valenar and down Ruta 5 towards La Serena. The same five cacti continues in huge numbers most of the way, except in some heights, where it is too dry.

 Again today, the sun hides it selves, to way after noon. The dry cacti are mainly grey like the rocks, and getting clear and pretty photos of them is a challenge! The great panoramic views are completely impossible.

 I stop several times, but only just before La Serena, I find some new cacti and some huge Bromeliads. I feed the car outside town, but I can't avoid driving right through it, to reach the road for Vicuna. Or rather; drive up and down the city: There are no straight route - and no signs.

 The Ruta 41 should be worth the drive, but either I am getting spoiled, or it simply isn't. It runs in the button of a huge, fertile valley with vegetables, olives, melons, vine and corn. There are flowering bushes along part of the road, a dam and its lake, but I have seen more impressing sceneries lately.

 I find a single, new cactus; a little round fellow, looking like a bird's nest, which could be Eriosyce heinrichiana. Then I reach the little and cosy Vicuna. The first four hostels are full, the fifth charge 39,000 pesos, and it isn't even fancy! Then I find a rather cosy one with private yard, pool and nice people.

 Drop the bag and head down town. The square is a relaxed tourist trap, but for Spanish talking people only. I find a Museo Entomo Logico at the square, and give it a chance. Lots of dried insects from South America, mainly the huge ones, some fossils and other rarities, including plastic dinosaur skeletons.

 After having walked all the shopping streets, I get a hot-dog with it all. It does not fill the gab, and I top it of with a coffee and a surprisingly good cake.  Back to work and have the usual fight with the alleged aqua calliente. I know how much I ought to appreciate it at home, and I surely do!

 5/2 13. I am now leaving the western Chile for a while, to explore some of the central heights. In a matter of fact; I am determined to see the 4765 meter high Paso den Aqua Negra, which I was so rudely bounced of at the Argentine side.

 The first 80 Km to the actual border control leads me through the fertile Elqui Valley. Vine, protected by fine nets from the wind, grow way up the mountains. I soon spot some real fat Eulychnia cacti, but I can't get to them for the barbwire fenced vine fields. Well, I could, but I still remember an incident in South Africa, involving a farmer loosing sheep, a shotgun and an attitude.

 As I expected, I find some "free roaming" later on. The surroundings turn drier, and only the watered vine-plants thrive. Then it is almost barren gravel hills with a few shrubs on. The river still runs in the button of the valley, and some grass and pampas grass grow in a small stretch along it.

 Even higher up, it starts to get a bit green again. The cacti have gone, but here are some interesting semi-succulents. I reach the border control, and despite I have not been overtaken, and I have stopped for several walk-about, here is a line of nine cars, all stuffed with families.

 I grab my papers, and walk to the huge building. Here is toilets and kitchen for the waiting people! Some actually look like they have been sleeping in their cars - so do the cars. There are none in the hall, working as office. I call a bit around, and an officer turns up.

 I tell him, I'm only going to the pass, not into Argentina. He get the point, find a form, and ask me to fill it out. He stamps it, and go looking for the auto-officer. He seems a bit confused, but the first one talks him into stamping my form, and I'm off.

 Well, 20 metres, then there is the police. He just want the form and my passport, which I can pick-up, on the way back. Fine with me, I just have to keep an eye out for the border! The last 80 Km is a rather fine gravelroad, and it goes in huge, serpentine stile into the mountains.

 At one point, a new, rather small dam forms a big, blue lake. Some goat herds have tent-camps along the road, but beside from a pair of them, I see none the whole way to the top. Here are only a few plants, forming cushions with an outer sphere of spines. I guess the goats controls any other plants, trying to get a foothold here! Well, a tiny, grey Asteraceae does manage, but the white flowers gives it away.

 The ice starts to get closer, and then it is just next to the road. I have had it warm and cosy in the sun-warmed car, but outside, it is frost! I have passed the 4000 meter mark, but if I just stay in the sun - with a black jacket on, I can enjoy my fresh brewed coffee.

 On a nearby mountain wall, the special glacier formations, known as Penitentes, because it looks like a line of monks garbed in tunics, are found. I consider walking up to them, but they are probably further away than they appears, and it is a steep and very loose gravel hill - not worse a single photo!

 The bare mountains are fantastic. Some are bright yellow, some red, some brown and some mixed with stripes of the others. Some are rock, some gravel and some fine sand. I reach  the 4765 meter high Paso den Aqua Negra, but is is actually a bit disappointing after that fantastic road. Not any great view, not condors - not much in a matter of fact.

 I turn around - despite the Argentine control is 90 Km down the road. On the way back, I start meeting cars and motorcycles. Every time, I have to drive through dust for quite some time. I am real glad I had it all to my self on the way up!

 I only stop a few times on the way down, and at the police control, the officer is busy in the phone, and strangely enough, there are two cars in front of me. I just smile to him, and signalling I'm going to take my passport. He gives me a thump-up, and I'm off.

 The next office is also busy, and I walk to an officer that do nothing. Explain fast, I have not been in Argentina, and he ask me to pull out of the line, and drive through. I guess the ones in front of me in those lines, have been there before I started this morning! Else, I would have meet them.

 I find a few cacti with sun on now, on the way back to Vicuna. An Swiss woman I talked with - shortly in German - the other day praises the road leading to Alcohuaz, and as I pass it anyway, I give it a try. A smaller version of the big, fertile valley, a few cacti as well, but not that interesting, I think. And surprisingly many cars on the narrow road for once.

 Back through Vicuna to feed the car, and then out of a narrow gravelroad towards Hurtado. I actually thought the road for a 4000+ city would be bigger - and better, but there was a sign, showing out here. It starts winding its way through vine fields, squeezed in by tall stonewalls.

 Then the fertilized valley ends, and huge gravel hills take over. Plenty of the "new" fat Eulychnia and a presumable known, little cacti. Some typical Acacia tress and then some small  trees, covered in dead, red leaves, which I guess is Asteraceaes. The ground is almost white granite boulders with fine gravel in-between.

 The sun is low, and offers some fantastic motives to the east. Although I really enjoy this fantastic road, I would like to get confirmed, it actually is the right one. It turns worse, and I have to concentrate quite some, not to spoil the car. I guess they have skipped mending it after the last rainy season - or two, along with a rather big earth shake.

 The ascent and descant is not for two wheel drive, nor it the boulders in the middle. After 30 Km, I reach a Y, but there are no clue to which road I should continue bye. I try the right (right is right, right?), and after 10 Km, I actually reach the police station of Hurtado. It have taken me almost two hours to drive the 40 Km - but is was indeed a nice drive.

 The most friendly police officer I ever seen, tells me to continue to the square, here I will find my hostle; Tambo del Limari. The town is more or less just a line of pretty nice houses along the gravelroad. The tiny square does not have any signs, and I ask a woman, walking there.

 She know just the right place, but none are home. Then they might be at the family, right on the other side of the square. They are not, but now I figure they think I'm looking for a camping site. Not before I have heard the price for a proper room! Then they know the place, and it turns out it is Tambo del Limari. There are just no sign outside.

 I get a real nice, large, clean and light room with private bath and supper for 13,000 pesos. A fast shower and then omelette, a real rich soup with vegetables, pasta and tender ox, followed by a good pudding and tea. When I finished, it is nine, and dark outside. Well, I guess I won't be missing much in this village anyway.

 The news show flooding pictures from the Chilean Andes, and here, a days drive away, the cacti are dyeing of draught. Guess it is natures way to "Shuffle the deck".

 6/2 13. I sleep almost ten hours, and get up to a great breakfast. Scrambled eggs, buns, jam, cheese, fruit cake and sugar cones with walnut - all homemade and great! She have a collection of postcards from around the world, and I must make sure she get one from Denmark as well!

 I continues out of the little road, but it getting slightly better maintained after the village. Their main road leads towards the rather large Ovalle, where the Vicuna road was a back-door. The fantastic landscape continues with loads of cacti, although more and more farmed fields and later vine shows up. I only make a few stops, confirming it still is the same three cacti species.

 I almost avoid Ovalle, and I even find the right little road, leading to Valle del Encanto. Here, a lot of different art (Petroglifo) are carved into the rocks along what appears to be a permanent creek. Some are scratched in the oxidized surface of the giant granite boulders, some are centimetre deep chiselled and some are deep holes like from grinding flour.

 I see quite some of the many figures, which are estimated to be 4000 years old. I am distracted by the beauty of the entire landscape: The giant boulders, the lush grassy stretch along the creek, the giant hills, covered in cacti, flowering plants and bushes.

 A path follows the creek, and I go along. More figures on the rocks, more plants and more awesome views. Well, the last; Los Bańos de Inca is a bit tacky; it is just a hollow boulder. I end up spending way more time here, than I have planned, and rush on to the very special forest, found at the nearby coast.

 Accordantly to my map, there are two entrances, and I go for the southern. It is a slightly longer tour, but it is mainly along the coast. 50 Km south, and I find the right, little track. It is in a real bad condition, and I am thinking it draws several years out of the car.

 On the other hand, I have found fields of giant Bromeliads and a new Eulychnia cacti, with real short needles. After 20 Km of the 70, a mine claims control, and I can't go further. That kind of make the decision for me: I turn back. I passed a gas station on the way, and now I need it. Unfortunately, it have run out of fuel, and the next is well over 100 Km either south or north. That will be tomorrows problem, now I have to reach the park before it closes.

 It have a long driveway, but it is through fantastic nature, and pretty smooth gravelroad. At first, I think I see a huge barrow cacti, over 30 centimetres in diameter, but can that be right? Then their might be another, and I drop the car. It is giant Eriosyce aurata, but I don't recall hearing of this Mastodon.

 The hill I find a few 30 centimetres on, are real goat infested, and I fear the worse. Then I start finding smaller plants, and it seems like even the rather small ones are able to protect them self. Next thought is: How big does it actually get? The next hill answers that clearly: 60 centimetres in diameter, same in height. It is a massive plant!

 I tend to look more at the hills than the road for the next kilometres, but somehow I make it to the entrance of Parque Nacional Fray Jorge. It turns out this is the only way in, and this close to Santiago, there are rangers and roles. A form have to be filled out, I have to read the roles - in English, and I can only access the last five kilometres in a 4WD (well, they claimed the same at the Dakar Race...)..

 Well, they close in two and a half hour, it is a real steep walk, and I don't feel for it. I explain that the car and I have been in hell and back together, and we go together. He look at it - or at the pile of dust on it, and ask if I'm an experience driver: Oh yes! Then I get to green light.

 It start with cacti and bushes on the hills. The steep hill, over the low mountain, out to the coast is not the worse we have defeated at all. I have plenty of time to study the plants we pass, among them some yellow flowering Asteraceae bushes.

 Further up, the Bromeliads get really dominating. It is rather huge, cluster forming plants with many died inflorescences. I'm not aloud outside the road, but I find a few spots, where I can drop the car, and do a bit of walking - strictly along the road. It is a bit strange, but here are actually other visitors! Some are walking, some stuffed into 4WDer.

 I reach a parking area with yet two more rangers. Here are some board walks through this surprisingly lush, green and rather tall forest. Most trees seems to be Lauraceae, some with tiny, dark leaves, some with huge, light green and almost succulent leaves. Many of the up to a meter thick stems are overgrown with mosses and Peperomiaceaes.

 One of the official walks are rather long, and leads around the top. At the back side, the sea can be seen, way down. More flowering Asteraceaes, some Solanaceaes and other unfamiliar plants. I find some fantastic green lizards with black head, which could be the endemic Liolaemus zapallarensis.

 On the way down, I especially look for cacti. Here ought to be some rather special ones. And yes; the Eriosyce subgibbosa is found in the openings between the Bromeliads. They are even flowering; nice red ones. I only find them in a small area, but besides from I'm not aloud, the Bromeliad bush-land is not really easy to get through anyway.

 It is getting late, and the park is closing. My plan was originally to spend the night in their camping site, but it is closed. The nearest city of some size is Ovalle, and I prioritise that from the car. I drive through the tall Eulychnia cacti, the fat Eriosyce - and have to stop several times. I even find the red flowers on the giant Eriosyce.

 I find a back-road towards Ovalle, leading through marginally farmland. Ovalle is rather big, but without the expected big shopping centre. I find a Hotel Italia on the way in, but it is rather steep. The owner is actually Italian, and I promises to return for a pizza. I am one behind after the TelePizza failure!

 Here are not that many hostals, recidencials and alike, and the few that I find, are full! I waste almost two hours, driving and walking around with my day-back-pack, without achieving anything but waste precious time. OK, then it is going to be Italian! At least I can find it again. Nice room, absolutely fabulous pizza, made in the right stone oven. I have to spoil my self with a cafe latte, then go back and work on (I did ask for permission to work in the restaurant, and got it).

 While planning tomorrow, I realises I actually seen all I planned. The last sights was the one I saw while I waited for the Argentine insurance. That leave room for improvisations, and I guess I might find some interesting habitats along the coast, down to Los Vilos, and I could stop at Reserva Nacional Las Chinchillas on the way. Then one day in Santiago, and it is time to face the arctic homeland.

 7/2 13. As expected, the breakfast is good, and then I find my way out of the city. I try an alternative route south by Punitaque, but it turns into true off-road style. Out to Ruta 5, which in this part is aliened with barbwire all the way. The only few holes are guarded, and I don't feel like crossing the 6-10 lines of spines, just to see some known cacti. I make several stops, but fails to see anything interesting, besides from the huge clusters of Bromeliads.

 I turn east, into D71, heading for Canela Alta. If I have driven this road one of the first days, I would have been ecstatic - now I pleased, but that is it. Loads of Eulychnia cacti and Bromeliads on the gravel hills, along the dry riverbed. I try to find new species, but fails. Some parts are fertile enough to host a few cows, and the hills are covered in tiny bushes - or shrub.

Then I reach Reserva Nacional Las Chinchillas. This 4,229 hectare area is set aside to protect the northern chinchilla; Chinchilla laniger. From 1900 to 1910, millions were trapped and killed, and they almost vanished. Along with them, some different mice are found.

 I get the great tour around in the visitors centre: Old traps, videos, posters and even a night zoo! Then I'm shown the entrance to the 768 meter trail. Lots of dry Asteraceae bushes; Flourensia thurifera, huge Eulychnia cacti, flowering Fabaceaes and some Acacia carven with fruits. I've been trying to root this plant for the BG for a long time, and now I just have to pinch a few fruits.

 Along with the familiar parasitic plant, found on cacti; Tristerix aphyllus, another close related grow on Fabaceaes like Porlieria chilensis. It is not flowering, but it is covered in yellow seeds. I get a few photos of a large, bushytailed mouse, which I of cause forgotten the name of.

 I don't see any chinchillas, but they are nocturnal, and there are lots of burrows in the ground. A trail leads further out, into the canyons, and I go along for several kilometres. I fail to find anything new, but it is a real nice area with total silence.

 My original plan was to go to Los Vilos - of which I know absolutely nothing, but I pass right through Illsspel - of which I also know nothing, but the letters on my map is slightly bigger. I hope this means it will be slightly easier to find a hotel.

 It is just like the other cities I've been in the last week: Dusty, shrubby, one-way streets and well hidden hotels. The first is way to expensive, and so are the next two. They look fare from posh, and they are general empty - strange. I find one in my price class, drop the bag and head out in the nice and warm city.

 I try another haircut, and now it looks funny in another way. A tour up and down the shopping street mostly reveals closed shops in the late afternoon, and I go home to work.

 8/2 13. Most of the drive down to Santiago is familiar, but the first part might reveal some interesting things. I do a few stops, but the barbwire is consequent. A bridge give a great view up and down the river, and the morning sun is perfect for a photo on the cacti covered wall.

 I reach the coast and Ruta 5 at Los Vilos, and the coastal area look very entreating - except the fence and the sighs. Then I spot a ladder, crossing it, and that is an invitation for sure! The area is rather fertile, with huge clusters of lush, green and flowering Bromeliads, the usual Eulychnia cacti and some red, drought stresses succulents; Calandrinia longiscapa. That don't stop them from sending numerous, dark pink flowers up.

 Then I find a little, fat and short needled cactus, which must be  Eriosyce curvispina var. mutabilis. A bit further out through the marble boulders another cacti start: Copiapoa coquimbensis. Fine, thin needles on a short column. They are up to 40 centimetre high inland, but smaller and numerous near the coast.

 Actually, the most of them grow on cliffs, out in the surf! They are not big, just like a tennis ball, but they are covering the rocks! I have never seen a cactus surviving that much direct sea spray before. It is the most outer plant in the dunes, way out in the bare rocks on the beach.

 Within the dunes among the marble rocks, a nice dark to pale pink bulb; Rhodophiala advena is flowering without leaves. I keep walking the area for quite some time, reluctant to end this two month nature experience. Does not help the next target is the centre of Santiago!

 The landscape slowly changes to more and more fertile, although the cows are feeding of dry grass on the giant hills, under the Acacias. The valleys look so much like the African savannah. The traffic intensifies as I get closer to Santiago, and the last bit is rather intense.

 I have no clear goal - I won't find it anyway, and I just head for centre of Santiago. Without any warning, I drive over the central square, and then what? No chance I can find a parking lot, the map is next to useless and all streets are one-way. I end up dumping the car in an illegal spot, and start walking.

 That does not help much! No hotels, although I can see the Plaza Armas. Back to look one up in the book: There are actually one in the middle of the square, on sixth floor. They even have a bed for me, although it is in a full ten person dorm.

 Then I have to figure, what to do with the car. I'll hate to find it with a clamp on, when I'm supposed to drive to the airport! There should be a parking cellar a square away. I try to navigate there, but too many one-way, no right/left turns, odd angles, six lanes and blind roads.

 I end up in another, some kilometres away, but I planned to take a taxi anyway. I have to bring my big bag, and prepare it for air-handling. The parking lot is actually more expensive than my dorm bed with breakfast! I dumb the bag and go for a short walk in the pedestrian area. I have spend three hours getting this fare. Here, late afternoon does not mean closed shops and empty sidewalks!

 After a cake and a coffee, I flee back to the hostal. From the balcony, there are the best thinkable view over the Plaza Amada and the town's centre, but the noise is dampen by the six floors. I work for some hours, then head down for a light dinner at nine. Continues working to eleven, but than I have to give in.

 9/2 13. A perfect nights sleep despite the dorm room. Light breakfast and then out to the botanical garden. It should be located next to the ZOO, on a small mountain within the city. I walk to the ZOO in half an hour, and arrival just at ten, when they are supposed to open. I look at the ten employees inside for fifteen minutes, before I head on. If they don't want to open, I don't want to se it.

 The walk up the mountain to the botanical garden is steep, and there are quite some distance. It takes me an hour to reach the rather impressive entrance. A nice map show the different areas, and then it all falls apart. Rather neglected, few name tags, few species and small. Defiantly not worth the walk.

 I walk down another way, reaching a fare part of the city. After a while, I get a cap, and head back to Plaza Amada. I walk the general open shopping streets in the centre of the town, grab a cake and coffee and buy a few things I need.

 Then it is back to the hostal to work the rest of the day. It turned out to be a greyish and rather chill day, and I don't feel I've will miss anything in the city anyway.

 The water disappears in the hostal in the afternoon, and don't return before I leave for good. Bit annoying, I could have done with a shower before the long flight! There are plenty of water at the side walk!

 10/2 13.  I skip the symbolic breakfast, figuring I might need the time. Better be three hours early, than three minutes late! I manages to find the car, and with a bit difficulties, even the airport. There is none to receive the car at the parking lot, but I get a receipt at the desk in the airport.

 Three hours to get processed in the machinery, get breakfast and find the gate. Smooth flight to Madrid in 12,5 hours, 5,5 hours waiting, 3,5 hours to Copenhagen - was the plan. Then some fat guy decides to get an hart attach, and we have to get down in Orly to drop him of in an ambulance. That delays us two hours, but luckily, we can go on in the same airplane.

 My limo driver have ditched me, and I have to get my travel-card for the train renewed. When I reach the station, the train, stopping 50 metres from my door is waiting! Some white, fluffy stuff is covering the country, and it apparently draws out the calories of everything. Alien life form? I hit Roskilde at seven in the evening, and things have really piled up for me. Well, except in the refrigerator.

 A bit of status: I have spend 41 days in Chile, driven 13,300 kilometres and taken 4500 photos. It has been a real adventurous tour, given me a lot of knowledge about mist consumption among Bromeliads, cacti and other desert dwellers. Despite the huge challenges I have experienced, I would consider this expedition to be a great success. The price is just around 72,000 DKK/9,650, excluding the Argentinean part.


   Photos   Diary Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5