Following the coast all the way was not possible so we drove up the coastal hills again. At one point the road was partially blocked due to a land slide.
In some other sections it was so steep (and narrow) that you could only get up in first gear. Still Passepartout performed well and brought us over the hills, over tarmac roads as well as narrow gravel roads, back to the coast. Driving towards our next rest area, we saw in the distance small white mounds. Coming closer we discovered these are salt mounds. We saw several people working and putting them into bags for sale. If you want a 10kg bag of salt you can buy them here for small price.
Before Pichilemu we turned off to Punta de Lobos. This is a rock sticking out into the pacific and as such generates a breaking point for the large oceanic waves. It is a surfer’s paradise. We arrived late in the afternoon and it was crowded with surfers and onlookers. We squeezed the camper in-between other cars and patiently waited till most of the cars left so we could correctly parked the camper. Already at 8:00am the next day the first surfers were in the water. We heard several people speaking American English so it must be a well known spot.
Along the rocky coast locals harvest seaweed. In this case long green tubes like rope. They are dried and used in various ways. Either for soothing children when they are teething, in salads or as a local version of Viagra (according to the old men doing the harvesting).
The rest of the day was a long drive over winding roads till we hit the motorway to Vina del Mar. Only in this large coastal town could we find a suitable parking place for Rudy’s long overdue lunch. We wandered the streets towards the Ocean front and found a McDonald.
The chosen camping for the night was already closed for the season (after several attempts to find it), so we had to drive back through town and further along the coast, South to Valparaiso. It is built on several hills (400+ m) so we again had fun climbing hills in first gear and breaking for the buses stopping in front of us. By this time Jamaliah is having her panic attack. Uphill, narrow road and stopping for traffic lights uphill and praying that the brake works. Crazy!! On the other side we stopped at a campsite in Laguna Verda. The Garmin (coordinates we put in) sent us first on a very small track to a garden nursery where we found out that the campsite is just on the other side of the river.
In the morning we programmed the Garmin to a parking area in Valparaiso. It was just a few kilometers away but what the map did not show are the narrow streets and steep hills we had to negotiate. We had to backtrack several times because it was not possible to follow the route the navigator indicated. Again Jamaliah was reaching the point of stepping out. Another harrowing experience and full blown panic attack (again). In the end, common sense prevailed and we just drove all the way down to the coast and then followed it till we found a parking place. No more shortcuts across the valleys from one hill to the next.
The town has 2 main attractions: The 5 old Ascensors (1883) which still bring people up and down the hills and the street art. The street art is primarily along the narrow and steep streets of the old town in the hills surrounding the water front and business district.
In a historical Art Nouveau house (Palacio Baburizza) on the hill there is an excellent collection of paintings. Several showed the city as it was in the past.
At the end of the afternoon we drove up to Santiago. Before reaching the town we saw some white spots in the sky in-between the clouds. These are snow fields way up in the Andean mountains. The actual mountains are not visible through the haze.