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We all finished our packing and were ready to embark on our long journey home at 11:00. There was just one last formality to complete after we had shaken hands with the retired owners of Hotel Rosa Nautica and their daughter who had taken over. This was of course the final (until the next time) goodbye to ‘my garden’ on the rocks overlooking the Pacific waves crashing on the beach. A quick look at the three different taxa of Eriosyce that grow here confirmed that flowering was over, a bit earlier than usual, I belief. I’ll enjoy looking up dates and flowering reports of previous visit to this location in the build up to Christmas 2019.

We still had the issue of finding a car wash to resolve so that we could return the Suzuki to Andres in a good state. We considered driving to the Copec to check if they had a car wash and if it was open, but that was some 10 km farther away along R5, in the wrong direction. There will be other Copec stations on the way to the airport where we could get the car clean and pick up a hotdog as well.

Although the number of fuel stations along R5 has increased greatly since 2001 and cars have become more economical they were still reasonably scarce, with more appearing on the other carriageway, heading north, than along the southbound one. They increased as we got closer to Santiago, but here most seemed to have suffered damage by the recent social protest activities, so that they were either burned out or boarded up. This was also the case at my usual stop at Llay-Llay, where the wind seems to always much harder than elsewhere. We filled up the tank for the last time so that the fuel gauge level indicator would match that of the car when we picked it up from the airport three weeks ago. No car-wash obvious, but fortunately my craving for hot-dogs was satisfied by a mobile emergency stand.

I had been quite chuffed with my ability to find most places we wanted to go without the use of my trusted Garmin Nuvi SatNav. Ian’s mobile phone had a TomTom App that had been useful to add some fine detail at some locations, but by Ian’s own admission, he was not very experienced in its use when it came to finding the right turn off from the now busy R5 for the Aeropuerto, so we became familiar with some more of Chile by me taking a wrong turning so that we were now heading west towards the coast again. The car must have misunderstood – yes we do like to be beside the seaside, but now the airport was our priority.

Ian and his phone soon got us back to the right road so that we arrived in very good time for our drop off of the car. Al and Angie plus the luggage were dropped off at Departures and Ian and I drove on to the massive roadworks in progress that will, in time, be a beautiful multistory car park. Finding Andres’ associate to hand over the car, the keys and the car park ticket had in the past always a bit stressful, as by now our minds were firmly fixed on getting our luggage checked in and settling down to a final Pisco Sour and checking on the departure times of our flights. Ian’s mobile that had worked the best in Chile was a great help. It photographed the final readings of the milometer, the fuel gauge, the block and row number where we left the car and the ‘for the record’ shot of me kissing the car as thanks for the reliable and comfortable service that it had provided during the last three weeks. Thank you, Andres and his team.

As usual, I like to have plans for my next trips already planned by the time that we get home. Currently plans are for a trip to Baja California sometime in February / March and another trip to Chile in November 2020. In between there will be short trips to Germany to visit Angie’s family and to the Netherlands to visit friends and of course, to the annual cactus festival at E.L.K. in Belgium in September. All plans are HaWP (Health and Wealth Permitting) as always.

PK thanking our rental car as we return it at Santiago Airport.
Photo Ian Thwaites
Thank you, Andres!

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