Well this was a fun morning. My beloved was about to have his first diving experience in South America and we had to catch the local bus to the departure point in Valparaiso for a collectiva – a share taxi to Quintay. He was in high stress mode as nothing was happening on time (read I was moving too slowly) and he was sure he was going to miss the boat. I was confident he would be fine. Theory being that we have learnt over the last few days that Chile time is akin to island time anywhere in the world – only we are not on an island. We arrived at the bus stop just as the 612 was arriving, we knew it was the right bus because it was the number of 612 ABC at home and we found it exactly where our tour guide had told us it would be. The drive in the collectivo was just over half an hour and we arrived at Quintay at 10.15am – 15 minutes before schedule with a new friend from Brazil named Terese. The dive boat didn’t leave until 11.30am anyway. Beloved husband was happy!
This trip allowed me to stroll around the small village on the waterfront and sit back and relax on the dive shop sundeck whilst my beloved was under the sea. I believe this is the first time I have sat down for longer than 30 minutes the entire time we have been away – other than to eat or sleep. Having said that it was not the most relaxing wait as the newly constructed deck seamed to sway and shake whenever there was movement on the level below. At first I thought I was experiencing one of the legendary Chilean earthquakes but then I realised I was simply located on a deck that was probably rebuilt annually due to the use of wonky timber for its entire frame and decking and the haphazard way it was put together. Meanwhile Thomas was 30 metres under the water and the temperature was only 10 degrees! No sea lions at this location but I guess that means no orcas either! So then the challenge to get out of Quintay.
By lunchtime loads of tourists had arrived there for the day to have lunch and as there were only five restaurants the price was double that of the local bar we had eaten lunch at in Valparaiso yesterday. In self denial mode about being tourists we decided to return to Vina del Mar and eat a locals lunch somewhere again. But how to find our collectivo or any collectivo was the question. The english speaking dive instructor had gone back out in the boat and the girl in the dive shop understood enough of my words to get the drift and asked the old man out the front to give us directions. He mistook us for Europeans asking somos de Europa? and was very impressed when I explained we were from Australia and did not speak much Spanish. His directions were back in that Glaswegian accent but I understood enough to suggest to my beloved that we walk up this large hill (again) and then turn left at the police station. Well we walked up the hill almost enjoying it after yesterday and, as you might imagine – no police station. There was a post office however so we jointly decided that post office must have sounded like police station – this did perplex me a little as post office is (in my opinion) supposed to be officina de correa and I was sure the old man had said policia – thankfully it didnt matter as we spotted a yellow car a couple of blocks up the dirt road to the left and low and behold, a collectiva! A nice young driver with broken English entertained us with stories on the way back to Valparaiso.
Now some comparison between drivers. On the way out to Quintay our driver was, lets say, elderly. He drove with great care at an acceptable speed and also took a couple of back roads through the country side giving us a tour of sorts. Our nice young driver on the way back however, was quite a conversationalis and entertained us with stories all the way but he was something of a speed demon. The speed itself was not of great concern as beloved husband had noticed a freeway sign suggesting a limit of 120km per hour on the way in from Santiago. What was of concern was the fact that his head kept turning around to look at us as he spoke and glimpses of the speedo suggested he was doing nearly 140km an hour! You will be pleased to know we made it back to our hotel although my knuckles were a little white for sometime after the journey having grasped the Jesus strap with great vigor for the entire journey. Interestingly we noticed numerous shrines for the dead along the freeway and he confidently informed us it was from the young people on Friday night who drink too much and then decide to drive. He was completely unaware of the possibility that anyone driving at 140km per hour on a Saturday lunchtime might also meet such a premature end! Next time it will be mas dispacio por favor! (more slowly please!) – I think I didnt say it this time because I was frozen with fear!.
After a brief rest in our room we decided to venture out early this time and make lunch our dinner as well – this 10pm eating was getting a bit much.
We dropped into the Casino to donate some small change to the barman for a pisco sour and a cerveza and then headed off along the water front to find somewhere to eat and see how the locals live. There were many entertainers, some with not so impressive skills and some quite interesting. The jugglers that run out in front of cars when the lights turn red, particularly the one with knives, were quite impressive, however the old man with the untuned guitar who seemed to have had one too many pisco sours not so impressive. Anyway husband decided to entertain the masses with his harmonica as we strolled back through the crowds to find our food – muy bueno – his repertoire has improved and he sounded quite the professional. We were tired however as all this was occurring at 8pm at night while the sun is still burning and our stomachs are grumbling. Home we went and eventually found food exactly where we had left it and then we were early to bed for on the morrow we were off to Patagonia!