Adventures at COPEC Service Stations & The Importance of Dry Socks

San Felipe, Chile


Don’t worry, I haven’t been here for the past three weeks. I’m only passing through on my way to Bolivia after some fast times in the south of Chile…

In my last post I detailed my experiences with my good friend Jorge’s family in Quinahue El Boldal. While that post was filled with good old-fashioned family vibes, this next one isn’t so warm and fuzzy…I’ll elaborate momentarily.

I spent about one more week here in San Felipe after writing last, just basically procrastinating and killing time. I watched as Chile was tragically eliminated in the World Cup, first falling to Spain in a rather close 2-1, and then later meeting slaughter at the hands of the Brazilian team. I’ve got to hand it to the them…they may have a lot of problems in their country, but they sure can play some soccer.

On the 31st of June, I left San Felipe and headed south to kill a bit of time; I had about two weeks to mess around with until I headed to Bolivia, so I was open to whatever opportunities chose to present themselves. I started by heading to Santiago to visit Rodrigo once more.

The hitch from San Felipe to Santiago took longer than it should’ve, and I didn’t arrive at the north metro station until about eight, a mere hour and a half before I was supposed to meet Rod in the Banquedano station at Plaza Italia. However, I managed to harmonica CL$560 into my coffee tin in time, and arrived at the Plaza fifteen minutes past nine.

Soon after, Rodrigo’s tall frame came jouncing into my peripheral vision, and we made the short, chilly walk to his Plaza Italia apartment, which is located on the seventeenth floor of a large building graced by a giant neon sign covering the top four floors; this alternates between showing cell phone advertisements and helpfully flashing the current time and temperature every thirty seconds. I imagine the apartments on these floors are significantly cheaper. On the plus side, you’d never need any clocks in your house, and the latest in cell phone technology is perpetually silhouetted on your dining room table.

Rodrigo was studying, as always, but we still found time to drink a little pisco and relax.

Rodrigo and I demonstrating how adult we are

I wanted to spend some time playing the harmonica in Santiago, so the next day, while Rod went to school and worked like a slave, I hung out at the metro station and other areas heavily trafficked by pedestrians and played music.

Santiago is a nice city, as cities go; after eating a little bit of lunch I popped my head into the music shop to check out harmonicas, and immediately wished I hadn’t; I instantly found the most expensive one in the store that I could never afford, played it a little bit, fell in love, and was pining for it for the next three days. It was so bright, and the notes bent so easily! If I ever find myself in Santiago again with CL$15.000 on me, fuck eating for a couple of days. I’m buying it.

I hung around Plaza Italia and the downtown area all day, making enough for a pack of smokes, a bit of lunch (two candy bars…I said a bit) and later, a box of the cheapest white wine I could find. Around midnight, I went back to Rodrigo’s house had a few glasses of wine, and crashed out on his couch.

The next day Rod had to go visit his family, which meant I had to leave. So I got out my map of Chile, took a shot of whiskey, closed my eyes, and dropped the empty glass on the map. After a few bounces and rolls it came to a rest on the island of Chiloè, part of the southern archipelago on South America’s western coast that goes all the way down to Tierra del Fuego. Just like that, I had a new destination.

According to Almighty Google Maps, the trip would take me: one day and seven hours by car, following the highways; two days and six hours if I wanted to take the long way through Argentina; or if I decided to walk it, (even Google was skeptical, warning me to ‘use caution when walking in unfamiliar areas,’) fourteen days and seventeen hours.

The Word of the Map (praise be to Google).

I hit the street at about seven o’clock that morning. My plan was to take the metro to my old friend, Panamericana Sur, and then get started hitching all the way to Puerto Montt, some 1.000 kilometres to the south. After that there was a two-hour ride to the coast, where I would have to take a car ferry to the island. Pretty straightforward, no problems anticipated.

First, I needed CL$560 for the metro. I netted that in about five minutes, thanks to a generous tip of 500 pesos from an old lady with an equally old Scottie peering darkly at me out of her purse. I took the metro south until the end of the line in San Bernardo, and then started walking in the general direction of the autopista.

I reached it about an hour and a half later, but found this part of the highway quite unsuitable for hitchhiking, as the traffic was moving at approximately the speed of sound and there was no shoulder to speak of. So I located a small footpath that ran parallel to the freeway and followed it for about five clicks, past dingy overpasses, some rather smelly piles of trash, and possibly a few dead bodies.

The path got narrower and narrower the farther south I went, eventually coming to an end at a chain link fence. Undeterred, the normal travellers of this path had removed a small sector of the barrier, leaving a small space underneath which could only accommodate persons who were really thin and hadn’t eaten anything substantial in at least twenty-four hours. Fortunately, I met both of those criteria, and after heaving my pack over the top, I slipped wispily under the gap in the bottom.

I soon realized that I was in a familiar area; I had passed through here when I first came to Chile when I was on my way to Talca about three months earlier…there was the Watt’s distribution centre where I had spent the night that evening! I walked over to the network of buildings and asked the security guard if I could get anything to the south today, but unfortunately, Watt’s was only shipping to the north this week. It was suggested that I try across the freeway at one of the other centres.

I did, with no luck. So I went to the on-ramp and hung out with my thumb out for about three hours. Finally, around five in the afternoon, a small blue Honda stopped on the highway and risked being turned into scrap metal by a passing semi to pick me up; I was driven about twenty k’s, which wasn’t much, but was far enough to get me out of Santiago and back to hitchable highway.

After thumbing it to fast-moving traffic on the shoulder for about half an hour, a small SUV stopped took me to the northern limits of Rancagua, about ninety kilometres south of Santiago, and dropped me off at a COPEC service station. This was a good thing, since it was getting dark and cold, and the station had heaters inside. Not to mention lots of food, which, if I played my cards right, would be in my stomach momentarily…

Two hours later I had two hot dogs in my belly, courtesy of the kitchen staff, who had appreciated my help in the dishwashing procedures. I hung out outside the station and smoked while chatting with the security guard, who refused to give me his real name and wished to be known only as ‘Seguridad.’

Seguridad was one of those people who took a shit job that happened to have a fancy uniform and a cheap badge sewn onto the sleeve way too seriously. He meticulously took down the licence plate number of every single car that pulled into the station, and even conducted random ‘surveys’ of the people in the cars, hoping to find suspicious activity so that he could use his walkie-talkie to call the real police.

He wasn’t old, either; maybe twenty-eight or so. His face was scarred by teenage acne that must have truly been a sight to behold, he was missing several teeth in very important places, and his eyes were frighteningly wide and gave you the impression that at any moment, he might bite.

After Seguridad had conducted a thorough examination of my Passport (including a full fifteen minutes on the ‘Important Information’ page,) it was determined that I was not a drug lord, after all, and his demeanour improved markedly for the remainder of the evening. He even tried to find me a few rides, though the truckers didn’t seem to want anything to do with him, giving him the same look that you would give a dog that is frothing at the mouth and running into walls.

Around 0100 I was getting pretty tired, so I found a good spot behind the station next to the generator (which, though loud, gave off warmth) unrolled my tarp and sleeping bag, and crashed out for the night.

Around six a.m. the next day I groggily opened my eyes and was alarmed to see some sort of horrendous apparition hovering over my face. After the initial panic bled off and my eyes focused, I realized it was just Seguridad bringing me a cup of coffee. After I accepted it he gave a ghastly smile, though his eyes became slightly smaller and no longer gave you the impression that their owner would attempt to gnaw your hand off at the slightest provocation.

I had fantastic luck that morning; not only did the kitchen staff give me four free pieces of sweet bread, around seven-thirty I found a semi headed all the way to Osorno, which is about 850 kilometres to the south, roughly 250 clicks from Chiloè. As I settled down into the cushioned seat of the semi, I noticed Seguridad standing stiffly on the sidewalk and staring at a flock of pigeons in the grass with what can only be described as a ‘hungry’ look.

The ride to Osorno was long and rather uneventful. Around ten o’clock, we passed Chillàn, whereupon the previously clear sky clouded up and promptly began raining cats, dogs, and every other kind of animal that you can fit into a thundercloud. This rain continued until Temuco, where it cleared up for approximately eight seconds before the clouds reopened and poured roughly the same amount of water contained in all of the Pacific Ocean onto Chile.

Around eight-thirty, we reached Osorno. As I exited the semi and stepped into the freezing rain, I was reminded strongly of the Pacific Northwest. The driver kindly gave me CL$3.000 for the bus, which I intended on using since standing in this rain for too long was a great way to get pneumonia and die.

I found the bus to Puerto Montt after walking aimlessly around in the dark for about half an hour. At this point, I, my pack and everything in it were thoroughly soaked with the freezing rain. Worst of all, my feet were squelching wet, the water somehow having found its way around the seven or eight plastic bags I’d wrapped my socks in whilst in Santiago. I can take having a cold body, but you never know real misery until you have cold, wet feet and no dry socks to speak of.

I clamoured drippily onto the bus, the driver wrinkling his nose slightly as I handed him my soaked currency. He held it by the very tip as if it were a used tissue, and, after verifying that it was the correct denomination, tossed it gingerly into the cash box, where it stuck wetly to the side. The driver handed me my ticket and I turned and ducked into passenger area. I trudged to the back of the bus, leaving footprints and a trail of water behind in the aisle.

By the time we reached Puerto Montt an hour later I was slightly drier, though my feet had become rather numb. This, however, didn’t matter; the sky was still enthusiastically attempting to convert the land into sea, and as soon as I got off the bus I was re-soaked in a matter of about three seconds. Wonderful. I sloshed my way along what used to be the road but had now been transformed into a rushing river towards the nearest service station, whose yellow sign shone dimly through the downpour like a lighthouse to a lost boat.

I made it to the station, where I shivered and warmed up inside for a little bit before deciding to call it a night in someplace where it wasn’t raining. I found a patch of moss and grass under a tin outcropping in the back that had been spared of the dousing. Rolling myself and my blanket up in my tarp, I slept for the night.

It wasn’t a good sleep; I was wet and the temperature was just above freezing.  I shivered all night long, got up around five, and started walking in the direction of the coast, hoping to warm up a little bit with the exercise. It was still raining as the sun came up and the sky changed from inky black to dark grey, but the downpour had thankfully slackened to a weak but constant drizzle.

With the light I could see that the terrain of the land had changed quite a bit since I was up in Rancagua; there were tall, thick trees forming dense pine forests all around me, and moss grew on everything. It even encroached onto the shoulder of the road, making my footsteps sound as if I was walking on thick carpet. Inside the forests, strange-looking plants with alien-like spines protruded out into the roadside and thick vines and ferns with leaves twenty feet long lurked just inside the tree-line. The fist-like budding of the young ferns protruded angrily from their parent stalks, giving one the impression that if they knew what was good for them, they wouldn’t venture inside.

The wonder of the forest distracted me from the fact that I was catching pneumonia for a good couple of hours; I made a mental note to explore it when I got to Chiloè. I managed to get a ride the rest of the way to the coast with a trucker, and then, finally, I reached the coast of the Pacific Ocean. At the same time, the rain stopped and the sun made a brief but welcome appearance in the eastern sky, though it was still mostly cloudy out.

I got dropped off right at the place where the car ferry loaded up and sailed the roughly two kilometres to the island of Chiloè. Here’s a useful note for anyone who is hitchhiking to this island: the ferry is free, as long as you don’t have a vehicle. I asked the technician and he welcomed me aboard without charging me so much as a peso. After the big boat was fully loaded with eight or nine cars and four semi trucks, we set sail in a southerly direction to the island.

The ride was very nice, albeit a bit windy and cold. The sun shone for the whole voyage; I took advantage of this anomaly and took off my shoes and socks and dried them for a bit on the stern. By the time we got to the island an hour later, they were slightly less damp, though my shoes were still hopelessly soaked.

As the ferry docked on the island, I noticed to my immense delight several Humboldt penguins waddling merrily around on the rocks near the water; this was truly the south! My mood was very high as I stepped off the boat and onto the mythical island.

If the forest on mainland Chile was forbidding, it was doubly so here in Chiloè; strange plants of all kinds sprouted from every available space, most all of them with sinister-looking spikes. Some plants that I had seen on the mainland and had taken for weeds grew to the size of oak trees on the island! Even the ferns were tree-like, stretching twenty, thirty feet into the air, their wispy leaves curling wildly all the way to the ground. Moss grew thickly on everything, completely covering an old wagon wheel and making it look soft and pillow-like.

Throughout the day I explored a bit into the forest, though wasn’t able to make it too far inside due to the sheer density of it. I would have needed a machete to do real exploring, so I returned to the road and began hitchhiking to Castro, the capital city of the island some 100 kilometres to the south.

After a bit of waiting I was picked up and brought right to the plaza, though not before stopping in Ancud (a small town on the north side of the island) and eating a bit of lunch.

Castro is a city of about 70.000 inhabitants, located on the eastern side of the island about halfway down. It is a very distinctive looking town, with homes and churches all bearing the distinctive architecture of Chiloè; that being shingle-style construction (called tejuela) brought over from German colonists, mixed with the old Spanish architecture from the fifteenth and sixteenth century.

In Castro, I walked around and saw the sights for a few hours, and then right around nightfall found a nice spot in the plaza and played my harmonica for awhile just as it began to rain again.

Castro proved a good place to play the blues, and I made nearly CL$5.000 in just two hours. I bought myself a nice dinner, some cigarettes, and a much-needed joint of Mary Jane.

Now I needed to find a place to sleep. By now the sky had resumed flooding the earth with sheets of rain so thick you couldn’t even see fifteen feet in front of you. I scouted out a few bridges, but they were all flooded. So I resigned myself to hanging out in front of a convenience store until morning.

Chiloè is certainly a beautiful place, but I didn’t think I could hold up for much longer in that rain. I can handle cold, and I can handle rain, just not at the same time. I’m told by locals that it doesn’t pour as much in the summer and is a much nicer place to visit in that time of the year. Perhaps I’ll go back then, but for now I needed to get somewhere where freezing rain was merely a possibility, not certainty.

So I made up my mind to go to Argentina and visit a glacier or something. I was planning my next day out in my head that evening around one in the morning, and I asked a passer-by the easiest way to get off the island.

He told me the best route, and then asked me what I was doing standing in the cold, all wet-like. I told him I was just waiting for morning so that I could leave for Argentina the next day. He seemed shocked that I was planning on passing the entire night on that dingy little doorstep, and insisted that I come to his place for the night. This was a selfless act of kindness that was very welcome on my part. Now instead of just dark, cold and wetness, the night held dry feet and a possible hot meal!

The guy’s name was Juan Pablo, and he lived in a small house down by the river. About thirty-five years of age, he had a sturdy frame and a clean-shaven face. We had to walk about twenty minutes to get to his home, and along the way, Juan Pablo told me all about this other foreigner, a girl from Switzerland, whom he had met last month. Apparently he and she had developed a rather…special…bond during their time together, and he showed me all sorts of exciting text messages from her. Before we got to his home he made me promise not to mention ‘Suiza girl’ to his wife. I assured him that my lips were sealed.

We soon arrived to a very small house on stilts situated on the riverbank. After doing out best to stomp the mud off our shoes, we entered.

Inside was his wife, who was stirring a hot soup. The living room and kitchen were one in the same, taking up half of the tiny house. The other half was apparently the bedroom, where Juan Pablo, his wife, and his aged father slept.

Greetings were made, and Juan Pablo’s father even hobbled out to say hello. The old fellow was completely blind, and his milky eyes stared blankly at the wall. Not having sight didn’t seem dampen his spirit, however, and he seemed quite cheerful, albeit a bit deaf.

‘¡Papà!’ said Juan Pablo loudly.

The old man grinned gummily, not appearing to hear him.


‘Eh?’ the man’s wrinkled head turned in the general direction of his son’s voice. ‘¿Que? ¿Qué quieres?’


‘Tù amigo?’


He licked his lips thoughtfully. ‘¿De dònde?’







‘¿Estados Unidos?’


‘¿El es gringo?’


This seemed to please him immensely, and he felt around until he found my hand and began to shake it vigorously.

‘Mucho gusto, gringito, ¡mucho gusto!’ he said, grinning an excited toothless grin. He continued shaking my hand and feeling it for a good thirty seconds; I was beginning to wonder if the old fellow would ever let go when Juan Pablo pulled his father away and guided him back to his room, despite protests of ‘Why do you always make me sleep?’ from the old man.

Then I greeted his wife, who was very nice. Juan Pablo stood behind her and mouthed to me ‘No Suiza girl!’ as a reminder. I winked and gave the thumbs-up to show I hadn’t forgotten.

Despite the humbleness of the house, I felt like a king here; it was insisted that I sit on the warm couch next to the fire, and dry clothes materialized in front of me, including, thankfully, socks. I was given a steaming hot bowl of soup, warm bread, and afterwards lots of wine! I didn’t even have to light my own cigarettes; as soon as I had one in my mouth Juan Pablo would dart over with his lighter before I could even get mine out. That’s what I call hospitality!

Juan Pablo is a big fan of Bruce Lee and karate movies; we watched about five cheesy flicks from the eighties, including one where this kid sees the spirit of Bruce Lee, who trains him and teaches him how to fight so he can beat these bullies…basically, typical 80’s stuff. There was even a black kid in there who could dance like Michel Jackson! He had the white glove and everything, it was hilarious.

While the movies were playing, Juan Pablo showed me all the karate moves he knew and made me and his wife watch as he broke a board with his arm. His enthusiasm was almost child-like, especially as he proudly showed me all his awards (polished to an impressive shine) that he won in various competitions.

I slept well that night on Juan Pablo’s couch, warm and dry. The next day I got up around eleven and headed out for Argentina, thanking my new friend for his over-the-top hospitality. I wrapped my newly dry socks in plastic bags, but the cold wetness of my shoes still managed to penetrate to my feet before I was even off the island. The damp is impossible to beat.

I sailed back to the mainland on the ferry in a semi truck which took me all the way to Puerto Montt. From there, I walked in the rain (yes, it was still raining) to a service station, where I managed to find a ride to Osorno in record time. In Osorno is the pass to Argentina, and now I only had one step to go until I was once more crossing an international border.

However, one of the truckers informed me that the pass closes every night at seven o’clock and doesn’t open again until eight the next morning. It was six then, and the pass was still about two hours away, so it looked like I was going to be spending the night at another service station. This one, at least, had an indoor heating stove, and since I had gotten a lot of sleep at Juan Pablo’s house, I decided to just stay inside all night near the warmth.

Since I was there, and so was the stove, I used the heat to dry all of my clothes and, most importantly, my socks and shoes. It took nearly all night, and I melted the elastic in my socks and nearly set them on fire because I underestimated the intensity of the heat. Once again, the kindness of strangers saved me, as the gas station attendants found a new pair of socks lying around somewhere and gave them to me. Whoever says humanity isn’t race of good is a woefully ignorant soul. Sure, like every bunch there are bad apples, but when it really comes down to it, most people are top-notch.

The next morning I found a truck that was headed to Buenos Aires and was willing to take me to the Argentine border. After a spot of desayunos, I was left at the Chilean checkpoint about fifteen kilometres from the Argentina border. I took care of the necessary paperwork, and set off towards Argentina.

Soon a pickup full of geology students from Santiago passed and gave me a ride for about ten kilometres; as we were driving and reached a higher altitude, the rain (still raining) turned into fat, white flakes of snow. The thick forests of southern Chile were frosted with a hearty layer of the white stuff, and a good three or four feet was on the ground as well.

The geology students were nice enough to take a photo and email it to me. This pass is called Paso Fronteriza Los Pajaros, Osorno, Chile to Bariloche, Argentina

After the students dropped me off, I walked for a good bit. There was a thick layer of ice on the road, and any cars that didn’t come prepared with chains for their tires were having serious difficulties getting up into the mountains. My walking pace was faster than nearly all of them, and some were even sliding backwards back down the mountain, which was rather a serious problem, especially for those stuck behind them.

I walked for a good couple of hours in the pleasant snow, which was much nicer than the ugly rain. After awhile, a semi that had come prepared with chains for his tires passed and gave me a ride the rest of the way into Argentina.

Argentine immigration stamped my Passport and let me into their country with little delay. I walked for a bit farther and then hitched a ride with a passing car all the way to Bariloche, Patagonia, about 150 kilometres to the east.

This part of Argentina, in general, was much colder than Chile. Even after we got out of the mountains, the snow continued to fall. My ride dropped me off in the downtown of Bariloche, which is located right on a large lake. I was led to believe that the highway to the south of Argentina (where there are supposedly glaciers) was not too far from here. Just a few kilometres, nothing at all…

Three hours later I was covered in ice, soaking wet (again) and trudging through knee-deep snow on the side of the supposed ‘highway,’ which to me looked more like just some random road that didn’t go anywhere at all. Also, all of the snowploughs in town seemed to be taking a vacation, so every time a car passed it would fling dirty, nasty slush all over my already freezing self. And to boot, nobody was picking me up. I had forgotten how much harder it was to hitchhike in Argentina. But I trudged on, trying not to get discouraged, or angry, or negative. After all, I had signed up for this.

After another couple of hours of walking and slipping along in the snow and ice, my legs, and especially fingers, had become uncomfortably numb. Like, in an alarming way, because when your extremities go numb when you’re in the snow it means you’re getting frostbite. You can lose your legs from that. I looked around me, but saw nothing but snow, snow, and more snow.

I really needed to get someplace warm, and soon.

I heard the sound of a car coming up the hill I had just clamoured up; this guy was my only chance. I turned around to face the inevitable slush splash his tires would bring and desperately stuck out my thumb.

He pulled over! Yes! I got in and told him I needed to get someplace warm. The guy looked at me in a funny way, shrugged, and said, ‘OK.’

He was a man of about thirty, with a beard and several fleece hats on his head. As we drove I told him the usual story, and we arrived at a service station about fifteen minutes later. The man (whose name was Christian) asked me what I was going to do at the service station all night, and I told him I was planning on sleeping there since it was getting pretty dark out.

Christian didn’t like that idea, and told me that he was going to take me to a friend’s house, where I could sleep in a bed and get a meal. Seriously? Hot damn, I think I must be the luckiest person alive! The generosity of strangers truly knows no bounds.

We backed out of the station and turned down a little side road that led into the woods. After slipping and sliding around on the ice for about ten minutes, we pulled up to a little log cabin set back in the trees.

Here lived Christians’ two friends and my hosts for the evening: Jesika, a Colombian from Bogotà, and Leandro, from Buenos Aires. They were happy to welcome me into their home and stoked up the fire to warm the place up.

Leandro does a lot of work with wood, and makes little trinkets to sell on the streets. The two are total hippies, which was awesome because hippies are a lot of fun. In any case, the night certainly proved to be interesting…

After I got all situated and dried off, Christian asked me if I liked to party. I told him sure, hoping he’d whip out a joint or something, which I could have really used to warm me up. He did, and we passed a relaxing night with pot and good stories.

After a day or two I realized that I was actually running pretty short on time. I needed to be back in San Felipe by the fifteenth so I could head over to Bolivia with Lamas and Keto. So I headed back to the Chilean border.

The hitchhiking was terrible to get out of Argentina. It took me a full two days to get from Bariloche to the Chilean border. The wind was freezing, and blowing hard all the time.

I was very relived when I finally made it back to Chile. The hitching instantly became better, and I made it from Osorno to Temuco in one day.

While I was in Temuco I spent the night in the bus station, where it was relatively warm and rain-free. I awoke after a few short hours of sleep and began walking north, thumb out. I stopped at a service station to ask for directions and warm my hands a bit after about an hour of walking.

Inside the station I met Christian (new Christian, not the one from Argentina.) He was just winding down from a night of celebrating his last day of college after attending six years as a biology student. He even knows the scientific name for everything, like me! He was very interested in my travels and invited me back to his place for beers, a joint, and, later that morning, seventeen hours of warm, delicious sleep on a real bed! God that felt good. The next day we washed all my clothes, something that was long past-due, as in the dampness of my pack civilizations of mould were advancing to the Bronze Age.

I left Temuco after a few days, with the goal of arriving here to San Felipe on the fourteenth. While I was hitching out of Temuco I was picked up by a large man in a small car. He introduced himself as Juan Mauricio, from Los Angeles, which was about 120 kilometres to the north of Temuco. He was excited to hear that I was from Texas, since he has a fourteen-year-old son going to school in Austin. While we drove we listened to Michel Jackson as he told me all about his son in the U.S.A., his semi that he owns in Calama, and his dog, Tuti.

I got a late start out of Temuco that day, and by the time we arrived to Los Angeles, it was dark. Juan Mauricio, (who is an impeccably friendly person, and who picked up several other hitchhikers on the way to Los Angeles even though we didn’t have any space) offered his house to me for the night, which was just off the highway on the banks of the river Bio-Bio in the 8th Region of Chile.

Juan Mauricio had been hard at work for the past four months building himself a new home. As of now it is nearly done, though it’s still lacking electricity and proper flooring. All the construction and woodworking was done by him, and I must say he did a fine job. The countertops and cabinets all have the perfect angles that can come only from a woodworker who has infinite patience and attention to detail.

I was also introduced to Tuti, his six month old German shepherd, who has the energy of ten thousand German shepherds (plus two!) When Juan Mauricio would feed her bread she would industriously hunt around the yard with it in her mouth until she found a suitable place to bury it, presumably saving it for later.

I left Los Angeles the next day and arrived to San Felipe two days later, after some very cold nights. Last night, however, was warmer…here’s why:

I was hanging around at a COPEC at three in the morning about thirty kilometres north of Santiago, trying to keep out of the cold. I went exploring the back of the building in search of an indoor place where I could covertly grab a few hours of sleep, since the temperature was well below freezing outside. The place had a pretty extensive network of bathrooms, including its own room for showers with each shower having its own little stall.

Hm… The shower room was pretty warm. Definitely warm enough to sleep in. After a bit of planning, I arranged my pack and towel so that if a person came inside, it would look like there was someone drying off in this stall. Then, in the area that couldn’t be seen without looking directly under the stall walls, I curled up in my sleeping bag, wrapped myself up in my blanket, and snoozed away for a solid five hours! I have to admit, I’ve slept in a lot of weird places, but the shower stall of a 24-hour gas station in Chile has to be the best and the funniest! Ha!

Anyhow, it was nice in the south, but as I said before, I don’t think I can take the cold and the rain. I leave for Calama and Bolivia tomorrow, and plan on staying in these warmer parts of South America for a few months, and then head down to Punta Arenas and Tierra del Fuego in October or November, when it’s much warmer and drier.


The Modern Nomad

Approx. 5.500 km (3,400 mi)

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