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Mano del Desierto

Antofagasta Adventures

Where ever we go we seem to find or make an adventure out of it.  Although we only spent a little time in this city, we had a lot of crazy Antofagasta Adventures.  Whether it be exploring, working on a project, or searching for a connector.

Local sculpture between the water and city

Local sculpture between the water and city

EXPLORING:

Matt and I had not explored the southern portion of Antofagasta.  So, we set out on a bright, sunny day, turned right and kept walking.  We passed several pop up tiendas with locals selling their wares, a new Jumbo grocery market and an Easy hardware store.

Pop up Tiendas

Pop up Tiendas

We finally made it to Balneario Municipal Antofagasta which is “the” beach for locals.  They have a giant slide, a floating islands in the center of the bay, free showers and several eateries.  They even had a sectioned off area for kids to play in the water.  It was a protected bay with about 2′ of water.

Beach: Balneario Municipal Antofagasta

Beach: Balneario Municipal Antofagasta

We walked a little further and realized we were almost to the end of town.  So, we doubled back, stopped in for a cold beverage and hit the Jumbo and Easy stores.

As you know, there is a never ending project list on a boat (as on a house).  After we were rested and finished exploring Antofagasta, we checked a few boat projects and pre-departure preparations off our list.

Mano  del Desierto – Hand in the Desert

Several tour companies highlighted tourist spots in and around Antofagasta.  One of those spots is a giant hand in the desert.  What, you ask?  We had to see it.  We rented a car and drove 45 minutes into the Atacama Desert.  You certainly can’t miss it because it is huge.

Mano del Desierto

Mano del Desierto

The Mano del Desierto sculpture was constructed by the Chilean sculptor Mario Irarrázabal at an altitude of 1,100 meters above sea level. Its exaggerated size is said to emphasize human vulnerability and helplessness.  The work has a base of iron and concrete, and stands 11 metres (36 ft) tall.

Mano del Desierto

Mano del Desierto

Matt thought it would be fun to try to take the rental car (a Chevrolet Sail) up the mountain.  Unfortunately, it only made it half way before we rolled it back down.  We did manage to hike to the top, which was hard with the altitude.

Matt trying to drive the rental car up the hill

Matt trying to drive the rental car up the hill

Cerro El Ancla (Anchor Hill)

We stare at this upside down anchor every day.  We gauge where we need to go and where we’ve been using the anchor as a mark.  The “Cerro El Ancla” anchor symbol, installed since the beginning of the city of Antofagasta, has become one of the emblems of the city

The origins of the anchor lie in the foundation of the city itself. In the founding charter of La Chimba, it was ordered to mark with an anchor the most visible point of the hill adjacent to the nascent population. In 1868 , Jorge Hicks ordered an employee named Clavería to paint an anchor, as a reference sign for the ships that sailed San Jorge Bay to Antofagasta.  Claveria misread instructions Hicks, thus finally painted an inverted anchor.

It is no easy thing to get to the ancla.  First, you have to walk / hike to the top of the city to get to the base of the hill.  Then you hit the dirt roads.  In the first picture, the flag indicates where the anchor is located.  The second photo is a shot 1/2 way up the hill.  The center is a shot from the base of the hill.

Trails to Cerro El Ancla

Trails to Cerro El Ancla

At the base of the hill is the monument to the upside down anchor (top left).  Me sitting on the anchor, resting and admiring the view (top right) Photo with the arrow shows you where Sugar Shack is located.  And if you zoom in on the bottom right you can see me still sitting on the anchor as Matt walks around and to the top.

Cerro El Ancla

Cerro El Ancla

Me at the top of Cerro San Cristobal

Santiago: Explorations

Matt and I are applying for a long-stay French Polynesian visa in Chile.  Sounds a little crazy for an American to apply for a French visa in Chile, but it is the best we could do.  There is a French consulate in Santiago, which is where we headed for our interview. Subsequently, being in a new city gave us a great opportunity to be tourist.

Send me a message/email if you are interested in learning about the requirements and procedures necessary for applying.  It is too complicated to blog about (and a little drab).  We scheduled our interview appointment after we gathered all of the necessary paperwork, photos, and background checks.  No easy feat being on a boat away from your files.

Santiago is a 16-hour bus ride or a 100-minute plane ride.  We flew, arrived early, checked into Casona Loreto Hotel, dropped our backpacks off and put on our explorer hats.  We only had 3.5 days to go on our scavenger hunt – so we hit the ground running.

Here are a few of the highlights of our scavenger hunt…some really cool places!

MERCARDO CENTRAL

Our first stop was Mercardo Central which was completed in 1874.  It was a bit overwhelming with each eatery vying for your attention, tummy, and wallet.  In other words, 3-4 people were standing outside yelling in Spanish to get you to come inside.  We understood about 1/2 of what they said. We decided to eat at the first place we saw and it was pretty darn tasty.

Marcardo Central

Marcardo Central

We stumbled across their version of “local” fresh market.  I say that only because it was enormous.  Not just one building of fresh goods, but multiple buildings spanning blocks!  It was spectacular!  We had not seen berries (blue berries, blackberries, raspberries) in ages.  And huge bunch of celery for decent prices (not $5 per stock).  We also found a flower mart, which had the most beautiful arrangements.  They had an interesting technique where they pulled back the petals of the roses.  As a result, you are exposed an extra giant rose.

Santiago Flower Mart

Santiago Flower Mart

We were staying near Bario Bellavista, which was not quite “central” but close to the metro and close enough to everything where we could walk.  Santiago had a lot of graffiti, but I gathered that they were proud of it and in fact considered it art.  It was everywhere.  Some of it was beautiful and some of it was “tagging” to me.  Consequently, it gave you something to admire as you walked down the bustling streets.

During our many, many miles of walking, we passed through huge, lush parks peppered with huge, flowing fountains and sculptures.

One of many fountains in the parks lining the streets

One of many fountains in the parks lining the streets

Lovers, lovers, lovers everywhere.  Santiago seemed to be brimming with lovers.  They kissed in the parks, on the benches, in the streets, in the mail, everywhere. Not little pecks of kisses, but deep, passionate kisses.

COSTANERA CENTRAL MALL & GRAN TORRE SANTIAGO:

We of course, made it to the local mall.  I only say that as the largest grocery store and hardware store are attached to the mall.  The mall can easily be found as it is attached to the tallest building in Latin America, the Gran Torre Santiago.  The building is 300 meters high and 62 floors.  The construction was very controversial for aesthetic reasons and the cause of city congestion.  Check out this site on Mirador del Costanera Center.  We did not have time to do the look out, so we saved it as an action item on our return visit to Santiago.

Tallest building in Latin America

Tallest building in Latin America Gran Torre

The Costanera Center Mall is unlike malls we’ve seen to far.  It is between 3-5 stories tall and includes a “Happyland” amusement park for kids, name brand stores (from U.S.), and oh so much more.  It was awe-inspiring.

CERRO ST. LUCIA:

Cerro St. Lucia is one of the most visited public parks as it is one of the most recognizable icons of the capital.  The hill is a remnant of a volcano 15 million years old and has a height of 69 meters.  The 63,000 square mere park is adorned with a stunning church, sanctuary, and ornate facades, stairways, and fountains.

Cerro St. Lucia in Santiago

Cerro St. Lucia in Santiago

CERRO SAN CRISTOBAL:

Cerro San Cristobal is an urban, enormous park in the city which contains numerous historical attractions and activities.  Main attractions include Mirador de la Virgen del Cerro San Cristobal, el Zoologico National de Chile, el historico Funicular y el teleferico.

We did not have time to do the Zoo or the Funicular.  Maybe on our next visit?

The Funicular dates back to 1925 and is a fun way to get up the hill.  It is a 500-meter journey with three stations.  We decided we wanted to walk the trail as opposed to sitting in luxury little trolley.  What were we thinking????

Funicular-del-Cerro-San-Cristobal-AHM

Funicular-del-Cerro-San-Cristobal-AHM

We passed through the main entrance (via the castle, see photo below) and started our ascension straight up hill – about 1.3 km.  The walk sure provided some amazing views.  You can see the Mirador de la Virgen in the background in 2 of the 4 photos.

Walking up Cerro San Cristobal

Walking up Cerro San Cristobal

Matt was like the little energizer bunny, but I had to stop along the way to rest my weary legs.

Matt and I walking up Certo San Cristobal

Matt and I walking up Certo San Cristobal

We were surprised to find a lot of vendors, eateries, and shops at the top of the hill.  It is, after all, one of the greatest tourist destinations in Santiago.

Top of Cerro San Cristobal

Top of Cerro San Cristobal

CAMINO DE LAS SIETE PALABRAS:

At the top of Cerro San Cristobal you will find  Camino de las siete palabras (Way of the seven words) which was blessed by the cardinal in 2015.  On this pilgrim one gets the image of the immaculate conception at the summit. The Way of the Seven Words is the new ramp with which you can access the temple of the Sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception of San Cristóbal Hill.

Way of the Seven

Way of the Seven Words

MIRADOR DE LA VIRGEN & SANCTUARIO IMMACULADA CONCEPTION:

The Virgen of Cerro San Cristoball can be seen from the entire city.  Installed on the summit of Cerro San Cristobal in 1908 is part of the Sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception.  The statue stands 14 meters high and the pedestal for which the Virgen Statue stands is 8.3 meters high.  In addition, there is a small chapel in which his holiness John Paul II prayed and blessed the city of Santiago in 1987.

Virgen of San Cristobal

Virgen of San Cristobal

Throughout the entire area, they piped in peaceful, hymns sung in Spanish, acapella.   At the foot of the statue is an amphitheater for holding masses or other religious ceremonies.  When we visited, they had a beautiful, life size nativity.

Nativity at the Virgen of San Cristobal

Nativity at the Virgen of San Cristobal

TELEFERICO DE SANTIAGO:

Teleferico de Santiago provides a fun cable-car ride through the sky over the bustling city of Santiago.  With breathtaking views, you get an idea of the enormous size of the city that is home to over 5 million residents.

TELEFERICO DE SANTIAGO

TELEFERICO DE SANTIAGO

After we excited our titillating ride, we ended up back at the Costanera Central Mall.  And continued our exploration.

We hit all of the main districts of Santiago, most of the main attractions, and put in over 30 walking miles in 3.5 days.

Our interviews at the French Consulate went well.  We only had one appointment and technically you need one appointment per person.  However, today, we we able to submit both of our applications under one appointment. As an added bonus, we got to keep our passports.  Passports are typically sent with the applications, which can take up to 5 weeks to process.  You never want to be in a foreign country without your passport.  Now we wait….

Restaurants and Eateries in Santiago:

Our favorite place to eat was in Patio Bellavista.  This is a lively, bustling, 2-story square with dozens of restaurants to chose from.  We also enjoyed eating and drinking in Bellavisa where they have well over a hundred bars and restaurants on and around Pino Nono area.  Some of our favorite places were “The Backyard”, Buena Barra, Galinda, Agua de Chocolate.

Patio Bellavisa

Patio BellavisaTele

We stopped in a cool DJI store. We both have been wanting a drone, but it falls under the “want” category and not the “need to have” area.  Someday….Today, we admired the latest and greatest toys.

DJi Drone Headquarters

DJi Drone Headquarters

Additional Fun Photos:

Accessible Metro runs everywhere in Santiago

Matt resting with a BIG beer

Matt resting with a BIG beer

Pino Nono Funicular Station

Pino Nono Funicular Station

Super Funny Bathroom Signs

Super Funny Bathroom Signs

Talk about walking the “$hit” out of you….based on Apple Health

  • Day 1: Walked 6.6 miles, 15,784 steps, and 57 floors
  • On Day 2: Walked 10.3 miles, 25,714 steps and 49 floors
  • Day 3: Walked another 9.2 miles, 22,633 steps and 161 floors
Sugar Shack and Horses?

Quintero, with a little of Valparasio and Santiago

Our French Polynesia Long-Stay Visas were ready for pick up. Which means we had to make our way to the closest port to Santiago.  Normally, that would be Valparasio.  However, the three marinas and anchorages in this port are not suitable for us (for reasons explained below).  The next port over is Quintero which is where we ended up.

We left Playa Herradura / Coquimbo around 0730 with a bit of sorrow as we both really liked this tranquil bay.  If we had time, we would of stayed several more days to take enjoy its calm, beauty.  But, our visas were ready and off we go.  About 2 hours into our motoring, we rounded the corner and to our great surprise we had 10-12 kts of wind blowing from behind.  We wasted no time in getting our small spinnaker out!  Following the wind caused us to go about 3nm out of our way in order to enjoy a day of sailing, but it was well worth it!  This trip was 42.5 nm in 6:54 hours with an average speed of 6.1 and a max speed of 9.9.

Flying the small spinnaker to Quintero

Flying the small spinnaker to Quintero

Being able to do this trip in a down wind sail put us both in a great mood.  What a glorious day!  We arrived around 1430 to a pretty industrial bay.  So, not what we are used to.  We typically avoid bays like this at any cost, but we really had no choice.

ARRIVING QUINTERO

As we approached, we navigated between a dozen cargo and container ships.  Once we passed through that mess, we had to zig zag through a field of tug boats.  We finally came to Quintero Club de Yates anchorage which had all the boats bow and stern tied.  Not so unusual.  But what was odd was that they were tied with their stern to the wind.  Maybe it makes it less rolly for the monohulls?

Cristobal from the club came out to meet us and offered.  He asked how long we were and how much we weighed.  After a quick discussion with his mate, he took us to a mooring on the outer edge of the anchorage.  He told us the mooring was good for boats up to 20-tons, which was good as we only weigh 15-tons.  The disconcerting this was the half-sunk boat just behind us.

Tug Boats and a Wreck Quintero

Tug Boats and a Wreck Quintero

The other “interesting” thing is we are right in the path of the military runway. Which would only be a problem if this were a working airfield.

Quintero Anchorage at end of runway

Quintero Anchorage at end of runway

At this point, you are probably thinking, “why are you staying Quintero”?  It’s industrial, tons of cargo ships, tugs, a wreck and an airstrip? Well, the three other marinas in Valparasio were not suitable for us.

Quintero Club de Yates

Club de Yates Quintero

Club de Yates Quintero

VALPARASIO

Club Nautico Higuerillas wanted $300 per night to anchor.  What?  Yep, you read that right.  Yacht Club de Chile is too small to accommodate us and asked for $50 per person, per night to use their dinghy dock.  And the third place, wanted $25 per per person, per night in a rolly, unprotected anchorage with no dinghy dock in sight.

It is rather frustrating as we had really wanted to stay in Valparasio as it is only 1 hour from Santiago.  But we made the best of it by staying in Quintero which is about 1:45 from Santiago and a better anchorage, even with the other issues.

QUINTERO

After we checked in with the armada and the club, we went to explore this very small town.  It is bigger than Playa Herradura, but not by much.  It was Saturday so there were lots of people milling around.

There is a really long beach that runs along the bay and in front of the airfield.  They have a cool way to get from one side of the beach to the other…horse drawn wagons.  Matt did not want to “commit” to petting it – as you can see in the photo below.  It is not every day you get a picture of your boat with a horse in it as well.

Horses in Quintero

Horses in Quintero

Matt and I hopped into a collective taxi to Vina del Mar (Valparasio) to rent a car.  35 minutes and $12 later, we arrived at our car rental, picked up a Kia Morning and were on our way. We needed to find a marine store, bus/RV parts store, and a few other things.  Valparasio is extremely difficult to navigate as it has tons of one-way streets, long stretches of highway with no exits and barely visible street signs.  We quickly got frustrated after not finding two different stores and left.  We headed toward Santiago.

The road to Santiago is lovely.  You meander through sweeping mountains and valleys.  They grow their crops almost to the top of the hills.  Can’t imagine how they water and pick the fruits in steep hills but it makes for a lovely image.

Orchards on rolling hills in Chile

Orchards on rolling hills in Chile

MALL SPORT: Bringing the outdoors, indoors.

We found ProNautica at the Mall Sport.  We did not know what was inside “Mall Sport” and frankly did not care as we only wanted a marine store.  However, when we walked in, we were astonished!  The entire mall is dedicated to sports.  And I mean, the entire mall, inside, outside, stores, everywhere!  Each and every store was dedicated to a sport, futbal, basketball, equestrian, biking, climbing, camping, swimming, etc…  In the center of the mail, they had activities and showcases.  A huge area dedicated to showing off elite bikes where you could test drive them.  A rock climbing wall, a zipline, activities for kids of all ages.

Mall Sport in Santiago

Mall Sport in Santiago

Outside they had a bowling alley, a go cart track, a pool with a dozen life size ski boats, and a surf wake zone.

Surfing Lessons at Mall Sport

Surfing Lessons at Mall Sport

The ProNautica did not have nearly enough marine products, but we were able to grab some spark plugs, dynema, and 2-stroke oil.  Not a lost adventure, as this mall was beyond anything I have ever seen.  We so need one in Austin and LA!

Sunset in Quintero

Sunset in Quintero

Cool statute as you enter Quintero

Scuba Statue in Quinter

Scuba Statue in Quinter

Another fuel adventure.  Motoring down the southern coast of Chile is costing a lot in fuel, but somehow we always seem to find a way to get it done.  The administrator of the club had a staff member, take 5 of their 60 liter drums to the gas station, fill up the drums, and put back inside her car!  They then helped load them into Sweetie and repeated the process a 2nd time.  Chileans truly are amazing people!

Fueling in Quintero

Fueling in Quintero