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Again, I failed to get an early start, but head south and west. I wanted to get to the mountains and this looked like my best bet, with a couple of ski resorts, hot springs and the Rio Maipo, a class three whitewater rafting river.

I won't go through the tedium, but it took me an age to get out of Santiago, but when I did, at first it was as though I was winding my way though the English countryside, the only exception being that there was a raging river at various distances off to my left.

When the scenery changed to a more arid, Spanish setting, I could see the snow capped mountains ahead of me. I stopped the car and took in the view. Not only that, I decided to climb down the enormous embankment to the Rio Maipo to take some photos and dangle my feet in the water. When I got down to ground zero, I thought better of the dangling bit, but instead hung out and took a few photos.

Getting back up the embankment was an ordeal, but scraped in many places I finally managed it. I stopped several times along this twisting road to view the scenery and at one time a dilapidated rail bridge spanning a tributary to the main river.

Eventually, the paved road ran out and it turned to rubble. Four km of this and I decided that no hot springs were that good and turned back.

The main method of transport for the locals is hitching a lift in cars or lorries. I found this out as I picked up a hitchhiker who, in a mad display of pointing at pictures in my guidebook and the odd French word, told me.

I stopped several time for food, but each time the restaurant only had ice cream and cold drinks. By the time I got back to Santiago, I was absolutely starving and wolfed down a half chicken (which was fabulous) and salad. I also had beetroot for the first time in years.

Once again, the hours of driving had exhausted me, so it was back to the hotel to collapse.


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