25.08.2014 - 25.08.2014
Up early in the morning for breakfast and pack down the rest of my things in my bags. Today was my last day of staying in my friend’s apartment and today we were finally going skiing. We had planned for this earlier during the week but now it was finally happening! Sure I had to cancel the guided Santiago City Tour instead… but I realized I’ve already seen most of the city so it was an obvious decision for me to cancel and go skiing in Valle Nevado instead When we walked to the garage to get the car it was really cold, just below zero Celsius degrees. But in the ski outfit you almost didn’t feel it. Morning traffic was already busy so it took a while to get out of the heavy city traffic. And since it had been snowfall up in the Andes during the weekend we were sure it would be a lot of snow up there in Valle Nevado. Perfect! Valle Nevado is a ski resort 3000 meters above sea level (Santiago is at 520 altitude meters) located at the foothills of El Plomo up in the Andes. Even though Valle Nevado is only 46 km east of Santiago it sure takes about 2 hours to get up there because of the difference in altitude and heavy city traffic.
Earlier during the week when we tried getting up to Valle Nevado we had been stopped at the police check-point since we hadn’t got any snow chains with us. But today we weren’t even pulled over at the check-point, I don’t know why but maybe we didn’t because we had another car with 4WD today? It shouldn’t matter though… The road meandered more and more and the poor cactuses beside the road looked a little frozen underneath the snow. It was a little odd to see snow and cactuses… in my mind it doesn’t belong together.
The higher we got the more narrow the road became and the curves turned into hairpins. At two different occasion car queue occurred since other cars got stuck in the snow. While sitting there in the car in the queue it wasn’t much you could do but being cool and keep calm and not get stressed. And during the second stop we were so close to the ski resort that we could actually see it.
After buying lift passes (43000 CLP = 43 Euros) the moment had finally arrived. Put on the skis and have fun I would like to add, however, that coming from a family of strong cross country skiing traditions and learned how to ski cross country before you could walk, makes those skills deeply fixed inside your brain about how to ski. So now my friend Michelangelo, professional skiing instructor, had a little bit of a challenge to teach me downhill skiing.
So after the first turns and some falls on the butt I felt exhausted. Not only because I just used new muscles I normally don’t use that much but also because of the thin air at 3000 meters above sea level… and why start small when you can start up in the Andes?! So we took a break in the snow and rested for a while and just enjoyed the great weather we had. A clear blue sky basically cloud free which made the sun get to you pretty well. Sun protection factor 50 was absolutely necessarily I’ll tell you. But still I managed to get a sun burn on top of my head since I have my hair parted in the middle (and who remembers to put sun block up there?).
The last two turns for the day I went by myself since Michelangelo wanted to ski more advanced slopes. I’m a little proud to say I managed to get down from the slope on my own without falling on my butt :D We gathered at the car and started the ride down 2500 meters to Santiago and got into the heavy city traffic again. I don’t know why but I get really stressed by heavy traffic and getting stuck in car queues. Most likely because I’m not use to that kind of traffic back home…
After picking up my baggage back in the apartment, my friend drove me to Hotel Orly where I would be staying for the next few days. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay longer in my friend’s apartment since all the guided tours I had booked only had pick-ups from hotels. I checked in at the hotel and got surprised over how well English the hotel staff spoke, but it felt great since my Spanish isn’t so good. The reception left me the message that my pick-up was going to be later than agreed for my Chilean Folklore Dinner Show I had booked in the evening. So now I had time to shower without stress. A full sized bus picked me up for the dinner show and there were many people on board. We were welcomed by 5 big moai at the entrance of Bali Hai Restaurant. It was kind of cool to see the moai… but since I was going to see real moai on Easter Island in just a few days from now I wasn’t that impressed. The restaurant wasn’t that big yet many guests were allowed inside, maybe because the tables weren’t that big or they wanted to accomplish a cozy atmosphere by placing the guests as tight as possible? For the menu you had many options for starter, main dish and dessert that were Chilean, Polynesian and international courses. To drink you chose one appetizer and one drink for the dinner. Haha, I toughened up and chose a Pisco Sour as appetizer and then white wine with the food. And damned what that Pisco Sour was strong… later when I googled about the Pisco Sour drink I realized it contained between 35-40% alcohol. No wonder I started to feel a little dizzy :P
The highlight for the evening had to be the dance show. Dances from several regions in Chile were performed, from Polynesia, Easter Island, Arauco Mapuche, Chiloé and traditional Cueca dances among others. A professional performance with a lot of talented dancers, no doubt, but the real question is how much of that is original dancing and how much is made up to make it a show? And I don’t get how the dancers can keep up their fixed smiling for so long… it must really be hurting to smile like that after 5 minutes. As soon as the show was over we met outside of the restaurant and got onto the bus back to our hotels again.