Wednesday, July 7, 1999

Greetings from Santiago Chile!!!!

Hi All!
When I last left you, we were in La Paz, Bolivia and had just seen Lucas's Episode I: The Disappointing Menace.
We Took the first bus out the next morning to Oruru where we planned on changing to the Train to Uyuni and the Salt Flats of the Atacama Desert, Well, It turned out that we would have to wait all day in Oruru (A pretty BORING place) for the train out, so after a REALLY good BBQ lunch, we hopped a bus for Potosi instead.
Bolivia is the coldest damn place on earth. The warmest it got in Potosi (Elevation 4900 Meters) was 0°... And that was during the middle of the day! Every building in this country is built out of mud, so you can imagine how cold the nights got with no insulation!
The Mines in Potosi are amazing! The Spanish used to sentence prisoners here to 5 year sentences knowing that they would die in 2, and people now decide to work here (under the same conditions!) VOLUNTARILY!!!! It got kind of scary as we were about 1/2 mile underground and the dynamite started going off!!!!
Our next stop was Uyuni (where we saw Mac again!) and the salt flats. We took a 3 day tour across the salt flats and Atacama Desert into Chile. The Atacama is AMAZING. They have NEVER recorded rainfall here!! EVER!!! The Driest (and COLDEST IMHO) place on earth. When we crossed the Border into Chile, it was CULTURE SHOCK!!!! Harald, you were right, Chile is a modern country. They have PAVEMENT!!! You can drink from the tap! The toilets have SEATS on them! and wonders of wonders, YOU CAN FLUSH THE PAPER DOWN!!!!!!!!!! (The first time in 6 months we could do that!)
From San Pedro de Atacama (REALLY cute town, if you go stay at Hotel Rayco and say hi to Mabel for us!) we headed to La Serena - Chile's premier beach town. It was a disappointment (First bum tip you've given us Harald!) But the shopping mall there was tremendous! (Ask SGK how she liked the LIDER store) and thence on to Santiago.
Boy, people give American's a bad name for fast food and shopping malls - That's ALL that's in Santiago. So we bailed and went Skiing. El Colorado Ski Resort (La Parva was not yet open) and skied on Jul 1!!! in white out conditions, but hey, this was Skiing in Chile! Something I had wanted to do since I was a kid (or am I still a Kid?) After Skiing, we headed to the Winery's... And found out that Chilean wineries don’t give tours!
Where do we go from Here?
Well, we have a hell of a trip ahead of us; We fly from Santiago to Lima, then on to San Jose Costa Rica for a night's layover (Will Petra and Claire be there? The timings right if they just left Utila - Lets go out and repeat that drunken night in Mazatlan!!) then on another plane for San Salvador, changing to Miami and another night's layover, then to Denver to change planes for San Francisco for 3 nights, and on to Vegas for the Bachelor Party (Boy Tom, you had better appreciate it!)
Cheers! MRA

PS: Haven’t heard for Hans, Alice & Andy, Petra & Claire, Owen, or my Brother Doug or my Mom in awhile!!!

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