You’d assume the dry desert air offers incomparable laundry-drying properties. Well, I tested it for you—it doesn’t.

On Sunday night, we decided to do a couple of loads of laundry before leaving Antofagasta. There was a washing machine in the apartment and we were pretty sure it worked. We managed to figure out the settings by Googling “remojar” and “enjuegue”—“soak” and “rinse”—two words that weren’t part of my vocabulary because I’ve never applied for a job in a Latino laundromat.

Eventually, water filled the drum, detergent was added, the lid was closed and we smiled. Clean clothes are a special treat for backpackers.

Now, of course, we didn’t have a dryer but a balcony and a drying rack.

“Won’t take long to dry!”

“Couple of hours max.”

“At least, we can be sure it won’t rain!”

It didn’t rain, of course, but at 10 p.m., the laundry still wasn’t dry. Feng was staring at it as if he could make it dry faster, and I was considering wearing wet underwear.

At midnight, we decided we would get up earlier and pack in the morning.

At 3 a.m., I did the last check—damn laundry wasn’t dry yet. I want a refund on that desert dry air. Fuck, I’ve seen laundry drying faster on cloth lines over my parent’s bathtub in humid Nantes!

Once again, I went to bed way too late and once again, I was planning to pass out in the plane back to Santiago. It would be a long travel day, flying back to the capital and then hopefully hopping on a bus to Valparaíso.

We showed up at 10:00 a.m. for an 11 a.m. flight in Antofagasta’s tiny airport, betting on the fact security checks weren’t exactly extensive. Indeed, we were able to bring in a bottle of Coke and lighters—amazing! Glad to see terrorists didn’t win in this part of the world where the last war fought was the War of the Pacific (if you’ve never heard of it, it’s normal—it involved Bolivia, Chile and border claims in the Atacama Desert).

“Oh, the flight is late,” the Lantam employee immediately announced before printing our boarding passes


We had a long trip ahead of us and I wanted to get to Valparaíso as early as possible in the day for practical reasons—really, no one wants to arrive late at night, right?

Indeed, the flight was delayed. A one-hour delay, more exactly, that I spent pacing the tiny departure hall and sleeping on Feng’s lap.

I wish I could report on the flight but I only woke up when we were about to land in Santiago because the plane was going up and down and up and down again as if Mark had found his way to the cockpit and was playing with the instruments.

“Are they training a new pilot or what?” Feng muttered. Indeed, the weather was perfect—sunny, no wind—so the rough landing was unexpected.

We rushed out of the airport and took the bus to Pajaritos. It was already 3 p.m., we should have been on the bus to Valparaíso already!

We were luckier with the last leg of the trip. We caught the 3:30 p.m. bus and it wasn’t packed as we had feared. I started writing this article but Mark was deciphering was I was typing out loud and he doesn’t like when I say “fuck,” so I closed Word and started playing some music. I handed Mark one of the earbuds.

Of course, he fell asleep ten minutes before we arrived in Valparaíso.

The tune that put him to sleep?

Smells like teen spirit.

I don’t understand my child.

Waiting for the bus to Valparaíso at the Pajaritos station in Santiago
Waiting for the bus to Valparaíso at the Pajaritos station in Santiago
In the bus to Valparaíso, when Mark falls asleep ten minutes before arriving AND when listening to Nirvana…
In the bus to Valparaíso, when Mark falls asleep ten minutes before arriving AND when listening to Nirvana…
Steep steps to the hotel in Valparaíso
Eating an alfajore in Valparaíso

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  1. Frenchie au Canada January 10, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    Had to laugh about the laundry, it NEVER dries quickly enough… Enjoy the sun, we have yet another snow storm here

  2. Martin Penwald January 10, 2018 at 8:35 pm

    “500 connards
    Sur la ligne de départ,
    500 couillons,
    Dans leurs camions …”

    T’as vu que le Paris-Dakar passe pas loin de la région (a priori pas au Chili cette année, mais pas loin de la frontière, au Pérou, en Bolivie, en Argentine).?

    1. Zhu January 11, 2018 at 1:25 am

      Oui, on l’a vu à Buenos Aires il y a trois ans. Je ne comprenais pas du tout ce que le Paris Dakar foutait là… j’ai Googlé après. À Antofagasta, il y avait beaucoup de voitures avec les autocollant du Paris Dakar.

      Merci pour m’avoir mis Renaud dans la tête 😉

      J’ai pensé à toi, j’ai vu des camions se faire charger dans les cargo à Valparaiso aujourd’hui. Des beaux camions du style du tien!

  3. Isa January 12, 2018 at 3:45 am

    Funny enough, one of my worst take off was above sunny Las Vegas, perfect weather. The turbulences are apparently due to the very hot desert air!

    1. Zhu January 12, 2018 at 11:16 pm

      Oh, thank you for the explanation! Yeah, it could have been that. How did you find out?

  4. Lexie January 15, 2018 at 11:17 pm

    Quel aventurier vous allez en faire de Mark! Est ce qu’il suit bien ?

    1. Zhu January 16, 2018 at 11:47 pm

      Il est… Mark. Chiant un peu, il a plus d’opinions que l’année dernière. Genre, s’il pouvait rester devant la télé de l’hôtel toute la journée et toute la nuit, ça serait top, quoi.


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