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Taxi, Plane, Bus and Bus – The Trip Back South

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 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 a 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 prefect—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 in 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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