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Day 27 - Freedom With 4 Tiny Wheels! - March 25, 2013

Today we slept in a bit and had a nice breakfast prepared by K.  After getting organized, we walked a couple of blocks across the street and found a rental car place.  The guy there did not speak much English, but with the iPhone and Google translate using his WiFi, we were able to communicate OK.  The price he quoted for a small car included unlimited kilometers and the 19% IVA tax, which made the quote WITH tax about the same as others on the internet without tax.  For a tiny car, it came out to about US$38 per day, manual transmission, no A/C.  We decided to take it.  The car turned out to be a Chevy Spark, which is really a Daewoo Matiz, made by a Korean company and assembled in Viet Nam.  I liken it to a roller skate - easier to push around than my motorcycle.  Tiny and compact, but it did the job.  He took a whopping US$532 deposit (250,000 Chilean Pesos) on the credit card, made copies of my passport and driver's license, and we were on our way.  It remains to be seen if the price ends up being $38 per day or not.

I am pretty sure my motorcycle has a bigger engine!


It was pretty easy to drive, and we made our way through the Chilean traffic without any problems.  In Santiago the traffic is rumored to be insane, but around Viña del Mar it was easy-peasy.  We made our way north along the coast, and the apartments and condos got progressively nicer and more impressive, as did the beaches.  After about 30 miles of exploration we stopped for a couple of empanadas and some water.  K noted the front tires looked low, and the worker at the Petrobras where we had parked agreed.  He directed us over to the air station, and I inflated all 4 tires to 32 PSI.  The front ones were pretty low, below 24.  Chilean air stations are automatic - you set the PSI and the machine equalizes your tire with the desired PSI and beeps when it's done.  Very nice, and no charge!

Stairway art

Making our way inland we saw small towns, orchards, cattle, horses, vinyards, farms, oil refineries, a steel mill, and the big freeway (Ruta 5).  We cut back using toll roads, paying a couple of bucks every 15 miles or so.  The roads were good and the speed limit was 100KPH (around 60MPH) or higher.  After a full day of driving, we returned to the apartment in Viña for a rest.

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