The Slovak community in the capital of Chile
The traffic gets heavier on the highway as we are entering this metropolis. At the beginning there is a big shoulder but when it disappears we have to find another route. Fortunately a local cyclists goes around and shows us a way to Lenka on the detailed map we got from Robert.
We leave the highway and enter different world. Family houses everywhere around us, calm streets and friendly people. We are crossing this big “village” for more than an hour until we get to the full center.
Lenka is Jan’s friend from the high school. She’s been living in Chile for 3 years with her boyfriend Claudio. She works till 6pm and we decide to wait for her in the nearby park where we finish the bottle of pisco sour from Valle del Elqui and then buy another one. The time passes by fast and suddenly a girl with big smile on a bicycle approaches us – Lenka :).
Talking we move to their apartment. As a well-mannered Slovak girl she offers us right-away a shot of slivovica and after a vegan dinner (our dreams about a big steak will come true somewhere else) we move to a pub in the center and meet another 3 Slovak girls.
We meet Claudio back at “home” and have a welcome drink with him also. We communicate Spanish-English and sometimes Slovak (he already understands some).
Following days are full of resting, doing nothing and laundry, discovering the flavors of vegan cuisine and sightseeing with Lenka in Santiago in the evenings. We meet also another members of the Czech&Slovak community here, then another friend with 8 big dogs and every evening talk and drink piscola or beer till midnight and longer.
Weekend is here and with Dana&Cristian, Alica&Cezar and Lenka&Claudio we set out on a trip to a nearby lake Rapel. Claudio needs to practice driving but we arrive safely with only couple of stress moments.
At the cottage they tell us we should have brought sleeping mats because there are only 6 beds and 8 people now. We two get a room with big bed to have some privacy on the honeymoon and the rest squeezes in another one on the connected beds.
The lake Rapel is actually a dam with many branches of green-brown water with steep slopes full of vegetation. We can use kayaks, boat and water bicycles. We have enough of pedaling and grab the paddles and go discovering the creeks – everything ends at bank full of barbed bushes.
First time we try artichoke – big green flower from which only the lower parts of the leaves are eatable and then the center – everything with a lemon dip. I don’t know how many of these flowers one needs to eat to appease hunger… We play billiard, table tennis and table football, talk and drink till late night.
After breakfast we have vegan pancake from whole flour with apple-honey filling which is probably the healthiest dessert we’ve ever eaten.
Today we try the water bicycle to keep ourselves in shape, but realize that this is the most inefficient water transport ever.
In the afternoon we leave for home. Fast Cezar disappears, we take a wrong turn and make 100km detour. At least we buy here fresh strawberries and home eggs. In Santiago we have also big detour – the center is closed because of a parade of big inflatable creatures (?!).
Shopping day – saddle, chain, vitamins, new mattresses, pillows and rain covers for backpacks. Coffee in Paris (name of a street) and a hamburger in a fountain :).
Healthy food for dinner, cola de mono (something like baileys) and we get to bet a little earlier.
Departure day. In the morning we wash dishes for one hour (Lenka is an expert in using all available pots when preparing food :)). We start to repair holes in our panniers, try to pack all our things in one backpack (this will be interesting after we’ll sell the bicycles). Skype home and at 4pm we decide it’s too late to leave today.
Farewell breakfast together with Lenka&Claudio and we go to a park to finish last things. Jan changes chain, we clean the totally dirty saddles and exchange the bicycles – yes, after more than 6000km we compare the frames and even when my is bigger, Jan’s is thanks to different geometry longer in reality. Maybe my ass hurts from a bad position and not from a bad saddle at the end.
Jan feels his back again and we are ready for bed not for a ride … departure is postponed again (fortunately Lenka is really nice and we could stay till Christmas if we want to). We prepare great risotto in one pot ;) for dinner. Dana comes for a visit and with a bottle of wine we talk as usual till night.
Another last day – laundry, art-painting, packing, skyping, walk to a nearby hill with Virgin Mary on the top from where we see whole Santiago … and it’s too late to leave again :).
St. Nicolas day and our shoes are full of sweets and fruits in the morning (Slovak tradition) :). We really want to go today and therefore leave the house with guys – hit the road at 9am without a place to return is the only chance for a successful start :).
Two hours in small streets (really good sightseeing tour) and we are finally leaving the capital which was our home for one week. One more time a big THANKS to Lenka and Claudio for your hospitality, gained 3 kg :) and great time with you!