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Valle Nevado Chile

Skiing in the Andes

Friday, July 20 2007

It is not far as the crow flies from Santiago to Valle Nevado, but it is a long drive.

I got up early ate breakfast and headed up the mountain with the help of my transport guy. The road to Valle Nevado is something to experience; very twisty and not very wide.

The road is so bad that traffic is only allowed to go in one direction at a time during certain times of the day; and thank goodness for that because it could be very hairy if you had two way traffic, on some parts of this road. The trip up the mountain took about two hours. Occasionally the gas truck in front of us would have to stop and back up to get around a hair-pin corner; very exciting.

The road to Valle Nevado is very scary.

We arrived at the Puerta del Sol hotel around 1:00 pm. It did not take long and I was stowed away in my room. I had lunch and dinner with an American guy and his four year old son Jackson. It was good to have a conversation in English. We all ate dinner together that night in the French restaurant. I went to bed early and slept like a baby.

Saturday, July 21 2007

The Andes are really, really tall mountains.

On my first day of skiing I discovered what an amazing place Valle Nevado is. The Andes just surround you and you are lost in a world of snow and mountains. It was overcast and in the late afternoon it started to snow, and it kept snowing until the next day.

I started my week of skiing lessons this day and met Chris, Rodriguez, and Marianna on the ski lesson. They were all very friendly young Brazilians that I was to hang out with for the rest of the trip. It seems Valle Nevado is a popular skiing destination for Brazilians as the currency exchange is very favorable. I had never meet anyone from Brazil before and discovered that they are a very friendly group in general. That night I ate dinner with them. They warned me that Pedro did not arrive until Sunday and that he had a reputation as a party animal.

The snow was so deep the farmers had to jack up their cows to milk them.

Sunday, July 22 2007

The snow we had on Saturday now made Valle Nevado a skiing nirvana and to make it even more amazing the sun shone most of the day. We had 4 feet of fresh powder snow and sun shine! I continued my skiing lessons with the Brazilians. Our skiing instructor was really good her name was Alexandra and she took us on and off piste.

She took the group over to an area called Valley Olympic which was off piste and covered with fresh un-skied powder snow. She took photos of us all as we made our way down the slopes; giving us tips on how to ski the soft fluffy stuff. Take note of the S-turns behind me in this shot. If you are not a skier then this does not mean much but my skiing friends all want to kill me now with envy. Sorry.

Pedro was indeed a party animal.

That night Pedro arrived so I had dinner with the full Brazilian entourage. They sure made me feel welcome and we ate and drank and generally had fun.

The group consisted of Ruth, Chris, Marianna, me, Rodriguez, and Pedro. Their English was very sharp as they laughed at many of my silly jokes which are hard to understand by full time English speakers. Thank you folks for a good time!

Monday, July 23 2007

On Monday there was no skiing as it snowed all day and all night and we had a complete white-out. I spent my time eating and drinking inside the warm resort. I had left San Francisco with a feeling I had forgotten something and I did; it was the power supply for my laptop. So I could not even work on my trip site as the battery was flat. A good friend of mine sent my power supply to me via Fedex but it did not arrive until the Friday when I left Valle Nevado. Thanks Phil!

The sun sets in the Andes are something to see.

I was able to get on the Internet occasionally via the heavily used (by kids mostly) Internet terminals at the hotel. However, most of my connection to the outside world was via my Microsoft Smartphone (small plug for the evil empire, but the phone was very helpful). In fact my cell phone worked better on top of the Andes in Chile than it does in the Oakland hills in San Francisco; as Mina would say: "go figure".

Sunshine and deep soft snow.

Tuesday, July 24 to Friday July 27 2007

The rest of the week was full sunshine every day. Because of the heavy snow on Monday the skiing was like a dream as we had deep powder to ski, sunshine to keep us warm, and we could see. My days consisted of getting up at 8:00 am, having breakfast, going out skiing in the morning until 11:00 am when ski lessons started.

Ski with the instructor and Brazilians from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm and then ski with the Brazilians until I could not stand up any more from the pain in my legs and knees. But boy, what fun we had.

A very happy but very tired skier.

On Friday I did not ski as I was hardly able to walk any more from so much skiing. Because of the timing of traffic coming up and down the access road to Valle Nevado I had to wait until 3:00 pm before I could leave the mountain.

I would have had to leave at 5:00 pm if it was not for Jackson and his Dad the two Americans I had met on the first day. They offered me to join them as their transport left at 3:00 pm and I did.

I arrived back at the Sheraton Santiago at 6:00 pm that Friday and low and behold my power supply was waiting for me at the hotel; thanks again Phil. I spent my time at the hotel writing up these trip notes and waiting to join my flight to Australia on Monday night. Please note I used three cameras to take photos and one of them was a first generation digital camera (yes I know I should upgrade) and this camera had problems with the cold we experienced on several days. The issue manifested itself by placing strange horizontal lines on some of my photos. Sorry about this, I guess it is time to buy another camera.

Video of Valle Navado

Goodbye Chile video

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