Vicuna to Santiago is 533 km and the clocks in Chile sprang forward last night, meaning we miss our planned departure slot from Alta Aldea, not that it's a big deal. We decide to stick to main roads, so head back to La Serena and hang a left for Santiago on the PanAmerican Highway heading south.
The time taken to reach the outskirts of Santiago is some 6 hours with a lunch break at a makeshift lay-by, and has set me back some 12.000 pesos. That said the road was dual carriageway of top quality with very few Sunday drivers to get in our way - most of the traffic was large articulated lorries taking supplies to and from the Chico Norte region of Chile.
The highlight of the trip was being flagged down by the traffic police while Sarah was behind the wheel of the hire tank. We furnished the nice police lady with a photocopy of Sarah's passport, smiled a lot while Alfie told her we were English tourists heading to the airport and back to England, which was mostly true. What we didn't declare was that she wasn't exactly registered with the hire firm to drive, so a narrow squeak there!
Fortunately I had a vague idea of where Santiago airport was, as the road signage was challenging. After a minor detour through the passenger drop-off zone and driving in what seemed to be ever decreasing circles we found the Hilton Airport Hotel and checked-in in time for the dying moments of the first set of the Murray - Del Potro men's tennis Olympic final!
After a swim, a drink, a meal and a near-military reorganisation of our backpacks we fell into bed awaiting the 03.00 alarm call and the start of our mammoth journey towards Jude's fourteenth birthday and home.