sunset in la serena
The great thing about driving through a country is you get to actually taste the day to day lives of people who live there. This has given us great insight into how each country operates, and what their strengths and weaknesses might be.
Today was such a day - we managed to put on over 1,200 Kms in 12.5 hours, all through the desert, where nothing grows. And while I thought I knew a bit about Chile before we arrived, the last couple of days have been an eye opener.
Chile's main business is mining - we drove through mining country today (including the largest pit mine in the world and the town where the survivors of the famous mine rescue occurred) and were amazed at how everything in this region is centred around the mining industry. To put it into perspective, copper makes up 60% of all exports! That's 15% of Chile's GDP for just this one mineral. 40% of the world's copper is produced in Chile.
All we saw today were red and white mining company trucks and semis servicing the mining business. The Chileans have taken this wealth and built outstanding infrastructure - you can also see the emphasis on education and culture.
In other words, Chile doesn't really fit the mold of a Latin American country - this is why Chile is known as the "Jaguar of South America", and for good reason. It is, for the most part, a modern, first world country.
We arrived in La Serena a bit before 7 pm tonight - we have a nice spot near the beach.
We have 1.5 days to get to Puerto Montt, where our ferry leaves Sunday morning - we will decide tomorrow how far we will go (probably at least 1,000 Kms, maybe a bit more). We hope to skirt around the city we depart from, Santiago, tomorrow as well.
manuel turns 200,0000 today!
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
- Mark Twain