There was a lot of traffic getting back into Santiago and I didn’t realize I would have to go to another bus terminal to meet Caro - I thought I was getting dropped off at the same terminal (she had bought us both bus tickets prior as she was worried they would sell for the Chilean Independence Day holiday). There were tons of flags everywhere, many people off work and a huge celebration all week with “fondas” festivals. I arrived to the bus terminal with 10 minutes to get to the other terminal which was 10 minutes away so I was freaking out as I didn’t think I would make it. Caro had suggested I take the metro but I told her I didn’t know how to get a ticket and it would probably take the same amount of time with Uber, but who knew with traffic. I ordered an Uber and told the Uber that I was in a hurry. The driver did her best to get me there on time though I was freaking out and felt sick to my stomach as I didn’t want to miss the bus. Caro told the bus driver that I would be there any minute and thankfully the bus was 5 minutes delayed and I was sprinting and was there 5 minutes late but I made it!!! Yippee!! I was so relieved but stressed at the same time, it was one of the closest calls to catching something and probably wouldn't have if Caro hadn't held the bus driver. As soon as I saw Caro, we both screamed and were thrilled that we made it, it was a. good feeling. As we sat next to each other, we chatted for about an hour and then relaxed the last 2 hours as we watched the sunset and she told me about the many villages on the way to Pichilemu (her favorite town in Chile). We arrived around 9pm and got a collectivo to the hostel and met with her friend that she knew working there. He showed us to our room that had 4 bunkbeds but it was only us and we had our own bathroom that night. We decided to go to this hot tub that one of her guy friend's mom owns and so we got some snacks at a corner market and walked about 5/10 minutes up the hill to this really neat man-made hot tub. We relaxed all night with some wine, cheese, fruits, salami, and this meat the mom provided that was super super delicious (but later gave me a swollen lip - or it could've been the berries - who knows!). Also the cutest little puppy was there named El Chico that I adored as it looked like my childhood stuffed animal Ruffers (only my family knows). As I was going to bed that night, I could feel my upper right lip swelling and it freaked me out so I took a picture of it with my phone and something was definitely not right so I asked Caro to look as she was falling asleep. We both knew it was an allergic reaction and thankfully she had meds for this type of thing so I took it and went to bed as it was 2-3am. We woke up in time for breakfast where there were tons of young backpackers sitting around and grabbing food, especially these 3 girls from Holland that were very chatty and I wasn’t in the mood but Caro made it work. My lip was feeling better and then we got ready and left to walk into the town/central area. It was this cute little beach town and she showed me where to get the best local ceviche, thankfully she knew where to get everything as she’s been here many times on vacation. Then we went to this coffee shop and she wanted to get a dreadlock so she got a dreadlock as I sat on the beach to catch a few rays. We then went to get lunch where I ordered this huge fish (with many bones) that came with rice and it was good. Then I was planning to surf but the waves weren’t great so I decided not to, especially because of my ear, so we walked around the market area to get some coffee and then grabbed a cab to this point that had to rocks called Punta de lobos. It was sunset and there were tons of surfers out in the water by the shore and also out by these huge rocks - it was definitely a place for more experienced surfers by these rocks. We took some pictures of the beautiful cacti and rocks and watched the surfers. Then we walked along the beach back to the hostel, talking about random things and stumbled upon this restaurant that had outdoor seating as the sun was about to set, we stopped there. Didn’t realize we ordered non-alcoholic beers as there was some difficulty speaking to Caro - we basically spoke Spanglish the entire time as we both are learning each others languages but it was great practice and we really worked on it together which I'm super thankful for to this day. We then got a collectivo back to the hostel and got ready for a night out. We drank wine by the bonfire and everyone at the hostel was partying. There were some people from Pichilemu, Santiago, Germany, and Venezuela. I chatted mostly with these two girls from Venezuela and they told me about their situation having to flee Venezuela and how they got to where they are now. Then we all left for the "Fonda" (festival market) and ordered the best foods at the carnival as Caro knew what to order. I tried this meat on a stick and empanada - it's difficult to put into words on the taste of this food but I was in heaven. I loved it. Tons of people out and about partying and eating, it felt amazing. Then we left with Caro’s guy friend to the central area and went to the club where there was loud reggaeton playing. Danced all night and had a blast. Called it a night around 5am and then woke up late to check out, quickly wrapped up our things and then made breakfast just in time and sat on the beach and relaxed before leaving for the bus. We got lunch at the restaurant near the bus stop and ordered so much food including empanadas (my last one in South America), churros, coffee and cake. I was so full on the bus and sad to leave Pichilemu but I had my flight the next morning at 1am and had to be at the airport by 11pm.
We arrived at the bus station and Caro’s mom was there with her little sister who was 6 years old and so sweet. Her mom lives in Valparaiso but she came to be with Caro in Santiago for the holiday as that day was the most important day of the holiday. We went to Caro’s apartment and made pizza after walking around to realize nothing was open - it was a ghost town. Everyone was out in the rural countryside celebrating the holidays. It was nice to walk around with Caro and get some ingredients for the pizza as we had eaten so much and were on a bus and then I had to get on a 13 hour plane ride. As the pizza was cooking, I showered and did some yoga with Caro’s sister and then we sat and ate in her small living room. It was very family-style and cute and I loved that I was invited to be a part of their dinner before heading to the airport. She let me borrow some comfortable pants and a couple long sleeve shirts as I had ripped my only pair of comfortable pants (I only had yoga leggings otherwise). Then I ordered an Uber and said goodbye. It was a bittersweet ending to my South American trip of 3.5 months and I wouldn’t have asked for anything more. I really didn’t want to leave as I had so much fucking fun but I was also excited for my next adventure to New Zealand (a completely different culture here I go). I got to the airport 2 hours in advance and talked to my family and then I was off on this dreadful 13 hour flight.