Monday, April 04, 2005

Santiago Redo

I woke up with the alarm at 7am, got dressed and had breakfast. This is the first time that we weren’t the last folks to eat. Placements and food were set out at all of the tables. From 0900 to 1015, I kept checking to see if the hostess was around to check out of our room and arrange transport to the airport. I ended up asking the woman who cooked us breakfast to do this for us. The three nights ran $75,000 or $120 USD. All this time, Kacey was out in the rain mailing a post card and finding out that the stores didn’t open until 10 am. We packed up our stuff and waited for the transfer driver in the lobby. While there, the Canadian woman from yesterday came out of the hallway and said we looked like the farm couple in American Gothic.
I don't see the resemblance. Photo taken in Chicago during my 2002 Road trip
I guess we’re not the cheeriest folks out there, but Ms. Canada was more chipper than average. Checked our bags one last time as we out them into the minivan to the airport.  We made sure we buckled up, because this was the /link/blog same driver that we nearly got in an accident with the other day. The weather is rather nasty, causing the parks to flood and rivers to surge. Cold, wet, and windy is how we left Patagonia.
The LAN Chile agent spoke English well, so we asked for a seat in the front right of the plane (for the better view). Unfortunately, the sky was solid overcast that was painfully bright from the sun’s reflection. So no good vistas of the mountains. Which is okay, since /link/blog we saw them coming in.

During the in-flight meal to Porto Montt, I got Kacey with one of the oldest practical jokes known to man: “Does this smell sour to you?” Our dessert was a creamy square cake, obviously dairy based. I was a few bites into mine when she started to unwrap hers. Before she got her fork into it, I convinced her that she might want to check it to make sure it’s still good. She held it up to her nose and my left hand applied just the right amount of pressure to her hand to put a dime-sized, nose-shaped dent in the top of her dessert. Fortunately, it made her laugh, because she knew that she knows better, but I got her anyways. Now I’ll have to be on guard about waking up without my eyebrows, but I still think that it was a textbook execution of that particular trick.

The overcast broke just before Porto Montt, where a huge rainbow arced from over our wingtip to some point below us. We landed and refueled without deplaning, /link/blog again. I’m not sure what happened next, since I woke up at altitude just as the food cart was coming by. The sky’s cleared up a bit and we can see the snow-capped Andes in the distance. At first, we confused the peaks with the clouds, that’s how high they are. Sort of dirty brown up to the snow, but they blend in with the smog remnants so that it’s almost impossible to tell where the mountains begin and the valleys end. But the jagged and rough white peaks tear open the bottom of the bluing sky.

We picked up our bags and caught a transfer bus for $6,000, a far cry from /link/blog our first cab ride of $30,000. Which, I think it’s fair to say, was a swindle. But all the same, we still had to make our way through the taxi men perched like vultures in the outer terminal to get to the bus. We sat on the bus/minivan for about 5 minutes until we had a total of 4 different locations to go to. Mostly in the same areas that we had walked before. Check in to the /link/ (Vegas?) hotel, they had no record of the battery chargers being found.

So we headed out on the town. Stopped into a Kodak store across from our hotel’s access road on O’higgins. Asked where we could find a battery charger. The cashier pointed west and said something like “Casa Roja.” So we kept that in mind and hit another photo store in the same mall. The sun has now set and the neon lights are brighter now. The second store directed us to Fuji. Along the way, we stopped in maybe four other stores, with no luck. The Fuji place directed us to Casa Royal, which was the actual name of the place the first store pointed us to. This time, we got the clerk to draw us a map. We followed it, but ended up in a McDonald’s where we asked a business women where Casa Royal is. We found it using her directions. It turns out that it was literally across the road from the hotel access road, maybe 50 meters from the first store.

Casa Royal is a gadget geek’s dream. CB radios, electronic parts from everything, but no real whole products. We found our way over to the battery section. Looked at the model number on the Canon battery: BP-511. Looked up to see--surrounded by a bright white light, birds fluttering around with blue ribbons in their beaks, and fireworks—a charger for BP-511. We opened the package and tested it. The light went green and red. Success! It was also the last one on display. The entire time we were running around trying to find this thing before the stores closed made me feel like we were in a challenge on “The Amazing Race.”
We stopped in /yelp/ Lomiton’s for 10 empanadas, fries, and drinks. My “Kem” drink was very pineapple-y. We stopped in to /link/blog Café Haiti for more coffee and snapped a picture of /link/blogpage RRR with the barista. Then went over to /link/blog Café Caribe and did the same. They were a bit reluctant, but all their coworkers egged them on. Good old peer pressure.

We strolled up to Plaza de Armas  where we snapped a few nights shots that were on my camera /link/blog when it was stolen. Bad luck with cameras this trip. Also got a photo adorned with banners honoring Pope John Paul II, the same ones we saw going up on CNN. We walked back to the hotel, picking up a bag of roasted nuts and eating them all before we passed a Christian rock band performing in the street. We spent the rest of the evening checking email and internet at the hotel. It’s so much warmer here today, around 80F. Crazy warm. As far as I can tell, we can get replacement photos of all the photos we lost from /link/blog that first day of the trip before catching the bus tomorrow morning. Not a whole lot of sleep tonight, but if we start early enough, we should get it all in. Plus, we can—and probably will—sleep on the bus tomorrow. It’s been a full day, and ended well.

Related Links:
Share:

0 comments:

Post a Comment

Featured Post

End Of Tour Summary: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

We spent two and a half years in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on our second tour in the Foreign Service with the US Department of State. As you migh...

Honest Post Reports