Title: A long bus ride... Location: Santiago, Chile
I arrived in Santiago after 24 hours on the bus. I had no idea what to expect but it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd imagined. I sat next to a very nice woman for the first hour who kept talking to me while I tried to write in my journal. She was explaining to me different things about Chile and that if I was going to Calama that I could stay at her house. Since I wasn't, she gave me her number and the number of a friend in another town in case I was going to go there. Once she left a guy sat down and didn't talk to me for over twelve hours. In the morning he got off the bus and came back with a Coke for me and chatted a little before his stop. Then I had the seat to myself for the next few hours before Santiago. They actually did feed us on the bus - dinner was a juice box, ham flavored crackers, and a cookie. Breakfast was tea and a cookie, and for lunch we had a thin piece of meat with rice. Not that bad in the long run. The bathroom on board was quite clean and clever - the seat automatically went up when not in use, so it stayed quite clean. Big plus for Chile. But everything here runs smoothly that way it seems. Some bad movies dubbed in Spanish is my only real bus complaint.
I arrived in Santiago around 7pm on Thursday Feb 2 and made my way to the hostel I had reserved. It is an old mansion and quite large. I shared a dorm style room with 7 others, two of whom snored really loud as it turned out. I spent most of that night on the Internet chatting with my intended travel partner, who, as it turns out, will not be joining me after all. This, along with some other developments, was quite a blow to my state of mind and travel plans, but such is life. I didn't sleep well and the next day went out and bought ear plugs. Much nicer.
Friday morning continued my emotional blowout and I spent some time on the phone in tears like a freak at the gas station. The biggest annoyance with this was a guy who was waiting for the phone. Clearly I was using it and for an extended period of time, and yet he waited. The he told me it was a public phone and clearly a personal call. I told him Santiago was riddled with phones - they are everywhere. He told me American girls are famous throughout Europe for their stupidity, at which point I decided he would never use this phone. He was European, obviously. He did eventually leave and I did too. I walked around, got on the subway, bought a skirt (the same as my friend Rachel had), had some lunch, and then decided to go to Cerro San Cristobal, a high point in the city where you can look down at Santiago or up at this big white statue of the virgin. I bought a ticket for the funicular up and met James there, an English guy. We walked around and talked for the rest of the day, which was very nice and therapeutic. The views of the city were great, except for the layer of smog that got in the way of the Andes view to the one side. We went back to his hotel and watched a terrible movie before going to dinner with his friend Nick. I didn't get in until after 1am, and that was just from dinner. I ordered more than normal but wasn't able to eat most of it. I chatted with the restaurant owners, glad to use Spanish. The Immersion classes are a life saver.
The following day I met Lina, a Swedish girl. I gave her what I think ended up as terrible directions into the city, and then met up with her accidentally in the main Plaza a bit later on. I tried to change my ticket to stay in South America longer, but the office was closed on Saturday. I was on my way to meet up with the boys to go to a park and she joined me. We went to the park to be lazy and the boys did find us there, where we all managed to be lazy, reading and eating ice creams in the shade, surrounded by couples making out. Turns out that when you live with your parents until marriage, as is common here, you have to make out in the park, as there is nowhere else to go. After several hours of this we went back to their hotel, which was right off the park, and watched an hour of Prison Break, or whatever that show is called, before looking for dinner. We eventually found some after walking through the whole city. Said good-bye to the boys as they were flying out the following morning, and got to bed a bit earlier that night.
The next day I went and bought a bus ticket to Pucon, my next destination. I then walked around and went to two museums. Fortunately they are free on Sunday. I went to the Pre-Columbian art museum, which was wonderful, and to a modern art type of museum, which I spent 10 minutes inside of and hated every one of them. Forgot how much I don't like modern art. In the evening I went out to find some cheap food, but everything was closed. I stopped to consult my map and when I started walking again, I slammed into this metal thing on the ground. I bruised my lower right leg and slammed my left big toe into in hard enough that I could see into the nail bed, when the blood had subsided anyway. It was gross, and all I could think was how inconvenient it would be to lose my toenail. I ended up getting some groceries for dinner after this and talking to Sara, a British chick in my room.
The following day I had a slow start, and after lunch in the hostel ran into Lina. She decided to come with me to the ¨nearby¨cemetery, which took us over an hour to walk to. It was enormous - I think every dead person in and around Santiago ever must be buried there. And many of them seem to live better in death than they did in life. It was amazing. We walked back and developed a stalker. In town we stopped at a pharmacy (they are everywhere) for an ATM (they all have them) and Elena took out some money. After this some skeazy guy started to follow us and talk to us. We ignored him and went into several shops and he was always there when we came out. Finally he did leave, but we stayed around tons of people all the walk back just in case he made a reappearance. Got back to the hostal and went to the store to buy a pizza. Turns out the oven at the hostel didn't work well, after we figured out how to light it, and it took forever to cook the thing to an acceptable level. I had just enough time to eat and dash out to the bus station to catch my bus to Pucon, or so I thought. In the end, I was an hour early because I thought the bus left at 10:30 but it was 10:55pm. So I had some time to sit and people watch. And dog watch. There are stray dogs everywhere in South America, but the ones in Chile seem to be well treated and happy. There were two younger dogs running about and playing - it was fun to watch. Then it was time to get on the bus and take off - next stop, Pucon.