Travel Journal - Santiago de Chile - in 3 days (Nick)

Santiago – Day 1

From the airport we jumped in a shuttle van and headed to our Airbnb accommodation. I was half expecting to 1. be driven to the Los Vatos Locos gang headquarters and robbed of everything we had or 2. be dropped off at a laundromat (I’ve read stories of people who booked online only to find out the place doesn’t exist). We made our way through Santiago dropping off the other travelers, including this one peculiar Canadian bloke in his mid forties who liked to play with the doors, windows and anything else he could get his hands on. We were in the back so he couldn’t get his hands on us, luckily. The drive from the airport took us through some tough looking streets and I was really hoping we would be dropped off at a laundromat because the first scenario was looking more likely at this point. Thirty minutes and $25.00 later we arrived at our stop, Nunoa, Santiago. Nunoa is about a 15 minute bus ride from the Santiago CBD. The streets are lined with trees and colourful houses. The birds were chirping, men in orange high-vis vests were heckling an attractive young woman and dogs were sleeping on the streets in the midday sun…seems legit!

Paula, our Airbnb host, appeared in her Ford Fiesta waving to us as she parks up. For $45 per night we were welcomed in to her home, a 7th floor, well kept, two bedroom apartment with views of the surrounding mountains and CBD area from the balcony. The room is small but we get our own bathroom and space in the kitchen for our food. Paula is friendly, super helpful and speaks English. She let the building attendant know that we gringos don’t speak Spanish so he greets us in English for the next few days as we come to and from the apartment.

We had a quick nap to soak up some of the jet lag and ventured into town to grab some food. We walked past KFC and Subway and hit up the Shell service station for some light snacks. I was pretty stoked, I got through the entire transaction using just three or four grunts. Tomorrow we will try and catch a bus to the CBD.

Santiago – Day 2

After pulling off a huge victory yesterday at Shell we were ready for another day. Truth be told, just the thought of having to try and talk to someone had my heart racing..anxiety not excitement…but none-the-less we’re here for an adventure so off we trotted down to the BIP centre to top up our bus cards. I was a bit ‘puffed’ from the walk so let Rosie head up to the counter to do the business. 3000 pesos on each cards thanks! 6000 on one and 4000 on the other haha. We’re not sure what happened there but we’re ready for the bus now, let’s go. On the right bus, off at the right stop and here we are standing in front of the government palace.

There were armed guards patrolling the perimeter but one was busy posing with tourists for a photo so maybe it’s just for show. Oh look! It’s time for lunch. A busy stand-up diner with businessmen hunched over their plates scoffing empanadas and beer before heading back to work for the afternoon. Rosie spotted something on the menu she recognised so we had these pastries filled with cheese, not bad. I spotted a little shop run by an old woman pedaling Red Bulls. Dos Red Bulls thanks. Boom! We were off, checking out all Santiago had to offer. A small brown river, a fish market and a gang of amorous stray dogs filled up the rest of the afternoon as we wandered the streets.  Maybe we should have got a tour..

Back on the bus heading home we were feeling bold. “Let’s go to the supermarket”. So we did. Up to the checkout with our bread, nutella and nectarines. *Beep* *Beep* *Beep*. That was the sound of an impending transactional disaster. I accidentally skip the part where I’m supposed to enter my PIN! No worries, I’ll just sign the receipt. Receipt signed. The man looks up and speaks at me. I wasn’t sure what he wanted but it was in Spanish and probably a question that required an answer. Grunting wasn’t going to get me through this one. I quickly realised that I had taken back my credit card so he couldn’t verify my signature. I whipped it out and handed it over. Nope, not what he wanted and he hands it back. There’s an old bloke next in line, he’s loaded all his groceries behind ours and he’s not looking impressed. Rosie tells the counter guy that we don’t speak Spanish and also throws in an apology. Top work babe, I’m proud. He’s looking super flustered now and calls for a workmate who can speak English. No takers but a woman comes over and rather confidently starts up a game of charades. Now we’re talking! The line behind us is four strong but I don’t make eye contact, that would be a rookie’s mistake. The woman points at the receipt where it says “I.C” and then with her hands, refers it to the 3rd umpire (cricket reference: draws a square in the air with her hands). I think she wants some ID. Rosie rustles around in her bag and finally pulls out my passport. They flick through the pages, checking out my stamps, looking for something but they never find it. She hands the passport back to me and walks off. Charades can be hard but you can’t just give up and walk off. My sisters would do that back in the day but this has consequences, I want a nutella sandwich damn it! We stand there awkwardly not having a clue what to do next. The young bag packer just hands us our goods and says “not important”. It all seemed pretty important 10 minutes ago when you started the whole thing! Well, the groceries were paid for, we took them away, that’s a successful transaction and a pretty good day really.

Santiago – Day 3

So Kathmandu sold us the wrong plug adaptor for Chile. Paula, our host, has sent us to Easy, a big hardware store like Bunnings. We can hardly order food but we’ve decided to go searching for something that would be a mission in English let alone Spanish. Like a boss we boarded the bus and headed to Providencia, a 20 minute journey. I like it here, it reminds me of Lambton Quay back home in Wellington. It’s an upmarket, trendy and busy commercial area of the city. Everyone is dressed immaculately, the buildings are massive and shiny and the streets were kept very clean and tidy. The only downside were the homeless dogs roaming around. One particular mutt who we named ‘Sneaky Dog’ was tailing us for a good 10 minutes. I swung around to see how close Sneaky Dog was. He’s clever though, he pretends he’s not following us and saunters over to the fountain to get a drink. Two minutes later he’s on us again…Fair play to you El Sneaky Dog. He’s met his match though, Rosie and I split up, cross back over, loop around a lamppost and by then he’s lost our trail..or he wasn’t following us at all. Needless to say but we didn’t have any luck finding an the correct adaptor. We headed home, tails between our legs, for a nap.

Dinner time is fast approaching. Burger King it is! Rosie orders with a confidence not yet seen on this trip. Numero dos, mediano, con Pepsi and numero nueve, mediano, con Pepsi. “This is too good to be true”, I’m thinking and sure enough the lady says something. Rosie looks unsure so I step up to the plate. In a high pitched, nervous voice I say, “pepsi?”. The lady grabs a pen and paper and writes down the price. I hand over the money and move aside to wait for our order. I can see her talking to a work colleague, *mumble mumble mumble* “Pepsi!!” and they burst into laughter. I could only laugh I suppose. “That will be $7.50 thanks”…”pepsi”.

We’re not going there again.

 by Nick

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