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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Mud, mobs, and marvels.

So pressure's on for this next blog post. Our first three posts have been a hit, and our reader now has high expectations. As shrewdly observed by Ian, if we begin to shirk our responsibility to produce informative and entertaining blog posts now, then our readership will drop, and our motivation to blog will dwindle, leading inevitably to the disappointment our friends, our family, and, of course, ourselves.

 With this risk of failure in mind, I have decided to augment the following post with photographs.

We started off Wednesday on a quest to find cell phones for both of us, a straightener for me, and a razor for Ian.
We found these items one by one via various resourceful methods of communication, gaining a better feel for the area in the process.

In order to find a place where they sold prepaid phones, we first went to the tourism office, where they told us the most common companies for phone purchases in Chile are Entel, Claro, and some other one that no one cares about. Once made aware of this, we saw Claro and Entel stores everywhere, but every time we tried to buy a prepaid phone, they would redirect us to a different one. We finally neared our goal went advised by a tenth Claro vendor to visit what sounded like "tree play". We wandered in the direction in which he gestured, and ran into a large departent store called Ripley's, where we bought really old-school prepaid phones.
Mission accomplished.
After I pantomimed straightening my hair and Ian summoned the verb "afeitarse" from the deep recesses of his memory, we had met all our goals. It was noon, time to eat lunch.
We wandered and deliberated a lot, ending up at Cafe Verde, where we had a sumptuous meal of jugo de frambuesas, creamy soup, chicken and rice.

Afterwards we decided to explore via the straightforward method of finding tall things in the distance and walking towards them.

First, we set our sights on  Cerro Santo Lucía, an enchanting oasis south of El Centro where cobbled paths through fountains and gardens lead up a steep hill to the Castillo Hidalgo. We climbed to the top, and saw a breathtaking panorama of the surrounding city.

From there we saw the huge, intriguing statue of the Virgin Mary that can be seen from many places throughout the city, including the balcony of our apartment. Setting that as our next destination, we stepped carefully down the Castillo's uneven steps and walked through Bellavista (Santiago's Bohemian neighborhood, lots of graffiti). We passed a lot of stray dogs, a common sight in Santiago. Some of the more active animal rights groups have started providing sweaters to these homeless canines during the winter, which leads to many funny sightings such as the one below:

We took a funicular to the top of Cerro San Cristobál, where we encountered a shrine, gift shops, restaurants, and the best possible views of the city. On our way down, we walked through the less popular section of the park where it seems people only go to smoke. We turned off the main paved path down in favor of a muddy trail. The only other people we saw were some daredevil bikers who were Parkouring off trees and turning up the dirt - which looked cool but made the trail more difficult for us to walk down without completely coating our shoes in mud.

We emerged from the trees, walked across a parking lot and hopped a fence, getting some odd looks from Chilean passersby, then decided to aim for an insanely tall building that stretched above the rest of the financial district (where we now found ourselves). We almost got there, but it was cold and we were hungry so we stopped at a tapas and pintxos restaurant for dinner. Then we got home by using the metro for the first time. It was insanity, a mob of people standing as close as they could to the incoming train without the transportation officers yelling at them. Train after train would come by, all equally full, and as soon as the doors opened people were elbowing their way forward and trying to wedge themselves in. We got on after 5 tries, took the red line to the blue line, got off at Plaza de Armas, and found our way back to the apartment where we collapsed from exhaustion.
The next day, we set off for our first days of work.
to be continued...

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