Santiago 2.0 – Day 117 and 118 (27th+28th of March)

The time has come at last people, the time that means Los Tres Amigos are finally leaving Chile, and time that I have been dreading, as it means I have to come up with a fitting goodbye to the country that has become our second home over the last four months, and sum up the whole time in a short enough paragraph so that I don’t breakdown mid way through the sentence ‘I fucking love Chile’ and end the blog with ‘I fuck’. However, I still have the last two days to tell you about, so sit back and be prepared to enjoy/tolerate my last blog in Chile, Santiago 2.0.

Unlike any other morning on our four month old trip, we awoke into the surroundings of a bus, and a very comfortable one at that, which meant that when the time came to vacate the vehicle, at seven o’clock in the morning in a dark Santiago, it was a really personal struggle to bring myself to leave the warm haven of my blanket covered chair. Annoyingly, it wasn’t an option to stay where I was, so we retrieved our bags and found a seat in the depressing darkness of the bus station. The next stop of the morning was the hostel, and after ‘umming’ and ‘arring’ for quite some time, we decided to give our backs and legs a rest, and give the Santiago taxi scene another attempt. This took some serious bollocks, g9ven what happened the last time, and we really couldnt afford to be losing another 100 quid this time round, but we sensibly asked for the price before stepping into the drivers hovel, and kept a close eye on the meter, which it turned out wasn’t even on. Nevertheless, we made it to the hostel a good seven hours before check in time, and so wandered into the bright pink building in the hope they would take pity on us and let us free ourselves from the slavery bestowed upon us by our bags. The first worker we saw was extremely ruined and completely ignored my ‘hola’ so as we approached the desk I in particular was very unsure on the place, but funnily enough it just so happened that the Chilean I had said hello to was actually a manakin, and the worker at the front desk was nice enough, and spoke enough english, to let us put our rucksacks in storage and chill out in the lounge until we could go to our room. This gave us a brilliant opportunity for some much needed napping time, so we each grabbed a sofa, plugged in our devices and passed out, all within seconds of entering the room.

Sadly for me and my weary eyes, Benj and El recovered far quicker than me, and as the rule of the group is two against one, we all headed out of the hostel to find the days entertainment. Although it kind of felt like new city, the warm and dirty air felt very recognisable, and we were quickly back into the rhythm of the big city, easily palming off the strange people covered in flour that felt they deserved money, and fairly successfully navigating our way through the hectic maze of beeping cars and confusing traffic lights. We even managed to find the big covered market this time round, but the strong smell of not so fresh fish, and the constant harassing from restaurant staff that assured us they could offer the best food in the whole of Chile, didn’t quite live up to the hype, so we found a bench to catch some much needed smoggy air, and began brainstorming in order to fulfill our need for entertinament. At first this didn’t go too well, but as I looked to the side in a motion full of fatigue and exhaustion, I noticed the big, tall building that towered over all the others like me and an army of ants. It was pretty far away, but this couldn’t stop us, and so we trekked off into the distance to attempt to climb the skyscraper.

It was a pretty awful walk, I won’t lie, and in joggers, a jumper and a jacket wrapped around my chest, with no drink to my name of any energy left in the tank, I felt very proud of myself and was ready to reward myself with a nice long sit down. But no, instead, the guys felt the need to go up and down the escalators in the shopping mall that we had discovered was in the building, and look in almost all of the shops, whilst knowing none of us had a spare bean to our name. It was just damn right rude. I therefore started to initiate my classic operation moan, and soon I had their ultimate weakness, food, on my side in the search from supremacy and a seat. Of course, the whole act of eating took a whole lot more energy than I had anticapated for, but after a full two circles of the food court, we settled for the most expensive restaurant of the lot, but that chair was worth every penny.

After El had polished off his fish, and me and Benj had finished my chips, we went about trying to find the route to the top of the skyscraper, which was easier said than done, so much so that we were already hungry again and had to buy a Cinnabon, but after a while we managed to stumble upon the entrance, and were soon shooting up the high speed elevator with our ears popping and our our legs wobbling. The opening of the lift brought us out onto the viewing deck, complete with binoculars and free wifi, not to mention an abosultely incredible view of Santiago. Despite the smogs best efforts, we could just about make out the huge mountains of the Andes that surrounded the city, and from up there we looked down on the huge hill that we climbed on our previous visit to Santiago, meaning we could laugh at our previous selves in mockery that they had to walk to get good views, we just had to walk, shop, eat, shop, eat and stand to get an even better sight of the huge sprawled out city.

After seeing enough of the views, and making the most of the reasonable selection of chairs on offer, we headed back to our hostel, via the huge park that ran down the side of the main road. It was here that the reminiscing of past times in Chile really began, as the numerous people making out on the grass, and the rest of the Chileans sat around smoking spliffs, really reminded us of pretty much the whole of Chile, as this practice happened in Natales, Punta Arenas, Pucon, Puerto Varas, and probably most of the other big towns in the country. It was trip down the memory cycling lane, but soon we were too tired to continue, and so saw no reason at all that told us we shouldn’t/couldn’t have a siesta in the busy park. It wasn’t the best sleep in the world, but it certainly did the job, and after waking up, realising we had all fallen asleep in the city that we used to think was the danger capital of the world, and the laughing that we just napped in the middle of the hectic town, we completed the last few kilometres of the journey, and finally got back to the hostel with abosultely nothing left of any of our muscles. This called for a beer.

The evening came with it’s own little adventure, and as per usual it involved food. As it was our last night in Chil, we all agreed we should treat ourselves to a nice meal out, but this type of decision always raises questions over where we should go, questions like ‘what type of restaurant?’ and ‘how far should we go/walk’, both of which had to answered last night. We started off at a cool fish restaurant that was themed as a submarine, and fairly they had done a cracking job making us feel extremely weirded out and confused as to what kind of establishment it was, but sadly this was too much for us to handle, and so we drafted up some new ideas with the help of trip advisor, but they all seemed to be too far away. It was only once a drunk hobo had waved a glass in front of El’s face whilst accusing him of speaking more spanish than he was letting on, that we decided on a Chilean meat restaurant, and stuck with it. In typical Chilean fashion though, it didn’t let us down, and provided us with a fitting last meal that marked the end of a string of brilliant, decent, and pretty poor meals out that we’ve had in this wonderful country, with a satisfyingly excellent one. It also marked the end of the day, as once we got back to our beds, there was no stopping us from shutting down and hibernation for the night.

Day two of our Santiago round two, and our last ever hours in Chile (until the next time we come), was a very different day to the usual format of our travelling routines, but a really nice one at that, and finished off our Chilean adventure in a serious amount of style.

The beginning of the end started off with one of the stranger showers of the trip, and my whole life in fact, as due to the very ‘chilled out’ vibes of the hostel, they had forced themselves to oblige to a similar style of washing, which involved showering behind half a door of sorts, only after you waited your turn in a room of confidently naked male travellers. Thankfully, due to our typically late start, and my typically long shower time, once I had finished there was no one left waiting to welcome me out of the cubicle and into the world of no clothes.

Once we had all recovered from our rather traumatic experience, we headed out into town once again, in hope that we would once again come up with some pure tourist genius, and find ourselves some entertainment for the day. The first port of call was the unexplored Bohemian area of town that we had intended to go and check out for a long time, so we began the long trek into the centre of town and then the long trek to the edge of the city where our destination lay. In my eyes, and if you value whatever relationship we have, then yours as well, this long journey desperately called out for a short cut, so I guided my fellow amigos using my trusty phone maps and no so trusty sense of direction. I was full of confidence at the beginning of my route, but I had forgotten the first rule of google maps, which is that it doesn’t tell the user if they are about to stray into the shady ends of a city, so we did just that. We could tell we weren’t where we were belonged as soon as the string smell of urine began to flow beautifully into our noses, and as we looked around to scan for possible escape routes, we quickly realised we were a whole new species of human to the locals in the street, and we were soon upping the pace to get to the haven that we believed to be the other side of the town. As it turned out, my short cut had indeed been a quicker version of the original route, and we were soon in the trendy area of the city that was covered in bars and restaurants that were just too hard to resist, so inevetiably we grabbed some lunch.

This time around, we made our decision on the location for our last ever fodder in Chile in a much more professional manner, picking out the best exterior advertising, and sticking to our guns like real men should, and boy did it pay off. The fantastic menu included an array of sharing platters, cheap combos, and fantastic deals on food that was made to look quite spectacular in the illustrated booklet, but it was the rocket beer that was on offer that completely stole the show. The drink that we split between the three of us came in a massive tube, complete with an ice pack in the middle and a little tap so that one could poor their own beer and truly feel like a real man. It was pretty cheap as well, which is always a good thing, because no one likes leaving a restaurant in a sate of severe depression and hatred towards life and the world around them, which was how we usually felt after receiving the bill from a restaurant in Patagonia.

It was only once our food had gone down, and we could stand up again, that we came up with the fantastic plan of going to the local zoo, which we assumed would be a fair amount of money, but probably just about worth it to see a few farm animals and maybe even an insect or two. I couldnt have been more glad to be wrong, even if my prediction that Donald Trump is going to begin his takeover of the world in a few years, mutating into a being that came only be likened to Hitler. Ok, maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point. For the equivalent of about two pounds, we got to see elephants, monkeys, penguins, snakes, bears, no pumas unfortunately as the whole cat section had been closed down, guanacos which were just as annoying as when they were destroying our fences, kangaroos, giraffes, wolves and even the back of a hippo. It was quite incredible, despite most of the animals looking scarily sad that they were stuck in this prison of smog, but at the end of the day, we’re all inmates in this polluted basin of death. With our tour of the zoo sadly coming to an end, all that was left to do in Santiago was get back to the hostel, pack our bags, and call a cab, which we managed to do in a surprising amount of calmness and expertise, but also extreme anger and frustration that we were leaving such an incredible country via four deathly flights in only a couple of days.

We arrived at the airport in an expected solemn state, but the fantastic price of the cab, which was five times cheaper than the evil taxi we got back in November for the return route, combined with the top quality entertainment from the Chile football game playing at the cafe with its shouting supporters, soothed my aching heart perfectly, and soon we were though customs and sat watching the game from the comfort of a cafe and it’s mediocre burgers. Our flight soon came around, and we were quickly boarded and settled into our comfy seats, with some food, a beer, a glass of wine, meaning all that was left to do in Chile was sit back, put on our complementary eye masks and headphones, and pass out.

I think I’m predictable enough that you know I’m going give Chile the shoutout for this particular blog, so I’m not going to try and do some big build up and reveal in attempt to shock the nation (anyone that is reading this) into a media frenzy. However, I am naturally obliged to try and convey my true emotions towards this incredible country and as best way that I can, but honestly, I don’t really know quite how to do it. How can I sum up a country that has provided us with such an unbelievable four months of action, adventure and exploration, friendship, family, and love, and pictures, videos and memories, all that I will remember for the rest of my life as the some of the best moments I will ever have. It’s impossible in my view, but I what I can tell you with complete certainty, is that you, yes I’m talking to you stranger that has accidentally stumbled upon my blog and now can’t help but read on, must come to Chile, and note the use of my modals of certainty, as you now have no choice but to come and experience this wonderful country. Adios Chile. Adios amigo.

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