Friday, March 16, 2012

Santiago Travel

Tuesday morning at 7am I boarded a bus in Capitol Hill. At 7:30 I transferred to the Light Rail and by 8:30 I had cleared security at Sea-Tac. We were delayed for de-icing (yay!) and made it to SJC about 30 minutes before my next flight. No big deal. I’d rather leave Seattle on a snowy day than on a clear, sunny day! I grabbed a tasty BBQ dinner during my 4hr layover in Dallas, then after a 10hr overnight flight I woke up in Santiago at roughly 9am on Wednesday. Somehow Santiago is an hour ahead of US/Eastern right now, whereas I’d expected it to be the same. People say that has something to do with Daylight Savings but think about it a moment… wait… yeah, Daylight Savings moves the clock in the other direction.

The taxi assistant at SCL airport said that I couldn’t take my bike box on the bus. I wasn’t sure this was true, but after 22 hours of travel I wasn’t feeling particularly assertive, so I enjoyed a $44 USD cab ride to my new home – the Castillo Surfista in the Providencia neighborhood.


While I was assembling my bike, I asked Jonathan (the hostel owner) whether his dog, Duke, could really ride a skateboard. Sure enough, he can! I wish I would have taken a video.

Once my bike was assembled, I set out in search of some lunch. I’d heard from Louisa in Seattle that the Bellavista neighborhood was a good option.

The hostel is just off of Avenida Condell, which is a pretty, tree-lined street with a University and the Homicide Unit of the local police force. I would have liked to post a picture of the station, but I didn’t want to get arrested.

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I walked through the Parque Balmaceda to a pedestrian bridge over the Rio Mapocho. The Rio Mapocho is in pretty sad shape, and looks more like a duct for storm runoff. Oddly enough, we saw couples making out on this bridge when we went out for the evening. In fact, you see lots of public make-outs down here. Apparently Argentina is even worse. The explanation I heard is that teens and young adults live at home with their parents, so they have to go out somewhere to make out. Yesterday evening in the park, 90% of the park occupants were couples making out. Runners like me were the weirdos!

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There were plenty of lunch options to choose from in Bellavista, all with outdoor seating. There were plenty of people hanging out and sharing 1.5L bottles of beer. I grabbed chicken & fries for 1900 CLP, or roughly $4 USD, and admired the posters on the wall. Apparently I was at a chain fast-food joint, based off of this poster on the wall:


If you look carefully, that is a chicken in a Michael-Jackson-style jacket, advertised Pollo Rey as the “Rey of Pop’llo.” Wow. Ok, so it is poor form to eat fast food while traveling, but at least I didn’t go here:


If Steve Sexton were racing in Chile, I would know where to find him! Winking smile

The fast-food joints in Chile have a bit more personality than many in the states. Pollo Rey was selling some kind of beef sandwich but were calling it “ASS:”


I asked for an explanation and apparently it is a joke based on the Spanish word “HAS,” which I had never heard before. I thought that maybe “AS” would be short for “ASADA.” I just looked up “HAS” in a Spanish dictionary and couldn’t find it. Maybe it is a local Chilean term? Maybe I just completely misunderstood the dude at the restaurant?

Wednesday night we went out to explore the nightlife a bit. I’d seen a poster about a free outdoor concert where they played Caribbean music. We joined the crowd in a dance number that looked like a South American take on the “electric slide,” and then joined the Conga Line that served as their grand finale.

Next we found a bar with a live band where everybody was doing a local dance called the “cuca.” We called it the Napkin Dance because each participant waves a handkerchief while they dance. One lady had brought a whole bag of “Panuelos” to dance with, and would pick a different one for each song. I borrowed a “panuelo” and danced with local girls for two songs. Sadly these pictures didn’t come out very well:

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Yesterday, we walked to the fish market for lunch. We took a somewhat circuitous route to get there, as the main park & streets were closed in the aftermath of a large student protest. I gathered that the government wants to convert all of the public universities to being private universities, raising the cost of tuition considerably. Hence the protests. By the time we were on our way to lunch, the protesters had mostly dispersed but we still saw plenty of police. Again, I wanted to take pictures but didn’t want to get arrested.

The fish market reminded me just a little of Pike Place… they had many stalls selling fish, surrounding a bunch of tourist-trap restaurants that also sell fish – but cooked fish.

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Marco and Alyse had giant empanadas with shrimp (camarones) and cheese (queso):


I’m still trying to avoid gluten before the race, so I had a platter with a delicious piece of cooked fish. I didn’t think to take a picture until I was almost done eating:


After lunch we explored a second-hand clothing district on Bandera, which I’d read about online. There was a large store that specialized in American clothes. They even had a poster advertising that you could buy clothes that were once owned by “Gringas!” We got our Gringa friend, Alyse, to pose in front of the sign for a photo op:


I’ll throw the rest of my pictures into another post on the swim/bike/run situation down here, and in my inability to get out to Lago Piedra Roja for a course preview yesterday. But for now, I am heading out to swim with Barrett and Kevin. Adios!

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