Saturday, January 9, 2010

Chillin in Chile

With days to go before my intended date of departure, about to be on my way to the bus station to buy my tix to saaaaanti-aaaaago, chile; i realized that i no longer had my debit card in my wallet....!!!!!!!!!!!! Great, so I had to leave Pipa’s by Friday, I had to leave the country by Thursday, and NOW I had no denero!!! I couldn’t believe it, I literally check EVERY SINGLE time i get home, daily, and again at the end of the day to make sure my bank card is still in my wallet. i was so dumbfounded. i seriously remember seeing it in my wallet the entire week at pipa’s!! it had to have been in my tiny room in his house. it just had to!! so i tore apart my suitcase and backpack THREE times, checking every nook and crannie to have absolutely no luck. I of course checked my online statement and had an unusual charge to a different cell phone company made the past is now sunday. wtf?! no way. no way. the last time i had used it was that past monday to take money out, and the atms here, it’s ridiculously easy to walk away without your card. but i’ve gotten good at checking...or so i thought! and what’s more, is that i seriously remember having it on friday. soooo confused!! anyways, called the bank and of course, they won’t ship overseas. way to be there for me bank, way to help me get access to my own now it’s going to take longer for it to arrive here in BsAs. Not to mention, now i have to involve my parents in this situation, as they’re the ones that have to send it to me. so i quickly thought of my 2 options. 1.) Stay in BsAs and do a day trip to Uruguay one day before Thursday. Figure out where I’ll stay after Friday (gotta be out of Pipa’s by then) until my move in date of Monday. Or 2.) Borrow money from a friend, go to Chile as I have a place to stay there, and continue on with life as hoped for. So! I purchased the bus tickets on my credit card (I don’t like using the thing), turned down Laura’s really generous offer of using her credit card to pay for my bus tix. And decided to ask Joey to be my Suga Daddy ;0) K not really, but he’s a great loaner!! He happily gave me lots of money to cover what I thought would be 2 weeks with no cash pronto. So lucky to have great peeps around me here! Oh and on Monday, I went to the bus station to purchase my tix and found out if I left on Wed (as hoped) I would cross the border too late (for my visa expiration). I wanted to chance it, but decided I didn’t need a fine to subtract from the money I would have to live off of for the next few weeks. This meant I was rushed into leaving on Tuesday, dragging half my stuff back to Cassie’s, racing around the city for work, AND saying my final farewell to Tiffany.

The bus company I went with was not as great as the one we went with to Iguazu. No free alcohol. It was supposed to be about 20hrs, but turned into 24 as a manzana (apple) was found in someone’s stowed backpack. plus there was traffic into the city once down and off of los Andes. Though it wasn’t as luxurious, big, or had free flowing alcohol, it was a fine ride. I took sleeping pills -which normally I do on long distances! But for some reason, instead of knocking me out for the typical 8, it seemed to affect me for pretty much the whole ride. And even a day into being in Santiago. Weird. I travel long distances mucho, along with my Simply Sleep pills, but holy moly never had such an effect! Can’t complain though, just very surprised!

Anyways, went straight to California Cantina where my friend, Melissa was working. She greeted me with a nice, strong beer! Good friend indeed! Also, it was ridiculously hot there, despite the lack of humidity as compared to BsAs!
About 1-2hrs later, Melissa got off and she went to her place and I went to her Brazilian friend’s Rodrigo’s place so we could shower and meet up at this restaurant/bar where some famous local band was playing. I stayed at Rodrigo’s as he has an extra room right now and Melissa is currently living with her boyfriend in a studio. Rodrigo was super nice and more than accomodating. He gave me keys and let me go and come as I pleased. Super nice guy and we’ve might have constructed a way for me to sneak into Brazil! Yay! but shhh!

Anyways, that night was fun. Tried some Chileno drinks, strong, interesting, sweet. Like a very sweet lemonade that you don’t really realize has a strong, strong alcohol in it. It’s fairly cheap. Some of her friends met up with us, and afterwards we ended up going to some club to dance. Poor Melissa, she worked all day that day and was about to work a double the next day! Ouch!

The next few days Melissa had work so I discovered Saaaantiaaaago on my lonesome! Walked around different barrios, went to the top of Cerro San Cristobal (you take a finicular up to the top of this big hill where they have a huge statue of Mary, and able to look out on to the city), was highly amused by all of their advertisements from hot dogs to sandwiches with guacamole on it, becuase they call it “Italiano”. Thoroughly confusing, def makes you think twice and study the picture trying to decipher if you were really looking at guacamole or not! I told Rodrigo one night and he said that anything with guacamole on it is auto called “Italiano”! Haha! Somebody got majorly mixed up along the way!! I wonder what happens when a Chileno ventures to Italy for the first time and realizes guacamole is not on any venue, whatsoever!! Haha! Anyways, thoroughly enjoyed the mounds of guacamole (which I’ve decided Chile really needs to be called Guacamoland), and all the cheap chicken!! Loads of cheap fresh produce (it’s sorta cheap here in BsAs, but produce just don’t happen -they’re too focused on the cow). 

one day I ventured to Valaparaiso y Vina Del Mar. They are both on the ocean and are popular beach destinations. Valaparaiso actually means “going to paradise” as that’s what they used to say, and then the words just got smudged into one and became the city name! Now Mike told me if I ever make it to Chile, I gotta make it to Valaparaiso. I was under the impression it was this tiny town with really beautifully, colored houses along the coast. Well, when i got there, all ready for my much missed day at the beach, it was foggy and it was a really sketchy area! So i quickly got myself on a tour which would take me all over Vina del Mar, Reneca (a really cute beach town on the other side of Vina del Mar), and Valaparaiso. Of course, within an hour or so, the fog wore off and it was perfect beach conditions -there goes that one! But I’m actually really glad i did it, not only was it safe, but Valaparaiso is huge!!! And really sketchy! I thought I would be able to walk around and see all the wall art and colored houses, man, no way!! So it worked out great! But i must admit, Valaparaiso is no paradise. Easily skippable. It’s a huge port town, so your view of the water is docks and shipping stuff. The city is jammed packed with crappy houses, this would be the very poor version of San Fran. Buzz kill. However, Vina del Mar and Reneca were beautiful. It was mix of the way Socal beaches are, hills right to the beach at some parts and a fair amount of beach other parts, and lots of rocks right off the shore like Monterey. Really, it was in my face that I just wasn’t at home for Christmas!

Anyways, the next day I took it easy and wondered around town some more. (It’s really pretty with tons, and tons of super green trees everywhere, and los Andes in the background. Everything’s really spread out. But other than that, looked just like any western city. Nothing special, and really, not a whole lot to do). Went to the Central Mercado, which had some stands but really was filled with fish restaurants and halls and stalls of fresh fish to buy. If you love fish, this is your mecca. The men working at these fish places would show me how the clams were still alive by slapping the piles of clams with their hands and then you would watch them open and close. Now that’s fresh!

Now I wanted to go on a winery tour (lots of wineries near by), but with Melissa working and not off until the weekend, it didn’t happen. Wineries don’t really do weekend tours and Saturday didn’t work out for us. So this meant Sunday wine tour but the ones that run on sunday were expensive! So we decided to do our own! We bought a more expensive bottle of wine (mid-range, but not in our usual budget) of Carmenere (which is a very rare grape and you can only get it in Chile), some cheese, some cherries, and went to this cool park she knows of called Parque de las Esculturas! They have all kinds of funky statues in this park! That was a great adventure, playing on the statues and talking, catching up! It was great! Afterwards, her boyfriend brought us to this super yummy restaurant for some lunch. Then we went to beautiful Bella Vista (such a beautiful neighborhood with loads of places to eat outside on the sidewalks, really close view of small foothills -los altos, ca type, and lots of colors too!) with his friend to have some Chileno wine and appetizers -actually was more of a meal! Haha! They all tried to convince me to stay longer, which I was very close to doing (Melissa was granted more days off at work), but we found out the bus company actually charges to change the ticket (which her Chileno boyfriend was so sure they wouldn’t). so that was an immediate nope.

Overall, Chile looked much like Cali, just with less money and more color. Even on the bus ride to Valaparaiso! It look like I was driving on the 5 from Norcal to Socal. So weird. It was also really nice to be able to have access to the foods and beauty products that Argentina doesn’t carry, or if they do, is much too expensive. It’s really weird, I wonder why it’s so different. I don’t get why a bottle of shampoo, the same brand, is way cheaper in Chile than in Argentina! What am I missing? So the trip made me a little homesick! I felt like I was in Cali, never felt so close but so far away like that before!! Plus with really missing any sort of Christmas festivities this year (it exists here, but a very minimal amount of it), it was sorta depressing! Don’t get me wrong!! I’m really happy here and had a great time in Chile and hanging out a bit with Melissa, but it’s just that time of year when ya need a little more -ya know?

Of cousre, my bus was a few hours late in arriving to BsAs and I wasn’t able to get to Cassie’s to get to my stuff before she left to work. So I went straight to my new casa! And I’m writing from within!! I absolutely love it!! It’s soo great!! The guys I live with (I live with 4 guys) are super nice. It sucks though that most are leaving fairly soon -I hope the vibe and the new people to come will be just as rad. One is from the Netherlands (he leaves this Wed), one is from Ireland, the other from Paris, and the owner of the house whom also lives here is from England. There’s a really sweet cleaning lady who comes twice a week. She doesn’t speak English and she kept talking to me like you wouldn’t believe! She’s so friendly and cute and knows that i know very little spanish but she kept talking to me and at such a rapid pace that after a while i just nodded and smiled! it was like one of the days i was running around the city looking at places to live and for some reason, every single grandma wanted to talk to me and i would tell them i didn’t understand, and they just kept talking and talking. and i said again louder and clearer, and they looked at me and then kept on with this story they were so in to telling me! nod and smile...nod and smile. haha!