Santiago round 2March 10, 2017 in Chile
So I return to Santiago minus a cold and hopefully with more exploration.
The first day was spent trying to find a police station to get a new tourist card. When you enter Chile they give you a receipt which lots of people bin immediately. However this flimsy receipt you must keep for the whole of your trip and show when you leave, otherwise they don't let you out of Chile. Wonderful. Despite having spoken to lots of people who have lost theirs and being warned about this, of course I still lost mine. So the whole of the first day involved me failing to find a police station which was slightly improved by the policeman thinking I was Brazilian because I 'speak Spanish with a Brazilian accent' which absolutely cannot be true. I bought an empanada for lunch from a little corner shop slash cafe and everybody in there got weirdly excited that i speak English and hustled round me to try and practice. I had one man explain to me what an empanada was and the various options for fillings that are possible in the entirity of the world.
The hostel I'm in does free dinners!!!!!!!!!!!! It's very basic- a slop of spaghetti and a tiny bit of sauce- but as the hostel is only about £7 a night and also includes breakfast it save loads of money. It's also pretty social as everyone sits down together to eat.
This morning I headed off to the human rights museum which is an excellent free museum that documents and describes the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile from 1973-1990. This is really interesting because I'd never even heard about it. Pinochet was a senior in the army who organised a (likely US backed) coup of the Marxist president Allende in 1973 then went on to declare a 17 year curfew and torture and murder 30,000 people. The dictatorship only ended in 1990. The museum was really really well done apart from not mentioning the US and I had a good audio guide. Definitely important to know about this as I've been in Chile for so long! I went with two Danish girls and a French girl from my hostel who I had met over breakfast. They are all really lovely. The two Danish girls are quite young as they're doing a gap year, blonde and very chatty and friendly. They're also super stylish and put me to shame.
I had to dash off early to try and sort out this stupid Chile tourist receipt thing.
Afterwards I headed off to the free walking tour (love me a free tour, it's like being spoon fed information when you can't be bothered to Google) and heard about 'coffee with legs'. Some business types set up some coffee cafes before the Pinochet dictatorship, but as (apparently) tea is more popular in Santiago they bombed. So the businessmen made them into cafes with strippers inside and they are now really popular. Go figure. He also told us himself about the dictatorship and showed us the presidential house which was blown up in the coup, where Allende either committed suicide or was shot by the military. We had to go round introducing ourselves at the start and I met a construction worker from Leeds called Taylor, who speaks at 100 miles an hour and loves football but from a political and social POV. Interesting slant! He told me about Argentina winning the world cup possibly in exchange for freeing Peruvian prisoners, and about how political prisoners were driven around the football stadiums to taunt them that nobody cared about them while the football was on. Afterwards we went for 'one drink' with two others, English Eve and Canadian Matt, friends from work in London, at a fancy wine tasting bar. One drink at 6pm evolved into a tasting, three bottles of wine, Pad Thai, a change of bar and two pisco sours, missing the hostel BBQ, and falling out of a taxi at 2am with the promise to meet up again in England.
We were also told more about the importance of the stray dogs in Santiago. Apparently it was all the rage to have dogs a while ago so everyone bought some but they didn't have them spayed and let them roam wild and free so they all obviously had baby dogs. The pups are lovely because theyre not your usual mongrels, instead they are nice glossy crossbreed types. They're further made glamorous by the fact that locals all feed the stray dogs that hang around their neighbourhoods and take almost joint ownership of them. The government tried a programme where they went round picking up the strays in vans, but the locals hated this and ended up going to pick up the dogs, pretending they were the owners, and then setting them free again. Now the government realises their plan was futile and have built little kennels around the city for the dogs to sleep in at night.
The next day I went to H&M (cultural) to buy some short shorts as all my dresses have shrunk to inappropriate levels from using various launderettes, then met with Eve and Matt again for a walk up Cerro San Cristobal. Eve was looking lovely in flip flops and a long dress but this did mean Matt had to carry her over-the-threshold stylee over some mud. Was definitely concerned for a dramatic fall as it was pretty slippery. Luckily I had completely OTT footwear on in the form of my hiking boots (for a mostly paved track!). It was hot and sunny and we got to the top fairly quickly where there is a virgin Mary statue thing waving its arms about. Eve had a stone massage thing and the man talked about aligning her chakras. She asked why she kept jumping when he pushed the stone into one particular part of her back and he said it was because all the anxiety was jumping out of that particular part of her back. LOL. Wtf is a chakra anyway. The best bit was when he woke her up by banging a metal bowl above her head, much to the amusement of Matt and I who were watching creepily from a few feet away.
The walk back was a lot longer and involved a lot more complaining and a cafe pit stop for survival purposes.
I had an early night, ate Oreo Milka and watched Ratatouille. Unfortunately as I started trying to sleep the Argentinian woman in my room started having a rant about her card being declined which then developed into this full blown shouting rage about the quality of the hostel etc, directed at me although I think not about me. It was so bewildering. I actually ended up putting my headphones in but she was still going. I think if you have such huge issues about people waking you up by moving around in the morning then you should probably fork out the extra cash and upgrade from the dorm!
Off to Colombia.Read more