Happy new year to anyone coming across this blog. We spent the new year down at the coast, where they expected more than 1 million visitors from Santiago alone.
During the week I said something like "I don't really want to go down to the coast, it will be too crowded" blah blah blah. However, since Francisca's brother lives in Con Con, we thought we should go down and visit and take in the festivities, and maybe even escape the Santiago heat for a while. It has been super hot here- a real dry, energy sapping heat.
So it came to Friday and we took the metro to Pajaritos. That's pretty well to the complete other end of the line- I counted it today, 21 stops. It takes quite a long time, it's probably over an hour when you consider the walk to the metro as well. So with that stage of the adventure complete, we arrived at the bus station. What is normally a pretty quiet place, was swarming with people, lots of people simply waiting.
We had booked the 12:50 bus a couple of days before, and of course- this is just one example of what you could call the "culture of inefficiency" within Chile. We looked up the prices of the bus, and there were some seats still left, but the Dear Wife said the bus companies would be untrustworthy, it wasn't like the Murrays or Greyhound where you can just rock up with your booking number, or even just your name and be on your way.
So we went to the office, which was a while away. Seems a few other people had the same idea, so it was a bit of a wait. Including the journey time there and waiting in line, it was almost an hour of the day, for something that could be booked online within seconds. Alongside the inefficiency is also a problem of trust which runs throughout Chile.
So we had our tickets, though there were no surprises to find the 12:30 bus leaving at our estimated departure time of 12:50. It wasn't too long until our bus came along. I got talking to a guy sitting on the seat just over from me. He was from Estonia, a part of the Start Up Chile program.
The basic concept of that is they give lots of money to people with cool ideas. More on that in another post. The reason I got talking to this guy was because I recognised his shithouse Spanish, which reminded me a lot of my own.
So we got talking a bit, I asked him how he felt about this Israeli bloke that promised to start some kind of fund, but has just bailed for Singapore 6 months after arriving, promising to find the "Zamarano of tech". He seemed surprised I knew about that at all- though I did actually write an article about it just a few days ago.
So to end that story, I too would like lots of money from the government of Chile. He told me he was headed for Torres del Paine on New Years Day and I don't think he was too pleased with the news I gave him that there were massive wildfires and the National Park was closed- I told him it probably couldn't be closed for too long, while little did I know, the park will be closed for the whole month.
So we arrived in Viña, and there was the prospect of going out somewhere, but I didn't really think that was such a great idea, with the "big night" ahead. So we stayed and played with our nephews, Tomás y Diegito. It's a lot of fun to play with them, and you know, we have pretty similar levels of Spanish- they are both under 5, so maybe it's time for me to step up my game!
I actually had a snooze as soon as I arrived. We had been celebrating our friend Sofia's departure to Australia with her and her family the night before, and then I only got a short amount of sleep, so it was good to take a rest. Of course that messed up my sleep for the night, but we ended up getting a sleep in, then preparing for the night ahead.
Although we really had no plan, I don't think we could have asked for a better start. We went over to Miluco, a cousin of Francisca. You can see the view from his balcony in the second photo at the top. He referred to it as "a fucking million dollar view" and I told him he had underestimated, and it was a billion dollar view.
There we drank some pisco sour and colo de mono (monkey's tail, a traditional festive season drink from the north). I read that Alexis Sánchez was drinking that while playing Santa at Christmas time, so maybe I will be good at sports/rich after drinking that???? Let's see...
We had arranged to meet with Cecilia, who is a friend of Francisca's that she met in Canberra. Because it is Chile, we turned up at our scheduled time some hours late. We had a lunch at the Chacarerro restaurant, which we had actually come to during our first week in Chile. I ate this sandwich and it was too big, even for me. I spent most of the rest of the day feeling sorry for myself.
We met with a couple of Aussies, they were friends of Cecilia. They took the sensible option of sharing the sandwich that had destroyed me between two, and then we went and got some desserts at a cafe by the beach.
This was followed by a wander over to some more friends in Viña, to spend the afternoon with a few beers, and for me, a big hamburger in my guts. An afternoon nap probably would have done me good, or maybe ordering a smaller meal in the first place.
With no afternoon nap, we made our way towards the centre of the action, Valparaiso. The micro buses sure were packed. The first one we didn't bother to get on, as it left with the doors still open. The next one our little trio pushed our way on to find ourselves inside the bus, and this one even had the doors close.
It was a balancing act just to stand up really, with people trying to get further into the bus, and other people trying to get out. It was definitely a relief to get outside of the bus, that's for sure. We got out in the flat area of the plan, and while there were a fair few people around, it wasn't as CRAZY as I was expecting.
We wandered around a while and found a place to sit and rest up in the hills. It didn't really have a great overview, but more importantly it had a nice place to sit. So we rested there for quite a while and joined some other friends at a Chinese restaurant later on. Of course I didn't need to eat at all, however I hadn't eaten any Chinese food in quite some time, so why not I thought. Maybe that was another decision to regret, I really didn't need that food.
We had our meal and we wandered our way down to near the Puerto. Where we were there were quite a few people, but the problem was you could only see the pontoons of fireworks in the immediate vicinity. I would have liked to have a view overlooking the bay, and my original suggestion was at the dunes in Con Con.
It was probably a mix of a lot of things, but I found myself in a terribly grumpy mood, that I just couldn't shake. It is of course meant to be a night to forget everything and have a good time, but I guess the fact I'm not a big fan of fireworks to begin with didn't help that out either.
Our way home was a long one, it took us over 2 hours to get back to Con Con, including a change of bus, and the second one had the awful smell of urine to accompany us back home.
The next day was a day to take it easy. Apparently the kids woke up at 8am, but it was some hours later until I arose. We played a bit with them and once the niños were in bed for their afternoon nap, the adults soon followed.
Today we got on the bus back to Santiago. This morning I was wearing a jumper down in Con Con, but there were no surprises to be greeted with some hot weather arriving back in the capital.