Santiago

2011/01/09
We arrived a few hours late and without any sign of our luggage. Our hostel seemed adequate and friendly. We enjoyed meeting other guests and especially enjoyed chatting to Jordi, a Canadian staying in Santiago to work on his Spanish. Working at the hostel was probably giving him more practice in English, however. The hostel has a presence on Thorntree, which probably explains its flow of English speakers.

We had both been sick on the flight, possibly a mild version of what our daughter had a week before, and I even made use of the bag in the seat pocket in front of me. We later realized that as we stumbled off the plane we’d left behind a plastic bag containing toothbrushes. Not a great loss, we thought.

2011/01/10
We set out to walk the city and do errands: toothbrushes, SIM card etc. That afternoon our luggage arrived by minivan, and we successfully assembled the bikes in the tiny courtyard inhabited by Lucy the guinea pig, and used in evenings by smoking hostel guests. This smoking arrangement allowed smoke to waft straight into our room through its only window, and assured that we listened closely to clinking glasses and loud voices till well past the blatantly ignored 1:00 a.m. curfew.

We went out for a pizza supper in nearby Barrio Brasil, returning to find the hostel owner/manager had disposed or our bike boxes . It would have been nice to have been asked first, in case there had still been useful things inside. Space was at a premium, so we could understand his need to get them out quickly.

That night, as we lay in our smoky noisy room unable to sleep, I suddenly realized that there had been more than toothbrushes left on the plane. We were also missing a book and our second camera. We got little sleep.


2011/01/11

Special bikes for Margo? (In Spanish Marga is short for Margarita)

We went for  bike ride to an area with a concentration of bikes shops, so as to reassure Chris, tense and even more of a worrier than usual due to lack of sleep, that obtaining boxes for our return flight would be easy. Not only were we reassured there would be no problem, but we also met a helpful bike aficionado and mechanic, proud to inform us he was full-blooded Mapuche Indian, and pleased to advise us on our proposed route in Chile. We had a map of Santiago’s bike lanes, and you can cycle the central pathways of some avenidas, dodging strollers and using ramps to negotiate stairways. Kind of fun!

Back at the hostel, and after various fruitless attempts to retrieve the camera, we resigned ourselves to the loss. We walked to nearby Museo de La Memoria (Museum of Memory and Human Rights), which documents Chile’s 1973 coup, focusing on “truth and reconciliation”  in its aftermath. The museum is less than a year old.

Returning to the hostel, and looking forward, to an early night before cycling out of the city early to avoid heat, we were greeted with the news that tonight was to be a jolly party of amplified jamming and consumption of wine-infused melons. This was above and beyond the scheduled party nights as touted on its web page, and which we’d carefully managed to avoid. We asked if we could move ourselves to one of the hostel’s apartments a block or so away. The manager suggested unpleasantly that we “go to a hotel,” and although his intent was to be rude, we heartily agreed. When pressed by Chris — he gave us a refund. We moved to a hotel across the street where a larger, smoke-free,  and much quieter room cost less than our previous digs, where our bikes were welcome in garage, and where a kind housekeeping senora was prepared to store our duffel bags in an armorio.

We ate a fine seafood meal close by, and went to bed reveling in the silence, and the smoke-free air. An experienced long distance cyclist friend (thanks Gregg) once said something about “quality rest” being necessary for recuperation when travelling by bike. We realize that it’s also important during the preparation phase, too, at least at our age. We’ve stayed at a number of hostels where the aforesaid “quality rest” was possible, but it should have been clear from  this hostel’s web page that this one is not in that category, and is not suitable for touring cyclists. The problem is that we didn’t look closely enough at the web page. Silly us.

M

3 responses to “Santiago

  1. Karen and I have established a fool proof protocal for picking hostels. Look at all the photos. If there are any photos of kids in party mode, look someplace else. Don Santiago's page is a dead give away, as you probably now know.

    Keep blogging.

    Buen viaje.

    john

  2. Nice to read you arrived safe and only with minor complication(s). Ingrid and I wish you the best – have a wonderful trip =)

    Cheers,
    Kris

  3. I now know where my boss in Germany came up with the name Marga for me way back in 1969! Love my bikes .
    Marg

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