After a couple of sprints to the boarding gate, a threat of being disembarked, 17 hours of flying and 6 hours of waiting at airports, we finally made it to Santiago.
I have never felt as nervous coming to a new country before – a welcomed feeling really – and I suspect that it was mostly because I had no idea what to expect. It wasn’t the familiar Asia that I am accustomed to or an English speaking country that I would have no problem navigating. With our broken Spanish and pocket phrase book in hand, we navigated the public transport system to the hostel and were upgraded to a private with room with private bathroom due to some mixups. No complaints.
We had one full day in Santiago (which was more than enough) so ate a very full breakfast so that we could skip lunch (and save some pesos) and spent the second half of the day going on a walking tour with Tour 4 Tips. The tour introduced us to Santiago’s cultural, historical and political attractions and finished off at the base of Cerro San Cristóbal. We were told that the hike up would take approximately 45 minutes and after a 3.5 hour walk around the city, even the budget conscious in me wasn’t willing to hike to save the 1,500CLP (3AUD) on a funicular ride to the top. It was definitely worth it (good call, Daniel).
After spending 2 hours taking in the views, it was 8.30pm, the sun had said goodbye and we were hungry but the funicular was shut for the day so we had no option but to hike down. We asked a man ‘dónde está la salida?‘ (where is the exit? – and perhaps the wrong question) and he pointed us in the North-East direction. We said we were walking and he shook his head and told us it would take 30 minutes. Not a problem…except that even with running for 25 minutes, we made it to the bottom of the hill at 9.45 pm and way too far east! Qué?! We had been directed on the car / bike path (and I
suspect guarantee that there is a separate walking path that leads directly to the base of the hill where the funicular is). As these stories go, there is always a silver lining and ours was befriending a Brazilian couple at this point who were also headed back to the same place. We asked a cyclist for directions back to Bellavista and he told us it was about 1km away (wrong, we were actually about 3kms away) and said that we were going through a sketchy part of town so probably shouldn’t walk. I was so ready to put by boxing training into good use (or rather, paying for a taxi was not an option) so we opted to walk. We finally made it to Bellavista at 10.45 pm and at this point, I remembered that I could have checked my iPhone’s maps to find a path down – what can you do but laugh. We enjoyed a carb filled Chilean meal together – exactly 13 hours after Daniel and I had our last meal – and said adios to our new friends and to our first city on this whirlwind adventure. Daniel has shin splints and other pain from all the walking and I reassure him that we only have another 364 days of this.
© Daniel & Amanda Tran (2016)