"Is this where chilli con carne is made??"
Trip Start Jan 16, 2012
26Trip End Aug 24, 2012
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We landed in Santiago at 11 a.m local time, which was pretty strange considering we took off from Auckland at 4p.m that same day and so got to relive Friday all over again. In the airport we tried to withdraw some money from three separate ATM machines getting an error message every time having then to use our credit card to take out money to get to the city which wasn't ideal. We got a bus into Santiago centre then following instructions from the people we were staying with, some more of Snellers family who had kindly offered to put us up, got another hour long bus to a place called Vina del Mar, where Claudia met us at the bus station. We immediately liked her, she is chilean but speaks incredible English with a fantastic scouse twang, and made us feel so welcome the entire time
The house where stayed was absolutely amazing, it was up in the hills with a brilliant view of the sea, big and spacious, but despite all this we were just so grateful to have a proper bed to sleep in and shower to use after two months straight living in a camper van. That evening Claudia cooked us an exceptional steak dinner with wine, which will be a recurring theme throughout the next few blogs, and we headed to bed at around nine ish as we had barely slept on the plane. Snellgrove suffered badly from jet lag, as he woke up at around two a.m not getting back to sleep until seven. "Queen Sleep", slept like a baby right though, despite sleeping a few hours on the plane and on the coach to Vina. We didn't surface on Saturday until two p.m, five minutes to the end of the FA cup final which Snellers had arranged to watch with Jonathan! Saturday was spent chilling out at the house, with beer and champagne on tap and another amazing meal cooked for us that night. Claudia's daughter Stephanie also came through from Santiago to spend the night, along with Claudia's sister and a few other friends of the family, and we sat drinking a Chilean drink called Pisco Sours and dancing / attempting to dance the salsa until the early hours
Steph lives in a nice little flat in the city centre, she had a spare room and bathroom for us and we made ourselves right at home. We arrived there about nine, which I thought was late and pretty much bedtime, but in south america nine is still classed as "afternoon" and very few restaurants will serve food before then. So we headed out to eat with Steph and her boyfriend Paul, who also spoke very good English due to his dad being American! Steph's accent was even stronger scouse than Jonathan, and we laughed at her over dinner as she spoke and acted in a way that was very similar to auntie Kim, who she loves to bits! Paul played rugby for Chile, so he and Snellers had stuff in common straight away, although i think most of the time he probably didn't understand a word we said as we spoke so fast! We still couldn't get our debit card to work in any cash machines, so planned to spend the following day sorting it out as knowing HSBC it would take a while and it did. We found a help number that would be open on a bank holiday and tried to call it from a phone box, failing miserably as we couldn't understand the Spanish instructions (it was around this time that we understood just how necessary it is to speak some Spanish in these countries, so got downloading various "learn Spanish" apps that night)
We left for the bus tour around lunchtime thinking that would give us more than enough time to see everything we were interested in, however this was before we met Ben, who we ended up chatting to about his home new Zealand for a long time at the top of the cable car trip to the city lookout and Jesus statue, so we actually only saw about five stops out of 13. This included the market which was so overcrowded and pretty smelly, and Snellers got told off by a large Chilean woman for rooting through the box of avocados instead of taking the tiny shrivelled one from the top of the pile. We also saw a couple of pretty grand buildings, some nice shopping streets and busy plazas. The amount of stares we were getting as we walked around was ridiculous, the more subtle gave a shifty sideways glance, some did a double take, I was constantly paranoid I had food on my face or something. Obviously something we would have to get used to in the next two months.
The mall where we ended the tour was amazing, big and modern, so when we got back to Steph's we decided take a taxi back there to get some dinner at an incredible place called Tony Romas. Next day we lazed around watching terrible American tv a bit too long and ended up missing our lunchtime bus to Mendoza. The next bus was ten p.m which meant we had eight hours to kill at the bus station and I had a very angry boyfriend to contend with (who was all too quick to blame me even though he was just as happy to watch one more episode of two and a half men) After 45 minutes we were already bored and so decided to give ourselves a bit of a challenge and figure out the subway system back to the amazing mall. Actually it was pretty simple, although we definitely got more than our fair share of strange looks, I guess most Travellers take the taxis as they are so cheap anyway. We got back to the bus station later that night and boarded the bus, and I could already tell it was not going to be the most comfy nights sleep. For a start we were right at the back of the bus, and opposite us was the tramp (this is not a lie, an actual tramp who stunk) we had been avoiding in the ticket queue who we affectionately named El Trampo. El Trampo didn't smell the best and Snellers was itching just sitting opposite him and his old orange blanket. As the bus pulled out of the bus station we decided to try and get some sleep so we could fully enjoy Mendoza the following day...