Heading North

Trip Start Oct 03, 2006
Trip End Oct 02, 2007

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Flag of Chile  ,
Monday, October 16, 2006

I had been advised by the locals in Valparaiso that the weather in the South this time of year is wet and miserable. Therefore I changed my planned route and decided to head North.

I am now writing to you from a town called La Serena (7 hours North from my previous stay in Valparaiso).  I arrived yesterday during the day and opted to find a recommended hostel within a stone throw away from the bus terminal. The hostel ´Maria Casa´ was a recommendation from the Lonely Planet. (A.K.A My Bible). The address stated number 18 and the street started in the 2000´s you can imagine my relief when the house was bizzarely placed between two neighboring houses in the 2000´s.

Maria Casa turned out to be fully booked, but I ended up striking it lucky as the son of Maria had another hospedaje that worked out cheaper and at present only myself and one other guy from the USA are staying there. We have a whole house and court yard to ourselves. With facilities to cook, watch TV or just relax.

I arrived in La Serena yesterday afternoon after a little adventure of my own. Originally I had booked the coach for the previous night, leaving the bus terminal in Valparaiso at 22.45pm. The lady at the kiosk had scribbled platform 9 onto my receipt. Getting to the station with plenty of time I waited and waited and waited. The time for my bus came and went, I even asked a guy from the same bus company if I was waiting in the right place, to be reassured I was. So in my best Spanish accent I asked if it was normal for coaches to be late, only to be told my coach had already gone! It turned out that I had missed my coach. What the lady had actually scribbled down on my ticket was that the coach could go from any platform 1 to 9!

A Chilean gentleman called Rodrigues took pity on me, with his limited English and my limited Spanish he was aware of the predicament I was in. By this time it was extremely late. He conversed with the bus operator and got my ticket exchanged for the next morning and also informed me that the clocks had gone forward one hour to ensure I wouldn´t end up missing yet another coach. He then made it his priority to get me home safely.

After flagging down a taxi I was all set to go until Rodrigues wanted the fare to be set for 1,000 pesos (a third of what I had paid when I was dropped off at the coach station). Offended by this the taxi driver locked his boot and sped off. In the end I was chauffeured in the cabin of a coach 9 blocks up the road to a safe and reliable taxi. I will never forget the kindness and safety this gentleman provided me and the extent he went out of his way to help a complete stranger. The feeling of incredible gratitude and the memory of being driven in a coach around the narrow streets of Valpo will stay with me forever. The extent that one has gone to to help me has opened my mind to the opportunity that perhaps one day I will be in a situation where I will be able to offer that hand of friendship in someone's hour of need.
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