Un burrito con salsa de fish pudding por favor.

Trip Start Oct 06, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Chile  ,
Sunday, May 1, 2005

I planned on heading a few hours further north, to adventure travel destination Pucon. But then I read the following in my guidebook, "Valdivia just may be Chile's most attractive and enjoyable city." It's Saturday after all, so I decide to give it a go. While walking around looking for a hostel, I wonder if I got off the bus in the wrong city, as it looks a bit grey and shut down. At my first planned hostel, the door is locked and nobody answers the doorbell. At the address of my second hostel, there's an old empty brick building. At the third hostel the gate is locked and there's no bell. Well this looks pretty promising! I manage to find a fourth hostel in an old rambling building that's actually open. When I sign in, I notice that the date of the last guest who stayed here is more than three weeks ago (well it didn't list the year, so I guess it could have been in 2004, or sometime during the Eighties for that matter). At least there's no risk that the guy in the room next to you have used up all the hot water. Well I haven't seen much of the city yet, so I'll give it a few more hours before I send a hate mail to the guidebook author.

It continues in a similar fashion. While walking around the city to take in the different "sights" it starts to rain. I return to the hostel and find the front door locked (apparently the family running the place had gone shopping and to visit friends). So I go to the Mexican restaurant next door to eat and wait. And boy do I have to wait, for the hostel owners, the food, the beer and "la cuenta". Turns out that the woman managing the restaurant, is also the DJ, barman, drink mixer, waitress, chef, grocery runner, floor sweeper, bouncer, toilet key keeper and dishwasher boy. She is also more Northern European looking than Mexican, so there's no wonder I guess when the sauce accompanying my burrito gives me flashbacks to my mother's weekly fish pudding dinners back when I was ten. It's Saturday night, so I am not sure how she dares to operate a restaurant on her own in a relatively busy part of town. Maybe the chef was just hungover and called in sick. If not, I don't give her many days before she has to relocate to Santiago where nobody knows her culinary skills, yet.

"You don't have any change you say? Well that's a surprise for Latin America."

Guess you can add money changer to her CV.

"Hasta luego!"

"Eh, I don't think so."

As I said it's Saturday night, so lets go check out the nightlife. I may be in for a surprise..... Well, it turned out I wasn't. To be honest it wasn't that bad, but when the drink prices reminds me more about Europe than Latin America it's not nearly as much fun. I'll stop complaining now, ...soon.

In general I don't know what to say about Chile so far. I realize that it's not high season, but I find it a bit boring to be honest. At least the cities. Everything works here, and is on time. It's expensive, at least by Latin American standards (probably the most expensive country so far on this trip). I believe people here work a lot, most dress conservatively and seem a bit difficult to get in contact with. So there's little of the culture, color and chaos you find in other Latin countries like Guatemala, Brazil, Bolivia and Peru. It's also very safe, you hardly see any poverty and there's little or no hassle (all this is positive). It's extremely easy to travel in, and cars even stop for pedestrians. So if you have never been to Latin America, and want an easy country to start with, then Chile may be just it. But then again it may be too similar to back home. In fact, in many ways it reminds me a bit about my own country Norway. Including the boring part.

I know there's lots of people out there who love Chile, so don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful country with some amazing scenery (Torres del Paine is one of the highlights of my trip so far). I also realize that I have only been here for about ten days so far, and just seen a tiny part of the country. So I am not sure if it is fair to write this. After all I hardly know the country. However, these are the thoughts I have made me so far. It may all change when I get further north to places like Pucon, Santiago and Atacama.
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