Final days in Santiago

Trip Start Dec 06, 2005
Trip End Jun 17, 2006

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Picked up my mate Al from the airport on the 27th, the lucky bugger got upgraded to business class all the way from Sydney. Wearing an very aussie Akubra, i couldn't miss him! The airport is full of all these cab drivers trying to spot the foreigners to try and get them to pay 5x as much as a bus/metro combo to get into the city, asking 'wanna cab mang?'. So i showed Al around the Providencia area, we cooked a great bbq and planned for the next day. He brought me a miniature "talking boony" which will be good for some funny photos.

Decided to try and go rafting on the Maipo river (around an hour out of santiago). Meant to be great level 4 rapids, on a "slightly murkier river" than those in the south. Apparently the river had too much water for the next 3 weeks so there was no rafting. Logically, it could be becuase Andes snow is melting as summer hits, dramatically increasing the water flow. Just as likely, the tour operators could just all be on holiday. But this didn't deter us from going to check out the area, we took a very roundabout route of metro and buses to get to the river canyon (Cajon del Maipo), which is a popular weekend destination for residents of santiago. And it will probably never turn into a popular tourist place for a few reasons. (1) the 'tourist office' was a run down shanty, appearing very un-hospitable. (2) the river is exceptionally muddy, and pretty unsuitable for even a brief dip. (3) the canyon scenery is kinda nice, but nothing special.

Anyway we found a large park-camping-picnic-walking complex thing on the side of the road and it was quite nice, they had a great swimming pool to compensate for the lack of swimming in the river, a moderate number of people there but i think peak season starts in late Jan so it was quiet which suited us. walked around, ate, swam and sunbaked, took in the clean mountain air which is quite a contrast to the smog of Santiago, and headed back to home base.

That night I had my second live music experience in Chile, and it was a great one. Took a dodgy cab out to a suburb called Ņuņoa with Neil and Annette, there was a band playing at a bar called La Batuta. When we got there there were 4 people in the place, but we just had to wait a few minutes before the crowds started to come in. The band (I've forgotten their name) called their style "funk hop", but it was more like a cross between funk and pop. Hugely fun, the place was packed when the band got on stage. Vox/bass, drums/vox, guitar, crazy keyboardist, and a revolving horn section of three tenor saxophones and a trumpeter.

Next day I had a fun morning of bureaucracy with the Brazilian consulate and bank cheques, etc. Have now said goodbye to my passport for a week to get a brazil visa. Hopefully I will get it back before my flight/bus trip to peru... Anyway a few hours of being pissed off with unfriendly, unhelpful bureaucrats, I showed Al around santiago - plaza de armas, presidential palace (la moneda), cerro santa lucia,... Then met up with Neil and Annette and we went up to the metropolitan gardens with giant virgin statue. Time to head to Valparaiso for a couple of days before big new years party.
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