Trip Start Dec 03, 2008
Trip End Oct 14, 2009

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Flag of Chile  ,
Monday, December 22, 2008

Well we are now almost done with our 24 hour bus ride from Iquique to Santiago. I really never want to ride on a bus again. Luckily we're staying with some friends of friends so we know we shouldn't get any bad surprises with our accommodations tonight and tomorrow.

We have to admit that we were a little lazy those few days on the beach so we shouldn't have been surprised when we struggled to find tickets to Santiago in time for Christmas. Santiago was were we had planned to spend Christmas. So after a long walk into town and talking to a few different bus companies, we found the only seats available were luxury, premium seats that completely fold out into beds and were in a sectioned off area of the bus with only 4 other people. At first, we weren't sure if we wanted to spend the money, but now, 23 hours into the ride we're sooo happy we did. It was only roughly $1 more an hour to get these seats. I can't say the food is any better but we are more comfortable. I must say, Chileans like their peaches. For breakfast, they gave us peach juice and peach fruit cups (also fruit cups for dinner last night and lunch today). I don't want any more peaches.
We got to the bus station and meant one of the two guys we were staying with, Marcello. We did the best we could - he doesn't speak much English and we don't speak much Spanish. When we got to their place (a really nice Bed & Breakfast) we had wine - my first of the trip - and it was wonderful!!! He made a great meal for us and we hung out on their patio drinking and eating and not understanding one word each other was saying. Walter (English speaking) came home after awhile and told us all about their place. They had JUST moved in and Brian and I were their 3rd, yes 3rd, guests!!! They gave us a great room and they even gave us hand towels (first yet in South America). Turns out Marcello is an artist and makes jewelry!!! It was so fun to compare our stuff and see what he makes.

We really only had one day in Santiago to explore - which wasn't enough at all. So after breakfast we headed out for the day. Too bad it was about 95 degrees that day. At one point I didn't think I'd survive. :) We first hiked up this old fortress in the middle of the city. It was a lookout point. We could see everything. Santiago is completely surrounded by mountains but we couldn't see them all that well because there was quite a bit of smog that day. But we could tell they were there. From there we headed to a neighborhood called Bellavista. It's filled with shops and restaurants and was so fun. We ate at the little place and had a few drinks. After that we walked to the fish market. I think I'm glad I saw it. It's housed in this super awesome old building. As soon as we walked in I had to stop for a few minutes to get used to the smell. You know, 95 degree weather and fish don't mix. It was pretty interesting. The fish didn't bother us (besides being smelly) but when we walked by one booth that had one pig gutted and hanging and 3 more piled up on a counter behind it...I was a little grossed out. Then I saw it...the intestines!!! NO!!!!! There was a pile of intestines, BRAIN, and some other weird white parts that did me in. I had to take and picture and walk away - quickly. What was the craziness is there were 20 some restaurants in the building. I'm positive the seafood was wonderful...but NO way could we stand to eat in there with the smell. We just couldn't understand how people were doing it.

After this we walked back to the B&B. On the way we stopped at the cathedral. It was amazing. We walked back on this street where no cars were allowed and it was just shop and shop. There were so many people, we just couldn't believe it! Last minute Christmas shopping at it's best. That night we told Walter and Marcello we were going for some burgers...too embarrassed to tell them we meant MCDONALD'S!!! And it was awesome! We also did our part for the community and feed a stray dog fresh fries in the park.

One interesting thing - they REALLY REALLY like mayo here!  In every market there is a good half aisle just for mayo!  Gross.  I saw a guy put a few packets of warm mayo on his McDonald's burger yesterday.  Didn't he see "Supersize Me"?  Also, we haven't had a lick of milk since we've arrived.  Maybe it's because the milk is in the cereal aisle on the shelf, warm as the air.  I don't understand.

So yesterday (Christmas Eve), we left Walter's early afternoon after going to the store and piling up on booze. We took the subway to the Marriott!!! Yes, maybe it's cheating but's soooooo wonderful!!! Susan and Mike, thank you! We spent Christmas Eve and now (Christmas night) in the Marriott. We've been looking forward to this for some time. As soon as we got here we went to the pool and have been wearing bathrobes ever since! It's not all fun and games though. We are really classy - we did two "loads" of wash in the bath tub!!! We hung them all over our room. But it was totally worth it has the Marriott charges $6 to wash a pair of underwear!!! What??? No thanks, we'll use the bathroom. It was embarrassing when a worker had to come into our room to fix the fridge. 

We've been finding other ways to save as well. The connecting room happens to be a suite and the connecting door happens to be unlocked and it so happens that no one is staying in there. So, we've taken a few toiletries. But we're not all bad - we didn't take anything from their mini bar. So, yes, we are having a wonderful Christmas here, just the two of us. But just so you know...we really miss everyone! Last night was hard for me as I couldn't stop thinking about baking cookies with Mom and wishing I could go to church and see family. Hope everyone had a great Christmas!!!

Tomorrow we are off to Argentina. I am really excited about. We're going to a town called Mendoza, which is basically the Napa Valley of Argentina. I mean, the place we're staying as wine included in the cost! Perfecto!
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