Trip Start May 10, 2009
48Trip End Nov 02, 2009
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Now, a common theme during our trip seems to be that the more expensive hostels tend to be the worst. Here, the trend has continued. Its nowhere near the diabolical excuse for lodging we had in Brasilia though (the one shared with the owners car and the upstairs toilet drain running through the room). This place is habitable at least but its freezing (no heating) and the showers are more than a little dodgy. I mean, for US$30 per night you expect some hot water (not a lukewarm trickle) and for the pubes of 1000 previous backpackers to be removed from the walls and the basins... Oh well, the joys of big cities I guess - more expensive and you get less...
So back to the story - Santiago, capital of Chile! Our main aim here was to do some sightseeing and give ourselves a couple of days to eek out a Bolivian visa before our flight to Easter Island on Wednesday.
We spent the Sunday wandering the city, walking around the main sights and museums and discovered a really peaceful and rather attractive town. There are dogs everywhere as well which is something we've been noticing a lot of lately. They appear friendly and healthy enough and even wait at the pedestrian crossings before crossing the roads! The city is also overrun by shopping malls - there seems to be one on every block.
A very interesting stop was the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino which contains ancient artefacts from the pre-colombian era as well as mummies of children that predate the Egyptian mummies by about 2500 years!
We took the furnicular rail up to the impressive Virgin Mary statue (Santiago's answer to the Christ Redeemer statue in Rio) and had some great views over the city. Although smoggy, it was cool to see the city from above with its snow-capped mountain backdrop. Just a pity that some bright spark urban planner decided that was a great spot to erect massive cellphone masts that spoil the sight a bit.
Next mission was to arrange our Bolivian visas. So, we packed a picnic lunch, books to read, ipods etc and made our way to the consulate during Monday morning rush hour (had to wait for 5 trains before we could get on the subway) expecting the usual hassles of visa acquisition for South African passport holders. But, alas - we did no reading and had no lunch... We arrived, were ushered immediately into the Consul Generals office, filled in the form, handed over our passports and mugshots and walked away 20 minutes later with 2 Bolivian visas! Happy days!
That immense stroke of luck meant we had time to kill so we did the necessary admin of arranging bus tickets and tours etc for the next few weeks. Also, laundry was now a requirement as I had got to the stage of having to work out which pair of jocks has had its 2 uses (inside and out) and if it was ethical to wear them a third time... A hasty trip to the laundromat was arranged. Wearing my scraggy hair, longish beard, unlaced boots with no socks, going commando in my filthy tousers and wearing a raincoat was not a pretty sight. I was expecting some locals to start giving me change. Even Ang sat a few seats away as we waited!
So, we're all set for the next stop - something we saved up for specifically and have been amping for since the trip was decided: Easter Island!
Where I stayed