Twisting and turning, in a space that's too small

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December 24th 2008
Published: September 30th 2017
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Trying something a little different this time - unable to find a really good backpacker's South American guidebook, I decided to try a Moon travel guide. The maps suck, but the information appears to be good, if a little poorly organized. As for the book of poetry, reading material is a requirement for the long bus rides. I'm not a poetry buff, but during the planning phase of this trip I found out that Pablo Neruda is Chile's most famous poet, and one held in high esteem throughout the world. I figured it'll be nice to read some of his works since many popular tourist sites in Chile are either museums dedicated to him, or former residences of his. Plus, the kicker was when a reference was made to his work on an episode of "How I Met Your Mother". If the show that somehow managed to make Neil Patrick Harris cool again mentioned Pablo Neruda's works, they must be worth checking out!
Geo: 51.0451, -114.063

"I've been twisting and turning, in a space that's too small ... " - lyrics from a James Morrison song, that perfectly and succinctly capture that feeling that all travelers have. While the song is about a breakup and not travel, there are definitely elements within it that any true hard-core backpacker (or crackpacker, as I like to call us) can relate to, and empathize with. I truly believe that almost all of us do it not just to see the world or experience a new culture; we do it to escape the mundane, or to seek that certain something which we cannot describe or understand. It's that certain something we lack and hope that when found, will fill that void that lurks within.

No matter how often you travel, once you return, that claustrophobic feeling sets back in. It's what drives us to do what we do - when that feeling starts, it can't be stopped. The travel bug is a disease with no cure, but one whose symptoms can be curbed with only one treatment - and that is to continue traveling. That wanderlust is always present, but further travel manages to push it to the background,

2000 Chilean Peso bill - interesting little window on the left-hand side. It might be some sort of anti-counterfitting device, but if that was so, how come 5000 Chilean Peso bills don't have it? I think it'd be a good idea if Euro bills circulated in Spain had a similar window that could be used to look at Spanish women. Spanish women are so hot that looking directly at them is like staring at a solar eclipse - dangerous to do, unless you want to burn out your corneas!
if only for a short period of time.

I always laugh at myself when I start another travel blog and read what I've written - without fail, my blogs start out with some introspective ramblings, or some justification for yet another return trip to Spain. What can I say? Whatever the reasons for doing it may be, travel stills makes me happy, so I will continue doing it until it no longer does.

I suppose it is disappointing that I won't be stopping in Spain on this trip. But believe me, I tried! Unfortunately, there was just no cost-effective way of flying to South America via Spain. Of course, it's never really been convenient to stop in mainland Spain the past four times I have been there, and it never stopped me before ...

Argentina and Uruguay are considered the most European of the South American countries, and let's not forget that the reason Spanish is spoken in South America is because it was brought there by Spanish colonies. Hopefully, this means that the women will also have that certain je ne sais quoi that the Spanish senoritas have! And failing that, Argentina and Uruguay supposedly get quite a few Spanish tourists.

Despite having a flight schedule to depart a few hours before hours, Monica was still sitting at the terminal because her flight via New York was delayed. We all wondered if she would make it to Santiago, with all the weather problems on the east coast.
What better way is there for me to practice my Spanish, and hear some more of that ultra-sexy, ultras-smooth, ultra-suave, makes-you-weak-in-the-knees-and-makes-you-melt-like-butter-in-the-hot-Spanish-summer-sun version of the language found only in Spain, that I have come to adore and love? It's actually quite the coincidence that this trip involves countries that are fairly heavily-touristed by Spaniards. Really ... it was a COMPLETE coincidence ... yes ... how fortuitous ...

Hopefully this tour turns out to be as great as we've heard - I'm not big on organized tour groups, but one of Ben's co-workers raved about the culinary wonders found on this particular GAP Adventures tour. Visiting wineries, attending cooking classes ... this could be the first ever trip I've done where I don't lose any weight! Plus, it's only a 9 day tour, so there will be plenty of time for me to continue with my vagabonding, crackpacking travels. It took some convincing by Ben, but once he suggested something along the lines of "Argentinean women might be like Spanish women", I immediately signed up for the tour!

Anyway, back to the present - I needed to return the company vehicle to Driving Force, so Ben´s dad picked me up from there, and

It really wasn´t that busy at the airport, so we breezed right through to US customs. Too bad that this meant we couldn´t grab a bite at the food court, so we were stuck with Harvey´s burgers. I paid $12 for lunch - that´ll probably get us a substantial meal in Chile! Angus burger ... crappy bun that had a chemical taste ... yech ...
we all headed off to the airport. We arrived three hours early, just in case - with all the recent flight problems due to our crappy Canadian weather, we didn´t want anything wrecking our trip.

Too bad - waiting at the terminal, I didn´t see any women that looked like they spoke Spanish. Probably not a bad thing, since my horrid onion breath from the burger I had for lunch would´ve repulsed them like garlic scares off vampires. But truly ... if there were any female Spanish vampires, they could bite my neck any day!

An older Chilean guy named Omar started talking to us - guess he bought a house on the Chilean coast and is going there to take possession of it. Within minutes of meeting us, he offered to let us stay at his place. Deep down, I hoped that the Chilean women would be so kind to me ... My Spanish must really suck now - despite constant attempts, he´d never respond to me in Spanish. But that´s ok, because I didn´t learn to speak Spanish to converse with dudes, only women!

The plane to Dallas had a strange configuration - there was an exit going

OK - why do some Asian guys do things like this??? It´s no wonder why "Yellow Fever" is a phenomenon that affects only men, and not women. When you do things like wear stuffed animals on your head, wear pants that are three sizes too tight and hike them up to your chest, and generally talk and gesture in an over-the-top feminine way, women will think you´re a freak! Your own self-dignity aside, think about the rest of us Asian dudes that AREN´T like you - you´re giving all of us a bad reputation!
directly out of the back of the plane. Weird ... it was a relatively quick flight, and I was surprised that nobody clapped at the smooth landing. I´ve been on several flights where the pilot landed so hard that the top of your brain practically smacked the inside of your skull, and people would clap as if they just saw an Oscar-worthy movie. But give them a good landing and you don´t clap - what gives?

The Dallas airport was quite new and nice, with tons of restaurant options - too bad there weren´t any good fast food options, since we only had limited time. We settled on some restaurant called Cool River, or something like that, because they promised that we would get in and out in time to catch our flight. A strange place - it was a sit-down restaurant that used disposable cutlery. Even more bizarre, it had the shiny appearance of silverware, but was only cheap plastic. Given the recent stories I´ve read on the internet about American chain restaurants serving food with horrendous calorie and fat counts, I theorized that it was special cutlery, designed to release extra fat and cholesterol into the food.

Our flight

A tradition - I generally try and have some Asian-like food at the airport before departing for a trip, because I never find anything good while I´m traveling. Unable to do so today, at least I was able to have a coffee from Tim´s before leaving!
to Santiago was delayed about an hour, but it really didn´t matter to us - an hour wouldn´t make any difference since we were arriving mid-morning and weren´t sure if we could even check in that early at the hotel. We finally boarded and I noticed that American Airlines also produced a Spanish/Portuguese-language magazine for its passengers. On the front page was a picture of one of Antonio Gaudi´s buildings from Barcelona, and inside was a story extolling the virtues of Barcelona, and also a story of a small Spanish town on the famous St. James trail. I´m taking these as signs that I need to return to Spain next summer!

It was good that we had a crappy meal before boarding, because we were later served an even crappier meal on the plane. Crappy lasagna, crappy salad with dried-up parmesan cheese (how long did they keep this stuff???), and the requisite bun you find with airplane meals, that would better be used as a dangerous projectile than anything you would actually willingly eat. The prepackaged oatmeal cookie was the only thing that was decent.

The on-board movie was ¨"Journey to the Center of the Earth", which for a kids movie,

Now they have defibrillators at the airport, in case of heart attacks. I believe the Spanish government has installed them all around Spanish towns, in order to save male tourists whose hearts have stopped when seeing the multitudes of Spanish hotties walking around. Personally speaking, these defibrillators have saved my life in Spain approximately 5000 times.
was surprisingly OK. Or maybe it only seemed that way because I was so sleep-deprived - though I tried, I couldn´t sleep at ALL on the flight. The flight time from Dallas to Santiago was almost as much as the flight time from Calgary to London - crazy! I couldn´t wait to get off the plane and stretch my legs ...

Additional photos below
Photos: 14, Displayed: 14



Dallas airport - Spanish is commonly spoken in Texas, so this convenience store also advertises sandwiches with the Spanish word "Bocadillo". Too bad this wasn´t Spain, or this convenience store would´ve staffed with Spanish hotties. I´m not even going to Spain, yet I keep referring to Spanish women. Why is that? Oh, that´s right ... I don´t think of anything BUT Spanish women!

An advertisement for Bennigan´s - I was going to make a joke about Ben here, but I´ll leave it alone, as it´s far too easy!

What exactly are people doing in the bathroom that makes it a "Severe Weather Area"??? Perhaps some Pepto Bismol or Immodium would help with that? In all seriousness, Ben suggested that it was a place that people were supposed to safely gather in the event of extreme weather. While this explanation definitely seems plausible, I prefer my explanation of Texans eating too much BBQ and beans, and passing enough gas to create a tornado.

Dinner at the Dallas airport - my chicken panini was nothing more than a glorified grilled cheese. The panini was sliced and inverted, probably so that they could soak more gobs of butter into the sandwich. Grilled ... greasy ... they actually used real chicken breast that was sliced deli style, but it was a bit dry, despite all the grease from the bacon and cheese. I guess they ran out of the sundried-tomato panini described in the menu, because it was only a plain bun. The side of coleslaw was massive, but overpowered with excessive amounts of mustard.

Ben cutting his dinner with some of that fake, yet somewhat realistic-looking silverware. It must´ve been tough work - check out that HUGE sweat stain on the left side!

In the Dallas terminal - looks kind of like Superman´s fortress of solitude. See, Ben´s explanation about the "Severe Weather Area" is bogus - if there really was a tornado, Superman would save everybody!

This was hilarious - the chocolate shop had closed, and they brought this giant teddy bear back inside. It looks so sad, staring at the chocolates, but unable to eat them ...

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