A walk in the fart clouds

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January 4th 2009
Published: September 30th 2017
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At the guest house - I HATE shower stalls like this, with the slanted ceiling. Makes it very uncomfortable, and makes it difficult to shower without falling and breaking something!
Geo: -33.4691, -70.642

I was up early, so as to return to Santiago, but breakfast wasn't available until 9:30 - it looked good, so I wasn't about to miss out on that! Delicious, sweet strawberries on a fresh waffle, some plain crepes (not sure what they were supposed to be eaten with), bread, jam, tomato, good oranges, cheese, cereal, yogurt, and of course, crap Nescafe!

I originally wanted to get in and out of there quickly and head to the bus station, but there was a nice couple from Los Angeles (of Guatemalan and Mexican descent), and we were having a nice chat, so I stuck around a bit longer. They just came from Peru, and I actually saw them in the guest house yesterday, when I arrived in the morning. A young Brazilian couple later joined us, and the male half made an interesting comment - "For me, the Spanish language sounds like music!" Tell me about it, brother!

Back to the room to grab my bag, where I had a bit of a mishap - I pulled my bag off the top bunk and tried to swing it on my shoulder, all in one motion. I ended up banging my elbow

During terrible heat like today, I break out all the tricks to keep cool - hidding behind the tiny shadow of a lamp post, wearing my day pack with the straps just off the shoulders, wearing my day pack off to the side so that it doesn't touch my back, walking around with my fly half done, unbuttoning extra buttons on my shirt, and even pulling the pockets out of my shorts. The last one can actually serve as entertainment for someone as twisted as Mary: http://www.travelpod.com/travel-photo/pwong/euro-2007/1188353880/dsc08224.jpg/tpod.html http://www.travelpod.com/travel-photo/pwong/euro-2007/1188353880/img_3947.jpg/tpod.html
on the wooden frame, with all the weight of the backpack coming down on it (about 15 kg) - ouch!

I checked out and said goodbye to Gisela and Carlos - honestly, it's an older place and is perhaps a bit run down, but they are two of the nicest people you will ever meet. They get a lot of international students staying at their place, and you get the feeling that the long-term stays are almost viewed as part of the family. And though it's a business, they would probably do this for free, if they could afford to. But truly, Gisela and Carlos were what made the stay there enjoyable - it's rare to meet such truly kind people. Though Carlos is a bit dodgy - he did try to kidnap Ben, after all!

As I left, I received hugs from both, and Gisela told me "I hope you one day return." I'm sure it's something that a lot of people running a business like a guest house would say, but coming from her, there was no doubt in my mind that it was 100% genuine. If only Liszett would've done the same when I left the hotel in

With his big packpack, and long, dark pants, this guy must have been roasting!
Valpo ...

Off to the bus station - I should've planned this journey better! It ended up being a 30 minute walk, but would have only been a two to three stop ride on the metro, with maybe 5-10 minutes of walking. But it's alright - I need the exercise, especially after all those recent big meals.

The bus ride to Santiago ended up taking close to two hours, though I was told it should only be 90 minutes. On the trip, I glanced down at my forearms and marveled at how dark they had become. I have the worst farmer's tan right now - the disparity between my upper and lower arms is quite striking. But I suppose it's not really a farmer's tan - being Chinese, I should call it a rice-paddy tan!

I can't believe how strong the sun's rays are here - my skin looks as dark, old, and weathered as my leather sofa back home! I should add that I've had that sofa for 4 years, and I've never used conditioner on it once. If I went to a restaurant and received a steak that looked like me, I'd send it back - I'm beyond

Pio Nono, the main street in Bellavista - this is the west side of it. The guidebook says the west side is much more run down than the east side, but it's funny how pronounced the difference is. You'd expect it to gradually happen, but this side is all abandoned buildings and graffiti.
well-done, I'm beef jerky! Scary - so scary, in fact, that Ben has given me a new nickname of "Melanoma". Other than that, it was a typical bus day - in other words, I loved it! That feeling of wandering you have, as you aimlessly stare out the window at the passing world is priceless, in my opinion.

It was a hot day as I arrived in Santiago - I'm really glad that I got away from this city, because it's been 33-34 degrees for most of the days I've been away. I hopped onto the metro to get to the Hotel Alcala Rio, booked as part of the GAP Adventures tour we are starting today. Wow - a real hotel! But too bad, there do not appear to be any female employees like Macarena or Liszett 😞

I went up to my room and dropped off my bag - as part of being a single traveler, GAP pairs you up with another single of the same sex. It appears that my roommate hadn't checked in yet, so I held out hope that there was no other person staying with me, and I'd have the room all to myself. But before

This is the east side of it, just across the street from where I took the previous photo. This is Patio Bellavista, one of the nicest cafe/restaurant/shopping complexes in Bellavista.
that, I had hoped that GAP would make a mistake, and put a Spanish female in the same room as me. Dare to dream, dare to dream ...

I slathered on some deodorant (this was more for the benefit of the public, than my own ..) and was off to sightsee. Today, the metro was like an oven and when in motion, the airflow through the metro car didn't really cool things off, it made it feel more like a convection oven! I hopped off in Bellavista and made my way to La Chascona, another of Pablo Neruda's houses. I got a little turned around and asked an older local guy for directions and was told "It's a far walk from here!" I responded that it didn't matter, because I had lots of water! Plus, I started wearing suntan lotion, thus reducing the likelihood of getting slow-roasted by the sun.

It was now close to 5 PM, and I hadn't had a chance to eat lunch yet - with the sun beating down on me, I nearly passed out on my way to La Chascona. I probably would have, had it not been for that big breakfast this morning, and

La Chascona, another of Neruda's houses.
a granola bar I ate a few hours earlier. I found an empanada shop that had only cheese empanadas left - in this situation, I couldn't be picky, so I wolfed down two of them in record time. Record-breaking eating champ Takeru Kobayashi would've been proud of me!

At La Chascona - though there was a English-language tour starting a bit earlier, I opted to wait for a Spanish one, in the event that there might be some Spanish hotties on the tour. It turned out that there were no Spanish hotties, but it was worth a try!

It's funny here - I've had a few locals, thinking that I live in Chile or was a student studying here, comment that my Spanish isn't that good. But when they find out I'm a tourist from Canada, they say "Oh, well then you speak it quite well!" Double standards, I suppose ...

The tour began and luckily for me, the tour guide spoke very clearly and slowly, which is the opposite of most Chilean Spanish speakers. Neruda was fascinated by the ocean and as such, the design of the house was inspired by the structure of a boat. He was an eccentric

A neat monument outside of La Chascona, with each pillar displaying a verse from one of Neruda's poems, Pido Silencio (I request silence). The poem was pretty powerful, and actually gave me goosebumps. I will attempt to translate without butchering, but sorry, there are some parts that I just can't quite understand ...
man, and had the place built with secret passages. It was a bit of a time warp, as the place had a 1950s/60s feel to it.

It was interesting to note that Pablo Neruda named himself after a Czech poet, Jan Neruda - apparently, Pablo's father didn't approve of poetry writing, so adopting a pen name was a way of hiding his works from his father. The house itself is named La Chascona, after Matilde, his muse and wife. Apparently, chascona was a word that he used to describe Matilde's messy hair style. Inspired, I've decided to name my house "Burnt Chocolate", after my newly-acquired complexion.

La Chascona is located near Cerro San Cristobal, a beautiful park - but being hot and short for time, I decided to save it for another day. I wandered back down Pio Nono and stopped in Patio Bellavista. It's filled with bars, cafes, restaurants, and stores selling souvenirs and crafts. Though a little bit touristy, it's a nice, shaded area that would be perfect for whiling away the time, on a hot day such as this.

Back to the hotel, where the tour group had gathered in the lobby - apparently, I had missed

I request silence. Now leave me calm. Now they are accustomed without me. I am going to close the eyes. And I only want five things, five preferred roots. One is endless love.
a group meeting. I had expected to receive some documentation or a note in my room when I earlier checked in, but there was none, so I assumed nothing was planned for this evening. We all ended up going to dinner at "Como Agua Para Chocolate" (Like Water for Chocolate), a restaurant inspired by the novel of the same name.

I'm glad that we didn't go here on Christmas Day, because that was the original plan. I had canceled our reservation because I had read reviews indicating that it was pricey, touristy, and only so-so, but still wanted to go tonight because it was a good chance to get to know the others.

The taxi ride over was a rip-off, as usual, so things didn't start off that great. And while the restaurant was beautiful, the food was average, at best. The restaurant offers a nice ambiance, but terrible value. I did find it amusing that the female and male bathrooms were marked by roses, and dried/shriveled-up hot peppers, respectively - being male, I would've preferred the men's room to be labeled with fresh, vibrant hot peppers, but maybe that's just me!

Given that most of the other members of the

The second is to see the autumn. I cannot be without the leaves flying and falling to the Earth. The third is the solemn winter, the rain that loves, the caress of fire in the cold wildflower. In fourth place the summer, round as a watermelon.
tour had just arrived in Chile today, everybody decided to take a taxi, with the exception of myself and BH&M (the "M" no longer stands for Monica, it stands for Martin, our tour leader). We walked back and it was still surprisingly hot - unlike the chilly evenings I experienced in La Serena, and its environs.

Martin is from Buenos Aires, and we discussed Argentina - he mentioned that Cordoba is renowned for having the most beautiful women in all the country. I laughed because they say the same thing in Spain, which also has a city named Cordoba. Martin laughed how typical it was of guys - within 5 minutes of talking, the subject had already switched to women! But unfortunately for me, I have never been to either Cordoba, and definitely won't have the opportunity to visit the Argentinian version. Perhaps not this summer either, because if I do manage to go back to Spain, I won't be headed that far south.

The walk back ended up being close to an hour, and was a great chance to practice my Spanish. Martin taught us all some Spanish slang - as a tour leader, he encounters a

The fifth thing is your eyes. My Matilde, beloved, I cannot sleep, without your eyes, I cannot be, without you to watch me: I change the spring because you continue looking at me. Friends, that is how much I want. It's almost nothing and almost everything. Now if they want they go.
lot of tour members that are stuck in their own little world. The Spanish phrase for this is someone who is in a "nube de pedo" - the literal translation is a fart cloud! Too funny ...

But even funnier - as we got closer to our hotel in Providencia, an upscale neighbourhood in Santiago, we came across a group of transvestite prostitutes standing on a street corner. We simply passed by, as they were in a fart cloud, and we were in a fart cloud of our own ...

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I have lived so much that one day that they will forget me by force, erasing me from the blackboard: my heart was endless. But because I asked for silence They don't believe that I am going to die: The opposite happens to me: It happens that I am going to live. It happens that I am and that I go on.

Then it will not be but inside of me grains grow, First the seeds that break the Earth to see the light, But Mother Earth is dark: And within me I am dark: I am like a well in whose waters the night leaves its stars And you go alone for the field.

It's that I've lived so much that I want to live as much more Never have I felt so sonorous, Never have I had so many kisses. Now, as always, it is early. The light flies with its bees. Leave me alone with the day. I ask permission to be born.

Cool mural, just outside of La Chascona.

With quite a bit of time before the tour, I sat in La Chascona's cafe listening to music, writing in my journal, and enjoying a ciruela (plum) juice. A little bit pulpy and sour, but good - I tried adding some water at the end because, invariably, the bottom of any cup of fresh juice you get here ends up being a fruity sludge. Not paying attention, I almost gave the waitress 10,000 pesos instead of the 1,000 pesos the juice cost. But it would've been OK - she was cute and deserved a nice tip :)

The guy in the cap and ponytail was our tour guide - can't remember his name, but he did a good job. You might notice the cardboard cutouts of eyes hanging from the tree branch - the eye had some significance, which I can no longer remember, but now they hang those anywhere there is a possibility of smacking your head on something.

The giant shoes and clock are from Temuco, Neruda's home town. There is a high illiteracy rate there, so they don't use words in signs. Instead, they advertise by displaying a giant version of whatever they are selling.

Cool little terrace.

Another neat mural near La Chascona.

I'd like to return to Patio Bellavista another day, because I was only able to stay long enough to cool off next to a shaded fountain, and have a coconut gelato. The gelato was so-so, but it was great to get out of the sun for a bit. And the occasional Chilenita hottie that walked by was a bonus!

Patio Bellavista, a cool little oasis on a scorcher like today!

Shrimp/cheese dip - tasty, but salty. A steaming hot dish served in a hot restaurant - wearing jeans tonight was definitely a BAD choice. I ended up drinking 4 bottles of water and a beer! BTW - Kuntsmann beer is considered the best in Chile, but I found it to be fairly pedestrian.

Bonbon de pollo - sick of seafood, I opted for chicken tonight. Very salty, it was large chunks of chicken in a cream sauce, garnished with a couple of very dry chicken drummettes. The presentation was beautiful, but the food was lacking. The papas duquesa, fried cheesy croquettes, were also salty, but probably the best thing on my dish.

Aroma de bosque - a raspberry/strawberry tart that was way too sweet.

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