Archive for October 16th, 2008


October 16

October 16, 2008

Bad sleep again last night, which is becoming a bit of a theme. It’s a combination of a mind increasingly distracted by thoughts of home and cogitations about things I want to get done, but can’t easily, because I’m a tourist. I feel a bit blocked at the moment, because although I am still enjoying the travel, I’m really starting to feel the need for a stable base from which to do other things, as well.

The Casa Aventura breakfast today was just as good as yesterday’s, featuring scrambled eggs, kiwi fruit and orange preserves, copious amounts of fresh bread and butter, and serviceable urn coffee. I ate more than enough, really. The theory is that if you dine well on the included breakfast you can skip lunch, but lately it hasn’t been working out like that in practice – I eat a ton at breakfast and then still sneak lunch!

Conversation took the exact same turns with our fellow tourists, talking about plans and recent activities. It was useful, though, to have a chance to chat with a guy who’d just come from several days of camping in Torres del Paine, where we’re headed in a couple of weeks. He was there in mid-September, and said it was cold, wet, snowy, and a fox tore a hole in the bottom of his tent to get at his food. Fun! But in all seriousness, he made it sound pretty awesome, and the weather should be a little warmer for us a month and a half on.

Max was a bit cranky with me, as in my sleep-deprived state I was rather slow getting my gear together. It was all of eleven o’clock before my bag was packed and we were ready to get out into Valparaiso. The idea was to have a farewell hot chocolate at Color Cafe, and then head down to the bus station.

We navigated up and around through the back alleys of the Cerro Alegre, enjoying the flow of stencil and panel graffiti that pursues you everywhere in the town. Some of it is simply awesome – a whole mural of a rotted, gothic tree, clothesline attached with pendant socks and underpants. Some is just tagging, some political, some territorial – one stamp proclaimed “Thirst Group Stencil Area” in floral letters.

Color Cafe eventually opened at midday. They were short of dark chocolate, so we had white hot chocolates, which is nearly as good. The messages left by patrons on the wall seemed a little less profound and a little more touristic today, although there were a few philosophical efforts – someone had inscribed “LA TIERRA ES DE QUIEN LA TRABAJA” in moody capitals on a napkin, and someone else sketched a detailed fantasy scene in which the implements and utensils of the cafe table morphed into the towers and battlements of a mediaeval castle.

On the way to the bus station a few minutes later, Max stopped to replenish her supply of graph paper. Down there, it was easy enough to cash in our return trip to Santiago, and pick up night-bus tickets to Puerto Montt from Terminal Sur in Santiago. Our bus back to Santiago left in just a couple of minutes, and the trip was uneventful for me – I read a few chapters of a terrible collection of columns by some American called Dave Barry, a pathetically frenetic humourist who is apparently “America’s funniest man”, and then I fell asleep for all of ten minutes before we arrived.

Terminal Sur was a bustling modern place full of shops and eateries, with forty bus platforms. The first order of business was to get rid of our fifty kilos of luggage so that we could actually move around during the five hours we had to wait before the bus for Puerto Montt departed. Tracking down the deposito, we found it to be rather over-priced, which caused a few minutes of prevarication before we decided we simply had to lose the bags. In the end, they let us off lightly, pretending that our 20kg packs were “bolsos medianos” and our 10kg red bag was a “bolso chico”, so we paid significantly less than we’d anticipated.

We were in a pretty uninteresting orbit of Santiago, a belt of shopping malls that looked to be a few kilometres from where we’d been staying at Luz Azul. There wasn’t really much to do, so we wandered down the road to Mall-Plaza #1 and checked the cinema, and finding nothing on in English, continued further to Mall-Paseo-Estacion and its cinema. Here we took in Tropic Thunder, a pretty decent Hollywood comedy involving the film industry eating its own tail. It was quite funny, and interestingly enough was written by Justin Theroux, a lesser Theroux who you might recall as the nerdy director character from Mulholland Drive.

The film ended leaving us enough time to walk back to the station, eat dinner at an upstairs cafeteria, collect our bags, and board our bus.