Monday, May 21, 2012

200512 BLOK


200512 BLOK

Yesterday, Sabado (Saturday) in Santiago… A good day as am beginning to feel a little better.  Remember that!  Any day you feel good is a good day, doesn't matter what else!  Any day you can go to the toilet without assistance is a good day!  
After lunch at El Arbol, I walked up Providencia/11 Septiembre (the 1714, Catalonia, Spain, '9/11' -- bet you didn't know there are two '9/11s'.).  Note, Providenica/11 Septiembre,' are the two main boulevards basically running east-west through the northern (more chic chic) part of Santiago.  I was looking for walking boots with stiff soles (got to have for my feet), and damn if I didn't find them for a reasonable price ($50U.S.), 'Hecho en Chine,' of course.  But, I think a good purchase (Usually I'm not so good at shopping).  Then, not really looking but finding, I come across a 'mall,' full of punk-black-item shops, music CDs, etc., this for kids of course.  But, I find a pipe and screens… Who would have ever thought!  Now, I'm all set for La Mota, which, trust me, I desperately need!  It may not be good for my body, but certainly I need it for my mind!
I walk on up Providencia (11 Septiembre and Providencia weave back and forth, so you're never quite sure which you're on…) I walk up basically trying out my new boots, nothing much to do, 'killing time.'  I discover some upscale malls and ask about about DVD movies.  They seem challenging to find in Santiago, as many regular (old style) movie theaters.  Maybe downloading, and these theaters have diminished the demand for DVD movies…?  I could never find any DVD movies shops, but just the search alone created a 'bonanza!'  I'm walking down 11 Septiembre, back toward 'home,' and I see a foreigner in latex on a tour-cycling bike.  This, of course, always gets my attention.  I turn to follow, as he's going up, and as fate would have it he stops, pulls onto the sidewalk and parks at a restaurante ('The Coffee Factory').  I rush to accost him, as I'm always looking for English-speaking tour cyclists!  
I first thought he said he was French, maybe from Canada, but I was confused.  Turns out he's Scottish and lives in Chile.  He invites me to sit and have something to eat.  He's meeting a friend.  And guess where the friend turns out to be from…?  New Zealand!  Now, what are the odds I'd meet a tour-cyclist from the land of my ancestors (Scotland) that lives in Chile?  And with him someone from New Zealand, where I just came from…?  His name is Jim Kuka, and he teaches English at some local Universidad (there seem to be many in Santiago.) We shared much and quickly as excited, but Ron (of Scotland), is returning on Wednesday and we'll really get into it then.  I immediately got an idea to more out to San Felipe where he lives, some 100KM north of Santiago. 
On the way back to Atacama Hostel, I passed two 'stores,' where it appears (advertising) it might be possible to replace my contact lens.  I can see well enough during the day, but at night, things get too fuzzy to cycle.
So, all and all it was a productive afternoon, new shoes and new friends.
It finally feels like I'm making some progress!   Try it sometime alone, a new country/culture, a different language, everything unfamilar… See how you do, discovering a different 'world!'

Today, Domingo (Sunday), I hit the road on Mr. Fetes, an attempt to discover the best way out of the City (Route #5 north).  This is always a challenge when tour cycling, cities, and large cities the most daunting.  BUT HERE IN SANTIAGO THERE'S NO GOOD MAPS ('planos' in Espanol).  Can you believe a major capitol, six million population and there's few maps?  I had a tourist map, that Jorge had helped me find (at the Tourista Informacion' building), but I lost it.  But, it is only is for centro.  So, today, I just headed out after checking Google Maps, thinking I was going in the right direction.  Here again the Southern Hemisphere comes into play.  I end up heading south, when I thought I was going north.  But, I finally got turned around and discovered the route, plus a cheaper place to stay.  
On the way, I come across a street market reminding me both of China and Mexico.  I love these, although 'así que muchas personas!'  I could barely walk for the stream of humanity, the aisle so narrow.  But, here I discovered and purchased a torch (flashlight) to replace the one I just lost (always losing everything).  I also bought a brush (for the one I lost), some peanuts, ajo (garlic) and some bananas.
Getting out of the crowd onto the street I stopped to eat a banana.  Nearby, lying against a wall a bum looked bereft.  I gestured if he wanted a banana to come.  But, most of the time they're so amazed that a gringo would offer them something they don't know what to do, or think you're trying to poison them.  So, I walked over and handed him the banana, which he took and thanked me.
I then found Independencia, a major boulevard, and headed north sensing this might be the way to 'Ruta #5 Norte.'  I went several kilometers, and then for some reason turned right onto a residential street.  The name, 'Einstein,' although spelled differently.  It looked interesting, so I kept going…
Up ahead I saw a crowd and heard musica!  Sure enough, there was a band and dancing in traditional dress.  Spanish culture pretty much the same south of the border!  And I'm waaaaaaaaay south of the U.S. border!  I watch the macho/fem dancing for uno momento, then continue.  And this street, Einstein, the best I've discovered in all of cycling around Santiago:  wide, smooth, and little traffic -- some businesses, but mostly residential houses.  I stop to take pictures of some wall art (uploaded to the GALLERY).   Up ahead, i notice a sign for, 'MOTEL.'  Of course, I stop to investigate it.  But, two local men gesture me over.  We chat, understanding some of each other's language, enough.  They're amazed I'm riding a bicycle around the world, friendly people (with time to chat).  It's amazing that, the further you get out of any city the friendlier people are, and the more time they have for you.  I'm directed to another motel down the street, as this one not so decent.  The one I'm directed to is called 'La Luna.'  I go to investigate, and sure enough it turns out interesting, although maybe the rooms for renting by the hour.  There's a nearly-naked-female mannequin sitting in a chair (should have taken a picture).  The woman/proprietor shows me a room, which is decent, and for much less than I'm paying here, in fact 5X less (19,000CLP / $40U.S. for FIVE NIGHTS.  But, of course, no Internet, and so far from Centro.  I tell her, or try to make her understand, I'll think about it and let her know.  She probably thinks I'm muy loco.  The dogs chase me down the street.
I crank south on Independencia, and arrive back in Providencia (my area of Santiago) late in the afternoon.  It's been a useful expedition, however.  Plus, I spy another restaurante advertising 'risotto de Camaron.'  I return to Atacama, unload Mr. Fetes and return to the restaurant.  Waiting for the risotto I try to get my new torch to work, but it never does,  I'm guessing the cheap batteries.  When my risotto comes I gulp it down, burning my mouth -- another bad habit of mine, eating too quickly!   In the b.g. the music too loud and the risotto not quite up to the other night's. But,  at least it's expensive!  Sometimes, it just feels good to 'stuff' yourself.  Sometimes you need to eat a large meal, that feeling of being full… Comforting somehow, more than the food itself!
i walk to a Lider mini-market, always open on Domingo (Sunday).  No batteries, but I manage to spend some money anyway (yoghurt and muffins).  I walk across the street to a farmacia where they have batteries, but not the small, AAA size.
Time to 'give up, and call it a day, so I walk back on a nearly deserted sidewalk (ah, so nice)… 
Tomorrow, Lunes (Moonday) another holiday in Santiago, more exploring…
P.S.  The best part of the day came much earlier when I had a good 'chat' (via Google) with my 'guarding angel'/partner in Germany, Rotraut Boyens! 

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