Wednesday, September 12, 2012

120912 BLOK

120912 BLOK, Calama, Chile
I love observing people in public.  And when you're not with another, you can do this much more efficiently.  I've just eaten lunch in the Foodcourt of the Calama Mall.  An older man sits alone after eating his…  'A penny for your thoughts, sir?'  He looked unhappy contemplating his life, but who knows…  Two male workers sit eating their hambergusas, con papas, and some soft drink (standard fast food meal).  But, these not MacDonald or KFC's, but Juan Maestro's.  I ate healthy cafeteria food, except for the berry pie. I watch young boys drive their Formula One's in 'Happy Land.'   All of this, a world away from San Pedro, which is all tourism.   This Mall in Calama (100,000 pop.) is large and prosperous.  There's even a 'Mac Online' store.  I purchased some contact lens solution in an eye-wear store.
There's something about Calama, this industrial-mining town that interests me, maybe deja vu vis a vis Tucson, Arizona, circa. 1945.  Today there was something in the sunlight as well.  I've never been this close to the Equator, this time of year, Spring (September, 21, only 9 days away).  Of course, where most of you are it's going into Autumn, just the reverse.
I cranked around Calama today in a gusty, dusty wind, trying to accomplish some tasks, like 'lavar la ropa' (washing clothes), but never found one (they don't at hotel).  I did manage other things, including acquiring a city map, which I promptly lost (typical of me).  I'm good at losing my mind! 
In JUMBO's (a Walmart-like consumer palace), they exchanged my broken 'thermo.' Of course, I hadn't read the instructions and maybe contributed to the fact the insert broke (fell over in my tent).  But, I had the receipt, and can act a good story.  Usually, they respond well to older foreigners, especially ones as weird looking (my cycling garb) as me.  I saved myself $15U.S., and every penny counts on the road to saving humanity!  This is the second 'Megatrage' (Nashville, TN., U.S.A.) thermo I've broken, 'Hecho en Chine' of course.  I'm about to write them as they have a website.
This hotel, which is only a couple blocks from the TUR BUS, terminal (largest bus company in Chine), is a converted garage.  I thought the configuration of the building a bit strange for a hotel, but turns out very good for $30U.S., per night in a shared room (I'm alone).  And I even discovered they have WIFI here!   Nobody tells you these things in another language, and when I checked in last night, I was so happy to discover it, so late 7P.M. I just wanted to eat and go to bed.  I hadn't slept in a bed for nine weeks, not that I mind, in fact prefer the ground, but I was looking for a shower.  And after four months in Chile, this is the best shower! 
Last night I couldn't sleep for a stuffy nose, and I thought maybe the warmer, unventilated room was causing such.  So, I got up opened what windows I could, and ran the hot water in the shower.  That helped.   You get used to fresh air outside, and this is one of those rooms without outside windows.
This is an out-of-the-way hotel, where working men stay.  No kids and no dogs!  I thank Master, Lord, and God, for directing me right to it yesterday, I could have had to crank all over at night.  I'd been somewhat concerned, as everything else (reservations and friends) had fallen through!  I was entering a new town (only been here once before), in the evening, with no map, no reservations on the eve of a Holiday.   Try that sometime.  It reminds me of all the Chinese communities we entered (cycling) after dark, and riding all over hill and gone to find acceptable accommodations.  
I don't know how long I'm going to be in Calama, as on the eve of their National Independence (from Spain) Holiday (18 de Septiembre), 18-something, the year as well.
at the Palmira Hotel, on calle Henen Cortez, Calama (theTV on in the b.g. of course).


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