The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round…

19 05 2008

Laura: So Chile charges a $100 dollar fee just to land in their airport. I´ve flown into Chile and their airport isn´t that spectacular. For $100 I expect to have a steak dinner and a massage waiting for me as I deplane. So the arrival fee plus the cost of a ticket within Chile doesn´t really make it an economical choice to fly. So Chris and I found ourselves on a 30 hour bus ride from the boarder town of Arica to Santiago. We started our journey at 11:00 at night, continued the following day, then the next night. The country of Chile is shaped like a string bean. It´s 24 times as long as it is wide. Most of the scenery as we headed south from the border of Peru consists of desert and nothingness. Luckily, we went to the grocery store before we left to get snacks because they did not feed us during the ride. They occassionally passed out boxes which contained a warm juice box and a cookie. I´m not kidding that´s the only food they gave us. They stopped once for 30 minutes and we immediately bought more food. Other than that we spent a very, very long time on the bus.

Since the northern part of Chile consists of desert and the southern part of Chile is only navigable by boat because of the fjords, forty percent of the entire population of Chile lives in or around Santiago. We arrived in Santiago during Santa Semana Holy Week leading up to Easter. I expected celebrations and festivals, but we found closed stores and musems, and very few people walking around. We were able to take a funicular, a very old cable car, to a lookout point in the city park where we saw a panoramic view of the city.

After a few days in Santiago, we took a 2 hour bus to the Valparaíso. While it was still Santa Semana, the city was much livelier than the capital. This city immediately reminded us of San Francisco. The colorful houses built on steep hills overlook the ocean. The streets wind around the city without following any sort of plan, a nightmare for urban designers and two travelers looking for their hostel. We finally walked up the right hill and found our hostel.

A few days earlier, I realized that we had gone three and a half months without eating sushi. As a port town, Valparaíso is known for it´s fish. It´s only logical that we should find a sushi restaurant two blocks down the hill from our hostel. I have gotten comfortable reading basic menus in Spanish, but ordering sushi in Spanish proved to be a little more difficult. When we asked our waiter about the “fish of the day,” he brought us a sample. I´ll just describe it by saying it definitely ranks in the top five sushi meals I´ve ever eaten. Being a level two sushi snob (according to, I have eaten a fair amount of sushi meals.

Chris: As we headed up the hill to turn in for the night, we heard beating drums coming from the plaza outside our hostel.  A small but compacted group of Chileans had formed a circle around a modest bonfire.  A human shaped piñata hung from the tree above, a noose around its neck and confetti hands pined behind its back.  Children gathered all around and the adults sang while we watched the figure violently jerked up and down, again and again, gasps of anticipation accompanying the drums and song.  A jarbled laugh came from the crowd as some local homeless man, unsound in mind, went running into the dying fire.  He ran quickly through the middle once, twice, then fueled by the crowds delight he started hopping toe to toe on the embers, dancing and yelling as the children laughed and celebrated.  His half-competent eyes widened at his short lived popularity, when with one final tug the head ripped off the hanging man.  Coins rained  down along the concrete  square as the children scrambled to gather as much  they could.  Blood money.  We found out later the figure was meant to symbolize Judas and his betrayel, in what felt like some horribly akward lynching ceremony.



One response

8 06 2008

Ok, while the parasite humor is pretty funny for a potty joke, this website that you alluded to, “whatwhitepeoplelike,” is hysterical!

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