Itch itchy itch.
Scratchy scratch scratchitty.
Itch itch scracthy…
Ahhhhhhhggg! Kick off my bedsheets. Scratch scratch my legs. Itch itch my feet. My side. My arms. Sooooooo uncomfortable!! Whatever it was in that Lifehouse hostel bed got me good. My left wrist is so swollen with bites I have to remove the Horse Hair Cord of Charisma +4 for the first time since buying it in Quito. I count the bites just around the wrist and up my thumb. 23!!!! TWENTY-THREE!! Another 20 some on my side and probably 20+ scattered down both legs and feet. Lying in bed just itchy and miserable.
Alright I’m up. Head downstairs for a Spartan breakfast of sugar crisps, crumbly rolls, and coffee in some cool mugs.
MacKay and Drisdelle wake up a bit later due to their late night piscola pistolas and start rattling cereal boxes scrounging for what’s left. Afterwards we take a stroll out into town. I’ve looked up a couple of comic shops and thought it’d be interesting to check out what they have for Spanish fare. Take to the streets of the Bella Vista area, things are much chiller than yesterday. Really pretty area of town with tons of restaurants and bars, all with tables and umbrellas out onto the extra large sidewalks. Trees all around, neat old, colorful buildings and lots of great street art everywhere you look. Here are some samples of what we found on our walk:
Out of Bella Vista we cross one of the main roads through Santiago into a large park called Parque Forestal. The smaller street beside it is blocked off and hundreds of people are out on their bikes and blades rolling down the street, similar to what we saw in Guadalajara (which seems like ages ago). Lots of people are laying in the grass of the park, hanging out or picnicking or whathaveyou. There seems to be a lot of buskers and jugglers in the park too, not putting on shows but actually practicing or learning some act.
We pass by the Museum of Fine Arts but decide not to go in for some reason. Cool building though, so I snapped the two worst pics of it that I could:
We walk into what looks like a business district of the city. Modern looking highrises climb up from the older city architecture. Santiago is clean and very pretty with lots of green spaces and trees along a lot of the streets. People are more metropolitan and fashionable. It’s got a western feel, but unlike how we felt in Lima, Santiago has maintained it’s identity and uniqueness.
We fail at finding the comic shop, it just isn’t where the inters said it would be, but we’re pretty happy with catching a good look at this part of the city. Quite pleased with Santiago so far. Although I will say that with a clean, modern city comes western-geared pricing, and this city is definitely the most spendy on the trip so far.
We take an alternate route back, across the road and through a gentrifying area west of Bella Vista. As we’re trucking along we spot a street of all ethnic food options. Chinese, Korean, Italian, Indian, a great selection. Now we’re getting hungry, but none of these spots are open since it’s just morning on a Sunday. We find an open spot and plop down. No beers, whatever, we’re hungry. MacKay went for pizza, I ordered something that’s supposedly traditional but ends up just being shit on fries.
Back at the hostel we regroup and have a few beers. Drisdelle and I take up some foosball on the tables outside. As you can imagine, leaving a foosball table outside adds some quirks to the wood and the roll of the ball, or lack of roll in the case of several dead spots. Still it was an epic game despite having to overcome the table itself. I came out victorious, furthering Drisdelle’s sense of worthlessness and crushing his self esteem. That always feels good. Ahhhh more beers.
Turns out there’s a few free walking tours in Santiago that you can go on. They work on tips and you just meet them in a section of the city at a certain time and a guide will take you around a route and learn you shit. Drisdelle and I are game, but MacKay bails on account of… something…I want to mention… but out of ‘respect’ I won’t.. (Instead I’ll allow your imaginations to come up with something much worse).
The walking tour is supposed to start in the Plaza de Armas (seems every town since we entered Peru has a plaza named this). That’s basically where we just were but a little further. We book it back across town, notice a few more cool squares and statues as we cruise by. When we get to Plaza de Armas it’s under construction. The whole place is fenced off in the middle around a tall statue. This adds a slight measure of confusion. Hmmmmm. We go over to the largest building. These guides are supposed to be in red shirts. We’re maybe 2 minutes late but… We creeper scan everybody in the square with a red shirt. Hmmmmmmmmm.. nada. Well that’s too bad. It’s also too bad the Plaza de Armas is under construction because pictures of it online look rad
Drisdelle and I decide to go on walkabout sans guide. The tour actually hit a lot of the spots we’d already seen while moseying around earlier. We get around to some Parliament buildings, more parks and plazas, monuments and statues, some big old buildings, a radio tower and a couple of markets. One of the markets seems to have been revamped and is now all upscale restaurants, mostly fish. We’d just eaten though so didn’t partake, despite being pressured by every waiter in the place.
After walking around for a while we’d built up our thirst again so back to Bella Vista for more patio drinks. We grab a seat in the shade and relax for a while. Drisdelle is taking off tomorrow and the reality of the trip winding down begins to sink in. What a time we’re having! To think we’ll be back home soon and worse still, back to work, is really fucking depressing.
Fortunately, to lighten the mood, there are little kids coming back from the zoo around the corner. They’ve got cotton candy all over their faces and are wearing all sorts of colorful and nonsensical costumes. A little Batman walks by and as soon as he gets to our table he throws a total tantrum. It’s hilarious. He’s thrashing around holding his dads hand, arms waving, feet stomping, tossing his head furiously back and forth while wearing a Batman mask. You don’t get to see the Dark Knight go mental very often, Drisdelle and I are laughing our asses off. We decide we want to be little kids coming back from the zoo too. His flight isn’t until the evening tomorrow so we can squeeze a trip to the zoo in the morning.
We finish a few rounds and head back to Kombi Hostel. Buzz in. Who is it? Ghostbusters. Bzzzzzz. We find MacKay outside on the computer blogging up. Grab a few more beers and chill the afternoon away. A girl from Kansas named Michaela just started working at the hostel today. She hangs out for a bit. Good looking, model-skinny, blonde chick in 60’s style, way above the waist jeans. She asks if we’re interested in doing a family dinner at the hostel tonight. 40 bolivianos for everything, including wine. Sounds great!
Drisdelle and I pass the time with a game of pool. “I’m going to win one fucking thing this trip!”. He’s referring not only to the foosball but also to the series of soul-crushing defeats in our International Crazy Eights Countdown tournament. I think it stands at 10-1 now. He doesn’t win the pool game either.
Few more drinkipoos and it’s family dinner time. A bunch of people who are working or staying at the hostel join in. We set the main table and all grab some spots. There’s the 2 dudes that own the place, Michaela, a girl from Plymouth, England named Samara, her American friend Dana, a Mexican girl who’s name I forget, and the 3 of us. They serve up some wine. The dinner is a fairly simple rice, mixed veggies, and chicken in some marinade and herbs. But it’s quite good and a nice departure from the standard shit on fries in the local restaurants. I mention that MacKay is overdressed in his Cholitas Wrestling shirt and it spawns a great conversation about Bolivian wrestling and how much fun we had that night.
Actually the one they posted on their FB page may be better… noooo nee nooo, I’ll just go grab that..
Do you guys want some Earthquakes? What are those? Pisco and pineapple ice cream. Hahaha, yeah sure! Apparently these drinks are supposed to get who wasted. Or shaky, hence the name Terremoto. They’re pretty good. Actually they’re sooo good we run out of supplies to make them so we send out a couple Adventure Detectives to remedy the situation.
I hang back while McBurger and Getz stroll down to the Botilleria for more pisco. Not soon after they come back empty handed and in a bit of a frenzy. “We just saw a driveby shooting!”, “What the fuck?”, “Yeah man, a van rolled up, pulled the door back, and shot a guy, then sped off like crazy.” “Cops were all over the place, took off chasing him down”, “Holy shit man, that’s crazy”, “Yeah, we just bolted. No pisco.” “Damn, guess we aren’t going out tonight.”
We settle in with some beer instead. Samara invited me to play gin rummy with her and Dana. To Drisdelle’s joy they handily whooped the hell out of me game after game. A few more rounds and we’re ramped up to go back out on the town regardless of how many drivebys are going on out there. The girls decline an opt for bed instead.
We ramble down to a blue bar on Pio Nono that might be called Oxford. We go inside and it’s totally frat party drinking in there. A guy that looks like he’s from a Poison video is coming and going. We nab some piscolas but aren’t feeling the scene so much. Finish up and head out to a streetside spot. Grab some more piscolas and meet some street dogs. Two of them are hanging by our table but run out to chase down every single car that goes down the street, getting super close to the back tires and barking at them. Their days are numbered. Drisdelle is petting one, trying in vain to change his ways.
Place starts to close up. All the places on the street are pulling in their tables and chairs and sending down the garage doors. As we’re paying up and standing to go, a skanky chick in a leopard print coat with the strangest gap tooth smile stops to chat. MacKay asks her if there’s any places open at this hour and she leads us around the corner to a place. Walking up to the door we can hear voices upstairs and the music is blaring. Sweet! There is a party here. We walk up to the stairs and there’s a bouncer. MacKay asks if we can come in and the dude literally slams the door on MacKay’s face. “Are you fucking kidding me!?”, he bangs his fist on the door. “What the fuck man? Did you see that?”, MacKay is so pissed about this. Must have set off his disrespect meter. Drisdelle and I don’t really care at all. Still sick and itchy, things are getting into the hazy zone, I could call her a night anyways.
Take a left at the Chocolate bar, over the sheet of fallen lavender leaves, across the street and we’re back at the Kombi buzz door. Bzzzzzzzzz. Who is it? Ghostbusters 2. Bzzzzzzzzzzz. We’re in. And flop.