March 31, 2006 GMT
(2) Chile the Middle

The Santiago Metro is one of the most efficient ways to move around Santiago proper.

For a mere 75 cents you can travel to your heart´s content. The trains run at about the same frequency that a traffic light switches at. If your train leaves as you approach the platform, never fear for another one will be there before you descend the stairs and reach the queue.

Each train contains about fifteen cars, more or less. There are no bulkheads betwen the cars. Once inside you can look down the entire length of the train and see a ´mass of humanity´extending into infinity, as the train snakes into oblivion around a curve. It is a veritable "human sausage"...a "Soilent Green" contemprano...a spermazoa of life swimming into the dark abyss, striving to metamorphize, through the journey, into a higher life form.

Metro Mural.JPG

The man beside me timed the "stops"...30 seconds from the time the train stopped moving until the open doors closed again and it started to accelerate. I would have guessed it would be longer.

When your feet hurt, your legs are tired and your mind is numb, I have found the ideal place to rest my bum. I retire to the House of God to spend time in quiet reflection surrounded by some of the best period art and architecture and commune with the Highest Order available to man.


Why does all of Chile use tiny 3 inch square napkins with a waxy texture, as a serviette? They are the most useless component to be found on the table. Their ability to absorb food related items is zero or less. At best, all they do is spread it around.

We spent the last night in Santiago having dinner at another homestay, where Camilla was staying. Our hostess was Carmen, a seventy year old lady who kept the Pisco Sours flowing all night long. Maybe that´s why my head hurts. Steak, pork, chicken, champignones, salsa picante, vegetables, wine, desert etc. etc. It was more than the stomach could swallow. Our little party split up at midnight.

During the evening as we discussed everything from families, to war, to politics, to cars, to travel, to whatever, one thing that Carmen said stood out in my mind. "The Americans," she said, "suffer from the Cancer de Moneda (money)." What a profound statement! She folded her arms, pressed back in her chair and took a long, hard drag on her cigarette after dropping that bombshell. Her eyes flicked around the table checking for reaction...then she moved on. She was the quintessential grandmother...a dying breed in this changing world.

We left Santiago in a haze...probably the same haze that was there when we arrived. The smog was so thick you could beat it with a whisk. It would be nice to get to the coast and breath some fresh ocean air. We rode the bus. It cost more to take a taxi to the bus stop...a fifteen minute ride...than to ride the bus 90 minutes to Vina del Mar. When we got to the coast the heavy, smoky air filled the area. We had not escaped it.

My Spanish skills returned slowly, hampered by eighteen months of storage and compounded by the fact that the Chilean people speak a different dialect than their Mexican and Central American neighbours to the north. I pulled a few words out of Cold Storage and then a few more. After a few days I was able to navigate fairly well, relatively speaking. I worked at it daily, dredging up words and checking my dictionary, adding to my base. I would make it work.

Waiting for Customers.JPG

Chilean pasta is incredible. There is simply no other way to describe it. The texture is a delicate fineness that is certainly lacking in the coarse, chewy product that passes for pasta in North America.

I met my girlfriend today. She was sitting at the dock of the bay, wearing nothing but the skimpiest of coverings. She beckoned to me to come over. I hesitated as I was a married man. I made love to her with my eyes as I slowly traced her graceful curves, arresting my gaze only when I encountered her scanty attire. She responded in turn with a statuesque pose, further kindling my desire. I unleased her from her bonds and together we moved away from the waterfront, together at last.

At the hotel I loaded my gear to see how it all fit. Fully loaded for the first time, the bike felt heavy. I would grow into it. My ninety some pounds of camping gear, books, clothing, spare parts and tools had been sorted several times to keep the content to a minimum. There was no obvious item to discard. If I could eliminate all of the tools and spare parts I would be down to only thirty pounds, but that was not possible. As I travelled I would be adding to the pile, not losing through attrition...only time would tell.

We were almost ready to ride north. Tomorrow we would.

....The RANA RIDES...

Posted by Robert Bielesch at March 31, 2006 07:14 PM GMT

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