My second week in Chile was a bit more eventful than the first. As usual backpackers come and go through the highway of your life but there is a chance now to keep in contact via the internet, which was not the case when I began all these adventures some 21 years ago!
The cast of characters (friends) at the hostel, welcomed me into their transient family. Dave, Knute, Martin (aka Terry when I have had too much wine), Monty, Paddy, Julie, Enzo, Gonzalo, Susi, Tania and too many more to mention.
Most mornings were spent out on the Barrio as I explored the city and all its urban challenges along the the varied, cobbled streets. A coffee here, a broken sentence in Spanish there, a ramp to a supermarket that was kept chained shut, the helpful ladies in the bakery who always fussed over me, the dogs who barked and chased me, and always lots of smiles!
Afternoons were a time for siesta, and early evenings were spent around the pool and dinner tables or BBQs discussing our respective adventures! I have realised that these young backpackers are full of the idealistic goodness this world could do with a lot more of.
Late evenings were spent with Escudo, Chilean wines or Pisco under the constellation Orion.
I met Nikki, a very pretty English girl, who invited me to join her on a quest to visit the home of the famous Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda. Armed with a hand drawn map and Nikki's graduation from Spanish classes, we ventured forth, into the unknown.
The Metro was supposedly w/c friendly, and it was at first, but our destination station had a broken lift. Nikki used her Spanish to inform some shop staff and they duly summoned two subway employees. We giggled incessantly. As you will remember a similar situation in Tokyo from the first story in my book, the men drafted two commuters to assist and they duly lifted me out of the tunnel. We had arrived in Bella Vista!
I wheeled quite a bit under the 35C Chilean sun, but once we hit the hills and curbs, Nikki helped me up like a trooper. In the end, the last street was quite steep, but she got me there, and promptly started to faint! I gave her the last of my water and she fanned herself with a small receipt, whilst watching a stray cat attempt to unsuccessfully ambush a pigeon.
That was the good news, the bad news was that it was Monday and the house was closed. Naruda had foiled us from his grave, but we enjoyed the outside edifice and semi-amphitheater just the same.
Many thanks to Nikki for helping me to experience some literary culture on the trip, and for exposing me to the most wonderful frock in a shop window, adorned with the picture of a house! Typically Chilean.
I am home now and the Chilean sun has withdrawn from the horizon and been reborn into a Canadian star. It is the same sun we all see and it reminds us all that we are all on this planet together. We are not here to take advantage of each other, but to learn from one another and to help each other in our journeys through both the world, and life!