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Santiago
Craig and Steph's Adventures on Easter Island

We woke up at 7:30 and packed. We saw Romaine and Bill at breakfast and exchanged cards. They told us that it made Easter Island special to meet some young people from the States who enjoyed traveling so much. We said that we aspired to be like them. They told us that they had gone to the post office to get their passports stamped, and thanked us once again for telling them about it. We ate outside for the last time, enjoying the beautiful view. We had cakes, watermelon, fruit salad, coffee, and watered-down papaya juice. A cat tried to hop up onto my lap while I was eating. When Craig got up to get some more food, he helped Romaine and Bill to open their water bottles. When I got up for more food, they commented that they liked my Rapa Nui T-shirt. We then went to the hotel gift shop and bought a couple more last-minute items: another moai statue, a bottle of pisco in a moai-shaped bottle, an archaeological field guide, and a Rapa Nui CD which was recommended by the girl at the check-in desk. We checked out, and our driver picked us up at 9:30. He presented us each with a moai necklace. We had begun our time on Easter Island with the presentation of a lei, and ended it with a moai necklace. It was as if the cycle was complete. He drove us and a pair of Swiss men who had arrived on our flight, were staying at our hotel, and whom we had seen just about everywhere.

We got to the airport and went to the only check-in desk. We checked in and sat down. They didn't let us into the actual gate area until 10:30. They were playing Pink Floyd's "Division Bell" CD in the gate area, and then, as if by synchonicity, we saw someone wearing a "Division Bell" T-shirt. Since the album came out 10 years ago, it seemed a strange coincidence. The album cover does depict stone statues that look vaguely like moai. We waited inside until the plane arrived, and then we waited outside in line to board the plane. It seemed like we knew everyone on the plane. Bill and Romaine were there, the Swiss men, and a bunch of other people we had come to be acquainted with in the past few days. We said our goodbyes and headed back toward Santiago.

We arrived in Santiago at 7:10. We had to go through passport control and then headed out looking for a bank machine. We had managed to make it through Easter Island without being able to withdraw money, but now we at least needed some for the taxi ride to the hotel. We couldn't find a bank machine, so we decided to charge the cab (there is a cab desk where you can pay in advance). The cab ride cost 13,000 pesos. Of course, after we had charged it, I found the bank machine. I took out some money anyway, just to be safe. The ride to the hotel was infinite due to the traffic. There were a ton of buses, etc. We finally got the the Hotel Orly at 8:45. We checked in and talked to the desk clerk about the fact that we still needed to confirm our flight out tomorrow. He took our information and said that he would call and confirm it for us. We were put into room 53 on the top floor. It was very quaint with sloped ceilings and eyebrow windows overlooking the street. The desk clerk called to say that he wasn't able to get in touch with the airline, but he would call first thing in the morning. We got our bags from storage and then headed down to try to find some dinner.

All of the places on the street were packed with people, and we were lucky to find a table on the porch of the restuarant in the hotel lobby, called Cafetto. Craig ordered congrio (conger eel) with potatoes, broccoli, and tomatoes. I got stronganoff. We each got pisco sours. The problem with eating on the street was once again the beggars. The whirling dervish drum player made an appearance. Kids entered the restaurant, put Winnie the Pooh cards on the tables, and then asked for money while their mother hid outside. Women with cups would come up the the window and beg. But the most disturbing things by far were the kids in the road. There was a traffic light about 100 feet from the restaurant. Two 7- or 8-year old kids would go out into the middle of the street in front of the stopped cars, do cartwheels in the headlights of the cars, and then go up to the drivers' windows asking for money. They would continue cartwheeling in front of the cars even after the light had turned green. They came very close to being hit! And this was at 11 o'clock at night! It was like a train wreck, and although it required me to contort myself in the chair to look behind me, we couldn't stop watching. We had panqueques with manjar and chocolate for dessert. Craig topped off the night with an Escudo beer. I was writing in my journal about the beggars and the children's dangerous behavior when a creepy fat guy with a stained shirt and a scab on his nose came over to beg. He started rubbing my back and saying "Señorita...heh...heh..." It was totally creepy and I tried to ignore him, but when he kept touching me I said something to Craig, who then said something to him. He then harrassed some other people in the place and then came back to us. Craig told him to get lost. Meanwhile police dressed like StormTroopers were giving out parking tickets to cars parked in front of the restaurant. We saw one shady guy steal a parking ticket from a car. He then "helped" a guy to park, put the antenna down, and held out his hand for money. The driver obliged. What was this, like protection money? What is it with this place? We had spent several days in Santiago, and three weeks in Chile, and this last night was the most uncomfortable and unsafe that I had felt. Overall the country seems very safe, but we saw so much late tonight that we were glad we hadn't ventured out from the hotel. At 12:30 we just headed upstairs and left all of this behind us. It was time to go home.