Friday, April 29, 2011

Belated journal entries. Written longhand

During the middle of my trip I wandered to the Termas de Corazon hotel/spa.  I wrote a journal entry longhand as I waited for the pool to open, but I didn't have the time to type it out during my stay in Chile.  I now enter it here for your reading pleasure.

Today was interesting.  Fun, but mostly interesting.
Los Juncos is an odd hostel for me.  Technically, it is a guesthouse.  It is far from any urbanization, except for a small village.  The street to one side is long and straight, so cars tend to speed down it.  Vineyards on both sides of the street.
Hostel has wifi, but no common computer.  I guess I could use a net cafe in Los Andes, but that requires a cab or bus ride.  I must make arrangements for Vina de Mar, and to change my [airplane return] ticket.

I awoke and waited for breakfast, as listed on  There was none.  Meals are odd here, for one must provide for oneself.
I had a little meal of fruit, coffee, and Powerbar.  Then I spent the day wandering with Claudia and Nicolas.  They were scouting locations to shoot their short film.  Claudia has lived here for a month for her project.  Nicolas is not a boyfriend, merely a production partner.
We explored very rural river areas.  One was full of junk and the remains of fires; clearly a gathering place for nighttime hijinx.  Three puppies lived there.  They were rib-showing hungry.  I split a non-chocolate Powerbar among them.
There was a nearby silo, a set of four silos.  Claudia climbed inside one.  She asked me to scream for her sound test recording.  I was too self-conscious to scream.
On teh embankment of the river, at the bridge, was a puppy carcas.  I did not want to photograph that.
Later, we took a bus East to another river.  On the local road a herd of sheep passed us.  Further down was an old bridge with flood monitoring station.  It is a great location!  Easy to access, yet quiet and remote.  The bridge provides high ground and camera dolly capability.  Picturesque with good visuals, like this one willow tree.  We explored, then returned.  We had hotdogs and empanadas from a roadside stand.
We parted ways in Los Andes.  They returned to the hostel and I bought groceries.

Yesterday I did a tour/tasting at Vina San Esteban.  Magdalena (my hostess' daughter) gave me good directions of the area.  Afterwards I returned to Los Andes and climbed the hill to the Virgin statue at the summit.  It reminded me of Cortona, except there are no hilltop cities here.  Los Andes is just a town.  I am in no mood for museums.
Claudia and I had a pleasant evening with supper and watching internet videos.  We chatted using the Google Translator.
I slipped and fell in the bathtub that day.

Today I ventured out to see the pottery, chicharia, and the thermal baths near Vina San Esteban.  I bought five good-luck pups at the pottery, and .5L of chicha at the chicharia.  They usually sell in full litres, but that's more than I wanted to carry in my pack.  So, she filled up a handy .5L bottle for me.
I wandered on down the road.  I passed two restaurants, both closed.  I arrived at the Termas de Corazon resort/spa/hotel.  If you find a thermal spring, buy the land and build a resort on it.  It's a goldmine.
Lunch and a pool pass cost me $25000 pesos.  I'm here; may as well take a swim.

Greet the heat: hot tub, eat soup, wear a parka.

I am surrounded by old people at the lunch buffet.  The music is oboe, elderly renditions.  The pool re-opens at 15:00.  I'll swim for an hour or so, then return to Los Andes.  I'll use my hostess' computer to check reservations, bus schedules, etc.  Mendoza, Argentina or Vina del mar?  Depends on lodgings and money.
There was one cute female chef at lunch.  I was very warm to her and I think she reflected the feeling.  It was good to find a peer among the elderly.  Now to swim.  Hopefully the thermal will ease my bruises.
---Afterwards I learned the thermal may have been fake.  It was a disappointing pool.  That $25000 is my most regretted purchase from my trip.  Again, there were no young people.  I was hoping a coupole of babes would show up and be thrilled to see me, the only other young person there.  None did.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Traveling Home: Peru

I am in Peru now.  Some very interesting things happened as soon as we touched down.  We disembarked onto the tarmac and took a bus to the terminal.  That was really cool.  Unfortunately all of the outside air smells like fish.  It is quite a bad stink.
Peru is about two hours behind Chile.  How weird.  That explains why it feels like the flight took so long.  As of an hour ago the gate for my next flight was still unknown.  I had another breakfast, which also bought me internet time.  Maybe by now my departure gate will be known and on the board.
I had Coca tea with my meal. It was ok, and very green.
The in-flight movie was TRON: Legacy, in Spanish, lacking subtitles.  I didn't watch because I couldn't have followed.  Maybe my next flight will have that on the movie list.  I like how the longer flights have individual entertainment systems in the seats.
A small problem. The restaurant does not accept Chilean pesos.  I figured airports would be mopre of an international market. Anyway, pesos are the only cash I have.  I'm going to exchange them to dollars when I get home.  My credit cards still work fine.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Iron Maiden and the last days

Tonight is the Iron Miaden concert.  I have a ticket.  I finally found a ticketmaster office and bought it with cash.  I was not going to trust buying from because I could not read the Spanish.
I am holed up in Santiago Backpackers Hostel, at Karla's recommendation.  It seems nice here.  Tomorrow I will take it easy, do some shopping, and crunch my expenses for the upcoming customs forms.  I will also take my laundry to a rapid service same day cleaner so I can come home with a bag full of clean clothes.
I feel much better than last weekend.  I have an unfortunate natural combination though: a weakened stomach and a strong gag reflex.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


That's right.  It is raining right now, in Chile.  It is a very light rain, only enough to leave individual drop-marks on the pavement, but it is still rain!  Rain is very rare here, mathematically only 1/6 of the year has rain.
In a bit Robin and I will venture back out to a bar, then to the rodeo dance party.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Casino night

I went out to the casino tonight.  I know I said I wouldn't, but I decided to take the opportunity to gample abroad.
You see, tonight was my first night of casino gambling of legal age.
I had fun.  Played the slots, spinning wheel, and blackjack.  My money went up and down.  My biggest win was 10x on $500 at the spinning wheel.  I played around until I was down to my last $500 chip, and my $30 voucher from the slot machine (totally electronic, no coin return).  I cashed in and left.  Following my tradition, that $500 coin will become a keepsake, money that the house will never get back.
I started that tradition when I was on a family vacation to Las Vegas in 2003.  I found a nickel on the floor of The Venetian casino and resolved that they would never get it back.  I made a necklace out of it.
I can stay in this town two more nights.  There's a rodeo Saturday and I really want to see one.  Sunday will be a tight day of travelling back to Santiago for Iron Maiden that night.  I can take a bus direct to sasntiago from here, rather that changing buses and trains like my trip in.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Santa Cruz, continued

I like this little town.  It is little, yet has a bustling economy.  It is easy to walk around.  The streets are cleaner.  There is road construction near this house, and I have seen people from the crew still out there tonnight.  They must be gaurding the curing concrete from ne'er-do-wells.
My hostess is really nice.  The previous fact stands, for I have met her daughter.  She has many contacts in the local wine industry and has offered to email my resume to them.  I have no electronic copies, so I'll have to type it up and email to her first.  Tomorrow we will take a tour of the Santa Cruz vineyard.  There is one very powerful businessman in town.  He is the man behind the vineyard, the posh hotel, and museum foundation, and perhaps the casino too.
The Plaza de Armas is very nice.  There's a carillion clocktower there that my mother would like.
I mentioned before the casino.  I shall not play.

Train to Santa Cruz

It was a very interesting journey to arrive in Santa Cruz.  The train was pleasant.  After disembarking at San Fernando I found the municipal bus terminal and  caught one to Santa Cruz.  It was quite a long drive, especially with the local stops.  It was no motorcoah bus.  I eventually arrived near the Santa Cruz bus terminal.  The hostel was difficult to find due to road construction and lousy street markings.  I did find the correct address, but no one was in to check me in.  The place is more of a bed & breakfast.  I trekked back to the bus terminal, checked my bags, and found an internet/telephone center to contact my hosts.  It was a difficult phone call because of the signal connection and language barrier.  We eventually understood that Isabel would collect me from the bus terminal.  I waited inside, and it turns out she did a few laps outside looking for me, haha.  She was really nice in person, despite the difficulties earlier, and my frustration at arriving with no one to let me in.  Seriously, she's got a very positive personality.  She is also a MILF.  That is a fact, Jack; well, a speculation for I do not know her family life.
Now I am relaxing in the b&b.  I have a glass of water, computer, and a lovely spacious courtyard in a lovely urban home.  I suppose Isabel went back to work.  I think I will explore the town a bit soon.  There is a casino here.  Maybe I can recoup some expenditures.  Blackjack out to be just as simple to play in Spanish, eh?  A lot of play is done with hand signals anyway.