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February 10, 2007

hanging out in iquique

after visiting the Nazca Lines several days ago, i managed to fall intensely sick with a simultaneous bad cold and eye infection (probably from my contact lenses). after trying to work through the local pharmacy, who managed to give me some cold medications that really screwed up my stomach without doing much of anything positive for me, i finally looked up the correct methods for eye infection treatment on the internet (it's a bad sign when google and wikipedia are your most available sources of medical advice), and bought the correct prescription medication at the pharmacy with a dosage schedule derived from the manufacturer's drug information sheet.

i then hopped on a 14-hour bus ride south to Tacna, which is Peru's closest border town with Chile. from there I took a 2-3 hour ride on a "collectivo" taxi, which turned out to be a giant old Chevrolet lined with a plush red interior and 4 other passengers across the Peru/Chile border, and arrived in the Chilean town of Arica.

after the run-downness of the town of Nazca, Arica was a wonderful change. prosperous town, nice pedestrian mall, lots of services, and (most importantly to me), plenty of friendly optometrists with good facilities to get the eye infection thing straightened out with. after a few days recovering from everything, i hopped on another bus further down the Chilean coast to Iquique.

Iquique had been recommended to me by another backpacker as a great place to stop at, but i haven't found the real soul of it yet. it's been a ok place to spend a few days between here and Santiago (i'm heading down there to connect up with my flight to Rio on the 13th for Carnival!), but i wouldn't really recommend it unless you're either with someone else or are very fluent in Spanish, as this place is definitely off of the backpacker circuit. it's nice just to be somewhere and mesh with locals, but with my primitive spanish skills, communication isn't that great. (note to self: DEFINITELY spend time taking spanish lessons before returning to Latin America).

tomorrow afternoon i hop on my 24-hour bus ride down to Santiago on Tur Bus (luckily i was able to get a seat on their "Cama" service, so at least i'll have a plush ride, albeit an extremely long one), and then get about 18 hours there before taking off for Rio.

in case you're wondering why i've been plunging so quickly south from Peru, i've been doing this in order to make it down to Santiago for the Rio flight. as a result, this has been one of the only times on the trip that i've really felt "stressed" to make it somewhere at a certain time. of course, this is the price of trying to attend a very popular event like Carnival in Rio, which requires all my other plans to bend around it in order to make it happen. and rushing like this when you're really sick is definitely not a lot of fun either.

i'm sure it will be worth it, but i definitely feel like i haven't been able to give Chile nearly enough attention on this trip. i would definitely plan to spend more time in Chile and in different areas next time i come here.

February 12, 2007

life maintenance in santiago

when i emerged today into the afternoon light of the Santiago Bus Station from my 24-hour Tur Bus ride across the country from Iquique, I didn't have much of an idea what to expect.

my wonderful friend jimena from san francisco, who is chilean, had connected me up via email with her friend alberto in santiago. he in turn had offered to let me stay at his place in santiago while i was in town, and offered to pick me up from a santiago metro station and show me around town.

so i gave alberto a quick call from a payphone at the bus station to let him know i'd arrived (the phone gave me a whopping 30 seconds to talk for the equivalent of US$0.20 -- south american telecom monopolies have placed insanely high prices of landline-to-cell calls) followed the e-mailed instructions and entered the metro station that conveniently connected directly into the bus station, riding santiago's gleaming-new metro line across the city. (it's really one of the nicest metro systems in the world -- clean, well-signed, and just plain easy and fun to use. i couldn't help but remember my misadventures trying to navigate moscow's monolithic metro system by comparison!).

at the appointed metro stop, alberto came down the stairs to meet me, so we loaded my backpackers into the trunk of his new alfa romeo, and headed across town to pick up some empanadas from the second-best place to get empanadas in town (the best place in town was unfortunately closed that day), and headed over to his apartment for lunch (accompanying the empanadas with some delicious roast chicken and and a chance for me to take a much-needed shower after my infinite bus ride.

and being back at his place with broadband internet access and a computer meant a chance to do my digital lifestyle maintenance: uploading my latest pictures to flickr, downloading all my pictures off of the memory card to burn to a DVD, downloading the latest Lost episodes (along with some new South Park and Office episodes, and a new unabridged audiobook) to my iPod, deleting a bunch of songs i don't listen to off of my iPod to make room for the new stuff, catching up on my email, and writing this blog post.

since my eye infection from before still hadn't cleared up (or indeed been fully diagnosed by an eye doctor), alberto set me up with an appointment with an eye doctor friend of his, and before i knew i was consulting with the doctor, receiving a thorough exam of both eyes, and a confirmed diagnosis of the problem (conjunctivitis, but nothing more serious than that, which was good). he corrected the treatment i was taking (the eye drops weren't really that good a choice), put me on some new drops, even giving me a free sample of the antibiotic drops themselves (saving me a LOT on the cost of the drops), and before i knew it i was out on the street with my new prescription and treatment plan. chile definitely works on the friend/network system... and i was definitely the beneficiary of this.

and now i'm back at alberto's place having coffee and sandwiches with him and a girl he knows at 10pm before we go out for actual dinner later tonight, followed by drinks, only to return home at some ungodly hour (which will be very early by chilean standards, since this IS a monday night during a major holiday month), and then i sleep for a few hours and get up at 8am to hop on my 1-way flight to Rio for Carnival!

About Chile

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to gone living in the Chile category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Brunei is the previous category.

China is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.