Adventures Abroad: Chapter Three
This definitely isn’t a politically correct way to start this entry off, and apologies in advance, but I must say the Chileans are a shifty bunch. Having planned a road trip to the bohemian town of Val Paraíso to satisfy a deep desire to get a cool graffiti tunnel themed Instagram (that isn’t at the University of Sydney), we picked up our rental car. Chile has got to be the only place in the world that gives you an empty tank of petrol when the car arrives. I felt like asking for $20 bucks for a quick servo gas stop and a Gatorade, but refrained.
Anyway, we then picked up an old friend of ours, Alan Becar, a Chilean native and former Australian exchange student that lived with my Yia Yia for a brief period. God forbid my parents go any thousands of kilometres around the world and still not know anyone. Classic.
On the road, all I could say was thank god Peter has a good concept of direction because I could not drive to another town in a foreign country two hours away, let alone comprehend driving on the opposite side of the road, let alone driving without the Santiago RTA giving me some sort of fine. I noticed, the radio here is also stuck in a time vacuum, because while the Destiny’s Child and pre-Packer Mariah tunes were brilliant, if I hear that one popular song Sara Barrelas (don’t tell me to spell her last name correctly, I refuse) wrote, I will throw myself onto a freeway. I’m starting to understand why Hunter S. Thompson did a slew of drugs to get him through Nevada.
The cruel medley of songs is interrupted by a stark comment “Gringos are taking over” from Alan, as we discuss the presence of US fast food stores. He promises Val Paraíso of all towns, will be a break away from any Western influence, and I feel a wave of calmness come over me in an awesome way.
We’re here, and Val Paraíso is breathtaking. Both literally and figuratively. Your senses are assaulted by a pungent garbage smell, but your soul is ignited by a visual vivacity that can only be captured by a town that is bound by cultural harmony, creative ingenuity and an overarching sense of community. Each step is nuanced with a wealth of history, and story of local heroism and expression. This is a city and an inspiration, and something I think areas like Newtown and Redfern could aspire to do, coating themselves in Graffiti art and a techni-coloured dream coat atmosphere. I can’t describe it, you just have to go to be perfectly honest.
Anyway, we venture back to the hotel to visit another set of old friends; For those of you that don’t know me, I grew up in the states for about 8 years, and in that time we made friends with a Chilean family. With a daughter my age that I haven’t seen since we were pot-bellied, ethnic Ballerinas in a Greenwich ghetto of rich, skinny white girls or “gringos” it was amazing to see how two people who started at the same place in life can turn out so differently… or exactly the same. It was incredible to reunite with Sofia again, and know that my Malboro gold tarred lungs, G&T lined stomach and tattooed-ass had a Chilean counterpart who was every bit as genuine as she was down to inhale a chacuterie board and have another drink.
So we bid farewell to Santiago today, and hop into the world’s fastest taxi cab. There’s something soothing about driving 130km/h past a street sign of 60. He was a driver after my own three-times-fined-for-speeding heart. Anyway, arriving at the airport, we find out the whole country of Argentina is on ‘strike’. The only other fucking country that does that is Greece and don’t even get me started on the moterhland. I was pretty pissed off if you couldn’t tell and the make matters worse, it’s 6am, my espresso is scorched and I’m eating Satan’s contribution to the world of croissants. Sometimes I wish I was embellishing things, but aside from my hyperbolic tone, we’re spending hours rearranging the travel catastrophe. I know, poor me, “boujee” trip gone bad.
Cheers for the judgement Migos, but I deserve a damn holiday as much as the next person. So we return back to the W for another night in Santiago and a 4am rescheduled flight. I’m writing this entry now because Peter just finished arguing with the concierge for a room upgrade and I’m bathrobe clad, looking out to a panoramic view of the city from our pity-provisional room’s balcony; I’m going to go to stare at some culture, and indulge in some retail therapy. This city has more Adidas stores than my entire family’s wardrobe combined, and I think I should’ve mentioned that earlier.