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Wednesday 26th May - Santiago
By Claire
Saturday, 29th May 2004 04:06

We arrived back in Santiago last night having successfully negotiated our escape from Balmaceda. The people at the hostel were surprised to see us, but they had a room ready anyway which was very welcome.

In the morning we had a leisurely breakfast and then went into town with the hope of finding some second-hand bookshops that sold English books. There was a whole street of small kiosks and shops lined entirely with amgazines and comics, but no English books. A man tried to sell us pirated DVDs of films that aren't out yet, and, although we were tempted, we'd decided to see them in New Zealand anyway. On the way we managed to find packs of playing cards, enough stuff to create a makeshift crib board and, even better than that, we heard 'Hotel California' in Chile, which makes six out of six countries now.

In the afternoon we headed for the metro again and navigated to the foot of a big hill with a cable car on it. We'd seen the cable car from the park at Santa Lucia, and I had wanted to see it since then. At the bottom of the hill was a funicular railway, which I love cos the word's funny (or funicular, if you will...) and we bought a return ticket. Halfway up was a stop for a zoo, and we decided to have a look at the amimals later in the week. At the top was a giant statue of the Virgin Mary and a church. If it wasn't so smoggy there'd be a spectacular view of the city, all laid out neatly in grids, but as it was there was just a heavy brown mist over everything and we could only see for a couple of miles.

We wandered around aimlessly, saw the massive snow-capped Andes in the distance and then found the cable car station. It was a little precarious, just a fibreglass capsule that held two people and didn't close properly, but the trees underneath us would have softened the blow if we fell out, so that was OK. There were two stops on the cable car, so we got out in the middle and saw an outdoor swimming pool that looked nice, but closed. We had a little walk around and everything smelled of flowers and cut grass. The sun was shining, it was about 25 degrees and very summery.

At the cable car station at the bottom of the hill there was only a car park, so we stayed on all the way back to the top, where we had an ice cream and sat in the sun for a bit. Raspberry ripple choc-ice on a stick, almost ice cream perfection.

We got the funicular back down, had a look at some of the souvenir stalls (tiny carvings made from matchsticks and plastic statues of Mary and little wooden Jesuses) and went back to the metro station. We stopped at the supermarket, went back to the hostel and cooked, and then I lost at canasta all evening.

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