Been quite a while since the last post, my apologies. I'm still alive, and things are going well. This is going to be a short post, because I'm a little short on time.
When I was sill in Santiago the Australian couple put me in contact with an author they had met at one of their fancy parties. He was in Santiago but was going to be leaving for southern Chile to return a rental car, and, never having met me, offered me a spot so I could tag along. He was leaving on the 19th, which meant I would be spending more time in Santiago than I'd planned to. This was too good an opportunity to pass up, so I spent even more time in Santiago. I saw some more museums, went on a trip to Valparaiso and Isla Negra to see Pablo Neruda's other two houses, swam in the pool, and drank coctkails with the Australians.
Neruda's Isla Negra house was full of figureheads he collected off of ships which he had installed around the living room, and which looked very cool. There was one that had inlaid porcelain eyes, and, supposedly, when he lit a fire in the room, moisture collected behind the eyes and it would appear to cry.
I also needed to mail back some souvenir stuff I had bought, so I went to the post office on Monday. It turned out I needed a customs form to mail some of the craft stuff back, and I had to get the form at the museum. The museum was a 15 minute walk away, and was closed on Monday. I had to come back between 10 and 1 on the next day. So I went back on Tuesday at 12:15. Eventually I found the woman I needed. She was in the basement, behind a desk, looking like a stereotypically cranky medieval librarian. I tried to explain that I was trying to mail some things, and she said to come back the next day between 10 and 1. My Spanish isn't great, but I pointed out that it was between 10 and 1 now, it being NOON, and that I wanted to mail the stuff. She said she just couldn't do it, she was too busy; come back tomorrow in the morning. Getting pretty damn pissed off, but knowing I might be misunderstanding her, I asked if she said she was too busy today. She said yes. I said "so I have to come back tomorrow?" She said yes. Barely containing my disgust, I turned to leave, lingered wondering if you could bribe librarians, and sulked off.
My bag of goodies was getting pretty beaten up from getting lugged back and forth on buses and trains. The hostel I had been staying at the week before was nearby, so I bought the guy at the desk a pack of cigarettes so I could leave it there. The next day I came back as close to 10 as I could manage, picked up the stuff, went back to the museum, and made my way down to the basement lair of the vile woman. She saw me, told me to wait. Eventually I sat down. She had me fill out the necessary form, and told me that I could submit the form today, but that the director of the museum would have to sign it that night and I would need to pick it up the next morning. She said that was what she told me the day before, and when I left she assumed it wouldn't work for me. Non. Sense. Now she was having a good old laugh, wasn't it funny that we hadn't understood each other. She was officially my least favorite person in South America. It's entirely likely that she DID tell that to me, and that I misunderstood. But she answered my questions that yes she was too busy, that I had to come back tomorrow (apparently to get the form), but what the hell. At the least, you'd think that when I left without filling out the form and said "see you tomorrow," she'd know something didn't make sense. Ugh. The next day I came back, got the signed completed customs form, and got it mailed. That was on Thursday, and I'd started the process on Monday. Ridiculous.
On Friday I took a taxi to another affluent district of Santiago and met the writer, who was staying with a lawyer friend. His name is Peter Allison, and he's written two books on the outdoors and Africa, where he was a safari guide. Before Jane Goodall's new book came out, he had the top wildlife book on Amazon. He is a great guy, and you should all buy his book to put Jane back in her place. (Joking). Before coming to Santiago he was working at a wildlife rehab center in Bolivia running through the jungle tied to a cougar, where he actually met Jane Goodall.
He got a contract to write a book about South America, and is traveling around to see the continent. After leaving from Santiago, we drove to Pucon. The next day to Valdivia, where we walked three kilometers to a brewery, then three kilometers back to town in the dark. I could finally see the southern hemisphere stars. Orion was upside down, but I did see the southern cross, which was very cool. Yesterday we returned the rental car in Puerto Montt, and took a bus and ferry to the island of Chiloe, where we are staying in Ancud.
It is a very pretty island. There are a lot of wooden churches that somehow collectively make up part of a World Heritage Site. I'll probably end up staying somewhere on the island for Christmas, partly because the weather can be both chilly and hot, so I can get the best of both worlds. I don't know how far south I'm going to go, but this might be a good opportunity to see Torres del Paine. I've resigned myself to the fact that I'm probably not going to be able to see Ecuador and Colombia on this trip. From the south I'm going to either fly or bus to northern Chile, where I think I'll cross into Bolivia like I had been planning to last week.