At risk of boring everyone to tears, I’m writing one last post about our time in Chile. Our group was now down to John and me, his mom, and my folks. After getting our bags mostly packed that last morning, we all gathered in our room for breakfast around 10AM. Up for discussion: what to do with our luggage between our noon checkout and 7PM when we needed to be at the airport.
A long very challenging conversation with the maid the day before (she speaking only Spanish, and my mom and me speaking mostly English) had determined that we could not rent one of the rooms today for the purpose of luggage storage– apparently all the rooms were booked. Late checkout wasn’t possible either. The maid offered to bring our luggage down to a storage room when she came to clean at 1:00. But we were leery of leaving our things in our rooms for her to do the transporting, and uncertain that we would be able to find her to release our luggage when we needed to get to the airport. (The hotel rooms themselves had been lovely– but the language barrier and lack of front desk staff had several times been an issue during our time there.)
Finally Ron decided to rent a room at a hotel right next to the airport, and use it for luggage storage that day while we did a last bit of sight-seeing. We called two cabs, piled our things in, and soon were on our way to the airport. The hotel was directly across from the terminal– it couldn’t be more convenient. We all piled our bags into the room, and after a bit of instruction from a front desk person were able to take a bus to the nearest subway line, which was the cheapest way back into the downtown area. Ron, Hazel, and Marcia were planning to take a bus tour of the city. John and I wanted to walk around and do some shopping– always a favorite occupation of mine when touristing.
According to Ron’s subway map, we were supposed to get on the yellow line going north. John and I would get off at the next stop and transfer to the green line. The rest of the group needed to ride a couple stops before they transferred to the blue line. After one stop, as planned, John and I waved goodbye to our folks and hopped off the subway. Up the stairs I looked around for the sign pointing to the green line. Nothing. We walked out beyond the turnstiles, which didn’t seem right. Both in Korea and here earlier in the week, you’d been able to transfer without leaving the ‘we already paid’ area. But within the area there was only the subway we’d just left.
Several minutes of confusion followed. We wandered around in the subway station outside the turnstiles. No sign of a green line anywhere. John became very disgusted with subways in foreign countries. We finally went back IN through the turnstiles (which required another swipe of our subway cards!) and took a good look at the map. Understanding dawned when I finally noticed the color of the subway markings on the walls. Red. We weren’t on the yellow line at all and we never had been. We’d gotten on the red line, gone one stop, and then got off at a place where there was no intersecting line. No wonder I couldn’t find the green line. Now, how to get to it?
We thought about going out and walking a few blocks to the subway stop where the intersection point actually way. But I knew from Korea how hard it can be to figure out which exit gets you to the correct street, and the map I had in my bag wasn’t detailed enough for me to feel confident navigating. Looking at the red line map on the wall, I noticed a familiar stop: Santa Lucia, the place where Erika and Israel had gotten married. It was only 5 stops away on the red line, and it was within a few blocks of where we wanted to be for our shopping. Perfect.
We hopped on the next train, rode 5 minutes, and were suddenly in the part of the city that we knew. Within minutes we were walking along eating ice cream bars, laughing over our minor mishap, and wondering how long it had taken our folks to also figure out what had happened. Because they surely would be lost for a bit too. We weren’t too worried though– the ladies had Ron, who is usually pretty good with directions. And they had a map.
John and I proceeded to spend the afternoon walking, taking pictures of cool buildings, shopping, eating more ice cream, and doing more shopping. We bought some cool copper art from a guy in Plaza de Armes. I bought a green purse and green sunglasses and an uber-cool chess set that had Mayan and Inca dudes as kings and queens. John got me an owl necklace. I bought our little girls many new ponytail holders, and our older girls some stretchy headbands. For the boys we found keychains, some of which were shaped like little guitars.
Oh, and there were strawberries! And watermelon. And canteloupe, all sold by vendors all cut and ready to go in clear plastic cups. Yum. Perfect to eat on this clear gorgeous day that by mid-afternoon was probably nearly 80 degrees.
A highlight of the afternoon– buying sushi at a little Korean grocery store, where I was delighted to be able to say hello and thank you to the proprieter in Korean. I’m guessing by the look on her face – and her smile afterwards – that not too many blonde tourists speak Korean to her. We then walked down the street eating sushi straight out of the package and feeling like the world was ours. That afternoon was truly a highlight of our trip.
A little too soon for our liking, it was time to head back to the airport to meet the rest of our group, gather our things, and trundle across the roadway into the airport for our 20+ hour trip back to Idaho. Our Chilean adventure had been a delight. Who knows? We may even go back to Chile again some day… (Click on the pictures to see them full view.)