Drink! Feck! Spoons! Potatoes! Maggie Thatcher! Simultaneously!

Day 123 - Santiago

"No" was the answer to my request.
It was hard to pinpoint exactly what the 4 of us had done the previous evening to warrant the Hotel manager's curt response but it could be any one of a number of things.
"This is not the way people behave."
His English was impressive. I had been sent down to the lobby to ask humbly, futilely if we could stay another night. I was beginning to get the impression we could not. The seeds of this behavioural nadir were sown several days earlier when, having come to the end of our Bolivian tour, we found that Darren, Dee, Teresa and Sofia were also heading down into Chile. Our collective first stop was San Pedro de Atacama, a little tourist town on the edge of the world's driest desert. After washing the dirt of the road from ourselves myself and Michael decided a spot of lunch was in order. Having located a pleasant venue on the main plaza we were joined before long by, as chance would have it, a couple of Irish and a pair of Germans. 16ish pitchers of beer later we had negotiated San Pedro's odd licensing laws, almost stopped moaning about Chile's high prices and, most miraculously of all, booked our onward bus for the next day (thanks Teresa!)
The German girls had perhaps felt a prophetic twinge and elected to go their own way after we reached Santiago; the Anglo-Irish connection remained strong. Grand plans to see the capital's sights were made as the 4 of us sat outside a bar, grand plans were unmade as we ordered another round of beers. Waiting for the Irish outside Burger King a drunken Englishman provided entertainment by taking a running dive into a large pile of rubbish. I can't say which drunken Englishman it was. It wasn't me. Video coming to a Facebook near you soon. We returned our hotel provisioned with wine and snacks and continued our libations (bender). We found a small patio area with some fellow guests who quite obviously hadn't had the tiring, emotional evening that we had. The only conversation I can remember is Mike and Darren convincing them that the latter was a 'Cheese Mechanic' en-route to Australia by request of the government to teach the country how to make...well...cheese. All I know of the other conversions were that they were of sufficient volume to draw complaints. Darren had run out of cigarettes so I accompanied him on a foray to the local shops. Having purchased the smokes and insulted the football team of every male member of staff in the store we returned to find an asleep Mike, slumped in his chair and a bored Dee inserting cheese puffs into his nose, mouth and ears.
"Lo siento". It was no user, my tardy, poorly pronounced, apology would sway the manager not one bit. Hotel Londres in Santiago would not be accommodating us again. Okay so I knew about the noise we had made the previous night. I was aware the manager had witnessed me and Mike wrestling over who got the better bed. What I did not know until I had returned upstairs to deliver the bad news was that a drunken Englishman had urinated in front of the night porter. I can't say which drunken Englishman it was. It wasn't me. Alas, video not coming to a Facebook near you soon. Had I realised the cause of the wet towel lying on the bedroom floor in the morning I might have spent the time wasted negotiating with the Hotel manager packing my bag instead. Turns out (after we were turned out) that a major music festival was being held in Santiago that weekend and hotel rooms were, to say the least, in demand. But for a husband and wife team who packed all 4 of us and all our bags into their jeep and drove us from hotel to hotel we might have been sleeping in the park. Which is ironic given that the park was where we spent most of our remaining time in the capital. Our new accommodation was near to a pleasant green area replete with bars, restaurants, market stalls and a playground. A playground where fueled by Heineken and Clos we rolled back the years to careen down slides and soar on swings, to climb trees and hurl fistfuls of dirt. We ate picnics on the grass and Mike gave haircuts by lamplight.
And that is all can really tell you of Chile. Of its sights, its culture I am ignorant. Of its landscape and nature I know little. Of the fact it was one of the highlights of the trip I am certain.

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