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viernes 20 de diciembre Santiago de Chile
Objetivo: Conocer Santiago Modo : Pies y Taxi Distancia: 25 kilómetros
I rose around the crack of noon still exhausted from our PubLicity/ Geo-Pub/Laberinto triple-header the night before. Despite being a stranger in a strange land, I was in pretty good hands with Señorita Gabriela, a street-smart Santiago native and fourth-year medical student at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile. We rolled out of her crib on Avenida Andres Bello and walked a few blocks to a neighborhood confitería for a late breakfast. Gabby was not only buenamoza, she cordillera: mountain range was also quite the scholar. Having just conocer: to get to know finished final exams the day before, she Pontificia: papal Universidad: University was looking forward to having some time Catolica: Catholic buenamoza: attractive off over the summer. She told me about Argentito: little Argentine her medical school classes and vacation tarjeta postal: postcard plans and I told her about my Texas study abroad program and travels in South America. When she learned that I had been calling Buenos Aires home for the past few months, she immediately went on the defensive in a playful way. She would jokingly refer to me as Argentito and rubbed in the fact that Chile’s national team had tied Argentina back on Sunday night. After breakfast, Gabby walked me to the Manuel Montt subte station and told me the fastest way to get back to John’s pad at 3075 Don Carlos. As she would be on-call at the hospital for the remainder of the weekend (at least that’s the excuse that she gave me), she would not be able to meet up with us for dinner and drinks. I promised to send her a tarjeta postal from Machu Picchu and look her up the next time that I was in Santiago. I imagine that she had her locks and phone number changed sometime later that week. Back at home, The Fresh Prince of El Golf and Andy were vegging hard-core in front of Fox Sports Américas. An afternoon fútbol matchup was holding them captive when I walked in the front door fresh from 127
my Santiago walk of shame. As expected, I caught plenty of grief for not, as we say in the South, goin’ home with the ones that brung me. I tried unsuccessfully to play down my unexpected love connection, but John and Andy weren’t hearing any of it. Andy brought up the fact that I had gotten friendly with Sylvia the night before on the train from Temuco. John busted out laughing. I assured him that it was only a freak cuevazo and that my hormones were only making up for lost time spent in the wilderness for the past two weeks. Andy assured me that my absence was truly appreciated, as he was sole occupant of the bed in John’s guest room. He closed with some additional words of encouragement, “Hey, do it again tonight if you can!” John, Andy and I met Locke, Andy’s roommate from Buenos Aires, for lunch early Friday afternoon at 15:00. Locke, who was heading back to the States for the holidays, had a seven-hour layover in Santiago and decided to spend it drinking in town with us. We were the first to arrive at TGIFriday’s for Friday afternoon happy hour. The restaurant, like much of what I had seen in this trendy part of Santiago was an awkward attempt to emulate U.S. pop culture. At least the food had a distinct Chilean flavor; I had the Dallas Burger. We also ordered a few rounds of Cristals and Bloody Marys during the almost three hours that we lounged on the sun-drenched patio. Later, we were joined by two graduate students from the States, Catherine and Kelly, a Chilean named Ive who worked as a stewardess for the national airline, LanChile and Gustavo, a native of Guatemala who was working as a marketing director for Gillette’s Santiago office. A relaxing three hours of cold cuevazo: lucky streak entonado: Warm, fuzzy feeling after Bloodys in the early summer heat two or three rounds of drinks. had left us all feeling a bit entonado. pilas frescas: fresh batteries After settling up the eight-way bar azul profundo: the deep blue a la plancha: on the skillet tab, Andy, John and I lumbered four Cerro San Cristóbal: Most famous blocks back to Casa Hodges for a park/landmark in Santiago. Site of much-needed siesta. Fortunately, the towering Virgin Mary statue. tragos: drinks, cocktails John had a VCR with an excellent assortment of tapes. We decided to watch Fletch for easily the hundredth time. Somewhere between Provo and Los Angeles, the three of us were unconscious. 128
At 21:30, we woke with pilas frescas, showered and decided to have a night on the town. The road to Oz would begin in Bellavista, an interesting bohemian-chic neighborhood north of downtown on the northern bank of the Río Mapocho. Bellavista is full of restored turn-ofthe-century dwellings, great restaurants and several fine art galleries. The neighborhood, which hosts a three-week music festival every January, was once home to the legendary poet Pablo Neruda.
We stepped out of our taxi at the corner of Constitución and Avenida Santa María and into one of Santiago’s better seafood joints. Neruda himself would have approved of our choice of restaurants, Azul Profundo. The decor resembled his own Chilean abode (now a Bellavista museum) and reflected his unique way of looking at the world. The two-story restaurant’s interior has a distinct nautical feel. The decorations include the actual galley of an old vessel with its original bronze hardware, oil paintings of various Spanish galleons, and hardwood floors with elaborate hand-painted floral designs. Once inside, we tracked down Sam and company at the hostess stand. We were seated upstairs in the restaurant’s crow’s nest: an intimate, cshaped section with eight wooden tables. It was Pisco Sours and Beck’s all around for appetizers with the best salmon steak I have ever tasted for the main course. The fish was served a la plancha with tomatoes and mushrooms. The highlight of the meal was the tableside acoustic performance by the strolling house minstrels who kept us entertained with their guitar and accordion ballads. After dinner, we slipped downstairs to the bar area and waited for the rest of our crew to finish dinner. It was going on 1:30 and desperate measures were called for. Eight hours of drinking combined with the residual Skank effect were starting to get the better of us all. Andy and I knew that there was but one way to revive this weary crew: techno. 129
Without objection, we were able to coax the entire group over to Oz where the breakbeats were booming. We could hear them from inside the taxis that took us to the giant trance palace at the base of Cerro San Cristóbal on Avenida Antonia López de Bello. Our eight-person posse snaked its way down a long, dark corridor which led to two imposing cathedral doors and an equally-imposing pair of bouncers. Fortunately, we passed muster with the frowning doormen, paid the leggy cashier 4,000 pesos apiece and entered the merry old land of Oz. We opened the double doors and were immediately overwhelmed by the booming sound of one-hundred twenty beats per minute, the visual stylings of a mind-blowing laser light show and a cavernous twostory dance floor that was teeming with hundreds of well-dressed
dark strangers. Upon entry, the epic sound system was pumping electronic brilliance à la Paul Oakenfold down on the packed house. Obviously, we were in the right place. After a stop at the guardarropas, we were helplessly drawn in by the forty-foot bar’s tractor beam and quickly reminded of the benefits of ordering up liquor drinks in Santiago. As a general rule, the bartender always pours you two-thirds of a glass full of alcohol and gives you as much soda, tonic or ginger ale as you need to mix and match. A J&B on the rocks might cost 3,000 pesos, but it was the equivalent of a good six ounces of scotch. As Sam so appropriately quipped in her refined accent, “They are quite generous here.” We hit the floor with reckless abandon and tranced the night away dancing primarily with Catherine and Sam. Close to 4:30, the Oz house deejays took the beats to another level with a wicked mix of Orbital’s Lush, Leftfield’s Song of Life, and Luzon’s The Baguio Track. Completely 130
immersed in the techno zone, we did not even realize that our original dance partners had fallen by the wayside. After a quick stroll around the bar area, Andy tracked down and began grooving with a blonde girl from Santiago who had approached him much earlier in the evening. She had introduced herself with a pretty good pick-up line: something about them being the only two blondes in the whole club - or the whole country for that matter. Not wanting to resume third-wheel status, I decided to go talk to another young Chilean dressed in black dancing alone with her Heineken. Her name turned out to be Nieves, and we danced and talked until closing. At 6:00, I realized that I had once again gotten separated from my flatmates, so I said “good night” to Nieves and worked my way outside. Finding a cab was a tall order at this hour of the morning in Bellavista. After walking ten blocks west from Oz, one happened to pass. The driver was very cool and patient with me as I tried to describe John’s neighborhood. The only landmarks that I could clearly remember being near his building were the El Golf subte station and TGIFriday’s. Finally, after about twenty minutes and 2,700 pesos, we were able to find 3075 Don Carlos. Inside, I found John and Andy watching Spanish-dubbed Pink Panther cartoons in a post-Oz state of tranquility. Sleep commenced for all at 6:30. 131
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