Santiago de Chile.

It was a long day of travel, flying from Johannesburg, in South Africa, to Santiago, in Chile, South America. I was up at 4.30am, and dropped off at the airport just after 5. The first short hop took me back into Cape Town, and flying in I got a great view of Table Mountain from my right side window seat. On the way out I was again on the right and as we turned west across the cape south of the city I got my last glimpse of the spectacular mountain, with it’s tablecloth of cloud.

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Next stop was Buenos Aires after a long flight over the southern Atlantic Ocean. I was lucky there, and at the LAN Airways transfer desk I was asked if I wanted to be changed to an earlier flight onward to Santiago. This was great, as it meant I would arrive in Santiago around 9pm rather than well after 11pm, and would still be able to get into the city to find accomodation, rather than spend the night at the airport, as I had originally planned.

A bus took me to the city, and after a short journey on the Metro I found the hostel that I had booked for the following two nights, and was lucky again, they had one bed left that night.

Despite a long day and late night, the next morning I was up really early, as Santiago is five hours behind Johannesburg, and as it got light at 5am, it felt like 10am to me.

After breakfast and a quick study of a map, I took a wander into the city. It is wonderfully refreshing after three weeks in Africa to wander around a city and not feel that you have to have be constantly looking over your shoulder, watching your pockets, or fending off unwanted sales pitches. I really enjoyed Africa, but it is nice to just blend in again, and be able to wander freely and at ease.

I ended up climbing the 800 metre peak just to the north of the city centre. On the summit there is a huge statue of the Virgin Mary, called Madre de Santiago. I had scrambled alone up the steep slopes, having decided to take the more direct approach, but the cafes at the top were busy with tough cyclists who had ridden up on the road, and less hardy tourists who had come up on the cable railway.

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The sweeping view of the city was marred somewhat by a smoggy layer, and the snow-capped mountains to the east, I am sure, would be spectacular on a clearer day.

Back in the city I did some necessary grocery shopping and headed back to the hostel for a late lunch. Ventana Sur Hostel is a friendly little place, with a swimming pool, free Wi-Fi (always a big plus for me!), a great breakfast included, and wonderfully helpful staff. I spent the rest of the day hanging out by the pool, chatting with other travellers, and catching up on some overdue email tasks.

I planned to explore more of Santiago the next day, but was still battling the jetlag a bit, sleeping only five hours or so again. The lure of the sunny poolside proved too strong, and I ended up spending the whole day at the hostel relaxing and while I had a good internet connection I thought it might be wise to sort out some necessary practicalities for the next couple of weeks of travels.

I tried to get to sleep at a reasonable hour, as another early morning was required to catch the first Metro at 6.30am, and then the bus back to the airport, and finally another long flight to the world’s most remote inhabited place, Easter Island.

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