Santiago de Chile, the official name of the capital city, is home to 6 million Chileans. On a smog free day the nearby Andes mountains are visible from the busy city streets. The city’s different barrios have their own vibes but just about everywhere I went it was lively. Except on Sundays when most stores outside of the city center are closed. I stayed in Barrio Bella Vista, a neighborhood where just about every wall along the sidewalks is covered in beautiful street art. Bars and restaurants line the main street which are packed until the early morning hours on weekends. I originally was planning on spending 3 days in the city but ended up being there for 1 week waiting for a package to arrive from home. While most of my mornings were spent on the phone with DHL shipping trying to get the package delay sorted, I spent the afternoons and nights wandering the city.
Just a few blocks from Hostel Caracol is a small mountain. At the base is a zoo and there is a trail leading that winds up the side to a mirador on top. I hiked up to catch up the sunset over the city and it was worth it. I grabbed my camera, GoPro, a cold Austral beer, and found a nice spot to end of the day.
Quick backstory. I hiked all the way up there and realized I forgot the tripod. With the sun beginning to set I had to think of something fast. I ended up using my shoe to tie the GoPro onto a branch, the shoe helped as a weight to keep it from blowing in the wind. I sat back and drank a semi-cold cerveza and enjoyed the view.
Like every other city, Santiago has it’s popular fast food. Here it’s meat with mayonnaise and avocado on some type of bread. Typically it’s a hot dog with about 3x more avocado than hotdog. I’m not complaining. If you want avocado in Chile you can’t ask for the usual aquacate like every other latin america country I’ve been to. No, here in Chile it’s “palta”. One morning when walking around early I even saw people having hot dogs smothered in mayo and palto for breakfast.
Another menu item found at the local fast food restaurants was ass. Yes, that’s not a typo. This is basically a jumbo shredded steak sandwich covered in palta and queso for about $3. The jokes about the cheap and big ass in Santiago are endless. To be honest, only some locations spell it this way. The usual way you’ll find it is just “as”. But that’s no fun.
One evening as I was walking back from the supermarket I saw a large group of people breakdancing in the plaza. A small stereo was blasting the beats as guys and girls took their turns to bust a move. It was cool to hear the difference in the music and see the latin vibe in their footwork. While this may happen in US cities, I haven’t seen it, they weren’t putting out a hat or a bucket collecting money. They were just enjoying a dance to end their day.
Since it had been several thousand miles since I had done any service on the bike there were some things I had to take care of in Santiago. I had been planning on getting a new tire and to save the hassle of riding around searching for a day, I planned weeks ahead and already had the tire ready at Motouring Chile. I couldn’t believe the TKC80 last me this long. I decided to go with the Continental Escape this time instead of the Heidenau K60. This should be the last tire I need for the trip. I’m thinking I only have about 6,000 miles left before flying out of Buenos Aires. Except for the Carretera Austral and a few other short stretches of dirt roads, I think it’s mostly pavement from here until I finish in BA.
While I was at the shop I had them replace the rear wheel and sprocket bearings. Back in Argentina I started feeling a slight wobble on the rear wheel. It turned out to be the sprocket carrier bearing was bad. With the new tire and new bearings my bike was once again riding great. Santiago’s highways even around rush hour aren’t very busy so I enjoyed the ride back to the hostel.
The whole situation with DHL shipping and the package was getting more frustrating. My coworkers at Roadtrip Nation sent me a care package (undoubtedly the most amazing workplace and coworkers ever) and I had them ship the exhaust gasket I’ve needed since Cusco. At first everything looked like it was going to be delivered on time. But then it never left customs. DHL would send daily updates but it only said, your package is waiting on clearance from customs. I talked to DHL Chile just about everyday trying to figure out why a card and a cheap exhaust gasket was taking so long to clear. 1 day late, then 2, 3, 4, 5. By Friday it still wasn’t delivered and they said they weren’t sure when it would clear. The problem was it was shipped to my named and Places Beyond. They believed Places Beyond was a company and so they wanted tax ID info. I tried explaining everyday I could that Places Beyond was just my personal travel blog. I sent them copies of my temp vehicle import and everything hoping that might help. I decided it was costing me too much money to stick around Santiago waiting for it and would figure it out when it eventually clears customs.
Even as frustating as the shipping ordeal was I really enjoyed Santiago. It’s a great city and while I was there I got to hang out with Ian, Paul, and Ian again as well as make some new friends that worked at Hostel Caracol. If you’re going to Santiago I highly recommend Hostel Caracol. They have parking for a car and a few motorcycles, a great breakfast, clean rooms, a cool rooftop balcony and it’s in a great location.