The End of an Era: Santiago, Chile
Our first morning in Chile was a lovely and hot. We woke up after our day of rain, border crossings, flat tires and crashes. We paid the most I’d paid for accommodation (about $25 each for the four of us to share a family room). Little did we know that that was a sign of prices to come. We spent a long time putting our bikes back together as best we could, and enjoyed a short, uneventful ride to Santiago.
I’d been told about a hostel in Santiago that caters to motorcyclists and that is where we headed when we pulled into Santiago. When we arrived at Casa Matte, it appeared to just be a large old house, and no one answered the bell. We hung out for a little while, then I went into a small hotel half a block away. They had rooms for us if we wanted, and let me use their wifi to check that we were in the right place. We were, it just turned out that the hostel was closed that weekend.
We rode to another nearby hostel with a pool, but they didn’t have room for us. In the end we gave up and just stayed at the hotel that had let me use their wifi.
It was Sunday, January 19, 2014 when we arrived in Santiago. As in many other places in Latin America, everything was closed on Sundays. We walked around the deserted, but very clean, tree lined streets, eventually finding a Chinese restaurant that was open.
There were one or two other businesses that were open, I managed to find ice cream, and it was the perfect temperature to wander around exploring the area.
We found someone willing to sell us wine and rum and had a final goodbye session in the hotel courtyard that evening. There was a lot of laughing, and a guy on a buffalo.
I had grown very close to these three amazing motorcyclists and I was not looking forward to them leaving me the next day, when they would be continuing south, and I would be staying behind in Santiago for a few days before continuing on at a much sedater pace.
Josh and Jordon had often quipped that they were on a drinking trip with motorcycles, and having now travelled with them for almost a month, I could confirm that to be true! My liver would be relieved to see them move on without me, even if I wasn’t.
The next morning the Alaskans and I said goodbye to Andre, who needed to find the BMW dealership to get some new parts to replace those that had broken when his bike decided to take up gymnastics.
The Alaskans and I went over to see the guys at ride-chile.com, who, as well as renting motorcycles, have a small mechanics shop. Tomas, one of the owners, welcomed us warmly, as did two guys from Chicago, who were about to depart on a ride around Chile on two BMWs.
Jordon had a new front tire installed, and Josh bought some (long overdue) riding pants.
I gave them a new tube to replace the one they’d given me, and then, with a heavy heart and a few tears, said goodbye to my friends.
Suddenly I was all alone.
Except of course, I wasn’t.
Humberto, a guy who’d responded to an email I’d sent out via Horizons Unlimited was there to meet me and Tomas was there installing two brand new tires for Cricket (Pirelli MT60s). He noticed that my rear brake pads were in need of replacement, so I got to changing them while he was doing the tire. My rear brake assembly wasn’t looking so great, the pins the pad slides on are badly notched, and the pads aren’t wearing evenly, but the brakes still work, so it can’t be that bad!
I also had noticed that Cricket’s headlight had burnt out, so took the opportunity to learn how to change the bulb. Not as easy as it sounds, especially as it’s a very small area to get your hand into, but I managed it in the end with some help from Tomas to get the clip that holds it in place out.
Once all the work was done, Tomas and his business partner Mick presented me with a spare oil filter and wished me well. Thanks guys for being so helpful! (Although not the cheapest – did I mention that Chile was expensive?)
Humberto then kindly took me to a little known, very eccentric man who welded my aluminium pannier back together where a seam had split and part had been worn away when Cricket slid on the highway. He even painted it for me!
Then Humberto took me to buy an air compressor (I decided I needed one since I was now travelling on my own) and to buy a SIM card for my phone. We also stopped for delicious huge empanadas.
I can’t thank Humberto enough for helping me, I got so much more accomplished in a few hours with him as my guide than I would have in days on my own. He gave me directions to a shop my dad had found that sells Spot satellite trackers. My dad had been asking me to buy one ever since I split from Phil, because our original one is attached to Jugs. My dad LOVES watching the map as we travel, keeping track of where we are, how fast we’re going, etc. I hadn’t needed one when travelling with Ryan and Josh, because they both had trackers, but now that I was on my own, I resigned myself to buying one.
Unfortunately when I arrived at the address it was just this door, and when I knocked, no one answered.
That evening I went to join practice with one of the local Ultimate Frisbee teams – Blue Wings. I’d been emailing one of the guys, Matias, and he invited me to stay the night with him and his wife. The practice was great, and despite a few bruises from coming off my bike, I really enjoyed getting some exercise and meeting the team. It was one of the few teams I’ve met this trip that didn’t have any expats on it, only locals!
Matias and his wife were extremely kind. In the morning Matias helped me find other places I could buy a Spot tracker. I went to the one that he had called and confirmed that they had one in stock, however unfortunately when I got there I discovered it was one of the first generation models. As Spot recently brought out their third generation model, I really didn’t want to buy such old technology.
I called another dealership, Alma de Aventura, one that we had tried to call earlier but they hadn’t answered. This time they did, and they had Spot Gen3 in stock! Also at this time I was emailing a guy called Chema who I’d sent a couchrequest to a few days earlier. He’d said he couldn’t host me because his cousin was in town, but that he’d happily take me on a tour of the city.
I arranged to go buy the Spot, then pick Chema up at his mom’s house. (He’d never been on a motorcycle before, I told him I’d give him a ride if he found himself a helmet.)
When I arrived he told me that his cousin had left, so if I wanted to I was welcome to stay at their house that night. That was great, because although I’d had another request accepted, the other guy wasn’t going to be getting home until midnight!
As they so often do, things were working themselves out nicely for me.
It was time to get to know Santiago de Chile.