Today is our last day in Chile. Our flight leaves at 8:40pm and we plan to get to the airport at 5:40. Since we spent all day yesterday outside of Santiago I planned for us to stay in the city and see the major sights. Our BNB check-out time is noon so I planned for us to stay there until the last minute. We woke up for a late 10:30am breakfast. Then spent the next hour and a half making sure we were completely packed, relaxed, and recharged (iPhones). During that time I spoke to one of the Cubana staff members and she agreed to hold onto our small bags while we went downtown and said Rueben would be there to pick us up at 4:45.
At about 12:05 the kids and I were headed down the street toward the Manuel Montt metro station I asked the ticket lady where the Cerro San Cristobal was located and she told me to take go two stops to the Banqueado station, go up and follow the crowd. After two stops we climbed the stairs and found a transit worker to point us in the right direction.
As soon as we climbed the steps out of the station we found ourselves in the middle of what seemed to be a dancing chanting protest of some sort. Almost all of the protesters were hippie- like 20- 30 somethings chanted, dancing, and waving huge flags in the streets. There were definitely more than a hundred of them. The police were calming posted around them observing, and a clean- up crew equipped with garbage cans and and brooms to sweep away every pamphlet and speck of dust that fell from the protesters vicinity. As the peaceful energetic protest moved so did the police and cleaners. I asked to people what was going on. According to them they were protesting to protect the indigenous' sacred lands, protect the natural wonders of Chile, and to promote peace.
One block after the protest we found ourselves in the middle if a bicycle
Marathon. Like literally in the middle of it was bike whizzing past us in both directions. Once given the signal to cross without getting run over by a 10- speed we crossed a graffiti over-dosed bridge.
We followed the crowd and kept walking and walked. Eventually I looked over and asked a friendly looking man if we were going I'm the right direction. He was with his two daughters and they too were on their way to be park, specifically the zoo inside the park. "I hope you don't mind but my daughter loves your hair and she wants to know if she can touch it?" The daughter to who right lite up as soon as she realized her dad expressed her shy curiosity to me. "Pues muchas gracias linda, si tú puedes tocar" (well thank you very much? Cute little girl! Yes you may touch my hair. I bent over for her to touch and she wiggled and giggled with delight. She was is excited she made me laugh out loud. He dad looked at me with pure gratitude in his eyes, "thank you so much for letting her so that, where are you from?" We chatted a bit more and said goodbye as dude got distracted an ice cream shop, causing us to fall behind as they made heir way to the zoo.
At this point little dude started flipping out. I'm not sure what happened to him but a soon as he got his Icey from the ice cream shop e just got plain old mean. He didn't want Zane to sit anywhere, then he wanted the Gatorade thanzane was drinking not the identical one that I bought for him. Both Zane and I were very patient with his little crazy butt, but still were looking at each other like "what's wrong with little loco over there."
Well sometime karma work swift and mercilessly. With his Icey still in have we headed to the park just another block away. As we approached I was so excited to see a man with a llama at the parks front gates. "What kind of sheep is that mommy?" Asked Zane. "That's not a sheep it's a camel!" Yelled Dude. "Boys, there is not a sheep nor a camel it's a llama." " a what? That's not an real animal name! You making that up". As the debate continued amongst the boys the man summund me over to him and his snazzily dressed llama. "$1000 pesos cada foto." He announced. That'sess than $2 USD so I happily agreed. First he lifted Zane into the llama for me to snap a pix and record a quick video. Next up was dude, who also got a pic and video while I held his ice cream. I was the last one to take a pic with this long neck sheep/ camel super star. The llama-man offered us a free group pic with the 3 of us next to the llama. The kids stood on one side with me posing on the other side of the llama. As the llama- man was about to take the picture the llama started moving his face closer and closer to mine. As I backed up the llama moved closer. Then he started to grunt. "Uh señor, you llama is making a noise at me." As I turned to relay this message to the llama-man. The llama stretched his neck just a little bit more and ate Aaaaallllll of Dudes Icey that I was still holding in my hand. He ate it so fast that as soon as I realized what was happening I was only left with the stick. "Oh yes he's making that noise because he wants to eat your ice cream, he likes I've cream!" Zane saw what happened first and smirked the smirk of an older brother looking forward to his younger brother flipping out in full-on tantrum mode. "Mommy!!!! The camel ate my ice cream!!?!" "Sí mi amor, I'm so sorry. I wasn't looking and the llama ate it out of my hand." "Waaaaaaaaa!!!!!! The bad camel ate my ice cream!!! Bad camel! Bad Camel!!! I hate cameeellllllssssss!!!!!" As dude hit nervous breakdown level 100. Zane and I did everything we could to stifle the hysteria of giggles trying to explode from our mouths. My poor baby cried and cried. I mean he cried the UGLY cry! He was devastated. I did all uncoils to calm him, including promising a new ice cream and a toy. Finally he stopped crying, but not before I took a video of the break-down.
The bad camel ate my icey video: http://youtu.be/OR4utkDq-FA
Once I calmed down dude it was my turn to reach near spazz-out levels. Once dude was happy again with his new Icey, I noticed that inward running low on cash and would need to pay Rueben (the taxi driver) to take us back to the airport. At parque San Cristobal ther was an ATM booth so i went there to take out money.... Only no money came out. I was receiving and error message that "my financial institution" was not permitting the transaction. Impossible, I called both my banks to inform them if my travel plans and no make sure my visa debit cards worked in Chile. This is NOT the kind of message you want while traveling abroad with 2 young children. I went to the park information booth and spoke with the very nice lady about what happened. She tried to calm my worries, "the machine probably ran out of money. There are more ATMs down the block try those." We walked down the street full speed asking more directions along the way until I found another ATM machine marked "banco de chile". I tried both cards in the machine and received the SAME ERROR message!!!!! Oh the horror!!! How were we going to get to the airport with no money?!?! Do I even have enough for the train ride home?!?! Ok echo, just breath mama, every little thing's gonna be alright!" I walked around a little more and found 2 more banco de chile machines and tried those. Same freakin' error!!! OMG this can't be real!!!! As I paced back and forth trying to think of a solution a security officer approached me. "Is everything OK?" "Uh no! The machine says my bank in the US will not allow me to take out money but I called them before coming here to let then know is be in chile and that I plan to use the cards here and I'm here with 2 kids and I'm almost out of money..." I was speaking Spanish full speed like a lunatic and I think even he was having trouble keeping up with his own language being shot at him so quickly. He looked at me calmly and laughed "oh these machines say that to everyone! They are the worst! Go down stairs right there, there is a newer machine and that one should work." I thanked him and hoped and prayed to all the gods, Orishas, saints, and even good ole Zues that this man was right. I bounced down the steps to where he pointed me to find two people successful taking money out of the machine. Now if they can get out money so should I..... Right? As soon as they left I popped in my preferred card and hit the same buttons as I previously did on the oth FOUR machines. This time it worked and $20,000 Chilean pesos popped out!!! Don't get too excited that's just about $17 USD. I did the happy dance and decided to get another $40,000 just in case of a disaster I would have to go through another ATM wild goose chase.
Now that I could breath again I could afford a lunch! On the way back to the park I found an empanada store and bought 3 to go. I'd seen the line to go on the funicular and figured we could eat while we waited in the long line. It was the perfect snack for the line and it definitely made the time pass by faster. The mother and 2 daughter behind us in the line, got our attention and asked where we were from, about our hair, and how we ended up in Chile, the edge of the earth. We chatted for a while, as usual it was all love.
After another 15 minutes we were in the cable car climbing the mountain side. The car itself was kind of unnerving and gave me visions of the cable car detaching from the train like track and tumbling down and smashing to pieces at the bottom. Luckily nothing like that happened! The view however was spectacular.
Santiago is humongous and the view was well worth the wait. The funicular had two stops the first was the zoo, which we no longer had time to go to due to the ATM disaster, and the final destination on top of Cerro San Cristobal where stands the beautiful statue of la virgen maria. Atop the mountain were hundreds of families many Chilean and many Brazilian tourist. People were eating, dancing to salsa music, and hanging out. It was a great great spot for a family day. After looking down at the city through the mounted telescopes we decided to climb higher all the way to the statue. Along the way they had an small amphitheater and garden terraces, this area was designated for prayer, meditation, and quiet reflection you could also light candles and make offering to the saints. It was pretty awesome. The kids and I climbed the through the gardens and up anothe small stair case until we arrived directly under maria. We sat on the steps for a while talked, taking pix, and relaxing.
Before we left the mountain we stopped by a gift shop to buy a gift for AlphaPoppa. While there the vender talked our heads off about all the things he watches in the news at the USA. His first gripe wa that the racism and police brutality that has been on the airways about cases like Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown being unarmed and murdered in the streets of the US. Waving his finger in the air he declared,"the racist white people in your country are lunatics. They will do anything to make black people inferior but that will never happen! Blacks will never be an inferior race to anyone because it is not in their DNA. They are great by nature even when facing the harshest conditions!!!" All I could say was Wow! Many African-American fear international travel with the assumption that we will face harsher racism than at home, little do they know almost unanimously infind the opposite. I'm was releaved that this opinionated man did not suggest that there was a superior race of people but also happy that he recognized the challenges and accomplishments of a people who have struggled since their forced arrival to this hemisphere. Before leaving his store I couldn't resist buying a miniature llama to tease dude about the "bad camel" who stole his Icey. We were rapidly ewr running out of time, remember we had to be back at the BNB to pick up our bags and catch our ride to the airport.
One the walk back to the train station we stopped at a restaurant and ordered churr which was a big plate of French fries topped with sliced sausage and onions, topped with 2 sunny side up eggs. I heard our tour guide in valparaiso mention that this filling dish was popular amongst college students who didn't have much money for food. It was a crazy combo and too much even for the three of us.
Everything after this moved pretty fast. We paid the bill, walked to the metro station, went 2 stops, got off and walked back tonight BNB. Reuben was there waiting with his taxi and our bags already in his trunk. I quickly snatched our passports out of my small bag and off we went. Within 20 minutes we were at the airport, super early, check in and ready to head back home.
The flight home was another 9 hours. Unfortunately this time there wasn't enough space to spread out. We all slept well despite our creative positioning. As always our trips were right on point and perfecto. Each and ever journey make me 1000xs more grateful that life has awarded me the opportunity and courage to share the world with my family and for those of you who take to the time to read this blog or watch our videos on YouTube. I was luck enough to find my gift when I was 18 years old. Now it is my life's journey to share that gift and basically give it away to those who are interested. Thank you for letting me share my journeys with you <3