Week of July 04, 2004
We stayed in Renaca an additional day so we could catch the Euro Cup final at a great neighborhood establishment called Brandemburgo (named for a famous arch in Berlin, Germany). After several game viewings by Gerson and I, we were treated as one of the family.
This week was spent trying to take care of that personal schtuff that creeps into our lives no matter where we are or what we are doing. Fortunately, we took Francisco and Lolly (that wonderful couple that we met in Pichidangui) up on their offer to stay with them for a few days while we got acclimated to Santiago. It was fantastic to have a great place to stay, a safe place to park Cindy and access to the resources necessary for us to find a place to" camp" for the next few weeks (as well as store Cindy when we return to the U.S. next month).
Francisco was away on a business trip so Lolly doted on us and made us feel unbelievably welcome. Needless to say, we were well fed and well rested during our stay with their family (which consists of daughter Paulina, son Diego, and maid Maria). And, we even got the chance to watch the beginning of the Copa America wherein the first round hosted Brasil vs. Chile (Brasil won 1-0! much to Paulina's chagrin).
We called to and looked at several possible locations for our stay and kept running into obstacles (like a circus was to be located where we wanted to camp...) so we were quite discouraged. At our behest, Lolly dropped us off in the Barrio Brasil and lo and behold, we found an estacionamento that agreed to park Cindy. We hesitantly asked could we "camp" in Cindy in the parking lot and after a little negotiation, we found ourselves camped just a short distance from the center of the city (and much of its history) with all the amenities (bathroom, shower, electricity, potable water) for an overwhelming cost of $4 per day. And, we even got our own guard dog, Muneco (the mellowest dog you ever did see - unless there is another male dog in the area, then the devil-dog emerges).
Not wasting any time, I signed up for a "Super Intensive" spanish school that because of a very small enrollment, will give me a seven hours a day (for five days) of virtually one-on-one teaching. Not that it will help anyway because I am a total dunce when it comes to learning another language. But yes, I will give it my all and nothing less.
We toddled around on a suggested walking tour and several hours later, we found that we had covered the entire downtown area where a significant amount of Santiago's history is located. We really enjoyed ourselves for this city affords the tourist many different and interesting aspects to experience.
Week of July 11, 2004
July 11, 2004! One year anniversary of my practicing retirement :-). We celebrated by walking through the maze of artesian kiosks, stopping to listen to the many different bands playing on various corners and in various plazas, and just kibitzing with the local newspaper/magazine hawkers (of all places, Gerson finds a fellow Brazilian). Finishing off the day with Gerson's awesome bar-b-que, we made a very good friend in Muneco who got the bones and the "fatty" pieces of meat. I have a feeling that Cindy will be well-protected.
This week I waded through my escuela de espanol (Tandem Santiago). I was fortunate enough to find a terrific school close by to "home" and that did not have crowded classes. As it turned out, I only had two other students in my morning class and I had the equivalent to private lessons in the afternoon (seeing as no one else had enrolled for the additional hours). I feel my spanish has greatly improved (but then, my spanish was so bad there was no way for me to get worse) and now I have the motivation to continue studying the language. Of course, in a few months we will be in Brasil and they speak Portuguese *rolling eyes*.
While I was being the good estudiante, Gerson had the pleasure of trying to get Cindy repaired. "Now what!?" you ask. As has been our experience, if we do not watch every little thing that gets done on Cindy, someone inevitably screws something else up. Here is the latest...
When we were outside of Santiago, Cindy stalled at a toll booth for the "Autopista". We pushed her over to the side of the road and we were unable to get her re-started. We realized later that we had just flooded the carburetor (which had a slight gasoline leak thanks to a modification that Rolando in Bolivia completed, and the tampered part failed causing the carburetor to choke). Anyway, the carburetor was easily fixed and this is not the end of the story.
When we realized we were stuck, we took advantage of the tow service that assists stranded drivers along the Autopista for "gratis" (free). The tow truck driver was extremely nice and very professional and he presented himself as completely knowledgeable as to how to pull/lift a vehicle onto the flatbed. We confirmed that his truck could handle Cindy's petite weight and there was no concern there.
At the instruction of the tow truck driver, Gerson hopped into the cab of Cindy and I kept an eye on the back bumper/spare tire/bicycle rack (to make sure the back end did not drag). The tow truck driver hooked us up and within a minute, Cindy was perched and secured on top of the flatbed. Being rather amazed at how easy the process was, I walked around the flatbed and made ready to climb into the truck cab.
It was then I noticed what has now cost us $150 and Gerson two days to repair - the tow truck driver hooked the tow cable to our "drag link" (steering arm which is attached to the steering wheel - kind of important!), completely ignoring the two massive tow hooks we have on either side of the front of Cindy's chassis. I gently prodded Gerson to have the driver remove the hook and cable from the drag link and reattach it to one of the hooks. Upon removing the hook, we found the drag link bar to be significantly bent, but still intact.
As it turned out, Cindy was drivable but the steering wheel was completely out of balance and there was an unsteadiness to Cindy's maneuvering. Needless to say, we made this repair a priority and fortunately, after quite a bit of searching, we found the exact replacement part. Here are the pictures - you tell me if you would have noticed our dainty tow hooks...
We also managed to slide in a little fun by heading up to the Parque Metropolitano and enjoying the awesome view of Santiago. We had a little rain during our stay here so the Andes were blinding with their white brilliance.
And, realizing that we were within close proximity to a hippodrome (horse racing), we took advantage of a sunny day to visit the horses and to donate our money to the facility. I did hit one quinela for a whopping $3 win (hey, that was on a $.30 investment, a 10x payout!), and it was fun realizing that I was one of five women in the entire place. Let's just say the Chilean society still has very distinguishable gender roles.