Thursday 13th November – Colbun Lake to Santiago (Happy Birthday Ben and Dad).

I woke up early as I was planning on getting a lift with Christian and his father who were heading into town for a meeting.  When I went down for breakfast I met Christian´s cousin (Felipe) who said that he was driving to Santiago and asked if I wanted a lift rather than having to get the bus.  I was extremely pleased for the lift as it meant that the journey would be quicker and that I would not have to contend with small children practicing their football skills on my back!

I was sad to leave “Chez L´Habitant” at Lake Colbun ( and would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone and everyone.  The place was perfect for rest and relaxation but also a great spot for trekking, watersports, riding and outdoor activities.  On top of that the place was beautiful, the food was awesome and the family were absolutely lovely – and they spoke English which helped me no end.  I´m not a great fan of the whole product placement thing in my blog but credit where credit´s due and all.

So we set off in Felipe´s car, at great speed it has to be said.  For some reason he didn´t make me nervous though, perhaps it´s because it was one of those huge trucks which make you, somewhat artificially, feel like you could drive into a cliff and the cliff would come off worse.  At one point on the motorway there was this horrendous high pitched noise.  He was very excited and, after giving me a high five, it transpired that the noise meant that some high-tech gizmo in his car had just blocked a Police radar.  He was quite a character actually, a bit insane but a friendly sort.  En route to Santiago we stopped at his son´s school so that he could pay his fees.  I got out, lit a cigarette and paused at the school gates to finish it.  He beckoned me in saying that it was fine.  Evidently it wasn´t as, after he went to pay, I was rather strongly told off by a matron, school teacher type.  That -really- did make me feel like a naughty school girl which is somewhat ironic as I was so good at school and besides I didn´t smoke until I was older.

After more rapid driving we arrived in Santiago.  Felipe asked where I was going to stay and I showed him somewhere in my guide.  As we got into the city he spoke to one of his friends on the phone and then told me that it was in a bad area of the city.  I wasn´t too fussed as I planned to just use their free internet and have an early night prior to my early flight but he didn´t seem to think it was a great idea.  So we went to an area where he was visiting a friend and I met Jose.  We checked out a local Residenciale which, along with being quite expensive, was full up.  We went to Jose´s flat come studio and I soon realised that Felipe was not lying when he said his friend was a very talented artist.  The place was amazing with the most beautiful giant canvases everywhere.  The piece he was working on was a huge canvas of fishing boats and it was exquisite.  We went out for lunch at a salad place, akin to Subway but you bought a basic pot of lettuce type leaves then added loads of things to it.  It was a great idea and I think I´m going to export it!  When we got back to his flat Jose said that I was very welcome to sleep on the bed in his lounge and I thanked him telling him I may do but would decide later.  Felipe left to go and see a friend and suggested we could meet for drinks later and I went to use the internet and to leave Jose to finish the fishing boats painting.

Jose lived in the Providencia part of Santiago which is meant to be the more arty, funky type area and you could feel that there were more businessy ´to do´types around.  The place had a good feel about it actually with some rather nice old architecture in parts.  When the first internet cafe I went to was shut I went to find another and managed to get sucked into a salon for a manicure.  All was well until she started putting the colour on.  I had asked for black nail varnish which I always think they must heave an internal sigh at and she promptly began putting it all over my fingers with some bits almost accidentally on my fingernails!  I´m not sure if it was her or the nail varnish itself but it was also really inconsistent.  The rest of the manicure was great though so I didn´t have a moan.  Besides I´m not quite sure my Spanish was up to it.

After using an internet cafe I headed back to Jose´s house.  He offered me some nice Chilean wine and we chatted about his art and various other things.  He was on the verge of moving from landscapes to more abstract pieces.  He showed me an area where he was experimenting with paint, almost like models.  He had dried collections of oils which he photographed close up, enlarged and then painted.  There were various lenses from tiny magnifying ones to large convex and concave pieces of glass which he used to look for the right pieces and angles.  Jose made me feel really welcome and I decided that it was both safe and okay to stay.  In my risk assessment (I can´t help it) I figured he had more to lose than I did as I could technically take anything from his flat and, if he tried anything, I could do untold damage with his canvases which represented several years of work.  So we had some wine and then Jose cooked some gorgeous salmon and vegetable tortillas.  For a while I was wondering why he was being so kind.  This was apparently largely as I had been introduced as a friend of Felipe´s and also, I think, a lot to do with the whole Chilean outlook and character.  After eating and chatting some more I needed something from the shops and we headed out.  Jose despaired at the modern, soulless tower blocks and pointed out the beautiful architecture that they were replacing.  On the way back we stopped at a very funky little bar for a drink prior to heading back and talking until too close to my flight.

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