It was a mere two hours from Valparaiso back to Santiago, after reading a few chapters of the Sir Alex Ferguson autobiography I decided upon a little snooze, it semt like it only lasted two minutes though as we were dropped off just outside the big bus terminal in Santa Cruz.
We arrived in Santi at around 110.30pm so we would not be in Santiago that long, we had a bus the next morning to go to San Pedro de Atacama so our plan was simple to save costs we would rough it in the bus terminal until the next morning and catch our 23 hour bus to the desert are of Chile. The moment we arrived at the terminal I had a bad feeling. My thought process was that if the bus terminal was infact open all night why wouldn't all the homeless people stay there? Plus the morning we arrived in Santiago to go Santa Cruz there were shutters down in sections and gates closed. I suggested to Earl that maybe we should ask someone if the bus terminal was infact open all night but for one reason or another we didn't. We set up camp on the second floor and were joined by an interesting sort waiting in the terminal; the one that struck me was an old woman who looked like she hadn't seen water since she was a youngster. She liked to walk a few meters back and forth. Sit on benches and then stand up. It was like she was doing a free cardio work-out. Though the craziest thing for me was when she was throwing Halls Soothers wrappers all over the place and then laughing and pointing at them. Despite the distractions of the crazy lady I finished the great read of the Fergie autobiography and all was looking good as we ticked by the midnight hour. Thirty minutes later though and things would not look as good as we got kicked out of our floor space and made to move downstairs where they told us that the terminal shut at 1pm. s***! We knew the bus terminal would re-open around 5am but that would leave us 4 hours in the streets of Santiago ad neither of us fancied that because of the cold and the grim looking people hanging around, we were also advised that the area wasn't the safest of places. It left us in a pickle. Plans were hard to come by and most involved spending money which we didn't want to. There was a plan to get a taxi to our old hostel in Santiago, but reasoning that the journey would be quite far we thought staying local would be best. Where the bus dropped us off I noticed some hotels for a fairly decent rate so we decided to walk those dodgy streets and enquire. It turned out the hotels were hourly paid establishments presumably for the use of prostitutes, it didn't help that the woman trying to broker our deal to stay there didn't speak a word of English so we scarpered. There was an Ibis hotel right next to the bus station we knew the rooms would be fairly pricey , but they had a 24 hour bar so we thought if we could get a few drinks in there we would be ok. Unfortunately that was not the case. Apparently you had to have a reservation to get a drink. I enquired about a room but they said they were fully booked. That was bull s***. I know from my time as working as a night manager I would tell people we were fully booked to avoid work. I tried some tricks to try and get them to give us some details such as saying there was availability on the internet but the language barrier made it hard and he just thought I was after a Wi-Fi password. It was looking like we would be roughing it in the cold streets surrounding the bus station o getting a taxi but as the terminal was now closed taxi's had bolted to pastures knew in search of business. So we made our way down the main road hoping to stumble into a hostel, cheap hotel, taxi or anywhere warm we could stay for a few hours. A stray dog decided to follow us giving us a sense of security; maybe we would be able to rough it on the streets. The dog abandoned us though; I think it saw another stray dog and probably want to get its end away. It didn't matter though as a few minutes later we came across Hotel Railef, it would be £28 for the room, it was more than we were used to paying for accommodation but it had the benefactors that we would be safe, warm and we would be able to sleep ad came with breakfast. So that was it the deal was struck, and to be honest you could say we deserved a bit more luxury as it was our 100th night in South America.
The next morning was a struggle getting out of bed because of the freezing temperatures but I managed to drag myself to breakfast which consisted of just a poxy serving of toast and blackcurrant jam. It should be noted that the only two times we have stopped in a hotel on this trip we have got a terrible breakfast. So my advice is you want a good breakfast look elsewhere. With breakfast consumed we made our way back to the bus terminal where we would eventually set off on the 23 hour bus to the desert in San Pedro de Atacama.
So until next time stay safe and take care