Today is my last day at the hostel. I awoke at around 8:30-9 and walked out to the kitchen to see the German couple who have been staying with us sitting eating their breakfast with Sandra and Thomas. I thought this a bit strange because normally guests aren't allowed back in our living quarters. But I quickly realized why they weren't in the common room when I walked in there and was blasted with a foul stench of vomit and cleaner. Apparently one of the NOLS students couldn't quite make it from the floor where he was sleeping upstairs to the toilet and instead spewed the entire contents of his pisco/beer/food stomach all over the rug, across the floor, up the stairs and in and around the toilet in the bathroom. Luckily for me, however, all this had occurred much earlier in the morning before I woke up and the puker, with help from a few other NOLS students and Sandra and Thomas, had it mostly cleaned up. The rug was hung up outside along with the blankets and the floor was getting a few rounds of mopping to help clean the smell. Both doors were wide open to help waft it towards the great outdoors, but it still had a faint smell that lingered for hours.
I helped serve the breakfast to the remaining guests and then I started packing my own bags. The transfer to the airport was scheduled to arrive early in the afternoon and I had to do a few things before I left. I finished the video I was making for the hostel website and Facebook and made Sure all the copies of the maps I had created were printed and ready to go. The map I had made of the city's hotspots had fallen off the door where we had hung it so I made sure it was back in place before I left. Poor little Mateo had fallen ill the day before so was having a pretty rough day when it was finally time to leave. Sandra had been trying to get him to lay down for a siesta when my transfer arrived so Thomas ran and got them to say bye. Mateo was full of tears and made me get tears in my eyes when I kissed is little cheek goodbye. Sandra and Thomas were great people to work for and some of the most awesome Germans I think I have ever met. I will miss them but I am excited to try out the hostel world of a bigger city...
After picking me up the transfer drove around the city to pick up others at other hotels and hostels before starting towards the airport, which is about a 45 minute drive outside of Coyhaique. The ride around town was a nice way to say goodbye to the streets and places I had frequented during my time here. bittersweet.
At the airport I checked in and started waiting by the gate. There was a brief moment when I panicked and thought I was at the wrong gate because I only say signs for LAN airline and I was flying with Sky... I asked a nice gentlemen if I was in the right area and he confirmed I was. I thought about it a minute longer and realized my panic was silly because the Balmaceda airport is so small that they only have two gates and they are literally right next to each other. My plane was just late. Haha. It ended up being an hour late by the time we boarded, and it was confusing for the incoming crowd who was flying LAN and trying to board our plane because it should have been the time for them to board theirs. My next worry was how I was going to contact Felipe to let him know my flight was late because I had no cell phone now and no Internet to send a message.
I had a short half hour layover in Puerto Montt where some people had their final destination but the rest of us were staying on the plane to go to Santiago. I asked the man next to me if I could borrow his cell phone to call Felipe but for some reason it wasn't going through. So I sat silently hoping he would somehow check the flight times on the airports website, if there was one, and he could see I was going to be late.
A brief comparison of LAN and SKY airlines: SKY has way better airplane food than the latter, where I was fed a delicious tray of snacks on the first leg of my journey and then an actual meal on the second half. LAN however, was on time when I flew to Coyhaique, but had a less desirable snack.
Finally my plane arrived in Santiago and descended through the clouds of pouring rain. I had never seen such a sight quite like that before -- the plane wasn't in the rain but we could see the sheets of rain pouring on different pets of the city with sections of sunlight beaming through. A wet but stunning sight to behold of my new home.
We got off the plane and stepped onto the bus to take us to the main terminal where I collected my bag quickly and ran to see if I could find Felipe at the door. Much to my confusion I couldn't find him for a good few minutes, pacing through the crowd from exit to exit and finally wandered outside to see if maybe he had been waiting out by the street. By this time I had started to get slightly worried with a million different scenarios running through my head, when Through the crowd I finally saw him, dressed in a nice pressed suit from his interview early in the day, walking quickly towards me with open arms and both of us immediately started apologizing. I was confused at his apologies at first, because it was I who was late, but then he explained that he had spent the last 2 1/2 hours in a crazy traffic jam (when it should normally only be a 1/2 hr journey) due to five accidents on the interstate. We decided to sit for awhile at the airport and eat to try to avoid the horrible traffic that was sure to still be waiting for us.
Finally we went to the car and started heading into the city. He drove me around for awhile pointing out things here and there. One of the areas we passed was a university campus and I saw a lot of signs for motels which I thought was kinda funny. Then he explained that a motel in Chile is a bit different than what a motel is in the US. Here almost everyone lives with their parents until they are through college and usually even longer until they are about to get married. It is the common way of life here. Colleges and Universities do not have dormitories. So, getting privacy from your family is sometimes hard to get, especially when you are dating someone. Thus, you can go to a motel to find that special time to spend with someone and pay by the hour. Some are pretty cheap but some are more nice, where you get a jacuzzi in your room or it might be a theme (like jungle, Egyptian, even circus). And they are really private too, where in some you even pull your car into its own private stall and someone closes the gate behind you and they never see you and you never see them. Then you would get out of your car and pay through a little hole in the wall then walk down a hall with doors that would only open if there was no one on the other side. Other motels might have a check in desk and then they have you sit in a little booth with a curtain while you wait for your room to be ready. This whole concept was quite entertaining for me to hear about but it also made a bit of sense with their family culture.
We eventually made it to his family's apartment where his parents, his 21 year old sister and him live. It is a tall building with a swimming pool in the back and a parking garage under the building. Parking garages in chile were a bit weird looking to me at first because of the massive amount of support beams which made for careful navigating, but with all the earthquakes that this country has every year, one can understand their need.
It felt good to finally be in Santiago and I was ready to have a great couple weeks of vacation before finding a new hostel to work at, even if my first taste of the warmer weather in the north was a night of rain :-)