Meeting the group.
16.07.2008 - 16.07.2008 5 °C
Today, I met my group on the tour for the first time. There were around 15 of us doing this trek from Santiago to La Paz. A mixture of ages from 21 to 62, with a clustering between the ages of 24 and 35. Everyone appeared friendly and more importantly seemed laid back. A few had already done one GAP adventures tour, so this would be their second.
Some others yet, were using GAP to string them across the entire continent for several months. I could only take this as testimony to the tour operator. You don't spend so much money with one agent without them being good...I figured.
Some sights and photos taken at random during the afternoon in Santiago.
I wandered around Santiago city in the afternoon for a few hours. I caught a museum dedicated to Chile's most forward thinking president: Salvador Allende and found it to be quite boring.
Nothing to do with him, but more to do with my ignorance of Chile's political history and the fact that museums really don't hold much interest for me. I mean, this last point is somehting I think has taken me literally forever to acknowledge. Museums, are in my opnion, simply boring. So utterly devoid of any meaningful interaction. Apart from anything else, all they seem to do is lead its visitors on a meandering walkthrouhg of historical artefacts, pictures and poems, often held in glass cases, I knew that wheneve rI travel, I'm more often than not going to stop off at a museum and more often than not, I come out the other end feeling like it was a waste of time. Of course, I acknowledge this is not true for everyone. And for some, museums are undeniably fascinating. For me, however they lack imaginatio, and fail in the one aspect that they were surely designed for: to inform and to educate.
I couldn't tell you a single thing about Victor Allende....sorry Salvador Allende's life. Was he a president, prime minister? Was he a socialist? Republican? Dictator? What did he do that was so impacting, that an entire musesum was dedicated in his honour. That was so undoubtedly pioneering, that people felt compelled ti write entire pages in the guestbooks left at the exit of each exhibition. The thing is: I'd like to have come away, knowing the answer to these questions. That, at least, would have been informative. But museums just don't connect the dots properly. Perhaps I should have read up more, before visiting. Who knows? Anyway, the next time I go to a museum it might be because someone paid me!
Back at the hotel, our tear leader Miguel, gave us a quick meet and greet. Amiable. That's the word, I'd have to use when describing this plump, tall but stockily built Chilean. He had a very honest face and his manner was more "At your service", rather than "I'm your leader". And that was nice. We were all going to be together for about 3 weeks, and the last thing I'm sure anyone wanted to do was follow. Least of all me!
That night, I had my first proper night out since arriving. We went to a really nice Thai restaurant in the Bella Vista neighbourhood. I got to know some of the group better.
Lucinda 24 - From Fulham was on a career break.
Angelie 21 - From Holland
Will and Amanda - From England, both in their early twenties.
Conversation revolved around niceties, such as what do you do, how long have you been travelling for, and which places have you been to. A lot of the group had been to Argentina and Brazil.
Place names, like Rio, Sao Paulo, Mendoza and Buenos Aires were mentioned time and again.
Later we moved on to a bar and the TV screen was showing music video clips from the 80s. Each one was about 10 seconds long. No sooner had you made out the first tune, INXS' "Never Tear us Apart", the thing had moved on to Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer". And so on. And it was the audible equivalent of being tied up and spun around on a chair, opening your eyes and shouted at for 10 seconds, before being spun around again. I don't know why, but part of me thought that despite this being slightly infuriating it was also quite fun!
After a few drinks, many of the group that knew one another from previous tours carrie don drinking until the early hours.
It would be the first and last time the group was all together.
I decided to taxi it back with a few others, as I had an early-ish start the next day to a naval town about 2 hours drive north of Santiago called Valparaiso.