Thursday, April 9, 2015

Before I forget all the very important details- The Caleu Post!

My apologies for the wait- I hope the anticipation did not kill anyone(;
Lets start from the very beginning- it's a very good place to start (Sound of Music Reference here!)
So Hannah and I decided that we needed a weekend away, and when I started looking for day trips I realized that most of the touristy destinations would probably require a weekend away. However, I stumbled upon a hidden gem (I think we can call it a gem...but I'll leave that up to you to decide when you hear the deets..), called the Nacional Parque de Campaña. Online they showed beautiful views, nice hiking trails, the works. It appeared as though there were a few hostels in the surrounding area, but of course, with our last minute travel decision most of them were booked. Quick note on that one- *spoiler alert* This hostel booking website also said that Hostel Caleu "only had one room remaining to book!" as if you needed to rapidly find your credit card and reserve the room before the millions of other tourists would snatch your overnight getaway right out of your hands. On the other hand...when we arrived- it was PLAIN AS DAY that there was not a soul staying in this hostel. For heaven's sake, when pulled up to the hostel and got out of the taxi, we found a lady who appeared to be running the show- and get this- she knew Hannah's name. Do you think she knows all of the names of her customers? I think so- mostly because she has one every once in a blue moon! Therefore I highly doubt Hannah and I's frantic facebook messaging back and forth was necessary...

Back to the deets- So after calling the hostel- failing to communicate my questions with my scratchy man voice (my throat is always so dry here!), crappy chilean phone and sub-par spanish conversational skills....I meandered on over to my host mom's room to beg for help. 3 phone calls later we determined that the Hostel in fact does exist (the address online literally gave a street name- a street that does not exist on any map I checked- and of course, without a street number), that there were alleged buses to this hostel and that it was- and I quote- "easy to get to once you arrive in Caleu." 
I kept asking Hannah if she was sure we should book the reservation (there was a cancellation policy of course...) because we really were going to have to wing it if we were going to try to locate this place. Her response? "This is going to be so fun!" and "Let's do it!". Thank you Hannah, for your valuable thoughts. We did even have a street address for heavens sake! But I kept calm and carried on...
I mean how could you resist her optimism...

So the next morning- following my FAVORITE 8:30am FRIDAY class (if you are not sensing some sarcasm here you need to re-evaluate things)- Hannah and I met up at the Metro station where you can catch a bus to virtually any city in Chile....except Caleu of course. After some discussion we determined that we need to first take a bus to Til-Tíl (the accent is important! without it people cannot help you locate the city you need to go to- correct- they cannot infer that Til-Til and Til-Tíl are the same place...).

After about an hour on the bus people start getting off at what appears to be random destinations. This often happens here- buses turn into public taxi rides and there are rarely definite bus stops. Therefore it took Hannah and I a while to realize that we needed to get off the bus before the driver took us all the way back to Santiago. Luckily we were able to communicate that we needed to be dropped off at the "Bus Terminal" (terminal is a very loose term) where another bus could then take us to Caleu. Because you know- that bus must exist if the lady on the phone says so...
We hop off the bus and land smack dab in the middle of an incredibly rural town "center". 
Upon taking 10 steps, potentially looking around one time (we did NOT even look lost at this point) people began to ask what we needed. No worries folks- we got this- we know what we are doing- all we need is the bus stop. Someone responded that a bus runs on the road to our right and thus we stood on the sidewalk and proceeded to wait aimlessly for the potential next bus to pass. 
Next thing you know a mail man approaches us (yes a mail man...) and once again asks us what we need- (as if gringos always need help! sheesh) We tell him that we need to go to Caleu- and his reaction? He chuckles to himself, asks us to repeat and then says- "lol, you should just go back to Santiago because there ain't no bus to Caleu from here" Use your imagination here because that is a rough- but accurate- translation (; Swell. Not losing too much hope (but still a considerable amount) we proceed to walk toward an official looking building. At this point Hannah may have lost all hope- she left me to communicate our serious struggle in Spanish while she gave me the deer in the headlights look. For those of you who don't know Hannah- please note that when it comes to spanish skills- she is way better at pretending she understands what people are saying and proceeding to promptly respond in a manner that would lead you to believe she knows her spanish well. Thus- when she left all the talking to me- well, I was utterly confused. Luckily my need based spanish kicked in and I kept my cool for the both of us. Upon entering and explaining our predicament once more we finally get ourselves somewhere. These nice people have attempted to call the hostel for us and after some slight research on the Internet on their computer they find out that we need to take a cab and that against all odds- once again- the hostel is REAL. 
Skipping the gory details- lets just say we arrive 45 minutes later! SUCCESS=

Not only does the lady know Hannah's name, additionally, when we ask about when breakfast starts she responds "Whenever you come to the restaurant". Lolz- our own private hostel. Maybe there really was only one room left...because there is only one room in the hostel!   
We explore the grounds and find both signs that say "do not eat the fruit" and a plethora of beautiful fruit trees- that we proceed to eat off of....don't act surprised- how could you resist!

I swear- I only stole one! (of each....)
We then proceeded to embark on the next CRUCIAL step to our wellbeing and happiness- wine of course. And we must've had the luck of the Irish (she does have red hair...and I got some freckles!) because the one building in the small town of Caleu just so happened to be a mini-market, that happened to become open once we arrived (gringo perks!) and most importantly HAD a box of cheap wine. I'm talking three dollars for 1 L of red wine...that's right- slightly more than one bottle- perfect for the two of us to enjoy our night(:
Oh the night....after relaxing by the pool and doing some light reading/homework we made dinner in our little mini-kitchenette. 
Hannah brought pasta for us to cook so we feasted on some spirals and tomato sauce that resembled ketchup (red sauce does not exist here...apparently the Italian immigrants don't trust Chileans with their secret recipes...they can't make pizza correctly either!).
I have stolen all these photos of Hannah- in the midst of our chaos she was able to document our adventure!
Above all- of course. The town made an executive decision to shut off the power. Maybe there just weren't enough citizens in the area to incentivize the continued electricity or maybe the only social servant of the town fell asleep on the job...all i know is that were lucky that the electricity did not pertain to our gas stove cooking! Ironically enough, the one time that having a TV would come in handy (lets just say that there are limited amount of things we could do to entertain ourselves in the isolation of Caleu) and the one time that I have actually been around a TV- the TV didn't work. Nevertheless Hannah and I politely requested some Chilean cards (fun fact: not the same! there aren't kings, queens or jacks, just numbers 1-12). We played go fish while feeling slightly tipsy but incredibly entertained- read: when else would go fish be sufficiently entertaining? Thus the wine was a necessary aliment....
We fell asleep at a nice early hour of 10pm, chatting the night away and laughing at the absurdity of our situation. We woke up the next morning and informed María (let's call her María..because honestly her accent was so thick that neither Hannah nor I could figure out what to call her) that we were awake and would love some breakfast. She served us a tasty meal of eggs, fresh bread, jam and juice. Accordingly we received a quizzical look when we requested black coffee- but by now I'm used to the disbelief of American customs. 
We went on to pay 2.000 pesos to enter the "Parque" which consisted of a hill- yuup- they called the elevated areas of hiking here "Cerros" which translates to "hill". This particular hill was called "Cerro Ruble" and I am quite sure that we were one of 5 people to climb it that weekend. The trail started off simple enough, sandy and winding around the mountainside. Two hours later it became more of a trek- there were multiple 'trails' and an increasingly steep path up to the top. We never made it- not that I could really tell you what that would constitute- but nevertheless we enjoy some incredible views of the mountains and valley (and apparently some of the mountains we saw were the Andes all the way in Argentina!). 
Somehow we also proceeded to finish all the pasta we made despite me initial suggestion that we would never finish 5 servings of pasta....hiking makes you hungry! We safely and happily returned back down the hill, requested María to call a cab for us (only a minor struggle...) and hopped in the car for one heck of a political debate. The cab driver decided to ask for our thoughts on his passionate assertions about Chile and the corrupt nature of the system. Let's just say at the point I just smiled and said sometimes bad things just happen...and I'm sorry if you think the US sticks it's nose in erebody's business....We paid and somehow managed to get dropped off at a bus bench where quite literally 2 minutes later a bus to Santiago promptly pulled up to the curb. Sweet victory I tell you(: 
Oh come on- we deserved that wine!
The cherry on top....when I finally made it home to my sweet abode in Nuñoa, there was homemade pizza in the oven. ¡Qué Linda! 


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