Its always difficult to get people to do what you want to do. Well, not always but definitely when its counts or when you want to do it really badly. Often when iv wanted to get out of the city my suggestions have fallen on deaf or uninterested ears. Victim (pronounced vic-team, private joke). So sometimes when an opportunity arises to head out you do it for 2 reasons, 1) because you want to and 2) because you know what it feels like to organise a doomed-to-fail excursion. This time people were heading to Cajon del Maipo, only one hour to the south-ish of Santiago. A place, as I previously mentioned, attempted to go but would have had to rent a crowd. It was to be a Saturday to Sunday trip and of course it was planned for the morning after a night of debauchery.
Come Saturday I was sleep deprived and dehydrated (read- hungover). For once the original time to meet remained the time to meet, Murphey’s Law. Tobalaba Metro station at 10:30. Fellow friens (who carry out their partying without overdoing it) offered their bottled water upon laying eyes on me such a sight was I to see. Cajon del Maipo is easily accessed by public transport. A +/- 40 minutes train ride and then a 20 minute bus trip to a place I cant believe has taken me so long to visit. So dam close and so dam beautiful.
I forgot to mention that at least I managed to make it to the meeting place on time. My French roommate who was accompanying us took a later train and had us wait/waste the precious day before we all took the bus to Cajon del Maipo’s first little town, San Jose. More than an actual place, Cajon del Maipo is an area; a valley with a river running through it and gorgeous mountains rising up on either side of it. The picturesque San Jose reminded me of the Californian town Sonoma. Quiet, rural, green vegetation against blue skies and they even both have their own wines. Since I have such good memories from the states my spirit lifted and I decided to suck up the tiredness and shrug off the queeziness and enjoy the day.
There were seven of us. All overdressed for the prematurely hot spring day we were blessed with. Off with the tights, it was time to expose my long, white legs (the majority of us were Mexican who don’t know what pale even means so you can imagine my dismay). What next? Any of you who have travelled in a big-ish group will know what it is IMpossible to keep everyone happy. Even if you’ve done family trips you should know this. (if not, replace ‘family’ with ‘Bourhill’). Some wanted to hike, some wanted to rest and others were keen to do whatever cost the least. So we chatted to the tourism office, ate some empanadas, chilled in the park and decided to hop back on the bus towards San Alfonso, the next town up river.
Different to San Jose, San Alfonso is less of a town and more of a group of houses on either side of the road filling up the valley. Only once you’ve climbed the mountain and look back down do you realise the full extent of the little town. People have built their homes along dirt roads going towards and slightly up the base of the mountain. The popular style of many houses left us wondering if we had perhaps landed up in Disney land or Bedrock. Some might call it kitsch, other would settle for ‘interesting’ at the least. …
It was around 3pm and we were still yet to actually ‘do’ anything (the mountain climb happened the next day you see). But I tried to remind everyone that the journey is the destination and that it wasn’t exactly true that we ‘hadn’t done anything’ yet. Besides, doing nothing is cheap.
We found ourselves a cabaña (cabin/house) to rent for the night. And being the cheap student-minded people that we are, we bargained her down to paying only 8 lucas each. Not bad. It was still pretty early so we headed back out to amuse ourselves. We walked towards the river but couldn’t seem to get there. My adorably fun-loving Mexican roommate convinced a young man with a flat-bed trailer attached to his 4×4 to give us a little ride. We couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces throughout. So easy to please.
The rest of the day saw us return to San Jose for a bite to eat and more of a walk around, and that evening we played the game ‘papelitos’ or ‘little papers’. It called for two teams, a lot of explaining, acting and belly aching laughter. The point is to write down famous people’s names on pieces of paper and get your team to guess them. The first round is explaining, the second is acting and the third requires you to use only one word. However since the papers are reused throughout the rounds you pretty much know all the names so when someone says ‘singer’ there’s a chorus of ‘Madonna,Beyonce,Emenem,SnoopDogg,LilWayne!’ until the explainee nods in approval and moves on. The reason the famous people chosen were relatively unexciting is because we had to make an effort to make sure the multicultural teams would know all the people. For instance, you weren’t allowed to include someone who’s really, really famous but only in Mexico. Hence the reason for 700 rap artists and as many dictators.
That night we set our clocks forward an hour for summer which really screwed me over somehow. Im not sure how the loss of one hour could have made me so tired but it sure did! Or maybe it was the late to bed early to rise that did it. Only three of us elected to ascend the mountain in the morning. The rest stayed in bed until midday (I love it when that person is not me! But so often it is). Our group of three doubled though when really excitable dogs joined us for the hike. I swear they must have walked double as far because every time they were 5 meters ahead they would rush back to say hello, wagging their entire bodies. See dog in picture below.
Once again I realised that I will only be able to last so long living in a city. At the least I will need to be in a residential area but ideally way away from all the crazyness. It’s not like I’m some crazy adventure sport enthusiast or anything, so I don’t know why this is the case- it just is. Where I chose to finally settle myself will take a lot of thought however since I don’t want the crazy but I don’t want to die of boredom either.
It was time to head back to the big bad city so we gathered our things and the rest of our crew and started to mission home. While waiting for the bus we came across yesterday’s kind young man with his 4×4. We convinced him to put 7 people in his car and take us as far as he was going. The newfound close proximity to this good Samaritan revealed his not-so-bad-looks and freshly showered smell (opposite to what he looked like he would smell like the day before). And I couldn’t help but wonder if this rural boy would be any different to the Chilean men I had been aligning myself with in the city. (read- not exactly great experiences). I like to believe he would be different, but I would never find out.