Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Chilean Water Torture

.....This post will cover the first night and first full day in Chile.

When I we last left you, we were being mercifully driven away from the "Indian Best Western" (Best Eastern?)

In the cab, fuBarrio quickly assured Golden Lotus that our quick inspection of the room probably wasn't enough exposure to need a delousing, but couldn't help unconciously scratching.

A $20 cab ride later, and we ended up in a nice, upscale neighborhood in Santiago called "Provedencia". If you are going to stay in Santiago as a tourist, you should probably put this neighborhood on your "short list". Unfortunately, I can't say the same thing for our hotel.

While worlds better than our previous choice, this hotel's main building was actually full when we arrived. However, they had a separate building that they called their "express"....The "express" rooms were spacious, *relatively* clean, and at 3:00 a.m., after calling 5 different hotels and finding them all full, little details like sheets so worn they are see-through become less of an issue. We woke up six hours later, in time to shower, eat breakfast, and check out.

The bathroom was large and had an inexpensive redecoration done on it recently....the wallpaper was mildewing and peeling slightly. At this point, it wasn't clear why there would be a water problem in a newly redecorated bath. We were so tired when we got in that I didn't even notice the dripping of the shower faucet until the next morning....that is until the maid knocked, entered before we could tell her to go away, and inquired how many people were sleeping in the room -- at 8:30 (grrrr!!!)

I tried to be kind and suggest that she was going to ask if we needed more towels....Golden Lotus insisted that she had assumed "fuBarrio" was a Mexican name and we had an extended family of 12 in the room. I used her visit as an unwelcome wakeup call.

When I turned on the shower, I was relieved to find that the water pressure was nice and strong. Unfortunately, part of the shower head, the part that holds it in place apparently was cracked and half-missing. The force of the shower would, after a spell, push the shower head up and spray water forcefully, directly into the ceiling of the bathroom.

Due to the fact that fuBarrio is of greater than average height (when standing on his hind legs) shower heads in cheaper bath/shower combos (like those found in cheap hotels) typically hit him about mid-chin.

When a shower is functioning properly, it is a minor inconvenience of slouching (more than usual!) or squatting down to wash his wisp of white hair on top of his head.

However, on this occasion, the forcefulness of the showerhead, coupled with height, gave fuBarrio a couple of early morning "nose enemas" on those unfortunate occasions he was stupid enough to be facing the showerhead.

About 45 minutes later when the water draining from fuBarrio's sinuses slowed to a merely "embarrassing" trickle, GL and fB went to the breakfast buffet and make plans for their next night's accomodations.

fuBarrio's main protein source at breakfast were slimy half-cooked scrambled eggs encased in a 4 day old pie crust that the help staff kept replenishing with equally slimy eggs....GL informed fB that one could "tell" how old the pie crust was by the white blisters the liquid had raised on the surface of the crust's bottom.

GL, a coffee nut, after such a long first night, asked where the coffee was. Unlike fuBarrio, GL was not raised on processed food, and was a little confused to find that the coffee was actually a pot of hot water and a small bowl of freeze dried crystals next to it.

fuBarrio tended to stick to the Chilean breads, but after nearing chipping a canine on the surface of one particular piece, he decided to call it a "wrap" on their first breakfast.

At this point, fuBarrio was starting to get the feeling that they were going to have to go a little further "upmarket" in the hotel category to acheive the kind of rest and relaxation he was after....

....After calling around Santiago, we found many of the hotels full in January. fuBarrio found vacancies at the Crown Plaza and Radisson (the Sheraton was hosting a boat cruise and had no vacancies -- very strange for a town without a seaport, but this wasn't the first cruise group we ran into in Santiago).

We decided on the Crown Plaza -- a very nice hotel, and if we hadn't have felt like we needed to leave our cocoon of safety and see the rest of Chile, fuBarrio would probably still be sunning his spotted skin poolside as I type this.

Ciao for now,

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