Thursday, 18 December 2014

Touchdown Santiago, Chile …. With not a word of Spanish

Cool Sculpture in the Hostel
Felt like myself .. an idiot Gringo
When I first planned to go to South America as part of the larger portion of RTW travel I did realized that most people do not speak English in this country. I started thinking back on all my travels and realized that if you could survived Greece with no Greek travelling the suburbs then Spanish speaking country was not going to be much harder.

At lease the language is in alphabets that could still be read although it makes no sense yet. Flying into Santiago, Chile was my first stop in Latin America. Almost immediately everything was in Spanish even at the airport and I could slowly see the English language vanishing away as I step outside the departure gate.
“Where do you want to go?” asked the taxi man
Frowning I felt that these Great Taxi man that could speak marvellous English and was so friendly was bound to rip me off if not bring me to somewhere I would need to surrender everything I had. I spend the most time at the airport getting my nerve adjusted, getting money out of ATM, going to toilet to reshuffle everything, bombarding the information counter with question which responded with bare minimum English.
I forgotten how long ago since I visited Greece but was slowly gaining back the survivor instinct. Looking at signs, I found the bus stop, and with just one word ‘Santiago’ I boarded the bus paying the same fare everyone did. I was standing aside for a while to observe what local people do and how much they pay. I could hear the word Santiago and I carefully observed how much they paid.  
Getting off the bus at the large bus stop which I guess was the last stop since everyone departed. I slowly scanned the area. Signpost of ‘Metro’ caught my eye and true enough it was the subway. Hostel world guide to the hostel was working well now since I got the metro.
Republica ….. Re pla bli ca …. Ri pub bli ca ….. the ticket counter scratched her head ….
I was gathering a crowd now with more station warden trying to help make sense what I was saying. Loads of questions in Spanish which I just put on my dumbest look and shrug. I copy down the station name onto a paper and showed her on the window and suddenly they understood and said together with a huge grin …..
Ri Bu Li Ca …. Oh ….so that’s how it is pronounce … fuck me …   
Immediately out came the calculator knowing I have no idea how much it is in Spanish and I paid what was shown. Off the platform and looking at the local map inside the metro I located the Hostel location and started walking. With every street name passed accordingly to what I expect it to be I knew it was just around the corner.
As I neared the hostel a guy carrying rubbish called out to me.
“ Son? Son? “ he said ….
I said no shaking my head at the same time
“Hostel? Hostel?” he asked
Yes, I said
“Maio Vijero” he said and pointed onwards ….
I was so focus on getting to the hostel I did not bothered to remember the hostel name but only the directions.
I said no to the guy and shake my head, smile, shrug and started walking
Two minutes later I was standing in front of the hostel …. Street Toesca, Number 2335 and I saw the Hostel sign painted on the wall …. “Maoi Vijero” …. The door opened and immediately the new guy said “Son ? Son?” ….
I finally got it …. They were trying to call my name … Soon. .... as in Soon Heng.
They get so few Asian travellers here that I was like an exquisite cuisine, and made me feel welcome that they were looking out for me, expecting me …. Awaiting the new spice ….
“Espanol” the new guy who opened the door asked
No …. English ??? I asked back
“Welcome”, he said.
The guy whom I met earlier throwing away rubbish entered the door soon after and seeing me, gave me his biggest grin and said “son?”
 I laughed so hard …… No …. Soon ….call me Edwin please …..

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