Saturday, March 28, 2015

Back Home

The unpacking is done--there's food in the refrigerator again--the washer and dryer are cranking--yes, we're back in Cuenca after a month away. I gave you a quickie overview of Santiago before we headed to the coast en route to the cruise ship. In the coming days I want to go back and relive our journey with you. When we were on land our schedules were too busy, and while I had time to write on the boat Internet access was prohibitively expensive (75 cents a minute--ouch!).

I did jot down daily notes and of course took tons of photos, all of which I look forward to sharing with you. For now I'll recap life in Casa Staton since we returned three nights ago.

Wednesday We got up at 4:30 AM (not our favorite way to start the day) in Buenos Aires to go to the airport. We (SPOILER ALERT) absolutely loved the city, but I must say the international airport is the worst I've ever experienced. Oddly the lights weren't even on inside when we arrived, and the carpet was worn completely down to the rubber backing in many areas. That "Extreme Makeover" dude needs to pay this dump a surprise visit.

Good news: our flight to Guayaquil was nonstop. Bad news: the legroom on the plane must have been the absolute minimum allowed by law. At 6'3" I could barely fit the space (which inevitably got smaller when the person in front of me reclined his seat). Thank goodness I managed to fall asleep twice to shorten the awareness of my discomfort.

As an aside, don't you just love trying to eat your meal within the straightjacket confines of your seat on a plane? Your elbows are almost touching as you carefully, carefully raise each bite of food slowly towards your mouth. You know if anything drops into your lap it's doomed to stay there until the end of the flight. You start taking the tops off of everything and unwrapping your silverware but then where do you put the trash? There's only about a one inch picture frame of tray table peeking out from around your plate and drink, so you have to wade up the trash, reach around all your now-exposed stuff, pray you don't knock anything over, and cram it all next to the magazine. What a lovely dining experience!

Anyway, we finally got out of the taxi around 9 PM and the moment I always look forward to the most about coming home was upon me-- lugging all the heavy luggage (wonder if that's where the verb 'to lug' came from?) up four flight of stairs to our apartment. That accomplished, we unpacked just enough to get ready for bed and take a nice hot shower.

H-m-m-m---no water. Really???

I go downstairs to ask our neighbor what's up and she says there was a leak in our apartment while we were gone that came through her ceiling. She thinks the problem was fixed but apparently the landlord forgot to turn our water back on. I'm not having any of this, so we go down to the basement, wake up the building caretakers and make them turn us back on. While I'm down there I notice that one of our gas tanks is empty and the other one is fumes away from the same condition, which reminds me that the tank I paid for before we left in February was never delivered. Resolving this is so tomorrow--we take quickie showers and fall into bed.

Thursday After sleeping 10 hours we still feel like hell. All the traveling plus being at altitude once again require serious rest. I ignore this and plan a productive day: get the gas situation resolved, go to the gym, go to the grocery store. Well—-I do get a promise for gas to be delivered, then we hit the wall and go back to bed only a couple of hours after we had gotten up.

Reasonably refreshed from a long nap, I go get some sandwiches from a guy up the street, we eat lunch, and I manage to go to the store. That gym idea will have to wait. Nobody feels like cooking so I have yet another sandwich and am so mentally numb I don’t even remember what Cynthia ate. We watch episodes of DWTS and House of Cards I downloaded before hitting the hay.

Friday Another good night’s sleep and we’re starting to feel human again. Cynthia devotes herself to unpacking and today I make it to the gym. Quiet afternoon doing our own things, then we’re off to a Mexican fiesta party at friends. We haven’t had a taste for wine after drinking so damn much of it the last month but those margaritas sure were good! We danced the Macerena and the Hustle, caught up with friends, got home at a decent hour.

Today The margaritas, dancing, and socializing apparently took a toll. We got up this morning 11 hours after bedtime! I took care of business with a hard core yoga session and Cynthia has the washer and dryer humming. The gym visit yesterday and today's yoga confirmed what I already knew--after a month of conspicuous over-consumption and generally poor health habits my body is a train wreck. On a positive note, all of that debauchery somehow only translated into a weight gain of two pounds, which should be gone by the end of the weekend.

We came home looking forward to "taking it easy." Party last night--symphony tonight--lunch with friends tomorrow--going out dancing Tuesday---well, at least we don't have anything planned for Monday.


More on the trip soon.

Monday, March 2, 2015


We've spent four nights here and are about to head out to the wine region of Casablanca valley today on the way to Vina del Mar and Valparaiso. So a quick recap with some photos before our guide arrives. Our apartment couldn't have been better chosen. It's on the 25th floor with this view of the city from the rooftop pool two stories up.

Our location is only minutes from so many of Santiago's "must-see" historical sites, plus lots of restaurants and a subway stop.

We visited as many neighborhoods as we could. Upscale Lastarria

Funky Bellavista

Modern Las Condes and preppy Providencia

On our last day we went to the Museum of Fine Arts

Ate lunch at La Rosa Emporium, famous for the best ice cream in town

and finished the day with a stroll through the Paris/London section.

We covered a LOT of territory in a short amount of time. Santiago, a sprawling metropolis of 6 1/2 million people, is somewhat like LA--temperate weather and low humidity + a serious smog problem. In every way a first world city, Santiago was a wonderful destination for an enriching visit. Prices are not cheap, but we enjoyed the cultural activities and for sure the amazing food and wine.

So thank you, Santiago, for a great start to our trip!