David Coveney

Sanhattan! Capital of Chile

The virgin of Cerro San Cristobal - if I remember rightly.

If I’d woken up and been told that, due to a bout of amnesia I’d been flown to Madrid, then I could easily believe that’s where I’d landed. Seriously – Santiago is a smart, modern city with efficient public transport, occassional traffic jams, and lots of foreigners trying to make a buck. It feels like the most European city I’ve yet visited outside of Europe. Of course, there are parts of Lima and Cuzco that can pull the trick off too, but only in parts.

The only problem and downside really is that Marcela, whose place I’m staying at, has had to fly back to Madrid at short notice. She’s very kindly allowed me to use her apartment and said “treat it like your own home.” Silly girl. But lucky for her, there are no car parts handy for me to strip in the kitchen, so the damage is likely to be limited.

Exploring Santiago

I’ve yet to explore Santiago fully – that’s tomorrow’s job. I tried to find the centre of nightlife in Bellavista, and it seemed ok enough, but not especially attractive to a guy on his own (although there are ruder bars I could try, I decided not to) and so I got a touch bored trying to get drunk alone. Instead I went back to the Metro station and discovered that it’s closed by midnight! Modern public transport yes, but don’t expect it to be open at all hours. This presented me with a tricky problem – the taxi driver had never heard of where the apartment was, nor could I actually tell him about anything nearby. Eventually I remembered the names of a couple of hotels and he dutifully dropped me off outside Hooters.

Well, I had to didn’t I? I’ve heard of this place. Americans talk about these bars all the time. I assumed it was a quasi-religious place, given the reverence some held for it. It’s actually a bar where you are served by busty girls in hotpants, flesh coloured tights (which hide any cellulite – I’ve dated dancers, I know their tricks) and tight, slightly skimpy tops. That really is their only USP – the beer, food and atmosphere is about average. The girls are, I think, trained to look at you and bat their eyelids in such a way as to make guys think they fancy them. But anyone with half a brain will realise it’s an act. But I suppose the regulars are the ones that enjoy this game, and that’s presumably how the firm makes its money. Still, having heard so much about the place it was nice to get it out of my system.

And they played damn Beatles music. Everywhere I go in the world, The Beatles. I mean, good group and all, but it’s like I can never get away from Liverpool at times. I was standing on top of a mountain and got chatting to a guy from Concepcion. And what were his parting words? “You’ll never walk alone.”

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