Santiago’s Farewell

by Andrew Stein

We finish our last game of cards at the top of Cerro San Cristobal before commencing our last drive through Santiago back to Hotel Galerias and then onwards to the airport.  What we hadn’t accounted for was Friday afternoon rush hour traffic.

After only one wrong turn, we find ourselves about two blocks away from the hotel at a complete stand still.  Intersections are clogged, I literally put the car into Park and I exit the car to try to investigate the problem.  Two of the group leave the car and head towards the hotel by foot to collect our luggage, and before anything has changed other than a decrease in patience and an increase in car horns, they are returning with a hotel dolly full of our bags.  Putting luggage in the trunk is a not a trivial activity, and thus we begin the dance that is arranging our bags in a very particular way.  We put in about three bags and then suddenly traffic starts to move.  I jump back into the driver’s seat, the rest of our luggage is carted to the side of the road, and through the car window, we discuss a new rendezvous point slightly up ahead.  We change this meeting point once or twice and eventually just pull up in front of the hotel to complete this luggage-filling process.

The car is now filled, but our adventure to the airport is only half-complete.  It is still rush hour and the low setting sun in our eyes only adds to the adrenalized moment.  I receive honks of discontent for video-game like maneuvers such as making right turns from non-right lanes, cutting the same car off more than once, changing lanes with such frequency that it almost seems unproductive, and squeezing through spaces that makes our luggage-packed trunk seem spacious.  All that said, this video game ends at the airport’s rental car lot with full health bars and the car hasn’t even suffered a scratch in the process.  We have barely enough time to blow a sigh of relief when the parking lot attendant points out some small scratches near the trunk of the car.  Being able to talk my way out of these small nicks in Spanish gave me confidence that my language skills had advanced at least some over the last two weeks here in Chile.

We all make our flights on time and brace ourselves for the 80-degree (Fahrenheit) temperature swing we are about to experience upon touching ground in Boston.