We spent the next few days in quarantine in Santiago, waiting for our test results from the previous day’s entry to arrive. The nice thing about this was that CJ could at least work, and given Chile was 4 hours ahead of Denver, we never needed to worry about getting up early. We slept in until a bit past 10 am, but CJ was able and willing to get up and out quickly enough to grab some breakfast for us to share from the buffet. You might think buffet and Covid don’t mix, and I’d still agree, but the hotel did conduct it well. Everything was outside in open air, and you would grab a clean set of tongs that you would use throughout your gathering of food, and then deposit them in a dirty bin. Very civilized, which is what we found of a lot of the Chilean practices and culture.
We had read that you could only check your Me Vacuno site 3 times a day, otherwise you’d be timed out for the day and couldn’t check again until the next day. We had checked it the night before and it still said processing. We checked it again in the morning and we both had received our “negativo” results. So, now we were free to traipse around Santiago and explore a bit more, but still with the need to balance our risk level, since Antarctica was the goal. More or less, we treated the pre-trip as a quarantine in Santiago given our risk level. Doing stuff outside we felt was OK, but we avoided crowds and still wore masks everywhere.
Chandra had some calls both earlier in the morning (11AM) and going late to 8pm in the evening, all relative to our new Chilean time zone. We decided to do our best to fit in an outdoor excursion between the blocks of calls, making the most of our quarantine in Santiago.
A little after noon we headed out from the hotel, our destination ostensibly was Barrio Bellavista, a neighborhood nearby that was supposed to be great to visit, but turned out to be a bit further from our hotel than we could get to in the time allotted, especially since the walking path was not as the crow flies, and we needed to follow the available walking paths. We crossed a bridge out from our hotel and crossed over the Mapocho river, which runs through Santiago, and was one of the reasons that the Spanish conquistadors settled the city here. The water was low and very brown. We later learned that the water level used to be higher and in decades past had flooded the city, but was now controlled and provided the water to the city and surrounding areas.
We walked through a nice park, and started to get the lay of the land and a greater understanding of the hotel’s surrounding area. There we saw a lot of graffiti throughout Santiago (and in Punta Arenas as well), and while most was typical amateur tagging, some of it was quite nice. Eventually CJ needed to turn around to make her next call, we were far short of the Bellavista neighborhood, but the siren of work calls and our paychecks demand that we listen, so we turned around.
However, as we got closer to the hotel, she headed straight back, and I decided to take a detour in the general direction that the concierge had told us the gondola up to Cerro San Cristobal was. As I walked there I passed a large modern hospital complex and some nice homes, and eventually found myself at one of the entrances to the Parque Metropolitano, which was one of the ways up the mountain. I wasn’t sure if it cost money to get in, and had no local currency yet, so decided to turn around and save exploring further for another day.
CJ had a few calls, and then had a short break where we decided to go down and sit by the pool where we could be outside, but properly distanced from others. We ended up both ordering a few pisco sours by the pool, soaking in the sun, while she worked and I read.
Most of the remainder of the afternoon was spent with CJ working, and me catching up on some reading. At around 8pm she finished up, and we headed out to dinner in Barros Borgoño, an area about a 15 minute walk from our hotel, that the concierge had recommended as a great location to get dinner. It was a pleasant walk, and we enjoyed how much the temperature had dropped from our earlier excursion during midday. We decided to scope things out first, and passed down multiple streets that had some viable options. The Orrego Luco street especially was wonderful, it was all closed off to traffic, and all of the restaurants had filled the street for dining al fresco. Any other time this would have definitely have been our spot for dinner, but it was happening and packed, and while it was still outside, we felt like we’d be too close to other people and be at too great of a risk for possible Covid exposure, so alas (given our quarantine in Santiago mindset) we headed one street over and ended up choosing restaurant Villa Real for dinner.
CJ remembered that Chile was a late dinner culture, and I had looked it up and confirmed that dinner often didn’t start until 8pm, so we figured sitting down at 8:45 PM would still be no problem. The waiter at Villa Real sat us promptly and we were well away from other patrons. He spoke a smidge of English, but as soon as he gave us the menus he did some rapid fire Spanish at us (note: as we found, Chileans speak very fast, even for Spanish speakers, so all Spanish in Chile tends to be rapido). We eventually figured out, a bit after the fact, that the restaurant’s kitchen was closing soon (at 9PM) and we needed to get our order in promptly. We didn’t love the sudden rush, but it was what it was, and we quickly selected our meal, with CJ choosing a local Kunstmann beer and a steak, while I chose a seafood fettuccine with a pisco sour to wash it down. The food came out quickly, and while it was nothing to rave about, it was good, CJ’s steak was better than the pasta, and it all hit the spot.
We had a pleasant walk back, and ended up reading late into the night past midnight because we were still not yet adjusted to the new time zone. While we certainly weren’t doing everything we normally would, we were at least trying to explore the city as we continued our quarantine in Santiago.