Category Archives: Life

It’s bit like on like Baywatch

Note this post covers the 6th of February ’10.

Internets are tricky Part 1

I always expected that it would be tricky to get decent Internet connections on this holiday, and I was not wrong. Once we’d arrived in La Serena, it was revealed that the USB dongle type Internet connection thing was inoperable; The Windows PC it was tried on, would spew forth tons of virus warnings whenever you tried to run the connection software.
I plugged it into my Mac, and installed the software, which seemed to go OK, but then the only signal I could coax out of the device was GPRS, instead of a HSPDA or UTMS signal, and thus it was slower-than-dialup slow. Not ideal. We took the device down to the Claro shop at the Mall, where it all functioned perfectly. Great.
Then magically, the next day it started working. Whoop. I managed to share it via the wireless on my laptop, so at least Fran and I could use it then. Later I replaced the virus checker on the PC, (turns out Avast was giving false positives), and all was well again.

It’s a bit like on Baywatch

Humitas
Humitas. Delicious.

After having an awesome and huge lunch consisting of Humitas and a (deliciously sweet) giant watermelon, we took the bus down to another part of the beach, where there was tons of activities going on, such as bouncy castles, beach volleyball, kiosks with Internet right on the beach, girls in small bikinis giving away free ice cream. Yep, it was alright.

Despite this beach being much less over-run with jellyfish, (and far more over-run with smoking hot South American babes) it didn’t stop some people getting into trouble. We saw at least two instances where the surf rescue helicopter flew out over the water, dropped in a scuba guy, and then fished him and another person out of the (incredibly calm and un-dangerous) surf. I think there’s a general consensus that Chileans can’t swim for shit. The fun really came when then helicopter decided it was cool to do super low passes over the beach, sending beach umbrellas in all directions…

We finished up the afternoon by having pizza and beers at a place called Huentelauquen Pizzeria, which was a restaurant where half of it was shaped like a giant Pirate Ship. No photos of that because I didn’t have my camera with me (and cameras with big lenses on them are creepy at the beach, right?) and all the photos of it I can find on the Internet are wildly out of date 🙁
The pizza was alright, the beer was better, and for the first time in about as long as I could remember I felt totally relaxed and at peace with things. I was finally On Holiday.

Good idea / Bad idea?

While in this state of relaxation, and listening to the house band belt out a rendition of “Pretty Woman” I wondered if they should make a prequel to that movie. Where it’s 2 hours of Julia Roberts doing awful things while turning tricks with sweaty old men, and Richard Gere sits in board meetings getting rich. Should I start making my pitch to Hollywood now?


Of Beaches and Birthdays

Note: This covers roughly the 5th of Feburary

Beach

After having another big sleep in (I think jetlag is still accounting for this). We get up and are fed again (Empanadas I think) and are taken down to one of the beaches near La Serena. The weather is lovely, and the beach is very nice, but because the water was unusually warm, there were hundreds of jellyfish floating around. Most were dead, but there were a couple of live ones, and one of them managed to sting one of our cousins on the back of the leg. Nothing dangerous, but enough to itch annoyingly.

Paulinas Birthday

Caaake

That night was our cousin Paulina’s 27th birthday. For celebrations there were to be drinks and nibbles at one of our other extended cousin Laura’s, house. We met a bunch of people who seemed to remember us from when we last saw them. (I might have been either 6 or 16 at the time, I don’t remember which). There were a couple of people who spoke some English, but they were quickly distracted. After several drinks (which just kept on coming), it became very hard to try and follow the multiple conversations going on at once. In the end I just gave up and started taking photos.

Santiago arrival

We get a shuttle to Cristi’s apartment from the airport through some truly chaotic and frightening traffic at high speed. The parts of Santiago we see are very beautiful, and we see a couple of the style of small street-side market that I remember from last time.

We arrive at the apartment building, and attempt to talk to the doorman to get up to the room. We spend a few hours at Cristi’s relaxing, checking internet etc, and then our Uncle Jose, Aunt Lucia and cousin Paulina arrive, and we pack into a car, at this point it’s about 10pm, and drive 5 hours north to La Serena. I’m still really blocked up with my head cold, which has become quite unpleasant by now. I sleep on and off for much of the trip, which is down a 4 lane highway. There are many trucks, often pulled over to the side of the road as the drivers sleep. There was the obligatory group of people sat in the back of a pickup truck covered only in a tarp, barreling down the motorway at 120km/h.

Woke up today finally at 2pm. What an epic sleep. Sharing a room with Fran, I feel sorry for her, because of my freight train snoring. Almost immediately after having breakfast, we wander off into town for lunch. It’s at this point I remember that in Chile, everyone has a massive lunch. I stuff my face with chicken and chips and salad until I am beyond full.

Santiago
View from Cristi's apartment in Santiago

We hang out at the house for a bit, and then Paulina’s friends turn up, who have just been at a camping festival of some sort. One of them is wearing a Metallica t-shirt and notices that Fran is wearing an Opeth one, which she had borrowed from me. Opeth then gets played on his iPhone via a small speaker. Reactions are mixed 🙂

The talkative one of the two speaks very good English. We wander into town around 8pm, and visit the squares and see some of the nice buildings. One of the them is the “lovers square” and sure enough there are several couples sitting there making out. We find a small market and caramelised Papaya is found, along with peanuts coated in some sort of herb+chili powder, which is very tasty.

After another market (one which I remember from last time) we visit the supermarket for some beer, which is very cheap. LIke $5 for a six-pack of Heineken cheap.
Come back to the house and talk in a group, mainly in English. It’s a bit embarrassing how little Spanish we are using, and Fran especially seems quite happy to prattle away in English. Will try and make a really good effort to use more Spanish tomorrow.

The journey really begins

Not quite gone yet

After the Barrytown adventure, we eventually got Fran all packed up and ready (a massive ordeal that she’d probably be upset with me over, if I detailed here), and we made our way up to Auckland to see our parents before heading off to Chile.

I had a couple of days to kill up there (Fran only had one, as she flew out the day before me), and we had a couple of free tickets we’d managed to score to St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, which was having it’s first year in Auckland. It seemed quite odd to me, as it started in Melbourne, by the people who ran the St Jerome’s bar, and actually took place in the laneways in the city. Some things to note:

  • St Jeromes itself has now shut down, because Myers wanted to use the building
  • This year’s laneway in Melbourne isn’t being held in the laneways anymore either, because of crowd problems last year, where lots of people couldn’t see the main acts, because they had been put in the very small and narrow Lt Londsdale Street
  • I am dissapointed about this, because my new apartment has a big balcony overlooking Lt Londsale Street, and I would have to got an awesome view of it for free

Laneways itself was alright, held in the plaza above the Brittomart complex in downtown Auckland, and wasn’t too crowded. We got there pretty late, and saw the 3Ds, Echo and the Bunnymen, and sat and listened to much of Florence & The Machine, who seemed quite excitable. We’d heard the Dirty Three on the radio on the way into town, and that seemed like enough for us so we went home.

Flight

Airports are funny places. I got all checked in and sorted fairly easily, after my loving parents just dropped me off at the door (after doing the long goodbye thing with Fran the day before), I got some lunch and pretty much then had to wait for my flight to board. I love the announcements that the planes are waiting for passenger so-and-so, and that EVERYONE is waiting for THEM. Even when said in a quite flat tone, it somehow manages to be completely condecending at the same time…

I wasn’t expecting much from the plane, as LAN Chile isn’t that known as a fancy airline, but this was an Airbus A340, and it was fairly new, at a guess. It had inflight entertainment units in the seat backs, which I was not expecting. All of the announcements in were repeated in English, which I was very grateful for, because it was at this point, I realised just how little Spanish I comprehended when spoken at full speed. Mental note: Watch the Destinos language DVDs at some point during the flight….

The inflight music selection was surprisingly good, from Metallica to Leonard Cohen to Gotan Project, as well as the usual chart hits. I watched “It might get loud” documentary featuring Jack White, Jimmy Page and the Edge from U2. Basically it’s where somebody put those guys all in a room, with their guitars, and they play a bit, and talk about guitars and talk about their musical backgrounds and stuff. Jimmy Page is a total gentleman, Jack White is the coolest man alive and The Edge is a total douche who still can’t play a guitar to save his douche-y life.

When the whole cabin is dark, and you turn on the reading light, it’s like you are lit up by the fire of a thousand suns. I didn’t read much during the middle segment of the flight.

Even for such a big plane, the bathrooms are tiny. I have no idea how people are supposed to fuck in those things.

Descening through 36,000 ft with massively blocked up ears from your persistent headcold isn’t much fun either.

I finally arrive in Santiago after 11 hours or so in the air, and after managing to negotiate my way through immigration and customs (even having accidentally not received and thus not filled out the immigration form), I come through to the arrivals area, and am greeted by Fran, who has spent about 30 hours in the air by this stage, and had been waiting for me for 6 hours in Santiago airport already. The news of the day is that her luggage is lost somewhere in Los Angeles airport because she was the only person on the American Airlines flight code, and everyone else was on LAN Chile.

Ah the joys…

Soundday / Barrytown

So for our last day in fair Christchurch before Fran and I headed off on our grand South American adventure, there were two things to take care of: Soundday and an overnight trip to Barrytown.

Soundday

Sleepy Age
Josh from Sleepy Age

This was one of those big gigs put on in Hagley Park, by Fabel Music / RDU / City Council. There were a whole bunch of act including P-Money, Don McGlashan etc, but we were there pretty much for Sleepy Age, who were one of the first acts. We had been allocated a number of backstage passes, but as per the usual story there weren’t as many as there was supposed to be, so we did the old trick of sending someone out with two passes, and bringing someone in, and then using that pass for the next person. Once you are backstage and it looks like you’re supposed to be there, nobody ever asks any questions 😉

Once backstage, there was a variety of food, watermelons, egg and bacon sandwiches, beer, red bulls etc. This was very welcome at 10 in the morning, as I’d had very little sleep the night before (hur hur), and even less to eat.

Will being buddies with Don McGlashin
Will being buddies with Don McGlashan

Sleepy Age played an excellent set, and I managed to get some decent photos and a bit more video (which will have to wait before it can be uploaded)

We hung around for a bit longer – it was a nice sunny day, and frankly very pleasant just sitting around, but the later bands were quite boring so we decided to leave, and pick up the rental people mover that we had hired for the purpose of going to Barrytown.

Barrytown

The idea behind the Barrytown roadtrip was to see F in Math and The Show Is The Rainbow play the community hall there. It seems like an odd place for a gig, and it is, but other big bands have played there, like Trans Am (who I saw there with Dan G and Marc) and Shellac etc. Bang Bang Eche were also supposed to play, but Zach ended up having to do something else that weekend instead.

There was a bunch of people who had said they were keen to come, and some of them couldn’t make it in the end, but we managed to get Fionn, Netta, Hollan, T’Nealle, Fran and myself all in the people mover by about 8pm. By this point we were already about 2 hours behind schedule if we were to make it to Barrytown before the acts started. To top this off, supposedly it had been arranged back at CALH, that we were to be bringing the PA for the gig, but had never been entirely confirmed.

It’s probably about 11:30pm by the time we finally arrive in Barrytown, seemingly not quite as lost as we thought we were… and the hall is completely shut, and there’s just a bunch of people drinking outside the pub. Oh, looks like the plan has gone completely awry. A couple of people check inside the pub to see what’s going on, and Darren (aka TSITR) is there just having drinks while a busload of German backpackers are in the middle of a pimps and ho’s night. It turns out that a) the promoter of the gig did nothing at all, so the hall wasn’t open, and nobody knew about the gig, and b) we were supposed to be bringing the PA!

Luckily we had borrowed a very small PA and thrown it in the back of the people mover. So it looked like the show could go ahead! Oh, wait, no microphone. Damn. Still the Barrytown pub looked like a fun place to have a drink. Along with Darren, F in Math was there, along with Polka Dot Dot Dot (for some reason). A bit later on (and after spending $10 on wedges, chips AND a jug of beer), the barman rocks up with a mircophone, which apparently he’d found by phoning up all his mates to see if they had one. The show was ON!

Darren
Darren Keen aka The Show is the Rainbow, doing his thing

Darren played, and then F in Math, only about 3 songs each, the backpackers didn’t quite know what to make of it, but it was spectacular.

Fionn and T’Nealle jumped on Facebook on the PC in the bar(!) and invited everyone they knew to the Polka Dot Dot Dot show that had just been organised about 30 minutes prior.

We all wandered down to the beach at about 2am, as it was still wonderfully warm out (probably about 20 degrees still) and hung out there for quite a while.

As Netta had work the next morning, we had to head right back to Christchurch without sleeping, and it was my job to drive the return leg, despite having been up for ages by this point, and not really slept the night before. Oh dear.

None of us had really eaten anything either, aside from the wedges, but very much to our surprise and delight, Greymouth has a 24-hour bakery called the “Do Duck In” which had delicious pies and pastries, which we gratefully shoved into our eager faces at about 3:30am.

The drive back was uneventful, aside from that the crazy Japanese CD player would only play 2 discs from all the ones we had, and both happened to be Australian country bands, and that I’m pretty sure I fell asleep at the wheel at least twice, depite stopping a few times for quick power naps. Frankly, we’re probably lucky to all still be alive…