Slap Happy in Santiago

The time came for us to make the big leap across the Pacific. Arriving in Chile this week put us a little further east of the time zone that we’d left a year ago when we began this journey. From a longitudinal standpoint, our family has technically traveled around the world, which seems kind of crazy. Honestly, it doesn’t feel like we’ve done that much traveling. Flights and long drives have been few and far between over the past year. It’s a little surprising to think we’ve logged over 45,000 miles in cars, buses and planes.

In anticipation of our 12-hour flight from Sydney to Santiago I did my research on this whole jetlag thing. We’ve had some significant time changes throughout this trip, but knowing this one would be a real doozy I read a lot of articles on minimizing its effects. Suggestions of melatonin supplements, altering sleep prior to the trip and even “light exposure to the back of the knee” came up as options. (Not sure what that whole knee thing is about.) I was determined to beat this time zone jump. As God as my witness, we would bend our circadian body rhythms to our will! Jetlag be damned!

While we did handle the long flight really well, sleeping on a plane is not something most members of our family can do. Alison apparently got all of the sleep-somewhere-other-than-a-bed-or-couch genes. I swear, that kid can sleep anywhere – cars, planes, trains, restaurants, amusement parks, tuk tuks, pubs…er…not that we would know about the sleeping in pubs part. Her special sleeping talent meant she was the only one of us who got some decent shut eye on the plane, and consequently she’s adjusted to this drastically different time zone much better. Despite efforts to avoid jetlag, the rest of us have been dozing off, sleeping in, and wide awake at all the wrong times.

Needless to say, we weren’t the most active bunch during our time in Santiago. Although, to be honest, there wasn’t a whole lot to see. The city was socked in with heavy smog and periodic rain during our time there, so getting out to the surrounding hills and seeing the views wasn’t an option. We did the suggested walk around the downtown area and through Plaza de Armas. Perhaps it was the jetlag putting us in an apathetic mood, but we weren’t overly impressed with any of it. For some reason I’d mistakenly put Santiago, Chile up there with Barcelona, Spain. I have no idea why. Maybe just the name made it sound like it would be cool? In all fairness though, we didn’t exactly catch it with good weather or the best frame of mind. DSC08136DSC08131DSC08148DSC08152DSC08160DSC08167

Our third day there we checked out of our hotel at noon, still not recovered from the time change, and had ten hours to kill while we waited for our overnight bus to Pucón. We took a stroll through a nearby outdoor art walk and sat on the benches for a while. It was nice at first, but then started to feel a little awkward. Here we were, a family of five with literally no place to go, all sitting around on park benches looking a little haggard and wanting nothing more than to lay down and take naps. We were pretty pathetic.

The clouds were getting dark and ominous, so in an attempt to make ourselves look a little less homeless and downtrodden we went in search of some sort of shelter. With “shopping” being #2 on the list of things to do in Santiago, we figured the best place to go would be a big fat mall. Granted we weren’t in the market to buy a single thing, but there would be food, a roof and the ability to loiter without looking creepy. What more could we need?

When we walked in the girls spotted some sort of Mother’s Day craft table set up in the mall’s main hallway. The three of them spent a lot of time working on sparkly little signs reading sweet things like “Te Amo Mama.” When they were finished with all their hard work, the young women running the booth took them over to a large board to hang up their signs and then insisted on taking our picture with it. Yeah, it was a bit strange. Next on the Chilean Mother’s Day celebration agenda was temporary tattoos! The girls were escorted over to a booth where artists drew really quite impressive mother-themed designs on their little arms in permanent marker. The whole thing kind of cracked me up. Step right up, little ones! Come create a beautiful sign for your beloved mother, which we will then affix to this wall and not let you keep it. And what more could a mother want for her little darlings than a big, semi-permanent tattoo in the middle of their forearms. Awwww…so precious. Feliz Dia de Madre everyone!!! I’m not sure the person who designed this event had ever participated in Mother’s Day, neither as a kid nor a mom. Nevertheless, the experience had me giggling a little uncontrollably. Kind of like a crazy lady.
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Our family got progressively more slap happy as our afternoon at the mall went on. The girls insisted on spending an inordinate amount of time “reading” books at a book store…books in Spanish, mind you. We found a lot of couches and beds to sit on, until we got politely chased off of them. We listened to a Chilean man blare his Frank Sinatra songs from the entertainment pavilion for the better part of the day. (I think I heard Fly Me to the Moon five times.) At one point we seemed to be riding escalators just for the fun of it. In our bored, slightly delirious state we’d evolved into true “mall rats.” Somewhere in the midst of all this mall madness we made the decision to eat at an Appleby’s. Perhaps not a horrible choice in the U.S., but in Chile…big mistake. Big. Huge.
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So, yeah…not exactly what I’d been expecting of Santiago. But, to be honest, it will be something we remember. The randomness and funny moments turned a boring day into a fun memory. We’ll be back again after our time in Pucón ends, and I’m committed to giving this city a fair shake next time around. We’ll find some museums, do some stuff on the list of things to do (NOT shopping), and won’t be horribly jetlagged. Santiago will prove us wrong when we come back again.

About the Author

Mom, wife, friend and change agent traveling the world with my family to learn our place in it. After spending a career in organizational change management and community initiative implementation, I put my career on hold for our family's trip around the world. In April of 2014 we sold almost everything we own, put the rest in a storage container, and departed on this journey. While my husband continued his software development work to financially support our trip, I planned and documented our adventure, homeschooled our three daughters, and found volunteer work opportunities for us to do in the communities we visit. Now that we've returned to the U.S., I'm completing book about our family's adventure and our lessons learned.

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