After another good breakfast cooked by K it was time to return the rental car. This should be easy, it's only across the street, and less than 5 minutes walk. But driving there is an altogether different matter. There is a hill across the street and no streets parallel the one in front of us for more than a block or two. The rental agency is on such a street. But we can only turn right onto the divided 4 lane in front of the apartment, and then the road is closed. All traffic must turn right again, proceeding directly away from the destination. You can go immediately right and right again, but that only puts you back on the wrong side of the street, or on the right side of the street hopelessly past the destination. So one must continue straight, and either turn left into traffic hell, or go across the river and turn left into traffic heck. Either way one must proceed past the entire downtown before turning left again to go back to the main road. We went with option 2, stopping briefly for a splash (US$5 for 2.5L) of gas for the car. About 30 minutes later we neared our building and found the street we wanted - ONE WAY, against us, and full of traffic. Now we were forced to make a U-turn at Lider and do the whole thing over again.
K suggested we stop at the apartment and she would go get the map to help us. I sat in the car and fumed at the traffic. 10 minutes later K returned without the map and announced that we can no longer get into the apartment. The code has expired, as it was now 11:15, past the 11AM checkout time. With all of our stuff still inside! Wonderful. We made the big detour a second time and turned very early, lucking into finding the right street, arriving 200 meters across the street from the apartment about 90 minutes after we left. Insanity. Turning in the car was fine, and the guy was surprised when I told him I put air in all 4 tires (the front 2 were very low) and filled the window washer. I also pointed out the ragged window wiper, and he said he would change it. He decided we had not damaged the car, and so we paid the agreed amount, in cash. It came to about $37 per day for two days, and he returned my credit card impression (made with an old manual machine) for the security. We parted ways and all was well.
I then phoned the landlord and explained the situation. He understood and gave us an emergency code, and asked that we vacate ASAP, as the cleaners were coming at noon. We ran back to the place, got in with the emergency code, and hurriedly packed - exiting at 11:50AM. I called him back and told him we were out. He was very polite and professional. We walked over to the bus station and managed to buy 2 tickets for the Noon bus to Santiago (about US$15 for both), which was sitting there ready to go, and we were off within 2 minutes! This one was from the Tur-Bus company, and while a bit worn, the air conditioning worked. The coast was a cool 60F, but it was in the mid 80s within half an hour, and close to 90F at the end of the 2 hour ride into Santiago Alameda Terminal. We made sure NOT to use the restrooms there again!
The Metro (subway) stop was, as advertised, right outside of the station, and we made our way down and got 2 tickets for about US$3. 30 minutes later we emerged at the Military School exit, and walked about 2 blocks to our apartment building. Our landlady (anfitriona) was waiting in the apartment, a charming lady, who showed us the routine and went over the inventory. We got keys to the apartment, the storage locker, and a remote for the garage (which we were supposed to get in Viña, where we needed it). We then dashed to the nearby grocery for a supply of breakfast foods, then made ready to hit a cocktail hour with a bunch of expats.
All in all it was a crazy, non-stop day, but we were in good form and made it to the cocktail hour on time!
|I missed it in the photo, but there is an enormous crack along the left side of this mirror|
|View from the new place in Santiago, Las Condes - El Golf|
|Another view from the new place|