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Big Small Journey Off on the adventure of my lifetime: 5 glorious months of sun and snow in South America, then the UK for further fun and frolicking.

Arrived Santiago - encounter with police en-route

CHILE | Wednesday, 16 April 2008 | Views [689]

It was a hectic and boring 2 days of bus travel. It was still dark when I left the Residentio in Puerto Natales with my super fat mega packs and strode to the bus stop. I dozed a bit on the way to Punto Arenas, but was a bit worried about missing my connection from there. See, the ticket said the bus left Punto Arenas at 9am, at 940 I was still on the Natales bus. I didn´t freak out too much though, the nice Chileno next to me on the bus, to whom I confided my troubles, didn´t appear worried about the lateness. And so it was, at about 950, the bus dropped me and a few other passengers off at an intersection in the middle of nowhere. The force of the wind blowing was colosal. Another nice man waiting at the intersection told me that the winds there can get up to 120km/h. Not long later, the bus from Punto Arenas came, stopped (yay!!) and picked us up. It´s a well oiled process.

On the bus to Osorno (near Puerto Montt, where I catch my connection onto Santiago), I met some other nice tourists, an English couple travelling the world to find a place to settle and start a hostel business, and a guy from Sydney, who seems to have been everywhere in the world. We talked and got along well.

Now the interesting part of this otherwise dull story happened at night, when we stopped at Commodoro. Now the bus, going from west coast of Chile to west coast of Chile, does a long loop around to the east coast of Argentina, because no roads run along that southern part of Chile. We stopped for dinner at a restaurnt there, very happy, because the butler/customer service guy on the bus assured us that dinner is included. We sat down at the restaurnt, the waitor came and said dinner is included, we had 3 choice (milanesa, chicken or spaghetti), and drinks are extra. Quite happily, we all ordered chicken, and I had it with mashed potato. We also got some soft drinks and wine. At the end of the meal, we go to pay for our drinks, and voila, they slap on 35 pesos each for food as well. We were very confused. It´s not that 35 pesos is a lot of money, but it was when you weren´t ready to pay for it (the English couple didn´t have any Argentina pesos). The same thing had happened to the couple next to us, they weren´t given menus either, just 3 choices, and told drinks were extra. They spoke excellent Spanish, one of them was Mexican. We talked about it together, and decided it was totally suss - no menus, told it was included by 2 parties, drinks extra. We paid for our drinks and said we weren´t going to pay for dinner. It was no misunderstanding, some dodgy scam by the bus company and restaurant on tourists. We stood outside the restaurant, talked/argued with the bus and restaurant people, and eventually they called the police.

I have to say, within about 10 minutes of arguing I was ready to just pay and get out of there (it was a very very cold night). It seemed to me that whilst it wasn´t a well-oiled crime syndicate running scams on innocent tourists, it wasn´t completely fair for us to trust free meals on the bus company at restaurants either. Although it was not a nice restaurant, I looked around and could see the other passengers had paid for their meals. However, they did all get menus, complimentary bread, and water with their meals. For us, it was as if they told us what they thought we wanted to hear, and didn´t really give a damn that they were giving us the wrong information. That is how it was when locals deal with tourists. The locals, I guess, are wise enough to know there wouldn´t be any kindness on part of bus companies to include good food.

Anyways, about 1.5 hours after eating, the police came, both parties explained the situation, and they decided that we should just pay. Everyone of our party, except for 1 person, was ready to pay and leave. The restaurant people have been having their own internal arguements, and told us it´s 10 pesos each person. They expressed this with lots of aggression and punch of fists. So we paid, and were on our way. The bus butler/customer service guy, previous was very nice to me, talking, and offering to give me a cama (fully reclining) seat for 5000 Chilena pesos more (where does the money go I wonder?). Now, he was cold and professional. Fine with me.

We, the 6 tourists, were in a bit of a puff about it, we had our little bitching session about people ripping tourists off, and stupid language barriers. But by about 1am, had settled down to sleep.

We arrived Osorno about 3pm, the Aussie guy and English couple were going onto Pucon afterwards, and I to Santiago. We went and walked around main street Osorno, and had some afternoon tea. I had a hamburguesa completa.

At about 730pm, I got on bus to Santiago, and arrived here about 7am Wednesday. From there, I called Lorena´s Dad, he came and picked me up, and took me to his house, where I will stay whilst in Santiago.

It´s really really nice to be out of a hostal dormitory!

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