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CHILE | Sunday, 6 January 2013 | Views [390]

I arrive in Chile fucking tired. It’s the jetlag, the pressurised cabin, the lack of sustenance despite having eaten whatever it was that was put in front of me, but mainly it’s because I was trying to pack down my portion of a household the entire day and night prior to boarding in a cancerous heatwave.  During one of the many Punt Road trips, and certainly not the final for the day, I notice one of those digital clocks attached to a building. It reads 7:05 and 43’C. I start to feel the rage, or rather, my rage rages further. I sweated out my sense of humour at 8:45 that morning as I squatted in a corrugated tin shed, the garage of a friend of a friend as I rummaged through said friend’s boxed up shit, collecting sweat in my cleavage and 23 kgs of belongings for her and her partner for me to take over to them, so by 7pm my rage with the day is in full swing.

It is a day of driving and sweating, to Richmond to Preston to Northcote to Fairfield twice over. It’s a long hot day, the final day of several that have been consumed with errands, goodbyes and packing. It finishes with a 2am op-shop dump run, leaving just enough time for me to shower, clean my now empty room, kind of organise my left over junk in the garage, not clean the bathroom or the kitchen, forget a bunch of stuff, take my washing off the line, finish packing for my overseas trip and to be collected by the taxi. So when I arrive in Chile I am exhausted from the move, foggy with time difference and confused by the bombardment of questions and utterances by our ‘attache’.

I’m travelling with a contingent – other performers I’m working with as part of a theatre festival in Chile. We are greeted by our ‘attache’, Ceasar. He’s young – eighteen – looks about twelve, is thin and affeminate. The extent of his ability to irritate is unknown to us as yet, but there are the initial signals. Skittish, flustered and slightly nervous he fires off questions and statements at us that we can’t answer or comment on as we arrive at the airport dazed and confused.

“Toni is the tour manager. You need to ask these questions to her. I don’t know, we don’t know. We just got off the plane, we are feeling a little tired.

“Yes, but it says you leave on the 28th yes?”


“No? It says here that it is.”

“Yes I know, but that is incorrect.”

“Ok. Doesn’t matter. So I’ve found a place for you to eat. Do you want to eat?”

“Can we go to the hotel first?”

“Yes of course. I can wait, Do you like sushi?”

“Right now I don’t know. “

“Ok. And who is Toni? “

“Toni is the girl you picked up earlier.”

“Ah, Yes I see. So on the 28th you come back?”


“This is very strange.”

“Can you please just speak to Toni?”

“Where is she?”

“At the hotel? Where you left her?”

“Oh yes yes. Don’t forget you must tip the driver.”

“How much?”

“I don’t know. One moment please”

He and the driver converse.

“He says it is up to you. And you must tip when eating at a restaurant.”

“How much?”

“Hmmm, not sure, up to you.”

The last time I was this tired and arriving into a new country was the year before, as I was moving out of another house and was mopping the floor minutes before the taxi took me to my 6am flight to New Zealand, where upon arrival, I promptly let the ATM machine eat my debit card and spent about $300 in calls to the Victorian Teachers Credit Union so I could tell them they were shit in a variety of ways.  They are shit, bank with Bendigo. This time instead of loosing access to all my money, I go for a wander with Toni, the tour manager, in the afternoon.  She is a boozehag in her own right, as am I, however together we occasionally become a super force of trashbaggery.

Whereas more whole people might have a conversation that goes like this:

“I keep on getting waves of dizziness.”

“I’m so tired I don’t think I can walk any further.”

“Sorry, you need to repeat that, I vagued out.”

“Where are we?”

“Fuck it’s hot.”

“Do you feel tremors?”


And think: It’s time for sleep. We however want to christen our arrival in Santiago with one drink, just one glass of wine to say: Hello, we have arrived.

We discover $4 margaritas, our one drink turns into several. In a drunken haze we move to find a new bar, find it, enter, drink some more and then – despite having no memory of this but having photographic evidence as proof – dance with a headless, armless mannequin and enjoy it. Then we try to get home. Here lies the problem: I don’t speak Spanish, Toni doesn’t speak Spanish, I don’t know where I am, Toni doesn’t know where she is, I don’t know where I’m going and neither does Toni because we are unexpectedly rotten drunk and have forgotten to take the hotel’s card with us.

If I was a taxi driver at one in the morning, I wouldn’t stop to pick up two drunken gringos who don’t know who or where they are or going either, but eventually some poor guy does. Armed with only a tourist map, the kind that shows all the APEX money exchanges and certain chain restaurants across the city, we tell the taxi driver to take us to a metro station we can’t pronounce – we figure we can find our way from there. We can’t, surprise surprise, and even if the taxi driver did drop us off at Tobablaba metro station – and neither Toni or I can say if he did or he didn’t – we hadn’t factored in the multiple station entrances on multiple streets.

Toni and I roam around the streets pointing at our maps with such vigour we both wake the next day to find that we have pointed holes right through the part of the map most important, trying to work out where we are and how to get home. We go around in circles, passing the same bars over and over again, growing increasingly ratty and tired. The third time we pass a particular bar, Toni suggests going in for another beer, I decline, Toni’s still keen but the waitresses are pretty eager for us to leave so we do.

We garble feebly at passers by,

“Toabalaba? Tambalamba? Tormbarlaga? Bobalaba?  Forbalrb?… Ah that way? Si yes, yes, I understand.  Je comprends. Yes yes, hey! It’s this way.”

We walk to the end of the street, realise we are still lost, ask directions again, and do it all over again, and again and again. Eventually some man approaches and asks:

“Donde gla gla?”

At this stage one of us thinks to take out our door key which has the hotel’s name written on it, but still no address.  He walks us to the Radisson and shows the bellhop the door key, they converse, and he leads us to our hotel, which by this stage is around the corner.  We find out the next morning from our concierge, that we stumbled in at 4:30am, drunk and raucous and lucky. Lucky that we found our hotel after leaving the bar five hours earlier, and even luckier that he was on night shift and sober, so he could stop the two men who were following us from entering the building.  All of this information, embarrassingly so, was translated by a hotel guest passing by, who overheard the concierge and our lack of Spanish.  Mortified, we thank him for his translation and thank the concierge for looking out for us, two overexcited idiots, intoxicated by new surroundings and cheap tequila.


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