It's true - at last I bought a car. It's semi-ugly but not super ugly. So far it runs OK but one never knows. At least, it is an exciting new experience to drive around the pitted, debris-filled streets of Santiago. I am starting to learn my way around. Whenever I get lost, I just keep going until I run across the route of one of the conchos I used to take back in the old days (or rather, last week). I have already had many exciting revelations. For instance, now I know why the A conchos are so much better than the F’s, which are near-literal buckets of bolts. The route the A takes is over one of the only passable roads in the whole city!
In spite of the fun of being able to drive myself to my accordion class and to the clubs at night, listening to CDs on my first ever car CD player (when it’s not skipping because of all the potholes anyway), I’ve also had rather a spate of bad luck since buying the car. Although, I guess these things happen to pretty much everyone here. On the very first day thieves broke a window. There wasn’t actually anything to steal, but they did take a couple of CD cases out of the glove compartment. The CD’s weren’t even in them, I later noticed. On the third day, there was a major rainstorm and I got caught in the middle of a lake that arose around what had formerly been a traffic circle. I felt like I was driving a bumper boat at Golf N’ Stuff rather than a car. It was nothing short of miraculous that the car made it through the water with the motor still running, not shorting out until we were free of it – and, conveniently, right in front of Rafaelito’s house (the accordion teacher). I didn’t think anyone was home, but as soon as I got out to push Manuary and Jonathan ran out to help. We got the car to higher ground in their driveway and bailed water for a time in the dark, since, naturally, all the power was out. Again miraculously, the car started. We let it run for a while as they played stick-and-plastic-bottle baseball and had a few words with some of the neighborhood crazy people who had all come out, apparently called into action by the rain. One of them gave me a fright when she appeared out of the darkness and put her hand on my face, saying, “Sangre! Sangre!”
Once it became clear that (a) the car wasn’t going to die and (b) the lake wasn’t going anywhere very fast, we made an escape plan. Mario, a neighbor, would accompany me in my car to show me the long way around, and I’d leave him on the other side of the water to walk back as I continued on my way. This plan worked and I made it home with little incident, other than having to reverse and change course at several other impromptu ponds.
So much for the car adventures. Other than that, things have been pretty quiet as I’ve been preparing to leave for the US. I can’t believe I’ve been here two months already. The time has flown and I’ve gotten quite used to things here, potholes, rain, and all. Aside from all the running around involved with buying a car and packing for a trip, this week was pretty much “the usual” – accordion lessons, dancing at La Tinaja, hanging out at El Tiriguillo. I still have to describe the rest of my trip to the capital, but that’s going to have to wait. I leave tomorrow and I still have a million errands to do! The next update will come to you from New York. Will I survive the return to Coldness? It’s anyone’s guess, so stay tuned.