20 March 2011
'Arrival in Santiago'Santiago. Arrival.
Our flight landed in Sao Paulo for a three-hour layover before heading on to Santiago with LAN Chile. Our rather dozy posse traipsed through the airport looking for the transit lounge, passing through a security checkpoint en route. For some reason the Brazilian airport staff had an issue with Eoin, our cameraman, taking a camera tripod through security. It wasn't a particularly large tripod but it was a very good one and, given that the only option was to surrender it or not go to Chile, he wasn't going to give it up without a fight. Team Brazil was having none of it though, so rather than let the security guys romp home with a nice free tripod, Patrick, video crew chief, tore it to pieces, said something rude in Flemish and gave it back to them as scrap metal.
In the lounge there were several TVs blaring CNN. It turns out that whilst we were asleep at 40,000ft, a war was breaking out on Earth. 'We' have gone into Libya, filling the news with pictures of yet more devastation. It was a strange feeling, like it happened when our backs were turned. Last week we were looking at footage of civilian devastation in Japanese cities, feeling dismay and sympathy, now we're looking at footage of civilian devastation in Libya and feeling responsible. It's been a turbulent few months and still feels like it is escalating.
Smasher wasn't on our flight, as he was flying Belgium-Madrid-Santiago. According to Facebook though, he had been eight hours delayed and was currently in Peru. There'll be a good story there, I bet. Oh, and it turns out that everyone in the world but me knew that last night was a 'super moon' - the closest the moon has been to the Earth since the Pleistocene era, or something.
On arrival in Santiago, we joined the first of what turned out to be several extremely long queues to get into the country. Immigration, baggage claim, another X-ray security point (curious), customs and then, finally, terra firma. A large bus awaited the crew and a small van awaited those of us bound for the Hotel Fabulous. Driving into Santiago we took in the sights from the van windows. It looks vaguely familiar, it hasn't been that long since we were here. Freeways, shanty towns, skyscrapers in the distance, all under blue skies and bright sunshine. En route we passed a poster advertising a gig on Saturday - Journey being supported by The Sweet - and to think we'll miss it!
I'd been in my room about ten minutes, feeling more than a little grimy after the marathon voyage, when I received a phone call saying the water was about to be cut off. I speed-showered, whilst filling the bath tub and basin with hot water, just in case. I managed to get clean, then couldn't fight off the desire to sleep any longer so went face down for a disco nap.
We regrouped at 8pm and met Smasher who had indeed, much to his surprise, come here via Peru. He, however, had not arrived before the water was cut off and had had a good deal of gear stolen from his checked baggage en route, so was not the happiest I'd ever seen him. We went out and ate meat in large quantities, returning around 11pm to find that at least two floors of the hotel (including mine) still had no water. Naturally I requested to be moved to a new room but the hotel was insistent that they had none available. Now, I like to think I'm not overly fussy when it comes to hotels, keeping in perspective how the vast majority of the world's population will be spending the night. Generally speaking, though, I do like to have water in a hotel room so I gently turned into The Guest From Hell. I didn't lose my cool but I did keep on at the hotel management, refusing to take no for an answer until eventually, after more than an hour of insistence and denial, they broke down and confessed that they did have another room they could give me. One am and I was finally installed in a room with water. Welcome to South America. Looks like this is going to be a fun ride.