Room With A View

26 06 2008

Santiago

Who put that there?

Sometimes, the anticipation of the unknown is better than the actual discovery itself. A carefully wrapped birthday present bound with ribbon and topped with a bow is a prime example. You hold it, shake it, listen to it and feel it. Your mind spins faster than a supercomputer with every possible gift or surprise that someone could imagine. When you open the box and wade through the mountain of Styrofoam nuggets and find… a porcelain ice hockey player with a bobblehead and no teeth…you deftly hide your rampant disappointment and smile appreciatively. You then take the bubblewrap to a corner and pop each bubble to your heart’s content in a form of therapy.

 

But sometimes, the contents exceed your wildest expectation, the grin is genuine and your head bobs like a bobblehead for days afterward.

 

Arriving anywhere after dark is much like receiving a wrapped present and it’s not until the following morning when you draw back the curtains of your room that you find out what it’s like outside. Sometimes it’s a litter-strewn graffiti-decorated brick wall. But sometimes it’s like Santiago, Chile and you become the bobblehead.

 

The drive from the airport had been long and arduous. Construction had closed the main highway and left the detour restricted to one lane. It had been dark when we landed and although usually possessing a decent sense of direction, I didn’t have a clue where I was or where we were heading. The traffic was bumper-to-bumper and there was nothing much to see except for red taillights. After an hour we arrived at our hotel. As we were only in Santiago for a brief stopover and had booked a city tour for the following morning before returning to the airport, I must confess that for once I hadn’t done much research and really didn’t know what to expect.

 

We went to our room and I immediately headed for the windows. I drew back the curtains and gazed out at a vast inky darkness with a vague grid of streetlights and a scattering of home or office lights. Exhausted, we went to bed.

 

The next morning light shined around the curtains. I glanced at the clock and rolled out of bed. Habit propelled me to the window, although I wasn’t expecting much after the previous evening’s disappointment. I pulled back the drapes and stood there, the proverbial grinning bobblehead myself.

 

The entire window was filled with the Andes Mountains, close enough to touch. They were snowcapped, rugged, their base shrouded in cloud and seemed to be violently shouldering each other as if the tectonic plates were still driving and grinding them upwards. The light had a muted early morning glow that dabbed delicately at the snow line. As it was Sunday, the streets were quiet and nothing competed for attention with the natural skyline.

 

I stood and gazed in wonder. The Andes would be spectacular under any circumstances and serving as a backdrop to a city like Santiago would always make them special, but to draw back the curtains and see such a vista moments after rolling out of bed was completely unforgettable.

 

What a way to start the day!

 

 

 

 

Photo and post by: Simon Vaughan © 2008

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