Today is election time in Omaha and this reminds me of the time in Patagonia when Chile was closed.
Rafal and I had just finished a really cool hike to see the three massive Torres del Paine towers. We hiked about eight or nine hours that day. About half of the time was not so much a gentle uphill ascent, but more like a take five minutes ever 30 minutes of hiking because the hills you just climbed kicked your fanny. We wanted to hike, not climb. Anyways, we saw the three towers and then hustled back to the bus pickup point where we waited about 10 minutes for the last bus back to the city, Puerto Natales.
When we got back to the hostel we cleaned up and headed out for a night on the town. Nothing like going out and partying on a Saturday night at the bottom of South America with thousands of people. Actually, Pto Natales is a pretty tiny town and we thought it was kinda odd that nobody was out at 10pm that night. Things dont get started until late in South America but none of the restaurants were open. And the ones that were open were shuttling people out and closing down. The city center was like a ghost town with no foot traffic nor automobiles. "That's weird," we thought. Rafal and I tapped on some windows of restaurant owners who were closing up shop and asked them what was going on. The store owner said that elections were tomorrow and any place that serves alcohol would close at 10pm, otherwise la policia would issue a stiff fine.
Well, it was still Saturday night and we were still hungry. Where can you go when you are hungry and thirsty when all the places that can solve that close? We searched high and low before finding a gas station on the edge of town. There, Rafal and I ate in sort of an unhappy and un-blithely disposition. Service station hot dogs, Fanta soda, and chips do not count as a meal. We returned to the hostel cold and hungry with our heads pounding from poor gas station junk food. Bummer.
The next day was not that much better, except for the hostel. The egg, butter, and bread breakfast at the hostel was prolly the best thing we were gonna eat all day. We hopped on a bus and made it Punta Areanas where we searched for a hostel and then waited for about an hour and a half for a little bit of pizza and a sandwich at the only restaurant open during elections. The place was packed and there was only one waiter for the entire restaurant. We felt bad for the kid and left him a good tip. Still no real good food yet.
Elections really do close everything down in Chile. It is pretty impressive how the country has compulsory voting and the people got really excited about the presidential elections. While Rafal and I were waiting for out food, the main drag in Punta Areanas was packed full with cars honking their horns and kids in the backseat waving flags in the air proclaiming their newly elected female president.
Now every time that elections occur I will think about that weekend in Patagonia. Yea, we didn't get a decent meal in two and a half days, but we got a few great memories and a new saying for the rest of the trip, "Dont go to Chile, it is closed for elections!"
Well, I voted today. Now it's time to look for a job. Laters! - - - jp