After leaving Juan Fernandez I flew back to Santiago to think where I was gonna head next, up or down the country.
The father and son I met diving advised me if I was headed south to get to Pucon. The scenery was meant to be breath-taking. It’s a part of Chile known as the Lake District- national parks, mountain, volcanoes and water. You can get to it either by plane or by bus. It is however known as an adrenaline junkie’s paradise. For me the cheaper option was a winner as I could take a bus overnight and arrive by morning.
I’m a good traveller. In fact I’m pretty damn good on buses. I’ve spent up to 14hours on buses across Africa. Except that was done without a hangover. The night before my journey I arranged to go out with the chefs from Boragó. What a mistake that was. I am my own worst enemy. They didn’t finish service until around midnight so I had plenty of time to eat before hand.
I wanted to try one of Santiago’s famed place – Liguria. It serves traditional food and it’s hugely popular. I emailed ahead to say I’d like a table for one at around 9.30 and I’d heard great things about the food. I mentioned I had just turned 40 and was celebrating. The email back said there were no free tables but if I turned up I could eat at the bar once a space became free. That night as I jumped out of the cab and dodged the heavy traffic crossing the road my heart sank. The queue outside was huge and large groups of people were waiting. That would mean either I get seated pronto as it’s just me or I wait for eternity.
But as I approached to get my name added to the list, the Matri’d looked at me, exclaimed, “Asha?!”. I nodded surprised as I was ushered in to a spot at the bar. There was a reserve sign and a glass of champagne waiting. I was well looked. After two courses, a carafe of wine they sent out a huge slice of cake with a candle burning brightly and the entire restaurant sang to me in Spanish.
I was so embarrassed but of course I loved it!!
Next stop my neighbourhood. I have bent the rules on this trip but only with people I have had a good feeling about. The guys I partied with was one current chef and one chef who’d left BORAGó and their friends. We ended up in a dive bar drinking neat Pisco on ice until 6am. Needless to say the next day was a right off. I felt as sick as a dog. The smell of it alone even now is enough to turn my stomach.
By the time I got on the bus at 9 I had hoped to have been cured. But no. The hangover lasted two whole days!!! And my bus journey turned out to be one from hell. I had a fat man who had flatulence all night sat next to me. A young couple with a toddler sat across from me. His screams went all night and would have eclipsed a chainsaw. That child wanted everyone to feel his pain. Even with headphones on and the volume on max I could still hear the little blighter. To make matters worse there was a Latino “chav” family sat all around me. They were a pain in the arse: walking up and down, talking too loud, bumping me every time they got up to use the loo. Standing in the aisle with their huge bottoms in my face. And then passing junk food to each other constantly until one of their kids threw up. It was bound to happen. Yup for three hours she yaked up into a plastic bag every super size meal she consumed that day and more!