South America 2012-2013: Valparaiso, Chile

Entering Chile officially shortly after a long tunnel, I soon find myself again in the dreaded border control building. Sigh: It's a long road to Valparaiso indeed, however nice it might be to do so direct from Mendoza (without the expected Santiago pitstop/leg). Anyway, in said concrete building I get to wonder if my bags will be searched or bothered with and, to the end of lowering such a possibility - maybe, maybe not, as you never know with these customs kinda folks - I decide to declare my cactus spines from the Tin Tin road (outside of Salta) and my dried cooking spices.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I'm AM asked about the spices, but confirming that they are only powders is blessedly enough to avoid a search. When I'm specifically queried about oregano, I can happily say that I don't have any: I gave my oregano leaf-lets and all of my whole bay leaves to the hostel owners just before leaving. W-hew. Actually, I sorta rue the bay leaves, spendy little things that they can be in the realm of spices. Oh well.

As for the small chunk of mutilated hot peppers I also have from Cachi, I've actually forgotten about them by the time I'm assuring the customs official I have only said powders. Oops. Still, the chance of contamination by said peppers - all to be headed straight to m' belly in their remnant entirety - is about zero. Similarly, I dunno if I should've declared the coffee and tea I have or not, but I'm rapturously glad to remain in possession of these last dregs of quality joe to accompany my last couple weeks in South America. On into Chile with me, then!

Right-o: It's out of the tunnels, over the pass, and through the border our noble bus goes. And then the scenery recommences: From the lofty heights, located shortly past the border crossing, I shortly next spy the maze of switchbacks below that head down into Chile proper. Wasn't I here just a year ago, trying to take these same pictures? Well, yes, but this time I ALSO notice that the sky has turned a hazy gray for the passage. Such amazing powers of observation confirm that I really AM back in Chile. (Immediately I'm also already perhaps prematurely rueing the loss of Argentina's much-more-guaranteed sun.) Meanwhile, it's apparent that the just-as-famed greenery of Chile will have to wait. I see a lot of brown.

It's around the town of Los Andes that we pass the highway turnoff for Santiago, now solely continuing toward Valpo (Valparaiso's nickname) and Viña del Mar, the central coast's symbiotic twins of industry and leisure (in that order). It takes about three to four hours to complete this crossing through Chile's Central Valley, a flatland of desert scrub with random hills and mountains to frame it. The wide openness also hosts some cacti sprinkled here and there in neighboring hillsides. They contrast somewhat starkly with the numerous vineyards that abruptly meet them in an organized fashion, the natural spartan, lighter green of the valley versus the deep green density of viticulture and irrigation. I'm generally all for nature winning, NA-turally, but that's a lotta good wine being made out there....

For all the flora, I nevertheless have to ALSO try to ignore the ubiquitous smog that covers this enormous valley, one of Earth's most polluted airspaces. We thus cruise along making our very personal contribution to the mess, albeit on clean-looking, well-built roads that will soon enough include a 4-lane highway to rival any such in the U.S. of A. I'm reminded yet again that this is the most American of Latin countries, something which I'm sure the locals are equally proud of (speaking of the road quality, for instance) and upset by the comparison (that they aspire in any sense whatsoever to the crass capitalistic nature of the U.S.).

Next, as we close in on the two giant coastal cities, we pass through a number of dollhouse, cookie-cutter "Allentowns" that I don't remember any hint of some fifteen years before. I also don't have any idea if Villa Alemana ("German Village") has any true German hints to it as does Villa Belgrano outside of Argentina's Córdoba. More distressing, from the bus I worry more about the trash that litters the hillsides at the edges of any of these large settlements. Will THOSE messes ever be cleaned up, or just be overgrown and thus out of sight and mind? Maybe, maybe not. In any event it looks like the older, ramshackle houses that exist in unorganized clusters are knocked down to make way for this uniform measure of "progress". All I know, in the end, is that the place has added some serious size.

This is next further evidenced by the large amount of bustle when we cross through Viña, soon magnified as we roll into Valpo along the not-so-new metro line that was but a dream my last time in town. The loads of people I'm witnessing street-side don't let up, either, as we next officially enter the great port city of Valpo, the once and still HQ for the Chilean Navy and some parts of the national government. That last distinction is unavoidable from the bus, too: The large, new-ish hall of congress sits right across from the slightly decrepit bus terminal.

More interestingly, a phenomenal amount of grafiti is ALSO already in view from the bus without even taking a step outside. Surprisingly, most of it is... good! Indeed, that very prolific display of paint will become the theme of my next week-and-a-half in town. The abundance of grafiti - and by that I mean good grafiti, to boot - is not something I remember from my previous trip at all. Meanwhile I'll also soon find that wine is still good and cheap enough, when compared to Argentina.

Fortunately, that reality will be on tap mainly because Valpo is now much safer in its core areas, unlike fifteen years prior. Whereas I was told then that many of my ideas of walkabouts were not aconsejable, this time such a mentality of physical security will only typically apply at the level of good common sense. Or perhaps I need only use my sense of smell, since the nastiness of rotting fish odor is especially to be found in what is still the most dangerous area trafficked by us tourists: the seedy port. Yeah, that's the same place where I stayed the last time, in a dreaded relic called the Garden Hotel. In that neighborhood, I'm still assured to find (and will indeed) no shortage of swarthy, picturesque drunks with red faces, slit eyes and duffelbags that couldn't be written up better in a novel. Or a half-assed blog.

But such grime and grit won't be experienced by me at a lodgings level this time around, although I still need make my way to about the same place - near the grand Plaza Sotomayor - first. To get there, I endure a hellish microbus ride from the terminal, one where I guiltily hog a front-row seat from the inevitable and soon-to-be-boarding elderly. My theory is that I'm allowing the tiny aisleway to stay clear of my rather large backpack. Sheepishly, I try to allude to this repeatedly as a few of said older folks look longingly at my seat. To all this I happily get off after about fifteen minutes of nonstop apologizing, depositing myself near said plaza - which was a massive destruction-cum-construction zone on my last go-round. Yep, it's all better now I think, quickly heading uphill away from it along some cobblestone - which in doing so means that I'm making my way toward one of the areas ALSO formerly not so advisable. How times change, I find myself thinking, and there'll be plenty more of that to come.

By (some amount of) coincidence I've chosen the hostel Casa Aventura, perhaps the first to open its doors in Valpo a dozen years ago. It's also one which was still a couple years away from its eventual existence when I last was in town. Now, however, it's just one of a zillion hostels to choose from, a horde of cheap lodgings found all over the main tourist areas of the Plan (the flat area next to the coast) and the closer-in hills which I'll soon be exploring. I'll learn soon enough how virtually all of these cerros are steep things to climb up, even with their unending series of stairs abounding in all directions to assist with some routes.

Fortunately, almost all the hills have shortcuts in the form of tiny rail systems called ascensores. They collectively make the trips up (or down) a lot quicker and easier for all of 100-300 pesos (20-60 cents) a whack. A pulley at each of the top stations allows the two cars to act as counterbalances for each other as they ply these exceptionally steep tracks (I'd guess 75 degrees from the look of it!) via cables and wheels.

I figure that back in 1900 - or 1800, when for all I know these things mighta been built - there must have been an emphasis on things getting done the most direct way. (Coincidentally, this maps very well to the typical Andean trekking trail, one which takes on the most steep of lines without any thought to the ingeniousness and knee-saving attributes of switchbacks.) Anyway, talk about quick elevation gain! Moreover, these railed relics are all of historical import, even though only about eighteen of them still exist from about twenty-four before. About six or seven of them even WORK. The government, I hear, has bought about ten of them from private hands to restore their services and maintain the cheap price both. The ascensores ARE Valpo, in any event.

As MY thinking, these "elevators" (technically, almost all of them are actually funiculars) make for a first, immediate mission: I'll ride them all! Already attracted to the plentitude of inspired grafiti in every direction, these little jobbies will prove useful to punch into different areas at unexpected angles. Perfect! So away I go, entering these rickety cars with their wooden floors and off-kilter doors that are best left alone. (The latter only open from the outside, by the operator, but I'm convinced that there wouldn't be much ado to expediting a desired access to fresh air for the bold... and stupid.) Like everyone else, most importantly, I reduce my curiosity to eventually just taking hordes of pictures of their odd paintjobs from the outside both in and out of motion - before taking even more shots from within of their stupendous views. I never will quite get over the jolt with which the short trips get started, however.

Within the flurry of picture-taking lies the most wonderful fact, meanwhile: This is a beautiful town! All those extra paint cans left down in the port area over the years, unwanted refuse idling on docks after painting ships and whatnot, have found new lives in the sides of houses. Said abodes have likewise become more thoroughly and robustly sided from scavenged (corrugated) metal over the years in the process as well. Thus former houses of adobe, and/or crudely-milled lumber, have slowly become more permanent structures, all the better protected from the rain as simple as metal trumping mud and exposed wood. With their characteristically jumbled presence, too, UNESCO funding has been found to keep them that way. Or at least that's the case for the goodly chunk of them found on the hills/cerros Alegre and Concepci&ocaute;n. Fortunately, with tourism going on now at a clip just slightly less boisterous than an all-out rampage, many other buildings with similar facades in the core area are seeing similar preservation. This is a good thing. Yay!

Perhaps oddly enough, part of this process is AIDed by grafiti. Many, many wall murals have been paid for by home owners, and particularly imposing (and unbroken by windows or doors) walls have been sought out by grafiti artists who are truly artists in the skilled sense of the word. Hear, hear, I say, and here's to more of 'em - the better to fight the faux artiste presence of the ego-centric taggers. Yes, in theory - and thankfully MOSTly in practice - it seems almost worldwide that once a nice or conceptualized work has been put up, taggers leave it alone out of a modicum of respect. Nevertheless, delinquent narcissists that they are, some works are still disturbed to the dismay of all.

As to the actual works of art, I find that the more interesting and inspired stuff comes from the non-sanctioned works by unknown artists. They very typically focus on animated beings like humans and proto-humans with strong expressions. Funny, inspired stuff. As for the ones on hill Bellavista, or elsewhere, that have been signed or sport plaques to lend a stamp of official recognition, they typically lack the interesting detail or outlandish color schemes that makes one stop and look. As for meanings deep or otherwise, no, I don't get practically any of it outside of the apparent attitude on display... but me likes much what I see! It's worth noting that there IS some proper political grafiti, too, but them's mighty small shrubs in this forest of paint. The works found on Cerro Polanco, accessed by the only ascensor that is an elevator (accessed by a tunnel into the hillside to help bypass an admittedly sketchier area of town), stands out.

Back at the hostel, meanwhile, I get to know the gregarious owner, Cristian. He tells me of his travails in getting a hostel going in this formerly-sketchy area - then watching as the market exploded. Coincidentally he knows well of the Garden Hotel, having once even tried to buy out the formerly grand place (whose noble presence is noted on the inside, not without I should mention). He's watched as some of the port and naval presence was moved south, too, in rebuilding the port area into something more tourist/picture-friendly - while the streets became safer to walk at night. He nevertheless notes that it's still worth watching your ass if you get even slightly out of the "good" areas. To that end, at least most crimes are merely of an opportunistic theft nature.

Another factor in the area's growth has been the recent earthquake of 2010. Some buildings here and there were damaged, some mortally. The old seafood restaurants of the gritty port area, for example, had to be moved. To this end I waste no time in trying to determine which are some of the better ones, poking my head around the ruined buildings to try a reineta and a congrío to good result. The fish are huge, cheap, and tasty, even if the service is a bit suspect - undoubtedly the result of combining a tourist town with a working port. I have the best success at the restaurant with lots of people, of course, even if I'm served in a semi-squalid, claustrophobic second floor - which would be a bad place to be in for the next quake.

To the surly service experienced at the more famous La Playa bar-restaurant, I deposit some coins in pesos argentinos as an admittedly passive aggressive tipping move to denote my displeasure. This becomes especially true after a fisherman - one who's been chatting at the bar and drinking with the owner for a goodly while in this vacant tomb - comes over to work me for a free drink. No, he's not asking me for a date, he's just simply trying to ply the "working fisherman" angle that should apparently endear his pot-bellied self to me in some kind of moment of guilt or something. He's well-dressed and reasonably articulate otherwise, which makes the move all the more audacious and bald - especially after I say no to offering him a drink and he next waits in an unending silence at my table. Evidently he's hoping for me to change my mind over a couple minutes of staring. Sigh. If anything an experienced traveler learns, it how to deal with THIS. I stare back. When he's finally off, I deposit said coins for the nasty waiter to pore over as I hurry home to a toilet. I soon wonder if the sweats of food poisoning are on the way to cap off this weird experience, but fortunately such fun is to be held at bay on this fine day.

As for checking out the recent earthquake ruins, I do so only to the extent that I can stand the stench of urine or feces held within. Yeah, that's ALSO worth noting: Valpo is the new dogshit capital of the world, handily pushing Paris out of that distinction in my book. As is the case everywhere in Latin America, the street dogs are in great evidence, yes, but in an old city with nary a greenspace for dumpin' - and in some cases I really mean DUMPin' - this leaves only the sidewalks for making do. And I mean doo-doo, and lots of it.

The reek of urine, meanwhile, comes one's way from nearly every ever-so-slightly out of the way spot where someone can take a wee out of sight. There are LOTS of them. Yes, this town needs a good rain, and bad, I think - but I won't see one for all of my ten days. Maybe they could just steam clean this detritus-ridden stain of bodily excrements into the sea? No?

In the interim, I keep to my task of being a rube with a camera. I trundle up and down the streets in search of interesting examples of ancient windows and doors, the random piece of statuary, or siding of distressed, corrugated metal. I admire the fancy roofing endjoints and trimwork, all these old colonial buildings of differing styles from English to French to German and a bit more. They all have or had their communities come, go, and stay, something still represented in the current day formation of the local fire companies. Each is sponsored by a different country to this day, explaining in the process how German "Feuerwehr" vehicles even prominently sit in a building fronting the main square Plaza Sotomayor. For the record, it was the Panama Canal that brought an end to Valpo's festivities for a good while before UNESCO stepped in to begin aiding the great turnaround.

Walking the streets ad nauseum (minus the nausea), again I'm also happy to be in a place where cars at least stop for pedestrians - even if the number of annoying jugglers who walk into the street to perform and act like lousy clowns creeps up. Indeed, I've come to think that Chile generates more of these faux-Bohemians than any other country, with their clown make-up and attempts to make hapless drivers feel guilty for driving on without giving them a tip. Perhaps, just POSSibly, people have seen oh, about 10,000 jugglers who make three balls go around in a suspended circle? Sure, it's nice, but a little creativity can go a long way.

Not speaking of which, moments after arriving in Valpo I'm instantly back to my usual dedication to discovering where to find a good coffee. The offerings are few, I know, in Latin America, but they ARE getting better. Especially in a tourist town. Thus I find Puro Cafe down by another main square (fronting the main library), Colors Cafe on Cerro Concepcion, and an unnamed place by the hostel at the base of Cerro Bellavista. It's good to have the core regions of town covered with these necessary outposts of civilization!

Such discoveries are necessary because I'm on a mission to walk the ends of this town's Earth. For example, one of the things I'm checking out are the parks such as the one along Avenida Brazil. This ostensibly plops one in front of the traditional fruit market, with its rotting produce outside (which apparently deters some from sampling the (from what I hear) tempting seafood located INside on the second floor). All I know is that said avenue with its green spaces is yet another place for couples to turn into Lover's Lane. I guess that's what happens when kids keep getting older and on into their twenties - and still live at home.

Another park, meanwhile, lies near the main bus terminal and its adjacent hall of congress. This latter sports a number of armed vehicles outside that look like something out of Mad Max or the Terminator, replete with cages surrounding all specks of glass and double metal exteriors. More peacefully, this main park also houses numerous tables for people to play cards, chess, or dominoes - things likely determined by country of origin by my guessing. Thus to the Argentines there's Truco, and I'm guess it's dominoes for the Colombians and Cubans. As for chess, that's for the smarter expats of all multitudinous (if unknown) stripes - or so I'm supposing. In any event, crowds of kibbitzers line the sides of the more challenging matches.

More importantly to yours truly, to this park on one side I also find the large (and I'm guessing rather "black") market. Anything from used electronics of unknown provenance to hand tools can be found here, all resting on open tables that will no doubt disappear at sunset without leaving a trace. The nearness of the bus terminal is not a coincidence, I'm sure. This is where I go on my continuing shopping mission to find replacements for my iPod cable (found for all of $6), an all-purpose battery charger for my camera ($4), a new nail clipper (50c), and any intriguing books (I find Galeano's classic The Open Veins Of Latin America for 5000CP, about half of what it was anywhere in Argentina - SCORE!).

As for my remaining Argentine pesos, a separate mission, it seems that nobody but nobody wants them. Only an informal casa de cambio at the bus station will take them, as an obviously unofficial transaction, and at a horrific rate. This is done by a bus company which makes no mention of the trade available on any written media. This, I figure, must be an awfully nice gig when you have buses headed to Argentina every day! To such swindling I instead put out my feelers at the hostel over my stay, eventually finding a tourist who I'm happy to give a good deal to. Thusly sheddeth I the weight of all of $30 worth of pesos that might be worth only $20 in a year's time - or less.

Back speaking to the parks, specifically the large one by the main (and handsome within and without) biblioteca and the aforementioned Puro Cafe, I find a scene which takes me to the past. Like the Victorian England in Mary Poppins past, I mean. Seriously, practicing jugglers, kids in pedal-cars (with their danger of potentially ramming my ankles from behind, which I barely avoid on a few occasions), and men in lab coats distributing cotton candy? I half expect Dick Van Dyke to wander by and offer me something... special. I'm brought back to the present, however, by the skateboarders young and old trying out their stuff amidst the cacophony of folks trying to walk or idle by them safely. I cringe as these future X-games olympians seem to end 90+% of their moves by sprawling on the pavement in ugly rolls. Will I witness a life-changing injury? It seems only a matter of time.

Also only a matter of time, evidently, is that I will get sucked into the walking tour of the city which is done only for tips. Its popularity has transplanted the numerous other (former) operations in the area, so I figure it has to be decent enough. Were that only true, I soon find out, especially as not one of my admittedly pointed questions generates an actual answer. Sigh.

More annoying, however, is the Californian who has been in Valpo for all of a year and is leading our merry tour. She's prattles on about "her" Valpo as if she is a native giving out secrets, then waits expectantly at the tour's end for us to tip her (which I guiltily do, just as scheduled). The upshot is that conceptually this idea goes down well - and thus its success - but the mechanics need some work. Of more pressing interest to me is how the work could be given to actual locals. Oh well, at least we got a five minute ride on one of the old electric streetbuses, right? Right. (Well, they are the oldest continuing such buses in operation, from like the 40s or 50s, but still....)

I also finally get around to the remaining ascensor that has escaped my attention, the Artilleria funicular near the old Aduana building and the port. From there one can see how the fine edges of the tourist areas meet those of the more gritty city. It is indeed the best view in town, I agree with all, one where I can make out the entire coast of Valpo and that of Viña beyond as well. This really IS just about the most picturesque city anywhere, I again deem to be the case. That's what I repeatedly tell myself as I spend a goodly chunk of time next watching the machinery of the port below in the full synchronization of a working day, a nonstop flow of cranes, trucks, and ships.

Who could ask for more? Well, I guess the cruise ships can: By trial and error, it's been determined that only three can visit this city at a time, maximum. Sheer mayhem ensued once when there were four such beasts, I'm told - whatever that portends, I dunno. A walk along the coast beyond the port, meanwhile, merely confirms that the coves beyond the tourist areas are inhabited only by locals who view me with only a slight amount of suspicion for leaving the areas where I'm expected. Heading... back.

As for other things to do in Valpo, I guess I could actually see my Chilean friend, right? Right. It turns out that my buddy Mauricio and I just barely missed each other when I came into town. Fortunately, soon enough he's willing to come back to attend to some business matters while getting in a visit with me. We check out his property adjacent to the Lecheros Ascensor (awaiting restoration) that he'll be putting up for sale before taking a drive down the coast as far as Concon. Shant we munch on some seafood? But of course. In the meantime I get something of a running tour as I finally see my friend on his home turf which he's talked about so much over the years.

Not coincidentally, Mauricio will also provide the necessary assist for a night of Chile's famed pisco sours. This starts when another of the hostel residents (Sam) and I stop at the local legend of a bar, Cinzano (the oldest in town), to see how a proper pisco sour drink is made. A professional bartender who even travels with his own drink-makin' kit, Sam is videotaping the processes of making drinks as he makes his way around the world for an eventual documentary. Why not? It DOES give the tourism a purpose of sorts, like my playing trumpet on the streets.

Anyway, as I translate, eventually we have the manager of the bar on tap to show us how it's done - but not until after the first bartender merely believes it sufficient to pour out the drink from a pre-made mix in the fridge. Oh, but NO! Soon our movie-star-in-the-making is making flourishes with his arms, taking the microphone off his chest as he prepares our fine drinks and puts them on the house - and as a guy we come to call "The Hairy Canadian" joins us in the official tasting and review. For the record, it's pisco up to about here (3/4s of the glass!), lemon juice to there (an eighth?), the white of an egg and a tablespoon of powdered sugar before shaking. Then a large ice cube is thrown in for good measure. The apparent froth which seems to encompass the entire glass is actually only the very top part, even if it seems to go almost to the bottom of the glass.

Back at the hostel, to this recipe Mauricio adds some powdered cinnamon to be sprinkled on top of the foam head. But really that's beyond the pale - which is exactly where we pretty much all are on a night where about eight of us down about two liters of pisco. Good gravy!: It's no wonder that people are slurring and practically licking the lamppost when we are forced outside! By the end of the works, the pisco pouring has become so liberal as to be called an open, shameless pour. Thanks, Mauro! Yikes. All I eventually know is that when Mauricio comes by the next day - after sleeping in his car! - I'm pretty much worthless for the rest of the day. It's more sleep deprivation than hangover, yeah, but it nevertheless takes the bulk of the next day to recover. Mauricio wisely returns to Santiago to await my last leg of the trip in the interim.

Continuing the story, and trying to salvage something of a lost day, most of us survivors (namely Charlotte, Jack, Brandy, and BrooklynBadAss - a NooYawkuh who I forget the name of as usual) decide on an evening walk to Viña. We think this'll take an hour or so, but it's about three or more in all before we're done. It doesn't matter, though, not with light waning to sunset and then a night with a perfect evening's air to repatriate our lungs (if not our livers). We NEED this walk, we all agree.

The only issue, actually, is the number of street dogs that choose to accompany us. Invariably they first walk alongside us, then head out to lead in front for a short while... then inexplicably start taking on cars in the street as if they are protecting us or something. What numbnuts! This gets out of hand instantly, mainly because the cars are going awfully fast, the dogs are lunging at them within an inch of their life (literally, or less!), and none of us wants a bloody dog carcass to come flying at us. Unsurprisingly, this gets beyond annoying in short order, quickly moving into the realm of a cringing despair - that is only solved when I start managing to get in front of the dogs and threatening them with mean looks. It's only that which works to get them to stop following us. This has to be repeated with each dog (or dogs) that comes to take us on as new companions, frustrating affairs each and every one. By the time we get to Viña, we are happy to take the clean and efficient Merval metro back to Valpo and throw something together for dinner. More drinks aren't entirely welcomed with fervor, though.

On a different occasion, I return to the beaches beyond Concon with another hostel holdout (i.e. someone who stays more than the typical one to three days), Daniella. The idea is to walk the long beach found at the end of this stretch of "civilization". Here we get to view a slice of the Chilean shore where birds can number in the hundreds, if not thousands, while a few fishermen ply their luck in the waves that keep rolling in. To this I wonder, as I always do, if shore fishing EVER works.

Whether it does or does not, all we know is that we are more than ready to take on phenomenal plates of reineta and congrio topped with macha (a shellfish I believe to be like clams) and mushrooms in a butter sauce. (It's actually said feast which prompts the walk, to put things in their proper order). Thus more walking is deemed necessary on the way back - I for one know that I'm probably in need of still more exercise after all of those asados in Argentina - which entails our hopping a shore bus before hopping back off of it to walk the unexpectedly long segment from Renaca to Viña. Well, we DID wanna walk...

But then, well, that'll have to about do it for Valpo. I've walked and walked, but time's running short with an airplane departure looming shortly on the horizon. Since I've been hearing that La Serena up the coast is a lot like Viña, I feel happily prompted to forgo that thought which entails another chunk of bus travel. No, it's to be back to Santiago with me, for a waiting out of the last days of this trip.

Word is that Mauricio should still be in town, plus the two Frenchies Manu and Sandra (from WAY back in Villa La Angostura at the beginning of the trip days) should join me as well. All this sounds good, and with buses leaving Valpo's terminal for the capital city every ten/twenty minutes or so, I'm soon aboard yet another - the last! - bus in Latin America. I'm sitting up front, top, and center again, again ready to launch myself through the large plate-glass windshield should the opportunity or necessity arise. Yep, back to Santiago for the over and out!
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