I’ve written before about holidays and Chile closing down. I have to say, both Chile and Argentina take holidays much more seriously than we do in the United States. The only major holiday I was present for in Buenos Aires was similar to the ones here in Santiago. Most places are closed. Emergency services does not include Best Buy here. Most businesses stay open in the USA – just ask my wife – and some businesses even put on extra hours.
Think about that. It’s a holiday, so we should work more. It’s crazy when you think about it but it is what we think of as “the way it should be.”
Good Friday and Easter Sunday certainly showed a difference here as it was hard to find many businesses open. One that was, for at least a few hours, was the Unimarc a couple blocks away. This is my grocery store of choice because it is close and most closely resembles an American store among the ones nearest me. So, while a big part of me thinks that the Chilean approach to holidays is healthy and admirable, a bigger part (my stomach) expects a hearty meal with little effort on my part.
Steve and I were really beat after our long weekend of observing and giving up precious moisture to the Atacama desert so we turned in early and rose late on Sunday night. We agreed to take an easy morning on Monday. He went through pictures from the trip and I took care of correspondence from work that had built up over the last couple of days. Around 1pm we had a sandwich and then headed out to pick up some groceries and scout for restaurants that would be open on the holiday. I had neglected to stock up before we left because we’d been busy, Steve with tourism and me with work and tagging along on some of Steve’s tourism. So we needed food from either a grocery or a restaurant. And I would need food later in the week so it seemed a good idea to take care of groceries on the holiday.
So off to Unimarc. Closed.
Check Cuatro Bocas where we had a great dinner the other night. Closed.
Down to Ekono. Closed.
It was then we started noticing that the streets were empty. No one was out. There was no traffic noise. And nothing was open. Lider Express was closed so we were 0 for 3 on walkable groceries. There was a minimart open but it looked sketchy. Like a minimart.
Happily, the Peruvian place I ate at a few weeks ago was open as we passed. I asked the guy out front beckoning people to enter if they would be open that night. No, I was told, we’ll be drinking! Damn. Can’t blame them but, damn.
So we headed back to the apartment and pulled some hamburger out of the freezer and prepared to do bachelor spag a second night in a row. It should be noted, there is probably enough food in the apartment for three or four days. But, we’re Americans, dammit, and it is our god-given right to have a month’s worth of food of all varieties at our immediate request.
We regrouped and prepared for our second target of the day: Sky Costanera. I had been waiting for someone to go with to this place and Steve fit the bill for a test run leading up to my next guest. We made our way to Costanera Center and wandered around the quiet mall until we found the line. It’s about a 60 second ride to the 61st floor of South America’s tallest building. The view is spectacular even if marred by the top floor being right at the bottom of the city’s impressive smog layer. We couldn’t circle all the way around the 61st floor due to a party going on in the western side but the full 360 was available on the 62nd floor which is open to the sky, though much more heavily guarded from accidental or intentional falling over the edge than the World Trade Center, which is the only other open air skyscraper observation deck I’ve been on. The thick glass windows and metal frame extends 40 or 50 feet above us but, as promised, there was no actual roof. We found a few parks Steve has seen, San Cristobal, roughly where I live and then watched the light change as the sun set on the far away Cerro Plomo and closer Cerro Provincia. It was beautiful.
As we descended the tour guide told us that we’d be getting off at the 5th floor instead of the 1st floor where we’d gotten on because that is where the restaurants are.