December 19, 2005
This afternoon I met Morad and Helene at their hotel. We walked down a long pedestrian walkway to the Plaza de Armas. The entire path was crowded with thousands of people. It was hard to believe that it was even possible for that many people to be in the same small space at the same time, but somehow everyone managed to avoid crashing into everyone else on their way to business meetings, shopping excursions, and leisurely lunches near the Plaza.
Finally, we swam through the sea of people far enough to make it to the Plaza de Armas, at the heart of the city of over five million. It was over 30 degrees Celsius (85 Fahrenheit) without a cloud in the sky, and I needed to get some shade before turning into a lobster. We stepped into a small cafe for some lunch. It was a pleasant place to eat until an employee played some songs on the loud, annoying jukebox located right by us. There must be a law here that you're not allowed to go more than two minutes without being subjected to having one of a handful of popular songs being blared into your ears. Still, given the choice of either being baked to a crisp in the relentless sunlight, or having to listen to the "gasolina" song for the ten billionth time, the restaurant was a no-brainer.
After lunch, we took the metro over to Cerro San Cristobal, which overlooked the city from the foothills of the Andes. An ascensor pulled us and a bunch of other tourists to the top of the hill. At the peak of the Cerro, the temperature was noticeably cooler, and the gentle breeze finally provided some relief to my dehydrated body. A great view of the city accompanied the mild climate, and I could even see all the way to the horizon, something I didn't think would be possible due to the high levels of smog I kept hearing about. For a change of pace, the virgin Mary guarded the city instead of Jesus, making the cerro visit worthwhile in all aspects.
After we descended the hill, Morad, Helene, and I met Pablo, one of the crazy Chileans with whom we sang karaoke two nights ago, for a drink in Bellavista. Morad and Helene had to catch a flight to New Zealand in a few hours, so the reunion was a short one. Besides New Zealand, they are going to travel around Australia, southeast Asia, and India for the next several months to finish their round the world tour. We said our goodbyes, and I made my way home.
I heard the Green Bay Packers were going to play on Monday Night Football, and Katty had cable TV, so I figured it would be a good idea to watch the game tonight. That was a really bad decision. I quit watching when they were down 14-0 after the first five minutes. It was just too painful to see how bad the once great team had become. I don't think they'll be playing on Monday night again for a long time.