So, it’s been a little more than a week since I last wrote to y’all, and although I have been staying in Santiago, I have not been wanton for adventure.  My life has recently been surprisingly shaped by a 1980 blue Mini Cooper, for a couple reasons.  First being that last weekend I took a little road trip out to Viña del Mar with my housemates.  It was myself, the three Frenchies (Ben, Xavier and Constant), the two Mexicanos (Alvaro and Eduardo) and another Frenchie (Macha).  I had the distinct pleasure of riding out there in the Mini Cooper, recently bought by Eduardo.  It really is a masterwork of a Mini Cooper, "Why buy the car of the year, when you can have the car of the century?"  That’s the praise that most Mini owners shower upon their little gems.  I must say that the old mini’s are almost ridiculously small, but they do manage to comfortably fit four people, which is commendable considering its dimensions. 

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Note: The pictures without my watermark were taken by my friend Alvaro, you can check out his Flickr photos here.

The friends that we were visiting in Viña were mainly a French group, but with some Americans and Germans intermingled.  Their abode for the semester was far from humble, situated well off the ground floor of one of many luxury apartment buildings lining the coast of Viña del Mar.  The views offered up by the apartment are really unrivaled, as the sunsets over the ocean stir up many different emotions from inspiration to nostalgia depending on your mood.  We spent hours and hours drinking and being merry with about 30 other social minded people from around the globe until we went off in search of a dance club at about two in the morning.  We found a fairly classy place that gave us a group discount where we moved our bodies to a respectable variety of music including the ubiquitous reggaetón, as well as house music and some Latin American pop.

After the club we meandered through the blocks in a quest for drunken cuisine: we found what we were looking for beneath the golden arches of a neon McDonald’s ‘M’ where I would have a wonderful date with a Grande Big Mac combo meal.  Satisfied with their food, my annebriated French compadres felt like there was no time like the present to rustle up some trouble as a scuffle broke out between some Chileans and the French kind.  It was really pretty funny, even at the time, as drunken insults were dealt and received by both sides, as well as the occasional bitch slap or punch.  Since we were a group of about 15 people still by then, I was not the least bit worried and to be honest, I was still preoccupied with the tantalizing idea of getting a second Big Mac.  We finally went to bed at about 8:30 in the morning after some 7:00 am Jack Daniels.  If you haven’t found out already, the French love to party, and that’s one reason I have a great amount of gratitude towards my French friends.

This weekend also offered up a nice smorgasbord of friends, drinking, dancing and general "living it up" experiences.  On both Thursday and Friday night we had parties at our house, with the Friday night event getting the best turnout.  We probably had about 50 people over throughout the course of the night and I’m pretty sure that everyone had quite a good time.  We drank and danced until the early morning as we love to do, although after a fervent Mexican led sort of tap dancing, pop music fest put on by my housemates at 5:30am that marked the final climax of the party I was more than ready to hit the hay.

Last night being Saturday night, I adventurously headed out with my Mexican housemate Eduardo, a Chilean and a Brazillian to check out a late night electronic dance party that was a bit across town.  The main man of the night was Hernan Catanneo, an Argentinian DJ and producer who is a friend and collaborator with the infamous Paul Oakenfold (widely considered to be the ‘best DJ in the world.’)  Hernan put on a frenzy of a show that took place in a place called Espacio Riesco which turned out to be a surprisingly classy concert venue, complete with body-painted dancers, plasma screen drink menus, marble floored entry with chandeliers and ample security at the front door.  My buddy Eduardo brought along his ridiculous, silver Luche Libre wrestling mask, whose presence alone made our group about 100 friends.  At one point during the nonstop 5 hour dance fest, the mask was tossed up to Hernan to wear, but he was unable to because of the necessity of his DJ headphones.  Graciously, he threw it back to its rightful owner, so it could continue to draw curious looks and surprised smiles. 

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The real adventure of the night actually came after the concert, when the Mini Cooper that we had driven in decided to break down about half a mile from the concert.  We found ourselves trying for more than an hour to do anything we could think of to get it to start, including putting in more gas, using jumper cables and pushing it up to a sprinting speed with the hopes of pumping life into the engine during ignition.  Alas, all of our efforts were for not, and by about 6:30am, we had to make a decision.  We decided not to leave the car alone low class neighborhood we were in (which would have happened had we taken a taxi) and instead opted to spend the night, the four of us, in the Mini Cooper.  Believe me, it is tough to get a good night’s sleep in the back seat of the smallest production car on the planet, but that’s what had to be done.

At about 10:30 the next morning a helpful man in a truck offered to tow us back to our place for 10,000 pesos; not a bad deal ($17).  Now, you must realize that I use the word "tow" lightly, considering that he pulled us behind his truck using a startlingly weak looking length of blue rope that was frayed in many different places.  He did manage to drag us the 20 minutes back home, though, so all my fretting over the dwindling fibers of the rope were for not.  IMG_4096

A couple side notes that I found out later about the neighborhood and street that we spent the night at: first is that the street is nicknamed "Asalto" or "Assault" because there are often robberies and assaults that take place along its stretches.  Also, in the morning after staggering our way out of the Mini, we saw a very small puppy in a funny pink doggy shirt, and naturally we started to pet it until its owner, a gruff looking 20 something year old guy came and took it inside of his house.  We were told later that he was actually a  known criminal.  So, I suppose we lucked out and made it out without a scratch from our mishap filled, one night stay on Asalto Street.

Well, I just thought I would update you guys on the adventures of life down here, and do not fear: I am alive and well.

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