I’m so stressed out and mad. Angry in a very non-constructive way, and I shouldn’t feel this way. The setting is perfect—I’m outside our hotel room, soaking up the sun—and our trip is going well.
The problem is at home, once again.
We had found a daycare for Mark. He was supposed to start in February. Again, we made a deposit, filled out the application, and tested it out for a few days in December before Christmas. Everything was fine.
And today, I received the news that it is closing. Again, going bankrupt, like Mark’s previous daycare. This is freaking ridiculous. It was a big place and it had been in business for a long time. What the hell is wrong with daycare centres in Ottawa?
I don’t know if I will get my deposit back. But at this stage, I don’t even care. What I’m most stressed out about is the fact that once again, we are without a childcare solution and we need one for when we come back, soon. I’m sick and tired of looking for daycares, of being on waiting lists, on being told there are no spot available.
Mark’s former daycare left 37 kids and parents without a solution. How many more in this daycare? At least that many—it was a big place. What are we going to do?
This is how the day started for me in Punta Del Este. I sat there, coffee and cigarette in hand, fuming. But I didn’t have much time to think—we were packing, leaving Uruguay.
“It’s not like going off the beaten track is an option,” Feng had argued a few days earlier. “We are in South America. There is no beaten track.”
We were trying to figure out where to go next. Uruguay is lovely but it’s a small country, and we couldn’t afford to stay in Punta Del Este much longer. Brazil was next door and seemed to be the logical option, except that, as Canadians, we needed visas and the border crossing at Chuy was awful (from our experience in 2009). There are many cool places in Argentina, but it’s a big country and Mendoza or Bariloche weren’t exactly next door. Paraguay was out—visas needed plus safety issues. I hate the idea to backtrack through Montevideo, Colonia and Buenos Aires again, and there were no domestic flights to go to cool places in Uruguay.
Feng did some research and came back with an option—Chile.
The Pacific side?
On Monday, we bought the tickets online for the Wednesday flight. We didn’t need visas and Chile had eliminated the reciprocity fee with Canada in November.
The flight was leaving from Montevideo, so we took the bus from Punta Del Este to the airport. Mark slept on my lap and the ride was smooth, but we arrived at the airport way too early—it was 3 p.m. and our flight was at 6:40 p.m. On the plus side, the airport was brand new, friendly and clean. On the downside, except for two McDonald’s and a small convenience store, there was nothing.
Mark ran from one end to another, and then some more. I plugged in my laptop, connected to the free Wi-Fi and completed some work. We went to Mcdonald’s twice—Sundaes for the guys, a coffee for me later.
Finally, we checked in and went through security and immigration to get our exit stamp. The process was fast and efficient.
We boarded the blue LAN plane right on time and I started to hope some food would be served—I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast in Punta Del Este.
Mark ate his ham and cheese croissant, two chocolate cookies and half of my own croissant. Being a mother means that you have to share or give away your food.
It sucks, but a cranky Mark sucks even more.
Towards the end of the 180-minute flight, the captain announced we were about to cross the Andes, and that we should all buckle our seat belts. It was apparently a serious affair.
“Isn’t it where a plane crashed years ago, and survivors had to resort to cannibalism?”
“I get Mark. He is fat enough.”
“I get you, then.”
“Are you saying I’m fat?”
“I don’t care much about food as long as I get to suck on your bones.”
We have a twisted sense of humour, I know.
We landed in Santiago shortly after crossing the mountains, jagged peaks piercing the thick clouds, and all the passengers seemed relieved. Note to self—maybe I should Google “airline safety in Latin America”.
The immigration process was fast and straightforward, and we wolfed down the two bananas we were carrying before going through customs, as you can’t bring fruits into Chile.
“Mommy, drink, juice!”
Yeah, well, mommy needs Chilean Pesos before she can buy you a drink, honey. We withdrew cash at the airport, checked the exchange rate and I almost had a heart attack when paying 1,500 pesos for a Pepsi and a Sprite—but that was only about US$3. It’s just that in Uruguay, the same purchase would have been about 50 Uruguayan pesos. And in Argentina… oh, whatever, I forgot already.
The taxi ride to downtown Santiago didn’t take long but I loved it. Everything felt new and fresh—the dry desert heat, the mountains in the background, the daylight slowly fading and the upbeat music playing in the car.
Our hotel was actually an apartment in a large residential complex, booked on Expedia a couple of days earlier. It reminded me of the place where we stayed in Shenyang, although this condo complex has a party vibe and hosts travellers, students and local families. We checked in and rushed to the supermarket next door a few minutes before 10 p.m., as it was about to close. Ham and cheese sandwiches, shower, sleep.
Chile, here we come!