“I was alone in the solitary train,
but not only was I alone–
a host of solitudes were gathered
around the hope of the journey,
like peasants on the platforms.” – Pablo Neruda
My first experience of Neruda’s old town was getting ripped off by a taxi driver. After an 8 hour bus ride, I had no interest in carrying a heavy backpack for a 45 minute walk. I asked the driver how much it would cost to get to my guesthouse. He gave me a reasonable price and we left. Then a few minutes into our drive, he got on the radio with some dispatch woman and got her to quote a price five times the one we’d agreed. My other option was to get out. Usually I would have, but I was so tired I agreed to get ripped off. It was the most exciting thing that happened to me in this boring Patagonian town. I see why Neruda left. I also walked everywhere after that.
I’d heard interesting stories about the tricks of the taxi drivers in Santiago. They could pull a magicians trick and make any notes you gave them seem like smaller bills in an instant. The advice is to count out our money before handing it over. But I wasn’t expecting the thievery to run all the way down south. Live and learn.
There is an abandoned train station in Temuco named that has been turned into a museum and named after Pablo Neruda. I went and it was closed. Maybe because it was a Sunday, maybe it’s always closed. It didn’t matter, by that point I’d already stayed in Chile a week longer than I planned and was ready for my next country.