Soltera in Santiago: La Piojera
It was Tuesday morning when I received a call from a friend of mine who runs a tour company in Santiago. Each week she takes backpackers on a city tour that starts at La Moneda and ends at La Piojera for some mid-day drinks. As I am currently unemployed, she would occasionally contact me to help her with the English part of the tour in exchange for some extra pocket-money.
“La Piojera” is a quaint little bar (opened in 1922) renowned for its terremotos, a Chilean drink made with pipeño (a type of sweet fermented wine) and pineapple ice cream. On weekends the bar is completely packed with Chilenos and gringos, but when we entered La Piojera at 4 o’clock on a Tuesday, it was almost completely empty.
Right away I noticed that we were the only gringas in the joint. This was painfully obvious when all eyes fell upon our group the moment we stepped into the bar. In total there were only five of us… three gringas and one chilena. The three other girls had a very limited knowledge of Spanish, so I volunteered to be the official translator for the evening.
One terremoto turned into two, and soon we were ordering pitchers to split between us. As our vision got slightly blurrier, the bar started to fill up with Chileans who all were eagerly eyeing the drunken gringas. Our tour guide became our mama bear, mercilessly swatting away all the flies that started to buzz around our table. Men asked to take pictures with us, handed us CDs of their music and different kinds of herbal tea in an effort to join our table. We were instant celebrities! Unfortunately, most of these men were grimy 50-year-olds who reeked of booze.
The night was looking pretty grim (boy wise) until three young Chilean guys sat down beside our table. In La Piojera, there is usually a man who walks around with an instant camera who charges around CL$2,000 to take your picture. While I was talking with my friends, I felt a tap on my shoulder and was pleasantly surprised to see one of the young Chilean men smiling at me.
“Can we take a picture with you?” he asked in Spanish. I nodded, and he and his friends paid the guy about four dollars to take a picture of the boys with the extranjeras.
“Do you want to join us?” I asked. He nodded and pulled up three chairs. I was instantly attracted to one of them, who later identified himself as Jorge. Most of them didn’t speak English, so I played interpreter for the other ladies who would often interject into my conversation with Jorge to ask, “What does this mean…?”
Thankfully, that role quickly ended after a couple more terremotos, since most of their mouths suddenly became occupied. Four hours went by and we decided that the night was young and it was time to switch locations.
We stumbled out of the bar and crammed seven people into a small hatchback car and drove to buy more liquor. We arrived at our location (one of the boys’ houses) and started a dance party in the living room. My friend, who had become bored of her fling, pulled me aside. “I don’t know what he’s saying!” She exclaimed. “He keeps whispering Spanish words in my ear as if I understand and kissing my neck!”
I carefully examined the body language of each gender and notice something… the girls had arrived wanting to drink and have fun, but the guys had something else in mind. Jorge walked up to me, pulled me close to his body and kissed my check as if we had been dating for months. He invited me to take a “tour” of the house, and casually told me I could stay the night if I wanted.
BINGO! It clicked. These guys assumed that we were that type of gringa, the foreigner whose drunken escapades lead her into the bed of a hot Latino man. At that moment, I decided it was time to leave. I signaled to the girls that I was leaving, but Jorge begged me to stay.
“I promise nothing will happen unless you want it to,” he said with a smile on his face. Lie. “We can just talk.” Lie. “And then we can go for breakfast and I’ll drive you home in the morning.” Lie.
This guy was a pro! He knew exactly what to say to coax a girl back into his arms. Unfortunately, I had fallen for this ruse before and had learned my lesson. I shook my head and made up some lie about having to work early before leaving the apartment with two of the three girls.
About 20 minutes later I got a text on my phone. It read, “I had a great time with you tonight and I can’t wait to see you again. Jorge.”
Two things popped into my head… Damn, he’s persistent! And how the hell did he get my number?