Flight AC93 and Santiago
Woke up at around 7:30. Flying to South America is way better than Europe, you can get a descent night sleep. Eat breakfast, watch the movie Time Machine and got a good look of the Andes.
Arrived in Santiago at 10:30. Get off the plane and follow the signs with the US, Canadian, Mexican, etc. flags. Once at the counter you pay the reciprocity fee for Canadians is $132 US (US citizen pay $100 US). This fee is the Chilean government’s response to a similar in our countries. This entry fee is good until the expiration of your passport. This means I need to get back before my passport expires in 5 years (I just renewed mine for this trip).
After that you head for the next lineup at Customs counter. There they stamp your passport like crazy. Pick up your luggage and skis. Customs Officer with her dog sniffing at the luggage. While most people aren’t here to ski, a few of us are. Another passport control and you let free in the Airport.
People calling names and taxi drivers trying to gather your attention. Although I could have used public transportation (bus/metro) to get to Central Santiago, however I had my Hostal arranged the Airport Transfer with a TransVip taxi. Once I spotted the Transvip rep, he leading me to the van and saying that it was something like $17.000 CHP ($35 US), which is the price for the exclusive van. Hard to communicate and say that isn’t the price that I wanted to pay. Eventually they understood that wasn’t what I wanted and the regular van is $4.500 CHP ($9 US). You have to be careful, because I’m sure that more than a few gringos have been scammed at the airport. I later heard on this trip that another skiing Gringo paid $400 US for THE cab ride.
I shared the regular van with 3 Chilean (I think), so I got to see some of the non-touristy areas outside Central Santiago. Notice some makeshift houses with animals on the edge of the river away while we were on the highway into Santiago. Outer neighbourhoods are colourful and very different from the Central part of Santiago. Small homes side-by-side. I was staying at Hostal Forestal which is also a stone throw from Plaza Italia. As we drove by the Plaza, there was a demonstration which the Police was about to crackdown on.
As you can see from the first video, demonstration turned ugly and Police started cracking down (and heads) South American style using tear gas and water canons. (good ambiance tune to get the SA feel)
Second is what I was on the giant screen at the Hostal. The person that gets clobbered by the carabinero is Chilean Senador Navarro.
Welcome to South America!!!
After checking sending an e-mail back home to my wife and getting my stuff in order, I headed outside to see the sight.
Hostal Forestal is perfectly located, slightly off Central Santiago and next Parque Forestal and Plaza Italia. As I stepped out of the Hostal and walk through the parc and Plaza, the place had been cleared of people and there was a heavy police presence. There was a few signs of piles of trash burning and paper everywhere and the smell of tear gas lingered in the air.
On the other side of the bridge crossing Rio Mapocho is the lively Bellavista district which is know also as the bohemian corner of the capital. Bars and restaurants line Pio Nono and neighbouring streets. The neighbourhoods is also where you can find the house where the poet Pablo Neroda lived and many shops selling lapis lazuli stones. Raising above these streets is Cerro San Cristóbal (860m) with a 22 metre-high statue of the Virgen Del Immaculada Mary
on top. If the smog isn’t too bad, you get a good view of the city and the Andes to the East. There is also the teleférico (mini-gondola) at the top that goes across the Cerro San Cristóbal.
There is a funicular that take you to the top, however the everything was shutdown for fear of trouble due to the demonstration. At the top there is the teleférico (mini-gondola) that goes across the Cerro San Cristóbal. I eventually found a way to get to the top via a long wide open zigzagging road to the top. Along the way meet a girl and her boyfriend who had been at the demonstration. She spoke a very little English and me very little Spanish, she showed me some pics and videos she took of the “action”. We were able to have a good talk even if our knowledge of the others language was pretty limited. The only thing her boyfriend could say was “We are American Rock Stars”. The hike might have taken 90 minutes?
I enjoyed the view of the city and the Andes. Next to the top, I found a small, steep and narrow hiking trail that only takes 20 minutes to get at the bottom.
Definitely a good thing, especially that sunset is much earlier than home. Hard to realize this is Winter, it’s about 16c outside and flowers were blooming (beware allergies).
Later in the evening, I go out grab something to eat. Pretty much everything is shutdown for fear of trouble. Hostal hostess mentions to be careful outside, manage to eat a Barros Luco. I was told that this was named after a Chilean President that liked a beef and cheese sandwich. While I was eating, I could see a few anarchist heading toward Plaza Italia.
Back at the Hostal, sent a few e-mails. Set up a few meeting places with Andy once he gets to Chile, he’s leaving Ottawa the next day. I went out grab something to eat. Pretty much everything is shutdown that evening for fear of trouble. Hostal hostess mentioned to be careful outside, manage to eat a Barros Luco. I was told that this was named after a Chilean President that liked a beef and cheese sandwich. While I was eating, I could see a few anarchists heading toward Plaza Italia.
Guest and hosts were partying, drinking or playing pool on one of the worst pool tables I’ve ever play on. Some of the guests took maybe 45 minutes to play (not me - but I was waiting my turn), it doesn’t help when you're totally harmed on Pisco Sour, Chilean Wine or Rum and Coke. The people at the Hostal were either from North America or Europe, some of them have been traveling around the World on a Worldwide ticket or traveling around South America. No one had a schedule or planed itinerary. Meet some Irish guys that have been gone for 9 months and had just arrived in South America. They were following 6-hour Spanish lesson for one or two weeks at the Hostal. Most of them were young adults or people my age having mid-life crisis. In which category do I fit in?
I need to get to bed, it’s too late, the room is spinning and I’m going skiing tomorrow.(I didn’t noticed if I was spinning in the same direction as in the Northern Hemisphere)
Funny thing about South America, one of the first thing you check is if the water really those flush in a different direction.
source: Rough Guides: Chile (2006)http://www.roughguides.com/website/trav ... 71624_0005
TO BE CONTINUED
NEXT POST WILL HAVE SOME PICTURES OF SNOW. DON'T THINK I'LL BE ABLE TO POST SOMETHING TOMORROW. PICTURE SELECTION AND RESIZING IS TAKING TOO MUCH TIME.