Friday, May 27, 2011

My first time actually traveling alone between foreign cities [instead of just to/from the US] was my trip from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Santiago, Chile last night. A few important observations:

1. The airport security at Jorge Newbery airport, the airport for South American flights in and out of Buenos Aires, is abysmal. I didn't have to pass security until I got to my actual gate, and when I did pass through security, it was one crappy little metal detector. I didn't even have to remove my shoes, jacket, or take my laptop out of my bag. No one waved me through the metal detector because there was only one person working.

2. My plane for my 2 hour flight between AEP and SCL was far nicer and more comfortable than my crappy 10.5 hour American Airlines flight from DFW to EZE.

3. The overhead speakers in the airplane looped Air's "La Femme D'argent" and "All I Need" before take off and after landing.

I arrived at my friend Daniel's house in a cute neighborhood right outside of downtown Santiago and we ate a tasty home cooked dinner.

This morning, Dani walked me to the supermarket very close to his house to get breakfast foods. I looked up and realized there were gigantic mountains in front of me. Gigantic. Bigger than in SLC, and closer. I feel comfortable using the word "epic" in this situation [even though I recently put a personal moratorium on that word]. I read in the backyard sunlight while Dani was at work, and around 2pm we headed for downtown via the subte. And here begin my observations about Santiago.

1. Santiago is far cleaner and more organized than Buenos Aires. The subte is the cleanest and most beautiful of any subway/metro type system I've ever used [this includes Buenos Aires, DC, Chicago, NYC, London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Vienna, and Prague. Not kidding]. Think of the 4-5-6 in NYC. WAY nicer than that. The stations themselves don't even feel like stations. They don't feel like they're underground. There are even special subte police who make sure everything is safe and that too many people don't pile on the train at once.

2. Santiago itself is a very clean city. In Buenos Aires, the sidewalks are almost always broken and falling apart and there's usually dog poop to step in. Here, the sidewalks are perfect. Even the dirtiest street in the very center of el centro wasn't that dirty.

3. The people here are clamer. Or more respectful maybe. They don't honk at every little thing and they clean up after their dogs. The police are far more respectable. In Buenos Aires, you can't entirely trust the police, especially if you're American. In Santiago, Daniel tells me that police won't even accept bribes [I know, there's always an exception, but the majority seem honorable].

4. Clothing is cheaper, public transit is more expensive. Everything thus far still appears to be as inconsistent as in Buenos Aires. For instance, there was a lunch deal at the restaurant this afternoon: two plates of pasta and two cokes [for two people] for a low price. The coke was in a little glass coke bottle. I drank that and ordered a second, but this time it was coke in a can. This happens all the time in Buenos Aires too. I still don't understand why.

5. Santiago, like SLC, is in a giant valley, and therefore has a small pollution problem. It is for this reason that I will not yet post photos of the mountains right next to Dani's house. Waiting for a clearer day to take those pictures.

Ok enough talking, here are a few photos from today:

A woman selling single flowers outside the gelato store actually gave this flower to me for free "for good luck."
Dani and I were both very surprised. Unfortunately, carrying it in the subte at rush hour would have destroyed it, so I gave it this nice home in this tree.

After a long day of exploring Santiago, Dani and I ordered sushi for delivery for dinner and ate it while watching some super-American action film. Two more points about Chile:

1. There is a very popular fruit here called lĂșcuma. You don't actually eat the fruit itself, you use the pulp to flavor things. Many things. Alcohol, ice cream, etc. It is ridiculously delicious.

2. There are enough earthquakes here that they have two different names for the quakes. Quakes 6.0 or less on the richter scale are called "tiemblas" and the massive earthquakes above 6.0 are called "terremotos."

Y ahora me voy a dormir.

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