I was going to write two more blog entries about our trip to Chile, one for Santiago, and a short one for the plane trip home, but it's been a week that we've been back, now, and the memory, it ain't what it used to be. And, in fact, before I forget, here and here are links to a bunch more pics.
One of the benefits, of course, of waiting a week to write a journal entry is that the entry will take much less time to write than initially planned. In fact, I think I'll sum up the remainder of our trip in a bullet-pointed list. Maybe a numbered list instead.
- Santiago was described to me by a friend who happened to have stayed there recently as "pretty First World," or words to that effect. I found it to be very First World, with clean, efficient subways, an honest taxi driver, tidy streets and neighborhoods, department stores and supermarkets, and expensive dining. On the other hand, it has a fantastic, giant market with veggies and fruits and meats of the land in one endless building (possibly several buildings), and meats of the sea in another giant structure. Also, there tend to be bars and gates and security fencing around the nicer houses. And the power did go off in our hotel the one morning we were there, which didn't affect us very much, except it made the coffee cold, and we couldn't grill our breakfast sandwich on the sandwich maker and had to eat it cold, alas. The one part of Santiago that is still decidedly not First World, in my book, is that the river rushing through the center of town is FILTHY and STINKS. But then again, that's true of many a city in a First World country, and so, overall, Well Done Santiago.
- Things in Chile cost either the same as what they cost here: $140 for a hotel room with attached bath but no electricity; Two-thirds what they cost here: $136 for a gourmet meal with cocktails, soup, side, mains, wine and dessert; or nothing at all like what they cost here: $0.90 for a one-hour bus ride to four towns up the coast.
- Our water was out for several hours one night while we were in Valpo. While I'd like to think that Chile is more First World than not, losing two utilities in two hotels in one week seems to imply that it's a more regular occurrence than not. Oh, also, one of Ian's colleagues from a different part of town also lost water for several hours, on a different day. To be fair, our outage had been planned (although the friend's hadn't been), and the city delivered huge cubic water tanks to local restaurants before the shutoff, so that they could at least continue working.
- My quiche is aromatizing the house right now and I'm losing my train of thought, so I'll just skip to the flight home. First of all, when we checked in, the clerk looked at our IDs and then started to do a lot of typing. We couldn't imagine what the problem was, and then he said to me "Mrs Taylor, did you leave an iPod?" And I said, with some degree of shock, "Why yes, I did!" "We have it at the gate for you," the man said. Sure enough, just before we boarded, I was paged to the podium and there was my iPod, tired and sunburned after its days away, ready to clip onto my purse and ride home. Its battery was, of course, dead, which saved me from using it and losing it again. When Ian and I handed our boarding passes to the checker at the gate, she looked at my name, then suddenly looked up and signaled to the security guard. "It's her!" she seemed to be saying, "with the iPod!" He nodded and motioned that I'd already picked it up. And then, the dinner that they served us was from Chile, and we got the beef, and it was not only fantastic compared to most airplane food I've ever had; it was FANTASTIC full stop. The beef was medium rare, tender, flavorful (a woman behind us returned hers for being "underdone"). The salad dressing was not just the same creamy Italian, and even the roll was somehow much moister than usual—you could rip hunks off of it and the rest didn't age 40 years before you got back to it. And the butter was butter. And the dessert, the flan, was also FANTASTIC. I could've eaten it forever.