Santiago Chile 3
Up Chillan Chile

Postcards from:

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Back Home in California


No more photos.


6-9 January 2006

Hello again from Santiago

The flight back from Rapa Nui left the islands at 14:00 and took a half hour less time than going. The two hour time difference with the mainland meant we arrived in Santiago at 20:00. The plane returned to Santiago only half full so no need to spar with a seat mate for the adjacent arm rest. Even the salmon entree complete with a delicate cheese sauce served by a gracious stewardess exceeded my expectations based on the packed flight getting to the islands. A personal television system mounted on the back of the seat in front of mine with a rich selection of entertainment made the four and a half hours pass quickly. Had this arrangement been available on the flight to the islands; my whole experience there might have been different, a sobering realization as I reflect on my Buddhist vows.   

Rereading the  previous dispatch about Rapa Nui I am aware it reflects a lot of personal hostility. On further consideration I realize neither the people nor infrastructure are any worse than many I've visited and certainly a lot better than some. If you truly are curious about the migration of humanity throughout Polynesia or the enigmatic demise of the Easter Island civilization, I would not discourage you from planning a visit. 

The Santiago airport bus to the center of the city is operated by the excellent Tur Bus Company and goes directly to the central Tur Bus Terminal. There, the company operates a convenient $49 Tur Express Hotel right in the terminal building with free Internet access in the hotel lobby. My backlog of email and unfinished postcards has grown daunting. With great anticipation I looked forward to spending a few nights there before continuing my trip south toward the exciting archipelago of southern Chile. 

Chile has surprised me in many ways. For example, foreigners are never charged a sales tax for anything. Chileans pay a whopping 20% tax on hotel bills, but Gringos are spared that particular pain. That means we always get an automatic discount from the posted rack rates at hotels. Sale prices for anything in pesos means change is often a tiny amount. Something worth about a dollar priced at $C497 pesos means the cashier will ask something like (in Spanish, of course) "Would you like to donate the 3 peso change to Hogar de Cristo?" All those tiny contributions must add up to a sizable amount and all I've seen go to one religious organization or another. 

My Spanish has improved so much I have been able to flirt with the more intelligent young girls who seem fascinated by my white beard. On several occasions patient professionals and I have had quite involved conversations about social or political issues. I'm always amazed by people who obviously understand my struggling use of the language. However, some people insist on speaking fast and without pauses. I have now learned to listen patiently, deducing from the situation what they must have said and then responding in equally fast paced English my relevant response as they stare at me bewildered. I figure on the off chance they do speak good English we will have a conversation and in the more likely circumstance they don't, they will understand language will not be our primary mode of communication. The strategy usually leads to some jolly good fun as they stammer something like "me no speak anglish!" After that I'll do my often practiced careful rendition of "I also speak little of your language, so please speak slowly and with simple words." Boy, do they look relieved at hearing my Spanish response! During my early attempts at communication with almost no Spanish I remember being totally flabbergasted, sputtering nonsense and watching others expressions turn to exasperation. 


Fred L Bellomy







No travel photos for this brief stop.



Reference photo: author
 August 2002

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