Santiago de Chile

March 18th, 2010

Day 59.  We had an early flight to Santiago, Chile’s capital this morning.  There was a small panic before we caught our taxi as the person with the key to the safe with our passports in it hadn’t turned up.  A quick phone call to her and she arrived 30 minutes later.  We were happy that the taxi driver to the airport was much friendlier than our last taxi driver to Santa Marta airport.

We didn’t have to pay a departure tax (it was waived for UK nationals for some reason) but we did have to pay a “tourist tax” to the check-in lady.  She asked us for 40,000 pesos which had to be paid in cash.  We only had 32,600 pesos left on us.  We’d hoped she might waive the shortfall for us (we managed to do this in Costa Rica) but no such luck.  We were duly directed to the money exchange booth where Safe once again had to give his profession, his favourite colour, football team and fingerprints to change £10 into pesos.

1. Place right thumb on messy inkpad

2. Place thumb on scrap of paper agreeing to the exchange of pounds for pesos

3. Remove thumb from paper, smile, comment on how well the fingerprint turned out, then act as if this is all normal!

We handed over the 40,000 pesos and insisted on a receipt which oddly was for 38,200 pesos.  The shortfall of 1,800 pesos is more than enough for several cups of coffee!  We became belligerant about receiving our change because (a) she didn’t let us off to begin with and (b) this smacked of Superman III where they were creaming off pennies from everyone’s paycheck!  They hunted around for our change everywhere and eventually had to dip into their own pockets to find it (which is where the tax probably goes anyway).

Goodbye, Colombia!

Hello, Chile!

The plane journey was a breeze and we arrived to the virtually passenger-free airport of Santiago.  Flights are still experiencing a slightly altered service and we saw makeshift tents outside the airport acting as departure lounges.

Factoid: You may be aware that Santiago experienced an earthquake on 27th Feb 2010 which caused a roof in the airport to collapse and some damage to other buildings in and around the city.  The epicentre was South of Santiago.

Collapsed structure at Santiago Airport

We were slightly more disorganised than usual and hadn’t been able to arrange somewhere to stay yet.  A kindly tourist information lady sorted us out in an ApartHotel which were somewhat sceptical about.  The apartment turned out to be in a great location and is the most luxurious place we’ve stayed in since we left Palais de Armstrong in Sunningdale exactly two months ago to the day.  It even included its our own luxury kitchenette.  Our plans for a late orientation walk around the neighbourhood were foiled when we found a local supermarket selling juicy fillet steaks for the price of Tesco Value chicken.  Along with the steaks, we bought a bottle of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon and had a night in with steak sandwiches and a movie.

Annie cooks steak

One Response to “Santiago de Chile”

  1. Didi Hammad says:

    I would have done the same with Tourist Tax change. Good for you.

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