Tuesday, 29 June 2010

First impressions of Chile

Safely landed in Santiago last night, once again during the flight the pilot rattled something off in Spanish with the result of the local passengers applauding, though this was near the beginning, and we later surmised he said something about how the football match between Chile & Brazil had just started, and he would keep everyone updated, then 'Go Chile' or something. Later we found out they lost three nil, so no wonder the passengers looked so glum.

After getting past the surly customs staff we were faced with a plethora of taxi-men wrangling for our business, one tried to convince us that the equivalent of US$25 was not that much more than the US$10 it would cost to take the local bus into the city and then walk, even though, uh, it was over twice as much. Nevermind! Once we figured out where the bus stop was and got on, I then promptly got short-changed by the driver by 10,000 Chilean pesos (or about NZ$27) - easily done given I was still grappling with the new currency, and the fact their 20,000 notes omitted the last three zeros on the corner and just looked like a $20...

Luckily James thought something was up, and by the time I mustered the courage to go up and ask the driver for the proper change (while wondering what the hell I'd do if he actually talked back to me in any way), I just wrote down on a piece of paper '$20,000' (what I gave him) and said 'cambio?', he just nodded and nonchalantly reached into his tray and handed me my missing two $5000s, no questions or comebacks. So, obviously a frequent ploy with FOB, non-Spanish fluent tourists like us...

Anyway, I'm hoping our experience in the rest of Chile will be a bit better, obviously we'll be on our guard but really did wish we were fluent in the language, makes such a huge difference! Today we're going to do a walking tour of Santiago, and then try and find a bar to watch the Spain/Portugal match in. Hopefully will get some good photos for tonight's post!

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