Off to South America, first stop Santiago!

Trip Start Nov 15, 2006
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43
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Chile  ,
Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Familiar (by now) feelings of apprehension and excitement as we step off the plane. All this looking forward to it, and we were finally in South America!
 
We were engulfed by the usual hordes of shoulder-high taxi drivers offering rip-off fares but a few stern "no, gracias" soon put a stop to that. We spoke Spanish for the first time in a week and it seemed to go OK, but the Chilean accent was a different matter. After they´ve lopped off the s´s in the words, spoken swiftly and swallowed half of it - you´re left with something quite different than what we learned in Central America.
 
Our first impressions of Santiago were that it looked very Westernised and developed after the cities we were used to in Central America, though it shared the same problems of pollution. All your McDonalds, Coca-Colas and global companies painfully apparent in the centre, but signs of poverty still very evident in the people scratching out an existence around their crumbling houses. A memorable, but sad image was a legless man propelling himself along the footpath on his arms. We would have asked him to share our taxi, but he was going in the other direction.
 
Highlights of Santiago included:
 
* cheap, good red wine
* a culinary masterpiece called a ´cazuela´ (essentially a stew of meat and veg with fresh coriander on top, all your nutritional needs catered for in one dish) served in a café with retro décor now highly fashionable in London ; but was probably because no-one had had the money to renovate at any time in the last 40 years.
* Casa Colorada - colonial building containing a museum and art gallery. The museum had numerous fantastic little figurines in display cases showing various key events in Chilean history - the expressions on their faces were so lifelike. 
* Art display of ingenious sculptures formed from knives and forks by an artist over 90 years old!

Lowlights

* Pollution
* Very expensive
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