Summer came early
in Santiago, Chile on 6th March, 2013


For six months Triin and I worked and studied in London. I had a few customers I consulted and wrote code for while Triin studied Latin American Spanish. After I finished up at one of my bigger contracts, we've set out to spend three months traveling around South America, the Caribbean and the Adriatic.

On Sunday we got to Heathrow Airport, checked in and only got boarding passes for the first of our two flights. We were flying to Santiago de Chile via Madrid. The BA rep told us to pick up our boarding passes for Chile in Madrid.

Our flight from Heathrow was 50 minutes late leaving. I could see a lot of nervous South American-looking people at the gate and on the plane. I guess they were worried about missing the connection in Madrid. I managed to get a €0.04 discount on €12 worth of sandwiches. The flight attendants acted like I was breaking the bank when I offered to pay with a €10 note and hand full of €0.01, €0.02 and €0.05 coins which came up €0.04 short.

When we arrived in Madrid the gate we disembarked from was 50 meters from the gate where the Chilean flight would board from. We went to the Iberia service desk and there were 40-odd people queuing to speak with two members of staff there. I said sorry to the whole group and jumped the queue. The service desk lady gave us boarding passes and said we were lucky as they'd over-sold the flight by 30 seats.

There was a scrum to get on the aircraft when they announced the boarding. A few mothers and three dwarfs made there way through the crowd to get on the plane first.

The airplane had a camera on the tail wing so you could see the whole aircraft and what it was over on TV screens inside. This was the only newish thing on the plane. Everything else smelt like the 1980s never ended. There were three TVs showing poorly-formatted movies, seat pockets falling apart and there was absolutely no way of walking through the aisles without rubbing fellow passengers. A broken seat had four flight attendants and a pilot trying to fix it before takeoff.

All the bad karma from paying for the sandwiches with a ridiculous quantity of coins came back in droves as we had a crying baby sat next to us watching the world's most annoying music video on repeat for the entire ~13-hour flight to Santiago. To top things off the flying waitress spilt wet rubbish on my shoulder as she took our plates away after dinner.

We had two fighter jets land just after us when we touched down in Chile. We got our free visas stamped in our passports pretty quick, had a bags almost right away and before we knew it, we were doing 130KM/H in a taxi into town.

We dropped our bags in our apartment we're renting here and quickly realised that Chilean power sockets are too narrow for European plugs. We took in the view from the roof our apartment building, had showers and then headed to an electronics shop to pickup a converter.

At the electronics shop they had the same system I'd seen in some Indian shops. One person tells you want you should buy, another takes the money from you and a third takes your receipt and gives you the product. The only real difference is that here no one really spoke English and looked at me like I was speaking in Chinese when I would say something in English. The guy who eventually handed us the adaptor we bought asked where we were from, Triin said Estonia and he replied "Oh, wow!".

We walked past the three dwarfs on our flight as we headed for dinner that evening. It was good to see they survived the scrum and looked to be enjoying themselves. For lunch we'd ate at a restaurant in Plaza de Armes and expected a nice meal but the food was worse than Burger King in the UK. So for dinner we went to Burger King.

The cost of the food came to 6,200 pesos. Before getting to the counter to buy this food I didn't know how to count past four in Spanish. I took a guess at what the waitress might be saying and handed over something silly like 4,000 pesos and waited for a reaction from her. She asked for 2,200 more pesos and I was confused. A guy next to us said in English the meal cost 6,200. I handed over the remaining money. When the woman said "gracias" it sounded like "grassy ass".

Walking up Estado felt like I was in Japan with a load of Latin Americans wondering around. There are some five million people in this city and it can feel pretty busy at times. Triin is by far the tallest woman I've seen here.

We've slept in most mornings, wondered around during the day, chilled in the flat at night and had a generally peaceful and interesting experience.

Our flat has some nice views, a kitchen with mirrors on the wall, a living room, a bedroom and an en-suite bathroom. We're a 25 meter walk from the roof where there is a pool and a place to BBQ food. The only fault worthy of mentioning is that the wifi in our room cut out a lot. The building manager gave me a few wifi passwords of neighbouring flats so that I could use their internet instead.


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