*** NOTE: I´m in a Spanish Internet cafe typing on Spanish keyboard, so please pardon the mistakes, as the keyboard is a tad different ***
Let´s start in the beginning. I got to their airport with about 3 hours to spare which in my opinion was way too much. I´ve always felt that 1 1/2 – 2 hours is more than an enough to get a boarding pass and check your luggage. But I suppose that if everybody would start doing it, then maybe it would become too little time.
Anyways, I checked my giant monster of a bag which surprisingly turned out to be just 36 pounds. Since Kumuka recommends around 40-45, it looks like I´m actually carrying less than average. We´ll see how that pans out.
The next step was to exchange a few bucks into pesos, so I headed to a currency exchange counter. While mentally calculating the rate in my head and comparing it to what it was listed as online, the power suddenly went out in the terminal. It was a bit odd, but everybody just seemed to have gone on their business. Except for a few guys dressed in military uniforms with automatic guns that suddenly appeared all over the place.
30 minutes later, I exchanged $60 for 26,000 pesos mentally cursing myself for not doing it earlier and being forced into paying 30% more than it´s actually worth.
But the fun only began after that. As I went through the metal detector, I managed to forget to take my cell phone out. As I began beeping, it seems that I have arose the suspicion of one of the guards. When I saw him putting on the blue rubber gloves, I knew that I was in trouble.
While I prepared myself for the worst, they called me over to step into a little room with glass doors. I wasn´t quite sure what to expect, but fortunately, nothing happened. Avoiding any uncomfortable experiences, I was on my way within a few minutes.
Once on the plane, the takeoff took quite a while. We left over an hour later than originally planned. Who knew that even airports have traffic – there was a line of planes as far as the eye could see. The moment one took off, another one took its place in line.
I was flying American Airlines and man oh man, did their service take a turn for the worst. I think that the day the airline that charges people, that paid $1,300 (hypothetically) for a ticket, $2 for a pack of peanuts is the day that something needs to be changed. They should take a lesson from Jetblue or even Finnair (we took more free wine bottles on the flight from Vilnius than we knew what to do with – fortunately, Gosha came to the rescue).
I did manage to get an extra can of Pepsi, though. I just hope that AA won´t go into bankruptcy because of that.
We landed at about 9.30 am. I had about 2 1/2 hours to get to the hostel where I was staying in order to meet Alex as agreed.
I got the first taste of Chile when the immigration agents charged me $100 just for entering the country. As it turns out, U.S. and several other counties charge Chileans for entering, so they reciprocate by levying the same charge on Americans. I read about it earlier but was kind of hoping that it wouldn´t be true.
Fortunately, while waiting in the humongous line, I met my first ¨friend¨ – Tom. We spent about 45 minutes in line, so we got to talk a bit. He actually drove on a motorcycle from North America to South a few years ago. It only took him 6 months to do so too.
Anyways, after we got out of the airport, we took the bus together and then I got off to go on their subway. My question is – how is that even Chilean subway beat New York´s? I saw a woman scrubbing off gum off the floor and putting it into a little bag. I hope that she was an employee of the system, of course, but this is quite impressive.
Without any major problems, I got to the hostel at 12.01. Surpisingly Alex wasn´t there. He arrived a few hours earlier and I guess he decided to explore the city on his own. Nevertheless, I´ll see him in about 2 hours, so I´ll find out what happened.
I was shown to my 7-beds-per-room room which surpisingly wasn´t all that bad. Although the weird thing is that all of my neighbors are german – didn´t realize that Chile was such a popular destination for them.
I went to take a quick shower (lugging 40 pounds on your back has its tolls) and half an hour later I went on my way.
I´ll wrap it up right now, but will try to post again in a day or two once I join the tour and we´ll be on our way. I wasn´t able to get a sim card just yet, but it´s definitely on my list of priorities.
See you soon!