Way South

Well I made it to Santiago in Chile, where it´s a beautiful crisp sunny winter´s day, after a gruelling day of travelling yesterday: 4 separate flights, 5 countries, and what felt like days in transit on no sleep whatsoever (a combination of poor time management, last-minute preparations and an early 7:00am flight from JFK). Yesterday I revisited familiar airports in New York and Costa Rica, and got acquainted with the airports in Ecuador, Peru and Chile.

Luckily, I finally ended up in a great hotel in Santiago at around 1:30am, thanks to the recommendation in the Rough Guide to South America — the Hotel Orly in Providencia. It´s clean, comfortable, quiet, friendly and relaxed — exactly what you need after a long day of travelling. I was also quite impressed with TACA airlines (and since I flew on four separate flights, I think it was a reasonably accurate sample size), with the exception of their baggage handlers — a Swiss army knife that I had in my (checked) backpack had disappeared when I retrieved my bags in Chile. Surely not a security consideration, since it was checked.

Once again, I´m repeatedly struck by the extent of cultural globalisation on my travels, and it´s not just the ubiquity of big multinationals such as Burger King or Avis; it´s the more subtle cultural intermingling I find more interesting for example, sitting in an airport lounge in Guayaquil, Ecuador, watching the BBC film “Truly Madly Deeply” with Spanish subtitles, or eating breakfast this morning in a delightful sunny conservatory in the hotel listening to the strains of an accapella and pan-pipe version of Sade´s “Smooth Operator.” It´s not exacty the Sound of the High Andes. Bizarre.

Anyway, time to sign off and check out Santiago, because tomorrow I´m heading out early to Valle Nevado for 4 days of snowboarding…

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