Arrival in Santiago!

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December 31st 2009
Published: December 31st 2009
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Happy New Year from Santiago, Chile! I want to say hello again to all my friends and family that followed me on the crazy year abroad in Germany, and also welcome to all of the new kids on the block. I hope that you all enjoy sharing these travels and adventures with me as I make my way through South America. :-)

I left a rainy and cold Austin, and barely made it out of the snowy Dallas area (global warming, haha right) to arrive in sunny, warm Santiago! Luckily with the new restrictions in air travel I was traveling out of the United States and not into it, they don’t seem to care much what you do once you are out of the country I guess. We had an uneventful flight on a relatively old American Airlines plane, but I was happy to have two seats to myself. I saw lots of young people scattered throughout the plane, the girl next to me was on her way to a 10 week research adventure in Antarctica, I guess there are some more adventurous people than myself.

After customs, which involves paying a $131 fee to enter the country (we charge that for Chileans to come to the states), I grabbed my bags, an official taxi and was off. I arrived very easily at my new home where my flat mate Sebastien had left me a key. With some broken Spanish I managed to finally convince the front desk that I was in fact in the right place and did not need to go to the hotel across the street…and after remembering the word for key, “llave” I was successful. Sebastien, originally from Quebec, posted on Couchsurfing that he was renting out his room, and thus, here I am.
I went out on a mission to find a hairdryer (secador), which ended up being about a 3 hour adventure. I did stop to grab a nice sandwich at a restaurant and observe Providencia, the neighborhood in which I now live. It is a very nice area, with lots of shops and restaurants. I eventually, after asking for help a couple of times and finally ending up in the tourist bureau, found both the mall and the department store where I purchased a hairdryer. If only I had figured out earlier that the plugs here are the same in Germany I

Mountains with the full moon!
could have brought all my old stuff with me. Oh well.

Back at the apartment, I was exhausted, and after a shower promptly fell asleep for a 2 hour nap. I woke up when Sebastien arrived home, and it took me a while to become completely coherent. Sebastien took me to the metro to buy my card for the subway and then we went to the grocery store. It was a nice thing to have a guide to tell me how to navigate the grocery store, especially knowing things like bread and vegetables have to be handed to a lady to get a price tag. (kind of like central market, but someone else is doing the label for you) Otherwise though, the store seems relatively easy, a lot of the brands are the same, so if I can just learn a few new words for foods, I should be in good shape. Much better than the German grocery store experience.

So, from first glance, there are a lot of things here that remind me of Europe, many of the buildings are similar and I am happy to see the vegetable stands, bread stores, etc. And of course, I can buy fabulous wine for just around $4. What more do you want? Oh, its summer here too. I have enjoyed the hot weather and even went to lay out at the pool today. I’ve been warned there isn’t much of a UV layer here and that the sun is very intense, so I am trying to limit my time in direct sunlight until I can get some color - I am so pale from winter in the states.

I went by my language school today to take the dreaded placement test. As I learned from my Germany experience, I tend to think that I am a lot better at languages than I really am. I am communicating really well and have remembered a lot of words and phrases, but of course my grammar is terrible. Whats new. So I will be starting in Principante 1 next Monday, that’s Spanish for…beginner. But, as I also learned before, slowing down and learning it right will really help me in the future. So, more to come on my Spanish language skills.

That’s about all for now. I am headed over to the language school tonight with my flat-mate for a fiesta to celebrate the New Year. I am also told there are great fireworks in the city which we should be able to see well from our apartment. :-) I hope that you all have wonderful plans for tonight and of course a great start to the new year! Rita and Andrew will be arriving the morning of Jan 2, so I have another day to explore and then I am sure we will go see more of the city once they are here. Cheers!


2nd January 2010

Happy 2010!
Drink plenty of that $4 wine for me!

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