Chile - Peru 2009

Santiago, Chile

5 November 2009

General Information

Local Map

Photographs and Commentary
Click on picture to enlarge

We arrived in Santiago about 20 minutes ahead of schedule. The flight was uneventful with only a few areas of minor turbulence. We both managed to get some sleep during the flight but we are both suffering from a sleep deficit. We will make it up tonight... I hope.

After landing we paid a fee that is imposed on citizens of a number of countries. The fee for a US citizen is $131 but that is good for the life of the passport. Unfortunately, Susie's passport was renewed recently and we had to pay the fee again. When I first visited Chile in 1996, the fee was $25 and I was told it was retribution for a fee the US imposes on visitors. At that time, US citizens were the only ones required to pay a fee. We are now joined by Canada, Albania and about half a dozen other countries. US citizens are fortunate to pay the highest fee.

Once the fee was paid, we made an easy run through Immigration and Customs. We got our rental car and were set to head up to the hotel except that I wanted a map of Santiago. I thought I knew my way to the hotel, but just wanted the comfort of having a map just in case. The rental car agent said that they had run out of maps and sent me to the information kiosk. This was the least helpful encounter I have had in a long time. First, the map the agent provided only covered a small segment of downtown Santiago and ended about a half a mile short of where the hotel was. She couldn't even find the street that hotel was located on, so I showed her. I gave up and we headed for the car. After a thorough inspection of the car, I asked the attendant in the rental lot for directions. With my minimal Spanish, hand gestures and a hand drawn map on the back of the inspection form, he confirmed my memory of the route and we were off and running.

We arrived at the hotel at about 11:15. This trip, which normally takes about 20 hours (including airport time), took us nearly 40 hours. At least I can say that the trip ended well.

After we checked in at the hotel, I contacted my brother, Arye, who got here over the weekend and my cousin Sam, the father of the bride. Sam told me that we were all going to dinner at my cousin Polo's house. Thankfully, he said he would come and pick up the three Hesses and take us to the house. I say thankfully, because, as you can imagine, I am a bit tired and dinner in Chile starts at about 8:30 and can last quite a while. At least I won't have to drive back to the hotel in my sleep deprived condition.

After a brief rest Arye, Susie and I headed out for one place we have never been in our previous visits to Santiago, Cerro San Cristobal. Cerro San Cristobal (St. Christopher) is a hill that rises about 300 meters (985 feet) above the city and contains the largest park in Santiago. It provides a good view of the downtown area and the Andes when the air is clear. Today the view was a bit hazy. At the top of the hill is a large statue of the Virgin Mary which we wanted to see close up (there is also an amphitheater which was used for a mass by Pope John Paul II). We could not get beyond the funicular (inclined railway) station that took us up the hill because of maintenance work being done on one of the many communications towers that top the hill.

The family dinner was, as I expected, typical of what we had encountered before... lots of food, lots of laughs and great company. Another family dinner is planned for tomorrow night which will include the remaining North American cousins who arrive in the morning.

Statue of Virgin Mary on Cerro San Cristobal

Statue of the Virgin Mary on Cerro San Cristobal

Downtown Santiago

Downtown Santiago area with Cerro Santa Lucia (hill at center). Rio Mapocho is defined by the line of trees. The area in the foreground Bellavista, an "artsy district."

Rio Mapocho

Rio Mapocho is essentially a concrete ditch, much the Los Angeles River in California

The Andes

The eastern portion of the metropolitan Santiago area runs right to the foot the Andes

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