Damien Sullivan (mindstalk) wrote,
Damien Sullivan

Pre-Christmas from Chile

Much to my surprise, nothing went wrong on my 19 hour 4-flight journey from Indiana to La Serena, Chile. Observations along the way:
* The new Indianapolis airport is light and spacious and airy. Wireless didn't work, I never even got a "give us ridiculous amounts of money" page to finish loading.
* The Charlotte, North Carolina airport had lots of food shops. I was tempted by Nathan's Dogs, with dim memorise of Calvin Trillin, but I tried a Carolina Pit BBQ instead, figuring I should try regional specialties. The sauce was good, the beef brisket seemed just okay, not that I have much to compare it to. The deep-fried pickle was weird but pretty good. Hushpuppies -- deep-fried cornmeal and onion mix, was ehh. I ate to the sounds of a gospel group belting out not the standard Christmas carols (I just realized it's been a few years since anima_mecanique introduced me to "Good King Wencelas" and the idea that some Latin poems go well with it) but lyrics like "Jesus is Lord!", "worship, we worship you" and "the reason for the season is [Jesus]". OTOH, Internet worked for free.
* In Miami, I entered on gate J6, and left from J12. So I didn't see much. But I can add North Carolina and Florida to my list of states that I have technically been physically present in. Miami managed to ask for money.

* Chile charges a "reciprocity fee" to certain foreigners. In US $, $131 for Americans, $132 for Canadians, and lower amounts for Australians, Albanians, and Mexicans. Paying that, going thorough customs, changing money, renting a cell phone, and going through security for domestic flights (ok, it's not just the US that re-screens you even though you never left a secure area) took an hour.
* At the La Serena airport, I called S and told her I was at the station. It really does seem like a train or bus station, one of the smaller ones. I'm told they don't have instrument landing here, so in the winter it's better for them to drive to Santiago to fly to the US).

* BUT IT'S SUMMER! Which here means 60-70, maybe warmer in direct sun. It feels a lot like LA, the most Hispanic areas, though with even more colorful walls. G&S are up a hill, so it's like my sister's in Spokane, only, you know, not.
* Chile is like Japan in currency, the basic unit is the peso, about 600 to the dollar; the 'mil' or 1000 pesos is useful chunked unit, like 100 yen or a dollar. Orange bell peppers are 400 pesos, about 60 cents each. It's supposed to be peach season, though I haven't had any yet, and thanks to altitudes peach season supposedly lasts a long time. I've had two Chilean meals so far, courtesy of the maid.

I'm told:
* the water here is really hard, and the copper pipes don't last long. And of course the pipes *are* copper, because that's Chile's leading resource and export.
* Quakes here sound like a truck, because the sound waves generated across the valley travel through the air faster than the seismic waves through the dirt.
* Even when Chile tries to be a modern First World country and ground their electricity, it's hard because the dirt is loose and dry; the observatory drove rods 60 (feet or meters) deep without getting good grounding.
* Lots of their astronomers are stuck in places due to crappy weather, like one who keeps e-mailing from Dallas, waiting to get back to Seattle.

* Bloomington has a new airport service, only $15. I wonder what the business model is. Has Bton Shuttle been ripping us off, or is Star of America out to drive them out then jack up prices?

* On Europe's internationalization of gay rights.
* Pope calls homosexuality a threat to the human race, of the same order as global heating. "Merry Christmas"
Tags: chile, chiletrip1, life, travel
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