Friday, March 14, 2008

Only a bit Chile.

We are now in Chile. When we arrived, it was nearly one in the morning. Because it is difficult for ans to gain entry into the Good Ole US and A, everyone else likes to make it hard for Americans to get into their country. They don’t hide it. On any visa application or entry point, it always say “with reciprocity”. So there we were at one in the morning getting ready to breeze through customs in Santiago. However, we must first pay $131 (the sign says...with reciprocity) in order to enter Chile before going to customs, immigration, then the baggage claim. Mexicans only pay $13...with reciprocity. Because it was such an odd hour, there was one person collecting these reciprocity fees. But he can’t just take your money and let you through. He has to enter your passport number, collect the money, print two receipts, staple one in your passport, make you sign the other one, then enter all the information into his computer. This process takes about 5 minutes, per passport. We can put people on the moon, but this process involves a dozen steps. This wouldn’t be so bad, but there was about 100 people in line with us and one guy working. After standing in line for two hours, the nice bald Chileno took my $131 and allowed to go to customs. For some reason, there were six people working there. It was 3 in the morning and they wouldn’t smile at me. Then you go try to find your bags. Because we had been off the plane for over two hours, they were no longer going around and around on the carousel. In fact, the carousels were no longer operating. The baggage handlers were sitting around smirking at the gringos that were wandering around frantically searching for the two giant backpacks. I had to interrupt a poor girl trying to send a text message to find our bags behind a desk.

So we get our bags and are trying to walk out the door, but get stopped by agricultural inspection. Every bag must be screened by the four people staring at the screen to make sure that we aren’t bringing fruit, vegetables, seeds, dirt, or wood carvings into the country. So we arrive to find 15 people doing the same job, but one guy doing the job that takes the longest. I already don’t like this country. However, once we are outside the terminal with our bags on our shoulders, I feel that things must be getting better. We ask a taxi to take us to our hosts house. Of course, I don’t know how to get there. So we have to call. It is 3 in the morning and I have to call and ask for directions. Now I really feel bad. I forgot to mention that our host had been at the airport for two hours driving around while we were standing in line to pay our fee. He had just gotten home and gone back to bed assuming that we had missed our flight. So I call and wake him up. I put the taxi driver on the phone so he can give directions in Spanish. Now we are on our way. Well not quite. The guy with the phone tells some other guy where we are going. So we follow guy number two. Guy number two gets on his phone to call his buddy to take us to our destination. A random car pulls up and our driver, guy number three is too old to still be driving. He pays guy number two and I know that we are now being ripped off. Guy number three likes to drive his age. 100 years old, 100 miles an hour. Until he gets lost. We pull over in some sketchy neighborhood so that our driver can call guy number two to get the directions, again. Guy number two has to ask guy number one, whom he can’t find. So our driver pulls out a map and a magnifying glass thicker than my high school history book and tries to locate our destination. It is almost four in the morning and I can’t believe what is going on. We have to call out host, again, wake him up, again, have him give directions, again, and we finally arrive. I have been tired for 3 days.
I want to get a Spanish dictionary. We went to breakfast before our one day of exploring the city of Santiago. We saw people eating eggs, bread, and coffee. One lady even had some avocado to put on her bread. We were not handed menus and I think that you got eggs, coffee or tea, and bread. So that is what I ordered. No problem. Now in Portuguese, the word for avocado was avocate. I mildly remembered from 2 years of UH Spanish that it was similar if not the same in Spanish. So I tried to order some.

“Avocate, por favor?” Blank stare.
“Avojado?” Nothing. Desperate, I look around at the other plates, but nobody has any left. I figure,
“La fruta verde? (The green fruit?)” The lady points at the watermelon in the fridge and (I think) tells me that is all the fruit that she has.
“Nevermind.” I mumble in English.
“Gracias.” I muster with a weak smile.
So I really want to get a Spanish dictionary. I didn’t think that my UH education was that bad, so I asked how to say avocado in Spanish. In every other Spanish speaking country in the world, it is Avojado. In Chile however, it is Palta. Now we are visiting Leo in Quintay. Leo, his house, and his beach will all get their own blog entry soon. First I need to plan my birthday. Hopefully, I wont have internet. I will be camping in or near Patagonia. The water here is very cold. But it is uncrowded. Life is good.

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