Well, I've made it. I arrived in Santiago this morning at 5 am after a robust 22 hours of traveling. I've oddly found that I often don't mind traveling that much, especially by air, because I consider every little good thing that happens to me a minor victory. For example, I started flying JetBlue, and was able to talk them out of charging me extra for my second heavy bag (since it was over 50 lbs, it would have been between $50-$75) because they weren't sure whether I was going to be charged again by the next airline, Avianca. Then, after getting to Avianca in DC, I fortunately ended up with the most apathetic check-in lady of all time. According to their policy, I should have been charged some percentage for every pound over 50 lbs total that my luggage was. Instead, after the first bag was tagged, the baggage dude grabbed it and threw it onto the conveyor belt. The lady looked at it, shrugged, and tagged my second bag without checking the weight. I think in total, I was saved about $100 through the kindness of JetBlue and sheer apathy of Avianca. A strong start!
Although, it appears that the laziness with which Avianca runs its airlines is prevalent through its entire operation. For instance, take a look at the connecting flight that I took from Bogota, Columbia to Santiago:
After arriving in Santiago a little after 5 am, I flew through customs (after paying the bogus $140 "reciprocity visa" fee). It's oddly refreshing to me how little some places care about getting you through their borders. I don't even think the (hot) girl customs agent who passed me through looked at my face once, let alone ask me any questions about my visit. Too bad, because I had a bunch of HILARIOUS jokes lined up about how I was here for both business AND pleasure. Or maybe my business is pleasure! (seriously, if I were a customs agent I would immediately reject anybody who made that joke. I would take great "pleasure" in putting them back on a return flight to wherever the hell they came from.)
Before I got out the door, I was accosted by about 4-5 different taxi companies looking to take me into Santiago. I was too tired to deal with a bunch of caffeinated mochas yelling at me in Espanol, so I picked the guy who was a little more reserved in his approach. He got me to this hostel where I currently am (Hostel Sobe, en Santiago Central) by about 6 AM. I got a little free breakfast, then went to an interview at the Instituto Chileno Norteamericano. After listening to the guy talk a fair amount to start, I was offered a job on the spot! I already have a couple classes lined up for this Friday. We'll see how ready I am by then, I don't know how comfortable I'd be with the material at this point.
I spent the rest of the day getting a cell phone and trying to figure out what the hell everybody was saying to me. I've found that everybody can understand what I am saying, but I can't figure out what the fuck any of them are saying. The context helps, but they don't talk about things the same way we did in spanish class. It's all much more complex forms and different ideas that they express, wrapped in a few "buenos tardes" and "hasta lluego"s. I shot pool with a guy from Colombia earlier tonight, we were pretty even on the slate, but couldn't really communicate much. He couldn't wrap his head around the idea of "descansar", and thus we played some weird game that he made up. It was like 9 ball, except only up to 8, and we used all 15 balls in the rack. Crazy latins.
Alright I think that's about enough for now. The next entries will be more exciting, I promise. Either that, or they will end up with more sarcasm and snark. I'm just a little off my game now as I haven't had non-plane sleep in the past 40 hours or so, and nobody out here speaks my language and it's throwing my game off. I also plan to do a few more "creative" entries, with less of a blog-type feel and more of a first person narrative vignette. Or maybe I won't. Stay tuned.
I'll probably make some changes to the format of this blog in the future, but as all the peripheral links are currently showing up in Spanish, I can't understand most of it.