Wednesday, March 09, 2011
As we left for Santiago from Buenos Aires, I told Marge: You'll see how efficient the Chileans are. After being in Argentina, you'll feel like you're in Switzerland.
Her introduction to Chile was less than ideal. Once we landed, our plane (which was Argentinean) was stuck on the tarmac for ages. We then transferred to a bus that would take us to our gate, but the driver (who I will assume is Chilean) got lost! Once we got in the terminal, we waited in a long line for immigration. That's fine.
What wasn't fine was when we got to the front of the line, we were told to go to another part of the airport to pay a reciprocity fee. That's $140 USD, per person. I have a problem with that, especially since we're only going to be in the country for a day and a half. I had avoided paying the fee earlier because I entered via land crossings. I can only assume this fee was imposed when the United States, after 9/11, started charging such fees on foreign visitors. Totally bogus, dude.
Now, that sign I saw earlier makes more sense. But what a random collection of countries (that's the Albanian flag on the left):
The adventure does not end. The airline (again Argentinean) lost our baggage. Our clean laundry and toiletries are in the lost bag. If we don't get it back within a day and a half (and it's December 23, by the way), then we fly back home to the States without it. We might as well say good-bye to it forever.
The airline tells us that either the bag is still in Buenos Aires, or a passenger that flew with us picked it up by accident. We went back to the airline counter to ask a follow-up question. The counter, the entire counter, disappeared.
The next hassle was my mistake. I never made a hotel reservation. I thought I could just waltz into a hotel and get a room. Not so. After many calls, the taxi counter at the airport got us an iffy hotel in a central location. They told us it's a 3-star hotel. I'm not holding my breath. They deliver us to the hotel in a nice black Hyundai Sonata.
The hotel was okay. We said screw it, let's enjoy the rest of the day. We walk to Bar Nacional, a Santiago institution. I have the fried conger eel with French fries and rice. I accompany the meal with some top shelf Pisco sour. Everything, including the service, was excellent.
We go back to the hotel and someone has delivered the lost luggage. I run out to the lobby, ecstatic. The guy wants a tip. Fair enough. Do you have change for a 5,000 peso note? Of course not. Fine (grumble). Feliz navidad.