Thursday, March 26, 2009

What we've got here...

Large crowds of camera-toting Japanese tourists, tour bus included - check!
A well running public transportation system, including extensive subway service - check!
Credit cards accepted everywhere - check!
A Thai restaurant across the street from my hostel - check... well, almost. Sadly the restaurant has closed recently.

So it certainly isn't failure to communicate... It does, however, seem as if I'm suddenly not in some South American 3rd world country anymore, as in while I was asleep on my minibus from Argentina, I didn't just cross the Andes, I suddenly ended up in Europe somewhere... As it turns out, this's just what Santiago, Chile is like - certainly the most modern and developed city I've seen on this continent so far. Other signs of almost first worldliness, by the way, include comparatively non-existent crime rate, plenty of English speakers, a place to watch Duke basketball on TV (retrospect: I would've been better off not watching...), and, of course, high prices.

So, after spending a full month in Argentina, and thoroughly enjoying the sights and the people, I have finally crossed over the menacingly toweing Andes and ended up in Santiago de Chile.

Last couple of weeks briefly summarized in pictures:

St. Patrick's Day in Bariloche. At a hostel run by an Irish couple. Around 3AM there was a spontaneous street parade

In comfort on my CAMA bus riding through the Lakes District on the way up to Mendoza. This is the way to spend 18 hours on the road... not the mini or the rickshaw!

In Mendoza I met up with Tim and we went wine tasting. He bought some wine. And was quite pleased with himself.

Puente del Inca - a natural bridge high up in the Andes. Almost like the one back in Kentucky... but in a far cooler location!

I found this abandoned bus sitting in the midst of the mountains. And took lots of pictures of it.

I really liked the bus. I figure in Bolivia, this bus would have still been in service

Aconcagua - at over 6,900 meters, the tallest peak in the Western Hemisphere... and the Southern hemisphere... basically anywhere but the Himalayas.

And lest we think Santiago doesn't actually have plenty in common with the rest of South America, rest assured, it does. Starting with a large statue of the Virgin Mary overlooking the city. Not quite Cristo in Rio, but still here to remind you about Catholicism... daily!

Late Breaking news update: she was wrong, the Thai restaurant isn't really closed! It is alive and well, and serves an excellent chicken curry. Now, I officially like Santiago!

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