I write from Chile - a place that I've been longing to see ever since I heard that my company made a few forays into the Latin American market. A month back, an opportunity beckoned and I signed up for onsite travel to Santiago for the next three months.
The very concept of South America was exotic to start with. Add to the mix a country sandwiched between the Andes and the Pacific on a thin LONG slice of land; I couldn't wait to explore the place. I landed here May 17th on a chilly early winter morning. Yes, its winter here in the southern hemisphere.
After 5 days here in Santiago, I am a bit disappointed. To start off, winter isn't probably the best time of the year to see the place. It's overcast most of the time and visibility is a bit poor. I only managed to get a few glimpses of the Andes that are otherwiswe a constant towering fixture for most of the year.
Chile is a prosperous country - it is as expensive as any middle-tier US city. Santiago (where half the country lives) is fairly modern and .. uh .. boring. The city center is quite reflective of the population distribution of the country. Spread over a 100 square blocks, downtown is a nice area but the is eerily quiet and devoid of life on the weekend (both saturday and sunday). Save one Street (the Paseo Ahumada), it's dead. I'm convinced I need to get out of the city to get to know this place.
If nothing else, I hope to learn spanish by the time I am out of this project. Next to nobody speaks english and I get by using some basic noun forms and numerals - and acting dumb and american.
Yesterday, I happened to turn 28. I celebrated by going to a fine restaurant at the fine neighborhood where I live and cobbled together an order in words equally tattered. Me Vegetariano! Un Tortilla! Sin Carne! Sin Pollo! Sin Pescado! It actually worked and I had a pretty decent birthday dinner that I'll happily expense to the client. The downside was that I ate alone but it was fun anyways - Roasted Peaches to the Contreau. That was something I hadn't tried before.
I'm praying that my initial impression of this country changes.
This weekend, Aparna and I will be hitting Alaska for our honeymoon. I've been dying to go there for a long time and I didn't procrastinate when it came to buying the air tickets to Anchorage. What about planning? Well .. well .. that's a different story. I can't wait to get out there and use my new Nikon D50 on some moose and bear!