• Eyes on Fire - Blue Foundation
  • Rooster - Alice in Chains
  • Jigsaw Falling into Place - Radiohead
  • Quien Fuera - Silvio Rodriguez
  • La Tortura - Shakira

Monday, September 25, 2006

San Pedro de Atacama .. Here I come ..

Finally, a week after my Valparaiso Fiasco I was able to sneak in some compensatory time off to take Aparna to San Pedo de Atacama . Because of the lack of planning, I was only able to get $400 tickets (each) to Calama on LAN. I wish I booked a day earlier. The tickets shot up by $100 (multiplied by 2) once the departure date was within 4 days of the booking date :(.

Can't wait to get on that flight this Wednesday. The idea is to fly out Wednesday night to Calama and catch a bus or taxi that night (I hope) to San Pedro de Atacama. The next three days will involve activities in and around San Pedro - none of which I have any details of as of now - and then return Sunday afternoon back to Santiago. Aparna flies out Sunday night back to Atlanta.

It's gonna be hectic and I better find some information about this place. I'm a little nervous considering the total lack of planning. I had planned much better when we went to Alaska this summer.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

In the back of a Chilean Police Car

So, after working my ass off for three weekends during the project GoLive, Aparna and I finally got a Sunday off. We decided to go to Valparaiso - Santiago's coastal twin situated about 50 miles away to the west. It was a pleasant ride in the fairly affordable and very comfortable Turbus buses. These buses depart from the central terminal and cost as little at $20 per person for a return ticket.

Getting out of Santiago city is a reward in itself because the landscape around it is all mountains and hillocks in whichever direction you head out. Importantly, the ever present smog that shackles your view all thru the year is absent when you get out. The buses have a little old fashioned feel about them because of the vendors showing up selling local hand-made candy and sweets. I bought one of them - a little to sugary for my taste but still quite nice.

After I paid of the ticket, I stuck my wallet in my back pocket, something that I do to avoid what was to soon follow. 5 minutes after I got off at the Valparaiso bus terminus - which is a little more chancy and perilious looking surroundings than what I had encountered in Chile so far - I realized my wallet was missing. A local tourist guide who was trying to buy our services offered to help us in finding the bus since it had left for the garage.

We did find the bus eventually but not the wallet. Aparna to this day believes that the helper/ticket-checker picked it up because of a very evasive look on his face. In any case, that brings us to the subject of the blog. We ended up talking to Chilean police who had stopped in their patrol car. We tried explaining to them what happened in our limited spanish.

Obviously, nothing got thru to them. They asked us to get in and then proceeded to drive us to the bus station. We eventually found an american girl who spoke spanish and she explained our situation. The cops talked to the bus driver and helper but really couldn't do much because of the lack of incriminating evidence - anyone getting off the bus after I did could've stolen the wallet.

So, very shaken, we decided to just tuck our tails in and return to Santiago. Luckily, the return tickets were in the camera bag and we barely had money to catch the subway back to the hotel. It was one negative blip in my mostly postive experiences in Chile.

I ended up losing about $80 and my corporate amex card because I usually maintain a separate wallet while travleing internationally - so the damage was minimal. Still, we regretted not being able to see a famously beautiful town.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

It's GoLive time !!!

After returning to Atlanta since my last post, the clients in Chile decided to postpone the project GoLive dates. So I am back in Chile after a month. I've not been able to give my new skis a test run yet. They are idling safely in my apartment back in Atlanta. The snow will be a little thin as compared to last time and I will definitely not have any time with the manic GoLive schedules.

Aparna joins me for almost three weeks this time as she is able to work remotely. Uncle D is quite kind to its employees. I'm hoping to take a 3-4 day vacation to either North or South Chile once the project is done. Given the current schedules I see her late every night. Not sure how long she can take it. I'd be pretty frustrated staying cooped up in the hotel all day in a country where you don't know the language. She hasn't cracked as yet .. tick tick tick ..