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Arrival in Santiago

I arrived in Chile on a Saturday -- for changing money, not a good time to arrive in any country. It occurred to me in the states that I would need some cash dollars so as to avoid having to change any $100 travelers checks at unfavorable rates, but somehow it had slipped my mind, and I didn't have much on me. And at the airport in Santiago, I was wondering how I could get enough money for just the weekend when I saw a sign saying that the immigration people were going to take $20 from me, and I should be ready with the exact change. I did have a $20 bill on me, but I told the official I didn't and offered one of my checks. He shouted around the hall, and eventually received distracted approval to accept one of my travelers' checques. And he gave me $80 in change, in US$ twenties. I changed one of these at the bank at the airport for 405 pesos a dollar. The rate in town turned out to be closer to 420.

Jeremy Burford had sent a taxi for me. The ride to my hotel was interminable it seemed, though I found out later we had taken the route through the sprawling, congested downtown, and my hotel was distant from there, on the opposite side of Santiago, on a traffic artery leading out of town to the mountains. You could continue from my hotel for an hour and a half to the Argentine border, or to a ski area not too distant. Though there was no snow that low at the moment, when the air cleared of smog, you could see where the snow coated the towering peaks.

Jeremy had left no messages for me at the hotel. He told me later he had expected I would want to rest from my tedious journey, two consecutive flights of about 6 hours each. My intent was instead to stave off jet lag and see a bit of the neighborhood, so I went for a run. On the way through town, I had noticed a river alongside the volcanic outcroppings that punctuate the plateau where lies Santiago, and I had seen that the river was lined with parks ideal for running. So I decided to take a bus into town and run back along the parks.

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Last updated: November 12, 1997