11th July 2008
Ok.ok. This account is becoming a little long winded already! I collected my bags. Said goodbye to my little companion and she was really tiny and headed off to the Hotel Riviera in Santiago.
First impressions last and my first impressions of Santiago including the airport was how modern and clean everything was. But above all how everything was. More specifically how Spanish everything was.
If not a different continent, I wanted to feel like I was in a different country at least! Driving out of the airport, I noticed motorway signs with white text on blue backgrounds. “A” roads with green backgrounds. Playing fields away to my left, hotels called Mirador, Hilton and Ramada ganged up on my right.
A Mercedes Benz S-class zoomed past, racing under a “Welcome to Santiago” sign sponsored by a mobile phone company. If this impression was anything to go by, then the world is really beginning to look the same. I look up and the skies are grey. All that seems to be missing is an A40 sign to Uxbridge. Even the bus is playing 80s music.
I settled back for the rest of the journey, awarding myself points for spotting things that were at least different from home.
I scored 2.
1) A wilted palm tree that had seen better days
2) Some decent graffiti next to the University.
As we entered the city, I was amazed by its modernity. Steel and glass buildings everywhere pointed up to the sky, signalling Chile’s eminence as the economical super power of Latin America.
Despite a long plane ride, I wasn’t feeling tired and after checking in, I ventured out into the city to do some basics. Change some money, get a local sim card etc.
I won’t say orientate myself. As anybody that knows me even a little will contest, orientation is not my strong point. As long as I’m walking in a straight line – I’m ok. However throw me a turning left or right and I’m pretty lost.
Some people have an in-built compass. The are somehow intuitively alive to hard solid facts like if they take a left, followed by a right, they will end up roughly where they need to. I simply don’t share this type of spatial geometry. And the older I get, the less I care. The less I envy people that have great directional sense. I know I don’t possess it. And what’s more – I enjoy getting lost in unfamiliar places. It forces me to ask others for directions which can sometimes lead to conversation. Which for me, at least, is far more enjoyable!