Ciao Buenos Aires.  Hola Santiago.

Written By: jeff

Posted On: May 9th, 2010

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Buenos Aires ¨Flor¨ (Flower). Copyright

This morning I had to say goodbye to Buenos Aires.  But, I know I will be back later this year so I’m not too torn up about it.  Plus, moving on to Santiago means that I’m going somewhere where I haven’t been before – always an exciting time.

The last week was very slow.  It was Holy week or Santa Semana.  We only had class 2 days, and one of them was the day of our test.  I scored a 93 and felt very proud of myself.  My Spanish is improving and with a little more exposure to opportunities to speak outside of class, I will be jamming with it in no time.  Next week I start Advanced Spanish.  Six weeks of advanced should put me in good stead just in time for my summer travels through Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia alone.

I don’t know if it was the holiday, the weather (which was actually nice), or what, but I felt out of sorts this week.  I felt like I was one step behind the whole time.  So, I think the change of scenery will do me good.  I think I got caught up in a bad pattern with my schedule during the day and I just couldn’t break out of it.  I am such a creature of habit and God forbid that I have to make a change.  Once I commit, look out. But, until then, the change process can be slow and disorienting.  So, I’m up late and sleeping in until 9, 10ish.  I never do that.  I’ve asked for morning classes in Chile to help break this pattern.  I lose my mornings and by the time I get out of class, it’s evening so I lose any possible sight seeing opportunities.  Maybe I’m just complacent in Buenos Aires the way you get complacent when you live somewhere. When I lived in Manhattan, I hardly jumped out of bed to see all the sites there.  Anyway, by the time the weekend came, I was ready to go.  I will miss BA, but I just need a change.

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La Casa Rosada: The Pink House. Copyright

The Film Festival started this week.  I’ll miss most of it since it continues this coming week and I’ll be in Chile.  But, no matter.  I saw a couple of really good films. I also missed a couple.  Either I got to the theater a little too late or the ticket lines were so long and slow, by the time I made it to the ticket window, the show was sold out – or had already started (one of the rules of the festival is that no one may enter the theater after the show starts).  The highlight was in front of theater showing a film I missed – Cocalero.  That movie is about the new president of Bolivia, Evo Morales.  Evo is a coca farmer and these farmers are known as ‘cocaleros’ in Bolivia.  Upset with the US’s war on drugs, the farmers banded together to put one of their own up in the election of 2006.  He won and a documentary film, Cocalero, was made about his campaign.  The movie sold out but outside the theater on the sidewalk was a small Bolivian band playing traditional Bolivian music outside.  It was quite a sight and attracted a large enthusiastic crowd around it.  I still have yet to see the movie, but I am becoming more interested in going to Bolivia this summer/winter.

Saturday morning I woke up with quite a big back pain in my lower back.  I think the inactivity of not working out is getting to me and my body is protesting.  I was supposed to go on an outing with the school to a ranch for the day.  I literally crawled out of bed and tried to do some yoga.  I made it through one sun salutation before giving in to the pain.  But, i wasn’t giving up.  So, I put on my running shorts and took a cab across town to an ecological reserve in the Puerto Madero area.  This reserve runs alongside the Rio Plata – the river that separates Buenos Aires and Uruguay and deltas right outside BA.  After a ~7 miles run/walk (mostly walk, but briskly), I headed back to the apartment.  I felt better for having walked but my back was still killing me.  I popped a couple of Advil, showered and headed out for lunch at one of my favorite cafes, Nucha.  With checkout looming the next day, I spent the rest of the day packing and tidying up the apartment.

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Recoleta. Copyright

Saturday night, after some plans with friends fell through, I headed over to my favorite restaurant in town at the Hotel Bobo in the Palermo district.  Hernan the maitre d was there and I was seated immediately.  After checking out the menu, I couldn’t resist the tasting menu.  I don’t know what it is with me and tasting menus these days, but I can’t seem to resist (for a description of the gastronomically delightful meal I had, click here to go to the restaurant page.

This morning I was up early to meet the owner of the flat and the representative from the rental agency.  They did their inspection, I got my deposit back and headed off to the airport.  I flew on Gol Airlines, a Brazilian discount airline that just bought out Varig – the national carrier of Brazil.  Check in was a little bothersome, but I finally got my boarding pass, paid my airport tax of $18USD, go through customs and headed to the AMEX lounge to wait for my flight to board.  The flight was delayed leaving but once in the air, it was uneventful.  The seats were tight in our 737 and I sat behind a completely inconsiderate slob who pushed his seat back into my knees and proceeded to adjust himself violently in the seat throughout the flight.  My only defense was to play a little passive-aggressive game with him and continually adjust my knees into his back.  He eventually moved his seat up a bit, but he was still in my lap.

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Park near Recoleta. Copyright

Crossing over the Andes was magical.  Having lived in Colorado I thought I had seen beautiful mountains.  The Andes, though, are different in shape and color.  There were all different shades of brown, red, and purple.  PURPLE mountains!  These things were stunning. I’m not sure how high they get but I’m guessing they go higher than the Colorado Rockies.  They are smooth on top but then plunge down the sides.  Other parts had a canyon-like look as if water had once covered the mountains and carved the different leveling layers into the rock.  While there was snow on the mountains, they were drive.  The vegetation below the tree line were short stubby bushes, not the large tall trees you get in Colorado.  They were absolutely stunning.  I hope to get some mountain time while here.

After landing, I had to pay the mandatory $100USD airport tax.  It’s a reciprocal tax paid by Americans, Canadians, Mexicans and Australians.  I guess these governments force Chileans to pay the same amount in those countries.  Anyway, they are very strict about the money they will take.  The bills must be pristine.  Any sign of any smudge or the slightest tear and the Cholean authorities will not accept the notes.  I was warned but didn’t understand how seriously the Chileans took this rule.  I handed her several 20s that this woman rejected. She kept asking me for a credit card and I was not in the mood to give in to some stupid bureaucratic rule.

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Recoleta Cemetery. Copyright

I made my way to my car service and headed off to my housing, not knowing what to expect.  I met a couple of other students that were with the school and caught up with them and shared notes.  My first impression of the city was impressive.  Coming from gritty Buenos Aires, the first thing I noticed was how clean the city appeared.  It also appeared very orderly.  The traffic actually stayed in its own lane.  We drove under the city for a while. it was just like Boston’s Big Dig, except this one doesn’t collapse and doesn’t leak.  The city is quite smoggy and suffers from the same geographic problems that Denver does.  You have a city nestled right up against the mountains and the smog just collects against the mountains and sits.  The biggest difference is that here, the mountains are to the east while Denver’s are to the west.  I hope that doesn’t get me in trouble.

I made it to my location, a charming old house in the district of Santiago.  The home owner, Antonio, greeted me and showed me to my room and gave me the house tour.  It’s a very neat house with lots of character.  I can’t wait to get some pics of the house.  I met the cats and proceeded to unpack.  Antonio made a nice mid-afternoon lunch of chicken, rice, salad with a glass of peach juice.  I barely saw a vegetable or piece of fruit in Argentina.  Antonio tells me that they are both abundant here in Chile.

We headed out around 5 for a quick walk around the neighborhood.  Antonio showed me where the school was and then we made a big loop.  I can’t remember any of the names of the places we saw.  But, the city was beautiful.  Whereas BA was loud, bustling, gritty, a little disorganized, Santiago seems to be the opposite – neat, orderly, tidy.  Granted today was Easter Sunday, but I anticipate this theme following through once the city gets back to normal.

I think I’m going to like Santiago and Chile.  It has a very different feel to it than BA.  Tomorrow school starts up again (Advanced level) and the Chilean adventure begins.  This weekend I want to get out of Santiago and head to the wine country. I don’t know much about Chilean wine. So, I think it’s time to educate myself.

Originally Published April 8, 2007

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One Response to “Ciao Buenos Aires.  Hola Santiago.”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jeff Jung. Jeff Jung said: Ciao Buenos Aires. Hola Santiago. From Jeff´s #CareerBreak #travel blog. #rtw #rtwsoon #rtwnow [...]

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