By the time we arrived in Arica we were both very tired. However, our break in Arica wasn’t for very long! We got back into town and then immediately looked at booking flights to Santiago de Chile, the capital of Chile. It is 2,000 kilometers from Arica and Pancho wasn’t about to drive there so he told me I would need to book a flight.
My Reasons To Visit
I needed to go to Santiago to sort out my US visa for my return journey anyway. Back then Hungarians had to get a visa to visit the US and it cost me $140! I was a bit shocked! It is now so much easier with the ESTA service and it only costs $14 for two years. I also wanted to look around a little in the nation’s capital.
Santiago de Chile
Santiago is a super modern city with skyscrapers, underground lines, buses and a very modern feel to it all. We flew with the national airline LAN. It wasn’t a non-stop flight, instead it stopped off in Iquique, Antofagasta, La Serena and then Santiago. I’d never been on a flight like that – never even knew that some airlines do stopovers like this.
Santiago totally reminded me of Frankfurt, the German Mainhatten. In Santiago I stayed at Pancho’s friend’s flat while the two of them went off for five days to the south to visit a blueberry plantation. By then I was fed up with visiting plantations so I decided to stick around in Santiago.
Pancho’s friend was so kind to let me stay at her flat! The embassy was only a five minute walk from home and I got my visa in half an hour. I could not believe my luck to have got a flat for free in one of the richest parts of Santiago. It was a three bedroom flat, with a separate room for the maid with her own entrance. Pancho’s friend had a cleaner who came once or twice a week and they told me off for washing up my dishes. They told me to leave them dirty otherwise she had nothing to do…!
Pancho introduced me to some rich people in town who invited me for lunch and then dinner. They had a private cinema with an archive collection which we watched all night long. I decided that one day I would start my own collection of newsreels and documentaries from before the 1990s. I also met Rosita for lunch and she showed me around in her lab, which was super modern with the latest equipment.
Santiago was not expensive at all, on the contrary, lunch was cheaper than in Arica. I was lucky because when I arrived the air quality was pretty good too – it felt cleaner than in Edinburgh. Santiago was incomparable to Lima, the capital of Peru. Peru is twice as big as Chile, rich in oil, rainforests, agriculture, mines and so on. Yet, Chile is like five times richer than Peru with modern transport systems, clean airports, good motorways and everything else you can imagine. It really is like a modern European country.
One thing I totally didn’t expect was how modern Santiago was. Pancho had a car at the airport and so we drove to town. It was absolutely incredible: there were motorways everywhere and they even had several miles underground like in Boston or Stuttgart! After that I no longer thought of Chile as a third world country!
What I don’t understand is how this is possible that two neighbouring countries like Peru and Chile can be so different in mentality, finance and in just about everything? The city was full of lovely European style houses, stuck in between the skyscrapers, it was clean and I felt safe.
The population in the south of Chile, including Santiago is direct descendants of Germans, so it is no wonder everything is so organized and clean. Even the President, Michel Bachelet looked completely German and almost identical to Angela Merkel. The city was full of nice parks, museums and there were a number of cinemas, although not many of them played English speaking movies. Unfortunately I lost the photos I took so what you see on this page are from Google.
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