I'm back in Santiago! I arrived last night about Midnight. Yesterday was kind of a nothing day as it was a full travel day. So, it was nice to be back in the action today.
This morning I made my way to the Metro station. I decided I was going to take the subway and see what happens. I was heading to a stop called Los Dominicos. The guy that picked me up, the first day I arrived in Santiago, told me that there is a big market with local artists selling their work. I always try to buy a local piece of artwork when I travel. I hate all the usual souvenirs. I kind of feel like most of them are probably made in China anyway. So, I checked my map and made my way underground. I knew that Los Dominicos was on the red line and the last stop. So, that made it pretty easy. I found a Bip! machine. The machine that you use to buy a subway card. I was kind of relieved because you could chose an option in English. Well, it doesn't take bills over $5000 pesos and no credit cards. I only had a credit card and $10,000 peso notes. So, I had to go to a ticket window and actually talk to a person and buy a ticket. It turns out, with some hand gestures (pointing at my watch) and a lot of sorry's and smiles I managed to win the ticket lady over and she sold me exactly what I needed. I also used some Spanish, but she could tell I was a bit lost. So, I made my way to the market. All went great on the Subway. They are so clean here! People actually sit on the floor instead of the chairs sometimes. That's how clean they seem to be. Got off at the last stop and found the market right away. I bought some gifts and a really cool souvenir for myself. I found this guy that carved miniature people, animals, etc. on matchsticks. Then he mounts them and covers them with glass. I bought one for myself, a condor I think. He was a really nice dude and let me take some photos of him. I spent about and hour and a half wandering around the market checking out all the stuff. There were some things I really wanted, but were way to big to carry home. So I settled on what I bought and left. I found a park, on the way back to the Metro, and just sat and relaxed for a while. My right leg is kind of hurting, still, after that hike on Wednesday. So it was nice just to sit in a busy park and watch people. I made my way to the Metro and got off at the correct stop. My direction skills seem to be improving! Made my way back to the hotel and checked Facebook and emails and things for a while.
Later this afternoon I decided I would go to Cerro San Cristobal. It is a huge hill in the city with a giant statue of the Virgin Mary on the top. I got a taxi and made my way. There is a funicular there. So I bought a round trip ticket and hopped on. I spent a good hour on the top looking at the view of the city and taking photos. It was nice. I made my way back down via the funicular and grabbed another taxi to my hotel. The driver didn't speak any English, but he knew Hotel Orly (where I'm staying) so all was good. Until he got me to the hotel and I went to pay him. Now, this is the ONLY problem I've had on this trip. All has been going like clockwork until this moment. The fare was $8500 pesos. So, I gave him a $10,000 bill. He handed it back to me and said no. Said quite a bit more in Spanish. I kept saying sorry, I don't understand. Then he was motioning to give him another out of my wallet. I gave it to him and he said no again and handed it back. He motioned again. So I gave him my last $10,000 bill. He said ok. I was so confused. Then he said some things in Spanish and I had no idea what he was saying. Then he held the bill up to the dome light in the taxi. You could see the watermark of the President on the bill. He motioned for me to hand him one of the others. I did. He put it up to the dome light. No President watermark. Apparently, I have two $10,000 peso notes that are counterfeit! I finally got what he was saying. Thanked him and left the taxi. Now, I haven't gotten any $10,000 peso notes for change. These where bills that I got out of an ATM in Punta Arenas. So, I was really confused. Now I was running low on money so I made my way to an ATM and got some more. Checked them in the light, and they definitely had the watermark. I don't know how you get a counterfeit bill out of an ATM, but I did. I'm going to make sure I ask the guy who picks me up to take me to the airport tomorrow about it. Seems weird.
So, after that little fiasco, I went to my room and relaxed for a while. Tonight I went to a restaurant called Lomit's. My friend Brandy, who has lived in Chile and owns a store here, told me to have a Lomito. So this place was close to the hotel and was busy with locals. Looked good. I got a Lomito. It is a sandwich with pork, avocado, mayo, and tomato. This place put sauerkraut on theirs too. I got my sandwich and picked that sucker up and started chowing down. It was delicious! I looked around and people were staring. So, I put it down and sat for a minute. I watched the couple next to me eat theirs and they were using a knife and fork. I looked all around and that is what everyone was doing. I thought it was like a burger. Stupid American. It was kind of embarrassing. Oh well.
Tomorrow is my last day in Chile. My pickup for the airport is 5:00. I have most of the day though. I think tomorrow I'm going to check out Brandy's store. They are going to have some wine tasting and events happening in the neighborhood. Brandy, unfortunately, is back in the USA. But she let her boyfriend know I might be coming. I hope it works out.
So, this may be my last post for the Great Adventure of 2014! Tomorrow night I head home and get home Sunday morning. This has been one of my most favorite Great Adventures so far. Everything I've seen has been amazing. I've met a lot of really nice people on this trip too. And no problems, except the counterfeiting ring I'm apparently involved in. If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend coming to Chile. It is a great country. Make your way to Patagonia too, you will never regret that decision. Thanks so much to everyone for reading and commenting! I love hearing from everyone when I'm so far from home. I know the internet is connecting us so much, it feels like sometimes you are never that far from home. But it is just so amazing to be able to come to places like this and experience them. Once immersed in travel, I feel, that home is very far away. I'm so lucky to be able to see and experience these new adventures. Actually being there, experiencing all the highs and lows that come with being away for a while. Mostly highs. So, get out there everyone!! The world is a huge place and there is so much to see. Get out of your comfort zone. Until the next Great Adventure of 2015, take care...