It’s not every day you get a second chance, but flying across the pacific from Australia to Chile we had a second chance at Friday. As the sun set at 30,000 feet, through the window of our flight AF27 from Sydney we watched as Friday finished and Friday started. In the average week Saturday follows Friday and I pondered the ramifications of Friday following Friday, a bit like Ground Hog Day. Make note to self; ask the Rabbi if we are allowed to fly on a Friday night when, at sunset Friday, instead of it heralding the entrance of the Sabbath, it heralds yet another Friday.
Anyway, as the sun set we had bigger problems to ponder, such as how are we going to continue reading when our overhead light were not functioning and as the on-board entertainment system was kaput in our row of seating, there was little else to do for the next 6 hours until the sun rose again. We accosted the flight steward and managed to wrangle a couple of tiny LED flash lights that helped to a degree. Qantas really needs to up its anti if it wants to attract more passengers.
Eventually we landed safely in Santiago and queued to pay what is called a reciprocal fee to enter the country, or as I like to call it “the tit for tat tax” as only Australia and Mexico charge Chileans to apply for a visa, we are charged to enter their country, while holding their right hand thumb up to their noses and wiggling their remaining 4 fingers and declaring “nah, na, na, nah-nah”. Although we were $116 dollars US each poorer we were still overjoyed to discover that all our suitcases made it to Santiago on the same flight. An uncommon occurrence for the seasoned travellers among us.
We found transportation to take us the 150 km to the coast where we had pre-booked accommodation at Vina Del Mar, a coastal beach resort on par with the Surfers Paradise in the 1980’s.
After waking from a short nap we still had not phone reception. I spent the next two hours wrangling with Telstra via WIFI. No one could tell me why we had not phone connection, I duly turned them on and off as requested; still nothing. Another wait in queue of 45 minutes to talk to yet another online assistant with names like Peter Daniel or Richard Gideon, probably really Raj Gajrup. Eventually they discovered that Chile does not support pre-paid roaming. Great! Now we need a Chilean sim card. At this point I was very tired and sorry to have received a second Friday, it was not an improvement on the first.
Next day our 10:30 am tour eventually picked us up after 11:30 after ringing them to remind them we were booked (they had forgotten us completely). Turns out Chilean time is a bit like Jewish Mean Time, at least an hour late.
We met up with the rest of our tour group part way along the route and spent 7 hours schlepping around the slopes of Valparaiso, a quaint conglomerate of colourful, rustic dwellings, many decorated with artistic graffiti, clinging precariously to the sides of a cluster of hills sloping up from the port.
The hills are accessible by means of a hodge-podge of antiquated funicular railway called Ascensors, many of which are over 100 years old. They rattle up and down the steep hillsides in pairs, aided means of a counterweight system. The one at the top descends, pulling the one at the bottom up.
Before returning to our accommodation we managed to secure a Chilean Sim card, +56958475745, and now have access to telecommunications again, you can recall the courier pigeons.