We arrived at Santiago on time. The sun was just starting to rise when we got here. The line for immigration was quite long, especially since we were in the back because of our previous stop at the "reciprocity" line. Since the U.S. charges Chilean citizens money for coming into the U.S., Chile does the same. It's $100 a person good for the life of the passport. Interestingly, however, they don't take either 50 or 100 dollar bills. We used a credit card, so it was no problem, but the people behind us in line were ticked.
After we got through immigration, we went to go find our bags only they were already off the conveyor belt and on a cart, with an A&K representative waiting for us. He whisked us through customs they didn't even bother to look at our passport and we were in the car in no time.
We were taken from the Santiago airport, which is on the Western edge of the city, to the Hyatt Regency, which was in the Northeast part of the city, near the foothills. We got to the room around 8, and Hernan, our guide, told us he would pick us up at 10. We showered, ate breakfast, walked around the grounds, and by the time we were done it was almost 10.
Hernan, and our driver Miguel, then proceeded to give us a brief driving tour of the city. We drove through a couple of the neighborhoods Los Condes (sp?) and Providencia, before we stopped at Plaza de Armas. There was no one on the road, because apparently the city is quiet on Sundays before noon. We walked around Plaza de Armas, then walked around some of the neighboring attractions before we went to the Museum of Pre-Colombian art. The art in there ranged from 3000 B.C. to just prior to the Spanish invasion of Latin America roughly 1500 A.D. Some of the pieces were indescribable, which is a bummer because no photography was allowed. From the museum we walked around several of the government buildings, which was very nice. There was also a nice park out in front that had several blooming Brachychiton discolors much larger and nicer looking than anything we've seen in San Diego. Miguel then picked us up and drove us the Museum of Natural History.
Justin had wanted to go to this museum because it contained some of the very few Rongo Rongo tablets from Rapa Nui. Only after the explorers "discovered" Rapa Nui and showed them writing in the 1700s did they develop their own writing methods which made them the first Polynesians to do so. None of the tablets, however, remain on Rapa Nui. Some are in Washington, some are in St. Petersburg, some are elsewhere around the world, and some of the best are in Santiago. But when we got to the museum, however, we were told that this part of the museum was off-limits. What we did see was quite nice.
After we finished looking around, we headed off towards lunch. One of Justin's co-workers used to live in Santiago, and his family still does. He recommended a couple of places, and we decided on one Esta Aqui Coco. Coco decided, however, to go on vacation, so that was a no-go. So instead we asked for the recommendation from Hernan and Miguel, who both recommended Azul Profundo ("Deep Blue"). At the restaurant, the waitress asked us in English if we wanted something to drink, and Justin responded "Dos Pisco Sours, por favor." This had the desired effect of getting them to like us and us getting our drinks in a hurry. It had the undesired effect of them thinking we knew Spanish and not asking us anything else in English the rest of the meal. Crystal had the Sea Bass Ceviche, Justin had a steak. We had a second Pisco Sour each for good measure.
After lunch we headed up to Cerro San Cristobal, one of the best if not the best outlook in the city and a tourist trap to boot. The view was great, albeit quite smoggy. Something about the 12,000 foot Andes just to the East of the city manages to keep the smog from leaving, especially in the summer when it hasn't rained in weeks (or months). We headed from Cerro San Cristobal back to the airport. For a grand total of 6 hours in Santiago, we really enjoyed ourselves. We'll probably be back.
We waited at the Santiago airport for quite awhile before boarding the flight for Rapa Nui. They did not say what the delay was, but we figured something was up when our departure time came and went. We both took a short nap in the terminal, then boarded the plane. The plane was roughly half full, which was good because Justin scrounged around to find an empty row of seats that he could lay down on to get some decent sleep.
We got into Rapa Nui around 10pm local time (same as Eastern Standard Time), with two people from the Explora Resort waiting to take us to the lodge. Explora has two well-established lodges in the North of Chile (the Atacama desert ) and the South of Chile (the Patagonia area) this is their first new lodge in awhile. We think Abercrombie & Kent put us here because we're in pretty good shape (especially Crystal ) and we like the outdoors. Explora has a program in Rapa Nui with 9 excursions each a "half-day" (even though some of them are 5.5 hours) to see different parts of the island.
They held the dinner table open for us (normally it is 8-10, but our plane was late). We both had a massive filet Justin's was well-done (because of lunch) and butterflied; Crystal 's was medium and not butterflied (roughly 2 inches thick). We both finished 80-85%. We were happy to finally have a bed to sleep in as opposed to an airplane seat and made good use of it.