Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Eighty Nine

Arrived safe and sound in rainy Santiago, Chile. On a sunny day, you can see the Andes mountains in the distance (pictured left). This is my 89th foreign trip, for those of you who´ve been keeping track: my 5th time in Chile, my 29th trip to South America, and my 49th trip to Latin America(the difference being my 20 trips to Mexico).

I paid a US$100 entrance fee! Chile calls this 'reciprocity,' because this is what the US charges Chileans (and most Latin Americans) as a fee for Visa processing. Keep in mind that $100 for us is like $500 for them in terms of what they earn and their cost of living. Not very considerate of us. Brazil also 'reciprocates' against our custom of fingerprinting Latin Americans entering the US, by singling out Americans to wait on a very very long line, when entering Brazil, for photographing and fingerprinting. We brought it on ourselves. If only they'd exempt those Americans who can prove they voted for Kerry. :-)

Witnesses some wonderful temper tantrums on various lines I´ve waited on of late. At La Guardia, this yuppie couple were sent to the back of the line, after an hour waiting, for complaining that there were only 2 check-in clerks and that one took time out for a social conversation with a co-worker. The fault, of course, is with the airlines for too few clerks paid way too little. They must be in trouble. They not only charge for ´food´in coach, but also for food and drinks in the business lounge - guess the extra $1,000 a ticket just doesn't stretch that far...

Meanwhile, back in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Thomas verfies the actual celsius temperature of super-chilled lunch counter beer bottles.

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