Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chile

Most of you probably didn't know it, but I just returned yesterday from nearly a week in Santiago Chile. I was there on business visiting with several different organizations:

Chilean Army -
Directorate of Technology Development
War Academy, Center for modelling and simulation (CEMSE)
FAMAE who manufactures Chilean Army weaponry

Chilean Navy - They are teaming with an American company (Thorpe SEEOP) to develop Spin Wing UAV technology.

Contractors -
IDETEC, Technology Institute who manufactures UAVs for commercial and military applications.

I enjoyed the trip...mostly. Spending 10 hours on an airplane in economy class SUCKS. We took the red-eye from and to Atlanta with, I assume, the goal of sleeping during the trip. As it turns out, I can't sleep very well on a plane. Needless to say, I am tired. I slept some when I got home from 11am to 5 pm. We went out to eat last night and I went to bed at my normal time and slept all night. I got up about 7 this morning, but I could have slept longer.

Santiago is a very modern city of 6 million and the people are small town friendly. Most of the people I met spoke a little bit of English and a few spoke it very well. I only know a couple of words and phrases in Spanish. We were escorted by someone from the US Embassy that also translated for us when needed. The part of the city where we were staying was very nice with stores and restaurants within walking distance. We felt safe walking around even at night because crime is low in that area. We did drive through some of the poorer areas and living conditions looked pretty bad. The air pollution was very bad because of all the factories and automobiles. Santiago is surrounded by mountains so the pollution is trapped especially in the winter due to atmosphere inversion.


When we got to the airport we found an ATM and got a cash advance in pesos. There was a Chilean man (not our driver) waiting there as we walked outside to the van...he grabbed the luggage from my traveling companions and carried it to the van. I carried my own. When we got to the van he loaded their luggage into the van. He grabbed mine and loaded it into the van as well. He then started saying, "Tip....Tip..." Each of of us reached into our pockets and gave him the smallest bill we had from the ATM (5,000 pesos), which we calculated later to be about $10 each (three of us). It aggravated me some that I gave a man $10 just for putting my bag into the van, but I got over it.


All-in-all, it was an enjoyable trip. We stayed in a nice hotel, the InterContinental. We had very little free time so we didn't get to do any sight-seeing. I did take a few pictures, mostly around the hotel. Here are a few:




My traveling companions in the hotel sitting area




Hotel entrance


View of the mountains from the hotel (barely see them due to pollution)



One of the restaurants where we ate (served Argentinian beef...good)



Another restaurant


US Embassy


Hotel lobby



View from the hotel room

We also ate at another restaurant, Los Adobes de Argomedo, which was very nice. It had a live band and Chilean dancers and also dancers from Easter Island, which is a territory of Chile. The dancers from Easter Island kind of reminded me of hula dancers in Hawaii.

7 comments:

Judah Himango said...

Looks like you had a good time there, Gary.

Joel B. said...

Wow... very interesting! Too bad about the flight/sleep issues, but it looks as if this was overall enjoyable for you. Take me with you next time. :)

Gary Kirkham said...

Judah/Joel,

I did have a pretty good time, I hope that if I ever have the chance to go back I can build in more free time for sight-seeing.

Aida said...

Great pictures, Gary! Glad you were safe the entire trip and had no problems other than a lack of sleep.

Gary Kirkham said...

Hi Aida,

Thanks for dropping by...

Bino M. said...

Thanks for sharing, Gary!

Gary Kirkham said...

You're Welcome Bino.