Sunday, January 8th
$1 USD = 500 pesos
$5 USD = 2,500 pesos
$10 USD = 5,000 pesos
$25 USD = 12,500 pesos
$50 USD = 25,000 pesos
$100 USD = 50,000 pesos
$150 USD = 75,000 pesos
Today we leave Mendoza for Santiago! We got our bus passes and the bus is actually pretty nice. We are going to have to stop at customs in Chile and have then go through our bags and such. The scenery on the bus is beautiful. You feel like you are in the mountains. There were a few bumpy spots in the road but it wasn’t a bad ride at all. I would recommend it. We got stopped at the border and oh boy that was an experience. Luckily, if you come on a bus, you typically don’t have to pay a reciprocity fee like you do if you fly in. We did, however, have to unload everything, exit Argentina, declare any items and then enter into Chile. They searched random bags and had the search dogs out and about (Raul was there!)
Crazy but beautiful roads
We got through customs in about 2 hours. It was one of the most intense processes I’ve been through. They don’t want you to bring in certain items that could hurt their economy or food that could bring insects and hurt Chile.
We continued our bus ride and then we approached the 30 curves down the mountain. There literally are a ton of curves going down a mountain. Scary! We made it through though. We were at about 10,000 feet and it was a beautiful site seeing experience. We finally arrived at the bus station and found our tour guide. We got all checked in to our hotel which is really nice. Our group went to the ATM and got 100,000 pesos out (big spender!) which is about $200 USD. Our group then went out to dinner.
While walking to dinner, we once again saw a lot of stray dogs but I feel like Santiago is going to be a mix between Buenos Aires and Mendoza. There was still a lot of trash and graffiti but it isn’t quite as busy as Buenos Aires. We went to a Bohemian neighborhood with lots of shops and restaurants called Patio Bellavista. We split up into 2 groups to eat dinner. My group went to a sushi bar up on the balcony level. Santiago is known for their fresh seafood so I was really excited. I got the California Sake and a lot of people at our table got the Pisco Sour, which is a very popular Chilean drink usually served as an appetizer. It has lemon juice, egg whites, etc. in it. I thought it would be disgusting but it was actually quite delicious.
Great group dinner! On our way home, we saw a lot of stray dogs so naturally I named all of them. My best one of the night was Muffin. It amazes me how many strays there are on the streets. Our guide says that they are trying to think of a way to cut down the population but it is a major problem.