On the flight down, the plane stopped in Lima, and a very pleasant, handsome Peruvian fellow sat next to me. He was trained in Lima as an electrical engineer and worked for the United Nations Development Program. He retired and became a consultant - he looks around forty - and his wife took a job with 3M. He works at home, she has a five minute commute so that she can take advantage of the Peruvian law allowing her one hour each day to come home and nurse their baby (in addition to one hour for lunch). Now isnt that civilized?
He was flying to Buenos Aires via Santiago on an interesting mission. The Argentinian government put out a tender for 50,000 computers for students. Evidently every computer dealer in Argentina was bidding on the deal but the government wanted to avoid any suggestion of favoritism. So what did they do? They decided that they were only going to ask for advice from experts who lived OUTSIDE Argentina. So he was flying in for five days to help make the decision. Brilliant, yes? Reminds me of the scene in the movie version of the "Untouchables" where the Judge at the last minute exchanges the tainted Capone jury with the one hearing the unrelated trial down the hall. I would love to try that out with a couple of Pentagon programs. Bring on the Canadians!
I arrived in Santiago this afternoon, checked in at the lovely Hotel Diego de Velazquez on Guardia Vieja in the Providencia District. The drive from the airport along a superhighway passes through five miles of tin-roofed shantytowns. Then the road leads into a very beautiful tree lined city, surrounded by towering snow-capped mountains. I am sure the folks who came from Bavaria sixty years ago found it just like home.....
The first thing I noticed is that other than my two ham radio friends here in Santiago - Dr. Giordano (Dino) Bosami CE3PG and Roberto Vargas Del Villar CE3CDV - not a single person I have met outside the hotel speaks a word of English, and their English is nothing to write home about (well, actually, I guess it is). Furthermore, nobody - not the hotels, not the kiosks - sell maps of the City.
The way to get around is by the subway, the Metro. The subway is sensational: clean, quiet, orderly, and it runs every two or three minutes. Since I cannot find a map, I have taken to using my GPS to locate my hotel and the nearby subway stations, so that I can find my way back in a Hansel & Gretel like fashion. So far, it has worked. By the way, my Iridium satphone costs one-half as much per minute as the phone in the hotel. My cellphone, on the other hand, doesnt work at all.
After checking in, I picked up Chilean radio licenses for my Antarctic compatriot Alan Cheshire VK0LD and myself and went over to visit the Radio Club of Chile, in another part of town. Fired up their radio, and spent an hour or so as CE3/K2ARB chatting with hams in Uruguay, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and of all places, Guinea, Africa. Had they not closed the Club at 7PM, I would have been operating all night.
Going out to dinner now and maybe a movie if I can stay awake. The stores are fully stocked and not expensive but I have no room in my bags at this stage of the trip. Will report in tomorrow.