I arrived in Santiago yesterday, and so far things seem to be going well! Despite the fact I was flying through Atlanta, and on the 4th July weekend, the trip was pretty easy and remarkably uneventful. I had two little girls kicking the back of my seat and giggling for 9 hours, but hey, that’s the joy of airtravel.

Arrived at my hotel around 9, but then had to hang around till 12 when the room was ready. Santiago is nowhere near as cold as Chicago or La Paz in the winter, but after an hour of wandering about waiting for cafes to open so I could get a coffee I was pretty cold. Not having got much sleep on the plane (thanks to the brats) didn’t help either. I stumbled about as a wide eyed, shivering little bundle of confusion for a few more hours before crawling back to the hostel and collapsing in bed.

Its strange, because I didn’t think I Santiago was that high, but I could have sworn I got a little altitude sick yesterday. I thought at first I was just reacting to that evocative smell of pollution, or maybe having a psychosomatic reaction to the experience of being in a South American city again. But I got that mildly queasy, dizzy, headachey feeling not long after I landed. Weird.

But today I’ve been feeling much more sprightly, and even managed to have my first coherent exchange with a stranger in Spanish! (The guy who owns the shop next to the hostel showed me how to use a payphone, and then we chatted a little. He understood me… ish.) My feelings of total linguistic inadequacy are going to haunt me for a long time methinks, but it makes each semi successful conversation feel like a small victory!

Longer term than working out how to cross the road or use a phone, my first aim is to find an apartment, and so far today I’ve seen two.

The first is a room in a house shared with around 6 other people, that is advertised as gay-friendly and multicultural. The walls are painted various bright colours, the neighbourhood is full of bars, there’s an english language ex-pats drama group that meets downstairs, one of the owners gives dance lessons each evening in one of the larger rooms, the bathroom is small and rickety, they claim to have late night parties only at the weekend, and most of the bedrooms had either tie-dyed wall hangings or burning incense when I visited.

The second is a room in the house of a Swedish-Chilean couple, who live on the 10th floor of a luxury apartment building that has two pools, a gym, and a very sweet concierge. Its calm, clean and very stylish. The building next door is a designer wedding dress shop.

While the pool is enticing, I’m perversely tempted by the first. It could be the hippy student experience I never had. A have a few more to see later, but want to make a decision by the morning so I can move in as soon as possible.