I arrived safely, found a hotel, and, with a little knowledge, haggled the hotel price down by $36–not a bad start!!
There is wifi, but it doesn’t reach my room, so I have to go in the common space to check email, post things, etc. I think I’m gonna go walk around a bit in a minute, but wanted to take a few minutes to recount my initial impressions.
First, palm trees!! I didn’t know what to expect here in terms of foliage and how things look, etc, so I was pleasantly surprised to see palm trees, which, for whatever bizarre reason, I love. It looked very jungle-y as we landed–some fog, with the tropical trees. Pretty sweet.
Coming out of the plane, I was one of very few non-Dominicans. Which is what I always want, whenever I travel anywhere!! But I do stick out like a sore thumb. I landed in the Santiago international airport, which is relatively small, but the customs process was a little confusing to me–I had to go one way (not marked) to purchase my $10 visitor pass, then go through the customs line, where the agent asked me who I was here with, and when I said I was alone, asked me if I was looking for a boyfriend. I decided to start tracking how many times someone asks me that, since yesterday in East New York, I was asked on the street if I was married. Good pickup line…? My jury’s still out.
I got through that mess and had to go through some sort of process for declaration? But this was a clusterf*ck. It seems that Dominicans are not fond of orderly lines. I was told to go on through because what I have with me consists of only these things:
So I sort of cut in line (but only because they told me to!!). It seemed like everyone else had not one, but 5 suitcases that needed to be x-rayed?? This was where my confusion/amusement began. After handing over a piece of paper to declare or not declare things, you had to put all your belongings through an x-ray machine. I am quite uncertain of the goal. But there you have it. So I got through the line to hand over my non-declaration, and then there were all these people pushing in front of one another and me to get their ludicrously numerous suitcases through the machine. I’m glad I wasn’t in a hurry, I just found it pretty hilarious.
When I got through that, I had the goal of a hotel, thanks to a wonderful friend, and went to the information desk to see how to get there by bus. This was “not recommended,” even though it’s $2, and instead I was directed to an $18 cab. Which, whatever. I have time to be brave. I just got here, so I figured I’d be “safe” and take a cab. Ah, the illusory safety. I’ll save my thoughts on that for another post. Suffice to say, I find the idea of safety to be, to some degree, BS. But there is lots of BS in the world.
The cab ride was kind of nice–my driver was quiet but politely so, and the terrain/area looked like a mix of Mexico and parts of Queens. I’m relieved to be in a place were people appreciate that I attempt to speak Spanish, and have already been complimented on my accent (yay?), but I keep having to ask people to repeat themselves, and definitely didn’t understand why they gave me an extra card with my hotel key, but it’s for free juice from their restaurant. I’m thinking I’m going to nap a bit, then venture out ounce the afternoon rain & clouds are (hopefully) gone. I’ll try to keep updating, which will be easy or not depending on wifi.