|The small depression in the cloud deck is where the Juan Fernández Archipelago is located, according to the video map in the airplane.|
The flight was uneventful and the scenery not very interesting. The airplane had a video display of its current location on a map, and we seemed to pass very close to the Juan Fernández Archipelago. Looking out the window, there was a low overcast covering the ocean, but I did see a pronounced disturbance in the clouds right where the islands should have been.
Later as we approached Santiago, I could see tall mountains rising up out of the fog-shrouded lowlands. Unfortunately, visibility was poor due to dense layers of haze and air pollution—Santiago is notorious for its smog.
The airport at Santiago was rather large and confusing. My luggage had been checked through to Miami but I had to deal with several sets of officials. I first stopped at a booth to inquire about a $100 "reciprocal fee" demanded of U.S. visitors. It turns out this is only if you enter the country at Santiago; since I had entered at Isla de Pascua I didn't have to pay the fee. Then I had to fill out an agriculture form and give it to an official, certifying I hadn't brought any evil plants or animals into the country.
I had trouble finding the area for departing flights, and a man saw my confusion and came over to help. He was very helpful and walked me to the ticket counter to get a boarding pass and then to the area for departing flights. Then he demanded a $20 tip. I was in fact planning to tip him, but of course, $20 was out of the question. I gave him $2 and he gruffly walked away.
Once I had a boarding pass I could be processed by a Chilean immigration official to get cleared out of the country. Completing all formalities without difficulties, I finally walked over to the departure lounge to wait for my flight.
I thought it was funny that all throughout the airport, they had big yellow signs of a cow, with English on one side, Spanish on the other, admonishing us that "Foot and Mouth Disease—it's everyone's responsibility to prevent it". Sure, fine, no problem. I won't suck on any cow hooves if the cows promise not to suck on my feet, and we'll all stay healthy.
After a moderate wait, we finally boarded the Lan Chile jet for the eight-hour flight to Miami. It turned out to be a long and dreary red-eye (overnight) flight, with frequent bumpy turbulence. They served us dinner and later breakfast and played a couple of movies. Thankfully, the flight wasn't full; I had no seatmate so I could stretch out a bit.
|Approaching Santiago just before sunset.||As we were taxiing after landing, I snapped this picture of distant mountains. Both of the mountain pictures needed lots of processing to boost the low contrast due to haze and smog.|
|This is the jet that will take me from Santiago to Miami.|
|If you see any cows in the terminal building, make sure they read this sign—it's important!|
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