December 19, 2006

We're flying right now to Chile. Almost every flight in S. America has left late, often hours late. Apparently the air traffic controllers are having some slowdown in protest of the working conditions. But our gigs have all been fantastic. People singing every word, and even singing along with the more well known solos! Lots and lots of people crammed in front, the ones in the very front looking a little uncomfortable, but happily singing and smiling. Anyone would like the people in S. America, I think. They are straightforward and friendly, but as in any group of people, you can always find the few that can ruin your impression. I have always had good experiences, though, except for the camel spitter in one instance almost a decade ago....... If you like Southern California weather, you'll like most of S. America, too. Remember, our winter up in the USA is their summer, so now is a great time to be here, although I did have to think twice before packing shorts while it was jacket weather at home.

Prices of food, lodging, and internet are a tiny fraction of what you'd find in Europe. In fact, most places had free, but incredibly slow internet available in the nicer hotels, anyway. Food has been fantastic for someone who likes red meat. I admit to mixed feelings every time I eat a steak, thinking of the whole incongrous fact that I have spent lots of time growing food and making shelter for hooved animals that weren't to be eaten. However, the steaks here are really good! I especially love the Charrascuria restaurants in Brazil. You walk in, go the salad bar, and they walk up to you when you're seated and offer different cuts of meat on skewers constantly. They slice off a bit from the just-broiled end and you get as much as you want without having the endless waiting that I can't bear in most restaurants. One very small town sent me a club sandwich that I ordered from room service. It had a huge bun, lettuce, tomato, bacon, two eggs, cheese, ham, and an entire steak in it. I ordered the defibrillator right afterwards........

Talk about weird coincidences, guess who was staying at the hotel we just left from? Hugo Chavez, the leftist Venezuelan leader that really, really, hates us Americans. I hoped to cross paths in the lobby and challenge him to a debate, but I never did see him. I did see a pair of strangely uniformed folks with clip on microphones that asked me where I was from, then looked very icy when I said Florida. Wonder who they were working for..... To most S. Americans that travel, Florida is a welcome, familiar tourist destination, especially Miami.

Anyway, our tour of Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, and now Chile, is one that I can recommend to any travellers. Many people are speaking some English, and if you go to the typical tourist destinations, you won't have any problems with communications. I've got to go now, since we're flying over the Andes and I've got a window seat! 2006