Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires and Montevideo
Last week, although I had torn the ligaments on my right ankle, I travelled on a quick trip to South America for business.
After a 12 hour flight I arrived early in the morning in Santiago de Chile and had to go straight to a business meeting because the hotel did not have my room available and check-in time was 2:00pm. What was worse: when I finally made it back to the hotel, after a full day of flying and another full day of work, I had to stand hammers banging on the wall until after midnight. The hotel could not do anything because it was the adjacent building. At least I got to see parts of the city from the car, including “Sanhattan”.
While the swimming pool was closed for renovations, the one thing I really enjoyed in the hotel was the freshly squeezed strawberry juice in the morning. Remarkably delicious.
Since my ankle did not allow me to walk around town as I normally would, the pleasure in this trip was conversation and food. My Chilean business partner took me to excellent restaurants, but since they had no wifi for me to check-in via Foursquare, and since my mind was elsewhere, I do not recall their names.
Nonetheless, the conversations I had with him and other partners/friends I will remember for a long time. We talked about Pinochet’s dictatorship and tortures, about the Catholic church’s finances (did you know they are the largest landowners in Santiago de Chile, racking up over $100 million in rent fees?), about the current political climate, about the amazing country Chile is and how different they are from the other surrounding countries, about earthquakes, and more.
After Santiago de Chile I flew to Buenos Aires. I know many people are charmed by Buenos Aires. My Argentinian business partner took me to visit San Telmo, Recoleta and Puerto Madero by car. I must admit I never found it that particularly charming, and I might be influenced by several negative previous personal experiences with Argentinians. But what do I know. At least the hotel had a really good location, and in a short stroll I visited the Plaza de Mayo and Casa Rosada.
The next day I flew to Montevideo. A 45 minute flight just to cross the river! I did not even stay overnight: a long meeting, followed by a nice lunch with business partners who have become friends, in which we talked at length about the idiocy of business bureaucracy, and off to the airport for another loooong overnight (“red-eye”) flight home to New York.