After Bolivia we had a brief, 2 night stay in Santiago. After all our time in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia it was incredibly refreshing to arrive in Santiago. As Walter said as we walked out of the airport, "this airport looks like the Austin airport." It was like returning to civilization after a long hiatus. It's not that the other countries were bad, but it was amazing to walk through Santiago and feel like you could be in Europe or the United States. It's the little things, like the cars yielding to pedestrians, or feeling like you could walk into a restaurant at random and not get food poisoning.
We arrived pretty late at night and Jie was still recovering from food poisoning in Bolivia, so we took it easy the next morning. We didn't get out of the hotel until well after 11, when we took a cab downtown to the Plaza de Armas, which is the center of the city. It was a Saturday so the plaza was absolutely packed on top of being decked out in Christmas decorations. After hardly eating in Bolivia, Walter immediately announced he was starving so we stopped into a little diner and got him a hot dog (in Chile, a vienesa) to go. I swear, the kid must have a sixth sense for food safety as he seemed to immediately know that he could go back to eating whenever and wherever.
After Walter scarfed his dog we went into the Museum of Pre-Colombian Art. They had some really neat exhibitions that covered everything from the Aztecs to Mayas to Incas. Then we cruised around the downtown area until we arrived at the fish market, where we stopped for lunch. The food was ok, and we let the waiter upsell us to a bigger and more expensive dish that we didn't really need, but so it goes. After that we walked to several good playgrounds that we had seen from the taxi and Walter got some exercise. All in all, very reminiscent of Europe. We concluded our walkabout by going through a hip area with a ton of restaurants, though we stopped short of taking the funicular up to a viewpoint over Santiago.
Back at the hotel, we planned on a relaxing evening in the executive lounge, but that was interrupted by some incredibly rude American travelers. They got in an argument with another American couple over Obama, the wife proudly proclaimed she was racist, and it all went down hill from there. I recounted the whole thing on Facebook and I'm not going to rehash it here. The next morning it was on to the airport and off to Easter Island!