Monday, August 29, 2011

Pesos and Pay Toilets

How much is too much? How much is enough?

These are very common questions for someone totally unfamiliar with a new currency. As I've been wondering around Santiago, I am slowly becoming familiar with the Chilean peso. It isn't as easy as saying, "Hello American dollar, meet the Chilean peso" or vice versa. They have to slowly be acquainted or you are likely to spend too much or find yourself with not enough. Like any currency, the currency rate of exchange changes daily. Before I flew down here, I was thinking that I could buy a lot with my American dollar, and it just isn't so. With a weakening US dollar and a stable Chilean economy, prices for things in Santiago are very comparable to what they are in a typical city in the states. It's easy to feel like you're flying through pesos in Santiago, especially when you are spending a few grand here and a few grand there. Here are some of the things I've come across and how much they cost.

470 Chilean Pesos (rates subject to vary) = $1 US (approximately)

In Pesos...

Pisco Sour ($2,500)
Newspaper ($700)
Use of Public Bathroom ($200)
Entrance Fee into Chile ($65,369)
Bus Ticked to Validivia ($30,000)
Postcard ($250)
Zoo Entry ($3,000)
Sea Bass Dinner ($8,900)
Empandada ($1,500)

Interesting things I've discovered while in Chile...

Chileans don't drink the best coffee
Many people drink mate instead
Chileans say "Chao" instead of "Adios"
Chileans greet you and say goodbye with a kiss on the cheek
When eating out, your waiter will not bring your bill until you ask them
Everyone wears black
Women wear colorful scarves
There is a charge to use public bathrooms
There are separate check out lines at the grocery store for cash and credit
Chileans eat breakfast again in the late afternoon (called "once")
Chileans have a fine appreciation for wine
Chile is four hours ahead of Pacific Coast time (right now)
From north to south, Chile is 2,600 miles long
Chileans actually have a coin for 1 peso
Chileans' three largest exports: Copper, pulp, seafood
Biggest recorded earthquake on earth, 9.5 in Valdivia
Tallest mountain in the Andes, Mt. Aconcagua (22,871 ft)
When you take a picture in Chile you say, "Chile" (the "i" sounds like an "e")

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