Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Can You Spot Madame Olenska?

Happy penultimate day of november, from sunny Santiago. We are rather nicely ensconced in the Intercontinental Hotel, taking the usual dreary pictures of our sanitary surroundings. We're tired, the plane was delayed, and were not able to avail ourselves of five hours of JFK Terminal 4's skylounge, we'd likely be a sight grumpier.

What's changed? The roads have got even better, for reasons that we know all too well, and which we will refrain from enumerating, since they must be rendered unto dayjob. The weather's sunnier, and the shops close earlier. Chile gets smarter every time we visit.

With one small exception. The taxi-pimps. We are not that fond of unbidden contact with strangers at the best of times (any journalist would rather control the terms of an encounter). The wave of taxi-drivers that greets the traveller upon emerging from customs is incoherent and menacing.

there probably aren't enough people going through Santiago's airport to justify a taxi-rank, but some first come first served system would prevent the casual visitor's overwhelming impression of a fine country being legions of smartly-dressed, moustachioed, weathered men screaming for cash.

We made very solid progress on Edith Wharton's Age Of Innocence today. And we couldn't agree with Newland Archer's family more - the best travel is achieved with the minimum amount of human interaction possible.


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