my wonderful friend jimena from san francisco, who is chilean, had connected me up via email with her friend alberto in santiago. he in turn had offered to let me stay at his place in santiago while i was in town, and offered to pick me up from a santiago metro station and show me around town.
so i gave alberto a quick call from a payphone at the bus station to let him know i'd arrived (the phone gave me a whopping 30 seconds to talk for the equivalent of US$0.20 -- south american telecom monopolies have placed insanely high prices of landline-to-cell calls) followed the e-mailed instructions and entered the metro station that conveniently connected directly into the bus station, riding santiago's gleaming-new metro line across the city. (it's really one of the nicest metro systems in the world -- clean, well-signed, and just plain easy and fun to use. i couldn't help but remember my misadventures trying to navigate moscow's monolithic metro system by comparison!).
at the appointed metro stop, alberto came down the stairs to meet me, so we loaded my backpackers into the trunk of his new alfa romeo, and headed across town to pick up some empanadas from the second-best place to get empanadas in town (the best place in town was unfortunately closed that day), and headed over to his apartment for lunch (accompanying the empanadas with some delicious roast chicken and and a chance for me to take a much-needed shower after my infinite bus ride.
and being back at his place with broadband internet access and a computer meant a chance to do my digital lifestyle maintenance: uploading my latest pictures to flickr, downloading all my pictures off of the memory card to burn to a DVD, downloading the latest Lost episodes (along with some new South Park and Office episodes, and a new unabridged audiobook) to my iPod, deleting a bunch of songs i don't listen to off of my iPod to make room for the new stuff, catching up on my email, and writing this blog post.
since my eye infection from before still hadn't cleared up (or indeed been fully diagnosed by an eye doctor), alberto set me up with an appointment with an eye doctor friend of his, and before i knew i was consulting with the doctor, receiving a thorough exam of both eyes, and a confirmed diagnosis of the problem (conjunctivitis, but nothing more serious than that, which was good). he corrected the treatment i was taking (the eye drops weren't really that good a choice), put me on some new drops, even giving me a free sample of the antibiotic drops themselves (saving me a LOT on the cost of the drops), and before i knew it i was out on the street with my new prescription and treatment plan. chile definitely works on the friend/network system... and i was definitely the beneficiary of this.
and now i'm back at alberto's place having coffee and sandwiches with him and a girl he knows at 10pm before we go out for actual dinner later tonight, followed by drinks, only to return home at some ungodly hour (which will be very early by chilean standards, since this IS a monday night during a major holiday month), and then i sleep for a few hours and get up at 8am to hop on my 1-way flight to Rio for Carnival!