A few weeks ago, we got an e-mail from a close friend saying that she was in touch with a fan of our blog who wished to become our anonymous "benefactor." We asked for more details, and here is the reply we received:
"Dear Andrew and Tara,
I here your trip around south america is going well. Sometimes I ask my housekeeper to put your computer sight on the tv monitor for me to read. I am not so handy with computers, but boy am I rich!
I have thought very hard about all the adventures in aouth smerica that I have heard about, but could not do myself for variuos reasons. (Gout, incarceration, ect.) But these ideas came to me so many years ago and I do not know if they are still posible. You must have a better lay on the land than I do.
I like the televesion program The Amazing Race. Do you? One time on that show I saw a challenge that I think you kids would enjoy. Too bad I don't have that guy Phil to give you the rules (isn't he a doll!) so I will ahve to do that here. I made it a little bit different since you don't have to compete with anyone and run around like crazy. Here is your challenge:
[Name deleted] will give you $100 US to spend in a Chilean city of your choice. The money must be spent in a period of 6 hours (any 6 hours you want), but you cannot buy any tangible goods to be used after the 6 hour period. No "stuff." Any money you do not spend in that 6 hour window you have to give back to [Name deleted], who will give it to me. And I don't want it back because I am so rich! Some specifick rules:
1. You can only spend $20 of the total $100 to upgrade the quality of your hotel (if you want to). If you spent $100 on a hotel, that would yield some pretty boring photos! I know you will stay at that hotel beyond the 6 hour window, but htat is okay.
2. You can buy food as long as you eat it within the 6 hour window.
3. Any kind of services or rentals are allowed, as long as they are legal. Or should be legal. Any thing you rent has to be given back by the end of the 6 hours though.
4. You can spend the money all in one place, or in many places. It is up to you.
5. You can't give the money away to anyone else, or pay for other people to do things, although you can leave generous tips for people who provide you services, according to local norms. If there eyes bug out at the tip, you have left too much and broken a rule.
6. There is no six.
Please take photographs of your adventures. I take joy in watching you do things that I cannot, sitting hear in this chair. If you want to put the phtos on your computer sight, that would be nice. I don't know how you kids do that. It looks liek magic to me! But in closing, please have fun. I don't want to look at pictures of you not having fun. I don't care if you tell people about this challenge, but don't put [Name deleted]'s name in their. She doesn't know that many people who are as rich as me and someone might figure eight who I am.
P.S. - I think it is strange that [Name deleted] calls me The Benefactor. I was going to call myself, "your special friend." But [Name deleted] said that has other meanings which are not so nice. I am so old!"
So, we decided to make Santiago, Chile's capital that city. This challenge turned out to be harder than we thought. How hard can it be to spend $100? Well, Santiago isn't the easiest place to do so as it turns out. We fell a bit shy of the total, spending only $95 by the end of the alloted time (what can we say--being cheap is just a part of life for us), but we had a great time trying. Here's how the day went:
First, we had to lay out the money. $100 US is 54,000 Chilean pesos. We felt rich.
So, you may wonder, what is the very first thing we splurged on? Laundry!!!! We had a lot of it.
Since we started our travels 3 months ago, we have only washed clothes in the sink, so paying someone to wash them for us in a machine with real detergent was a gift both for us and for the people who have to sit next to us on buses. At the laundromat, they weighed our clothes. The total charge: $8.
Next stop: New York street, just for nostalgic value. Cost: $0.
Also free was our climb up the Cerro Santa Lucia for views of Santiago. Those are not clouds in the background, but the snowy peaks of the Andes! We looked for ways to spend money all the way up, but couldn't find any.
No lighthouses allowed!
OK, next up was lunch. We sprung for two completos Italianos, which are tasty hot dogs (the completo) with tomatoes, avocado, and mayo. What makes these toppings Italiano, you ask? They are the colors of the Italian flag.
We also got two huge steins of fruit juice. Here you can see the kiwi-pear juice that Tara got. Apparently we forgot to take pictures of Andy's strawberry-pineapple.
The cost of our lunch was $5 total. This may not sound like much of a splurge, but if we hadn't been on the challenge, we would have shared one hot dog and one juice between us.
Yum, my own juice!
On to the market! They sell every food imaginable, but we didn't have much room left in our tummies. Our benefactor bought us 1/4 kilo (about 1/2 pound) of almendras confitadas, which are almonds coated in tasty red sugary stuff. We ate them within half an hour or so. This cost $2, but that is a lot more than the cheaper version, made with peanuts, which is what we would have bought on our own! Also, we probably wouldn't have bought quite so many...
Next stop was the Museo de Bellas Artes. This was the cultural part of our expenditures. The admission was actually a suggested donation of $1 apiece. On our own, we would have never paid this, but thanks to the benefactor, Chile's arts are now thriving. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to photograph the actual art, but here's the atrium. Total cost: $2.We then walked to one of Santiago's biggest parks and took the funicular up the Cerro San Cristobal to see the views and the giagantic statue of the Virgin Mary that towers over the city. What could be more fun than a fun-icular? Total cost: $6. (PS, Benefactor, Tara thanks you especially because without your support, Andy would have made her walk up the darn hill.)
There was a street musician playing flute and guitar at the same time near the funicular. He was pretty impressive. We never tip street musicians, but in the spirit of spending money, we gave him $1. He thanks the benefactor, but was too speedy for Tara to capture on film (you can see Andy's hand retreating across this photo after giving him the money).
Even better views of the Andes (which Tara kept messing up and calling the Alps) from the top of the hill!
The colossal Virgin Mary and her earthly representatives tried to convince us to donate the rest of the $100 to them, but we refused.
When we got down from the hill, we took what may be our first elective taxi ride of our entire trip. It was a long haul back to the hotel, and Tara was VERY happy because Andy never lets her take taxis. Cost of taxi ride: $5.After freshening up, we took another taxi ($6) to the Providencia neighborhood for a super-fancy dinner at a vegetarian restaurant called El Huerto. This dinner cost more than twice as much as any dinner we've had out on the whole trip! Luckily, it was delicious.We ordered drinks, something else we never usually do. Tara got a papaya juice and Andy got an awesome mint lemonade. Cost: $6.
Then we had an appetizer, another trip first. We went big for the sampler platter, which was filled with Mediterranean-style goodies. There was a mushroom pate, hummus (which we had not seen since Trinidad), and a tabouli salad. Also, olives, cheese, and pitas. Tara ate all the olives and cheese. Cost: $10. (We are cringing just writing that cost down!)
Andy's main dish was a melange of Indian-style stuff. Some components were a vegetable curry, a bean curry, and a tasty fruit chutney. Every bite was delicious. Cost: $11.50.
Tara continued with the appetizer's Mediterranean theme. Her dish included a delicious latke (fried potato pancake), an avocado hummus, a carrot and cranberry salad, tabouli, and a Greek-style spinach pie in phyllo dough. Yum. Cost: $11.50.
Dessert! Tara got a praline mousse with passionfruit jelly on top. It was unusual and delicious. Cost: $5.
Andy went for the traditional apple crisp with ice cream. It wasn't quite as good as Tara's dessert. But not bad, how could it be, it was apple crisp! Cost: $5. Dinner total with tip: $54.
(To those of you who live in New York, that may not sound like a very expensive dinner, and I would say that it was well up to NY standards! But for us, on this trip, it was quite pricey. Luckily, we were not paying!)
Taxi back to the hotel cost another $6. We had planned to take the leftover money and hit one of the nearby casinos and get some ice cream, but by the time we returned from dinner, everything in Santiago seemed to be closed. Plus, we were tired, so we must forfeit the remaining $.
Many, many thanks to our anonymous benefactor for her generosity. We had a terrific time trying to spend your money, and hope you enjoyed the pictures.
We leave you with a picture of our clean laundry, which we picked up the next morning, neatly-folded and fresh-smelling--a wonderful souvenir of our $100 challenge.
P.S. This post was written jointly by Andy and Tara.