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On Sunday, I took a bus to Vina del Mar on the coast, supposedly a chic resort area. But like San Francisco, VAM was where a cold ocean met a warm land mass, and the area was dominated by fog and persistent overcast. Also, whereas it was easy to negotiate Santiago and follow the helpful signs to the right bus, there was no indication of which beach to go to once I reached VAM, but I talked with my waiter at lunch and found that bus number one cruised the beaches. I got off the bus at a crowded strand, but aside from a single surfer and a few women who succumbed to the hint of sunshine that appeared through the cool clouds late in the afternoon, there was little to see there of interest, and I eventually backtracked to Santiago, glad to know a little of Chile beyond its capital, but not all that impressed with what I had found, though the people were friendly enough.
One fellow lounging on the stairway at the bus station in VAM had asked if I needed any help. Wary from experiences in other countries where such people try to latch on to tourists, I asked when the last bus left for Santiago. He told me and then asked if I knew my way around VAM. I admitted I didn't while preparing to refuse any offer to guide me, but the fellow simply said, well the centro is over there, and the beaches are that a way, and wished me well. He was fairly typical of the Chileans I would meet.
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