I arrived in Santiago two weeks ago with an 800 pound bag of windsurfing gear and just slightly more than an iota of comprehendible Spanish. Maybe the bag was a little lighter and maybe my Castellano is slightly better than I've admitted, but after 18 hours of traveling I'm not sure I could lift a loaf of bread or put together a thought that a 5 year old could understand (in English). The good news is now that I have completed this feat of bravery aboard a quiet, air-conditioned airplane with a full menu of Hollywood and art-house movies, I am here for the long haul. Over two months, for what it's worth.
The first week of my trip involved getting reacquainted with long lost family. You know, the kind of family that you haven't seen in 20 years but would gladly sleep on their couch while you get your affairs settled? Fortunately, they took my freeloading with all the grace of a Kelly Slater cutback. After about a week, I had both of my gringo feet planted firmly on the seismically active ground of Chile.
Santiago is a really nice city. I think the metropolitan area is about five million people and it's a city full of energy. When I visualize a South American city, I expect to find chickens literally running around everywhere. Santiago is much more like a city in the US. The metro system is incredibly good. As good as any metro I've ridden in the United States. It has some of the cool-headed attitude of New York without an air of snobbery. It seems like people are just out there trying to make a good living and improve their standard of life somehow. There is a sense of pride about people. There isn't a ton of people around trying to make a quick buck. I encountered very little panhandling.
This is the tallest building in South America. It's not completed but it is somewhat symbolic of a healthy economy.
Mount Aconcagua is the tallest mountain in all of the Americas. I snapped this photo with my phone around the time that I wasn't supposed to be using my electronic device. It was worth it. The Andes, as a whole, were mesmerizing. The profile of the mountain range is far different from the others I've flown over.
The above three photos are from Cerra Santa Lucia, which is a park built on a steep hill right in the middle of town. It has these cool stone stairs that go through gardens and terraces and the stairs eventually summit at a platform that has a 360 degree city view. Very cool.
Every great city needs great street food. You're never far from an empanada or a variety of other traditional fastfoods in Santiago. I'll go into more detail at some point of this obviously important cultural discussion.
Bellas Artes is a really nice museum to check out. Most of what I could find was modern art.
You know a city is forward thinking when you find an exhibit of speculums hanging over white fur.
Bellavista is the "bohemian" neighborhood of Santiago. It's pretty fun and funky. I saw more of this kind of cool graffiti than the "tweaker was here" stuff tagged all over the place.
The market in Bellavista was full of energy. Loved the vibe there.
What would a travel blog be without a picture of exotic-looking spices and fruit stuff? A bad one, that's what! Actually the food thing is more difficult than I thought it would be here, mainly because Chileans use different words to describe pretty much every fruit and vegetable.
Adios weones! Next time, I promise I'll get some water pictures up.