I´m in Barrio Brasil, a neighbourhood in Santiago, updating my webpages on the go. The capital of Chile is a clean and orderly city surrounded by beautiful snow-capped mountain peaks. However, I´m sure that the city´s 5 million inhabitants are getting pretty sick (also literally) of the dense smog cloud that is filling the valley between the mountains and reducing visibility severely.
The plane from Auckland to Santiago landed five hours before it took off. The International Dateline managed to transform an 11 hour flight to a time warp. It´s winter in Chile now, and last Saturday was apparently one of the coldest of the year with -0,6 degrees Celsius recorded. However, the sun was up today, and I could enjoy a lovely lunch and a few beers sitting outside in the trendy Avenida Suecia in la Providencia.
I am very thankful of the spanish lessons I´ve had now. Although my spanish is imperfect (read: extremely basic), it has come in very useful as many Chilenos don´t speak english too well. I am starting to enjoy this. I´ve never really had a chance to test my spanish much before, and I am gaining high satisfaction from being able to understand some fragments here and there. Another thing I can enjoy as a norseman is my height. Back home I´ve never been particularly tall, but with nearly 180 cm I can feel as a giant here.
The view we got when we flew in was amazing. Snow-capped mountain peaks of the Andes mountains, while all the valleys were covered in fog. I was yelling at myself for not bringing my camera. However, I´ve since realised that the fog covering Santiago valley is really smog. Santiago has a serious air pollution problem. There are car restrictions – by number plate, however this does not seem to alliviate the problem.
I got a new good look at the smog when I took the funicular up to Cerro San Cristobal, a small spur of the Andes in the middle of the city. A lovely view, but I couldn´t see very far because of all the smoke.
It strikes me that Chilenos are very well-dressed and polite. Even beggars seems to have a good cut coat. There are lots of people selling their stuff on the street. A blanket on the sidewalk make an excellent store. Pirated cd´s, gloves and more convenient items such as shampoo. Another novelty for me who have been living in Australia for the last year was all the shoe shiners. Great concept really and it costs less than 50 cents US. They usually even have a paper for you to read while your shoes are starting to shine. My shoes have never looked this good before.
Unfortunately I leave the country tomorrow. I´m on my way back to Norway, where I will be joining the army. I´ve finished my last exams (yihaa!) in Adelaide, something that means I will graduate from University of South Australia with a Bachelor in Management.
Adios y hasta luego, Chile!