Santiago Experience!

Here I am in Santiago after a flight from Puenta Arenas and Puenta Mont on Saturday afternoon. See the following link for an overview of Santiago and the surrounding area. I was picked up at the airport and taken to the Fundador Hotel, half a block off the main drag called O'Higgins! I was right next to the San Francisco Plaza hotel which made getting around easy as I knew I couldn't get lost too easily. The hotel was very nice but smoking is allowed everywhere and I was given a free drink and the bar was so smokey, a family was in there, father and mother both smoked and their little children could hardly breath! The smog is so bad in Santiago that the doctors warn people that it is better not to jog as your lungs will be in worse shape than if you sit around the house! There are 12,000 buses without any smog control. This picture was taken around noon and shows what Santiago looks like from one of the highest hills in the city, Parque Metropolitano. In the middle of this the electricity went out. There is a water crisis and very little rain has fallen for several years. The hydro-electricity can't produce enough power for the region so different areas of the city have blackouts during each twenty four hours. We sat there for about an hour with some candles to light the bar. The woman at the desk said it was better to stay in the lounge as there were emergency lights in the lobby but not in the rooms. I was lucky I was in the lobby and not in the shower or something! I asked about the water and she just laughed, said she was a native and wouldn't drink the water as it was so full of minerals it wasn't healthy to drink it. Surprisingly, everywhere we went they were watering yards and washing cars like there wasn't a shortage. Seemed strange after California went through this problem. At one time the government had asked Japan if they could take an atomic bomb and blow up one of the mountains that surround the city so the air could blow away. Sounds familiar, don't fix the problem, let it blow away to someone else. Then they worried it might change the climate too much and ruin the farming so for the time being this has been set aside although I don't believe the world community would stand for atomic bombs being used instead of some other type of explosives!

I was picked up by Elgardo on Sunday morning along with his youngest daughter and we took a drive around the city. We went to the top of a hill where we could view the city but as you can see by the picture, it was too smoggy to see much. I had taken a photo of the buildings along O'Higgins so I have some recollection of the city. It is actually a very nice city with wide boulevards and many side streets turned into plazas for people to walk in and to shop. The subway system seems to work all right and is very easy to use. There is a station half a block from the Fundador Hotel. We happened to see a group of Chilean Folk Singers and stayed for a while to hear them play and sing. They had guitars and a harp and I was told their music is very soul or heart felt where as the southern music is much more vigorous due to the climate.

We then went to the house where Elsa had prepared a very nice luncheon for us. She has three daughters and all are polite and very active. I also met Guido's sister-in-law who lives in a small house in the back of the larger house. Elgardo laughed and told me his mother-in-law lived in his back yard. She laughed when I met her and asked if all Americans were so tall and big! I forget I am six feet tall and about 185 pounds, everyone else there was about five foot eight, or shorter. After a great lunch we left for the hotel and as we drove up to the door the tour guide pulled up to take me to the airport. Lots of kisses and hugs and I was off to Easter Island!

Important: I met a couple on Easter Island that was staying at the same hotel I was at on Saturday night. They took the same flight to the island that I did. They said they had eaten dinner and around 10:00 PM decided to walk to O'Higgins and back for some fresh air, that is half a block. They got to the main street and about five different men approached them and asked for the time. They knew something was up so they turned to go back to the hotel, one man grabbed his arms behind him, the rest frisked him and ripped her purse off her arm. She was left with only the strap in her hand! Nither one was hurt but they were psychologically shook up. He had no money and she only had a new ring she bought in Puenta Arenas and her reading glasses but this is a word to the wise, umless you take a cab or it is day time, don't wonder around. One couple from Zimbabwe said they took a bus from Rio de Janiero to Buenos Aries and didn't feel safe until they were in southern Argentina and Chile. I also met a young man from Phoenix. He is 23 and said his family had moved there fifteen years ago from Rio because of the robberies. His father is in Rio doing business and has been robbed twice on the bus in the last six months. He said the new tactic is to sit by someone, stick a sharp knife in their ribs and demand their money, any noise and you are skewered! His father is a native and he isn't even safe so be very careful when traveling there. I have been told to only go to Rio for two days or so and to take a tour group to the main sights. Everyone I talked to said Rio is so beautiful but so dangerous, too bad for Brazil.



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