Saturday, October 03, 2009

Showing up for the party in Chile

We noticed it was considerably cooler in Santiago. Winter still. Our hotel was in the main downtown area that recently has been nicknamed San-hattan because of the amount of skyscrapers being added to the skyline.

We noticed everyone had a flag in their car, on their home– they were everywhere. People were selling flags at the intersections. This, as we later found out, was because it was Chile's Independence day (in fact, it was their bicentennial year) and it was law everyone must have a flag. Forced patriotism, nice.

Here is our tour guide at the city center, called Plaza de Armas. He called us Mr. Stephens and lady the entire time.

The Monument to the Indigenous People is quite a strange but interesting sculpture on Plaza de Armas.

Ah, smog. Santiago is one of the most polluted cities in Latin America. Trapped in a valley surrounded by the Andes on the east and a coastal mountain range on the west, the capital suffers a thermal inversion during the winter which keeps pollutants from leaving (just like LA). I didn't notice a difference in air quality, but the photos certainly suffer.

As a result of the impending independence day, the markets were packed. Everyone stocked up on food for big family get-togethers. We ducked into this seafood market and had a little lunch.

Here we are crossing the Mapocho River downtown.

Makeshift shopping cart BBQ. I passed.

Homeless patriot taking a siesta. There were homeless dogs everywhere through out the city.

Christina phone home.

We took an excursion to Valparaiso. On the way we passed several world-class vineyards and wineries. Chile is basically the equivalent of California in South America. This area is their Napa Valley.

We stopped at a rural restaurant and tried some corn liquor called Cheecha.

Valparaiso was kind of like San Francisco. It is nicknamed “The Jewel of the Pacific” and was very interesting and had many colorful buildings.

Flee market.

The port of Valparaiso is also an important hub for shipping and exports of many products Chile is known for including wine, copper, and fresh fruit.

On our way out of Valparaiso we stopped to see a moai statue from Easter Island. This is one of six that have been moved from the island, which is 2,180 miles off the Chile coast.

We left on Independence day and it seemed the entire city was deserted. Above is a photo from the plane as we left Santiago. Because of the smog it was only time I saw the Andes even though they were right next to the city.

1 comment:

Travis J Smith said...

Looks like an amazing trip