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Stowing Away I stood between two facing mirrors & almost caught a glimpse of infinity, but my bloody head kept getting in the way

Santiago Smog

CHILE | Saturday, 6 May 2006 | Views [6453] | Comments [7]

Spot the Andes mountains! Santigo on a clear day.

Spot the Andes mountains! Santigo on a clear day.

Hiya all,

Well here i am in Santiago, smog capital of Chile. The smog is so thick you can only really see about 5 blocks. Santiago is right next to the Andes mountains to the west, (which you can just make out some of the top outline of it, if you are lucky) and has another set of smaller mountains to the east, so all the clouds, fog & smog get trapped there.

The flight into Santigo was quite interesting, just seeing a few peaks of the andes poking above the sea of cloud. I even saw a condor soaring around - what a big bird, i thought it was another plane for a while. The plane came lower & lower, and went below the tops of the mountains on both sides, but still not below the clouds. The ground became visible and gets very close, with lots of farms & the odd farmhouse to be seen, but nothing resembling a city or more inportantly, a runway. Suddenly the tarmac appears underneath,in the middle of a big dirt paddock. You cant see one end of the airfield from the other for the smog, and certainly nothing resembling a city to be seen. (I find out later the airport is 16km from the city)

It was 28 hrs between when i got up at 6am & finally crawled into my hotel bed at 9pm, but due to the neat time-travel trick of crossing the international dateline, it was still the same day. The reversal of day/night times took a good day for my body to re-adjust.

Santiago is quite a modern city, slightly bigger in population than Sydney, with pretty much most of the mod cons, but behind in all forms of technology.

I´m doing alright in getting around with my limited spanish, "te con leche" is sofar getting me what I want (Tea with Milk) - with none of the oddities I had in Spain (like getting a glass full of room-temperature UHT milk with a teabag in it)

Interestingly, this internet (saiber) cafe is also a pinball parlour (with only real pinball machines). There are quite a lot of them around santiago, and the pinball machines are quite popular. Naturally, the keys on this keyboard are all over the place, so excuse any strange punctuation¿¡, and half the keys are worn away but have little stickers with the keys handwritten on them. I´m also learning great new phrases like "Abrir en una ventana neuva" (open link in new window)

For some reason, 80´s music is astonishingly popular here. Currently the saiber cafe is playing John Farnhams ´you're the voice´, previously was ´luka´by suzanne vega. All the pedestrian malls have piped music playing along there length, and you guessed it - all 80´s music (but instrumental versions). The local resturant I went to last night played non-stop 80´s hits, and no one other than me spoke english. bizzare. Currently they are playing 'smooth operator´ by sade.

I´ve been walking around a lot of the city today & yesterday, and have seen quite a lot and walked many km, so my feet are rather tired at the momento. I was going to go to a nearby high hilltop (which has either a cable car or funicular railway to get to the top). The hill supposedly has great views of santiago & the andes, but seeing that the smog today is down to about 2 blocks visibility with no visible sun, i might give it a miss.

Anyhoo, thats enough for today. I´ve got another day before I fly to easter island, where the real fun begins. More soon!

Update: The smog cleared a little, so I did walk to the hill & take the funicular railway to the top. Verrry steep, good fun. Some limited views of the city but no Andes in sight. It also has a huge statue of the virgin Mary on top of the hill overlooking Santiago (or the clouds at least).

Click to see Google map of Santiago

Tags: chile, on the road, santiago, smog




Happy adventuring!

  Stew May 6, 2006 12:00 AM


I enjoyed reading your story.
Lots of love,
M. xoxoxoxo
Jack's BDay tomrrow and party Sat. Been cooking.

  Melanie May 6, 2006 6:50 PM


Sorry I've been offline for a little while--looking forward to hearing about your encounters with the Moai. (Hopefully there should be less smog on Easter Island? :)

Hope you're having a soul-revitalisingly great time out there :)

  Shari May 8, 2006 6:50 PM


Hi, I was looking for a photo from Santiago (& its smog) and google sent me to your blog! Sorry for my english, but i am not very well writting it. You had bad luck, because this is the first time Santiago is so contaminated (at last in all the years i've lived here -4-) I guess you're an Aussie girl, from Sydney. I'm going to live to Australia the next year, in January. If you are from there, please post me in my blog because i'd like to know aussie people.

chau, and have a nice holiday!

  nortina May 27, 2006 2:03 AM


(sorry but I don't speak english very well, so I prefer write)
sólo quería saludarte
estaba viendo fotos de Santiago, específicamente del Parque Forestal y vi que tienes otras
me alegro que hayas conocido Chile... y Santiago es una linda ciudad, pero el smog es horrible!!
bueno... saludos
que disfrutes


  Jaia Dec 21, 2006 8:15 AM


Hiya!! like some others who posted you i'm from santiago de chile too. I've lived there my entire life. It's so nice to know that there's tourists coming to the city. There's a lot of beautiful places, as you probably knew when you came. The only awful thing is the damn smog. The best day to take a high look over the hill, is after a rainy day. The sky is so clear and you can see los andes very easily!!
I've always wanted to go to sidney, because i have some relatives living there. I'd also like to visit the opera house.
You're very lucky to have the opportunity of visiting some countries. That would be very fun.
Sorry for my bad english, and i hope you can keep traveling around :)

  CatherineKitty Apr 23, 2007 2:13 AM


Hi Stow,
Since you visit Santiago, can I ask if you have by any chance visited San Alfonso del Mar, the largest swimming pool in the world? If you have, perhaps you can share some travel tips about it.

  Tim Jul 29, 2009 1:51 PM



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