Santiago, Chile–Lost in the Big City

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It is very easy to get lost in Santiago, Chile which has 6.3 million people.  For two urban Wyoming kids, this is pretty huge.  The interesting thing is, that once you get lost in the oddly designed streets of this city, it doesn’t necessarily feel like you are lost in Chile.  Forgetting the obvious language barrier for a moment and the sure knowledge that all the signs are written in Spanish, Santiago could seem like any other city.

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So, once lost, here are some initial observations.  First, you will know that you are in the desert.  The ninety degree sun beating down onto your bare shoulders will settle this.  If not, look around and try to find a tree that isn’t in a park.  In addition, it appears that you are stuck in a bowl with bare-looking mountains all around.  You should not feel too bad, when you fail to realize from this distance, that these are the Andes.

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While the air in Ecuador smelled of bread, the air on the streets of Santiago smells of cigarette smoke, garbage, piss, or fish (if you are near Mercado Central).  It may seem odd to have access to such excellent fresh fish in this apparently dry place, but there it is, every kind imaginable, stacked in neat rows of fishy stench among its spiky and tentacley cousins.

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If one does not go for seafood (and this would be a shame), there are a lot of hot dogs bursting with more mayo and avocado than a person could ask for.  The food is generally very hearty, with corn and meat pies (pastel de choclo) and plates of fries infused with steak, onion and fried egg (chorrillana).  There is obviously a heavy influence of German cuisine and beer along with the more native (and super yummy) pisco sour.

Italiano

Italiano

Pastel de choclo

Pastel de choclo

Chorrillana

Chorrillana

Kros Golden Ale and Pisco Sour

Kros Golden Ale and Pisco Sour

Back on the streets, you will likely blend in fairly well.  People of every shape and size and color are out and about wearing terrible ballooning parachute pants or jumps suits.  Young attractive women may be seen in tall-wasted shorts and belly shirts.  The more you wander, the more likely you will be joined by a wandering dog or two.  One thing to note is that they generally look very healthy and are often Lab crosses or German Shepherds who look much like the police dogs accompanying their officers around the city.

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Follow the liberated dog long enough and you will eventually wind up in a park.  At last, there will be shade provided by an abundance of trees.  Dirt paths meander their way around fountains and playground equipment.  The local law has since abandoned their big beautiful dogs and taken up a mounted steeds.  They will sit in their line of big Warm Bloods in their tall black riding boots looking serious and severe.  Out of the corner of your eye, the dog, homeless as it appears to be, climbs into a little house built just for him.  He is not homeless after all, nor are you lost.  You are in the park and your home (at least for the moment) is right over there, waiting.

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34 Comments

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34 Responses to Santiago, Chile–Lost in the Big City

  1. Tante Wendy

    A concrete jungle here, a concrete jungle there, a concrete jungle everywhere! ( with a homeless shelter for dogs!)
    If only I had read your post re: telephone call before Thursday!
    xx

  2. Kathi

    Park shelter for dogs what a concept! Now that you've spilled the beans I won't be surprised to see the same here in the States. Your pics. give us a good feel for the city you shared. Did you take any pics. of the 'baloon' fashions? I'd like to see. Bet they were better at keeping the body cool if not 'cool' as in fashion forward.

    • Adventure Amanda

      Hi Mom! Yes, I have a few pictures but I have to get them from Ryan. It was hard to take pictures of people wearing fashions I did not like, you know? I have some of mannequins. But I think you're right about the practicality. Especially since men were wearing them too. I was definitely not dressed appropriately and should have followed suit, but it was not friendly on the budget…

  3. Sheree

    Hello Amanda!
    Love the dog shelters! I definitely get the vibe that this wasn't your favorite place, nothing you said, but could feel the lack of enthusiasm? Maybe also the fact that you have more pics of food than the city, but maybe not, I know how much you love your food LOL. Love and miss you, hope to talk this weekend!

    • Adventure Amanda

      I know, dang it. The funny thing is that the food is Chile was my least favorite part, LOL. It's so hearty. There were good things though, like the zoo! But I'm trying to catch up since I went so long without writing. I'll set to start on Mendoza next week. Thanks for reading Sheree!

  4. Leslie Blankenship

    Hello dear, I love the dog shelter concept. I am sure enjoying your blog. I loved reading the part where you ran home to put your pretty black skirt and high heels on to do the tango!! 🙂 You go girl! Love ya

  5. Adventure Amanda

    Hi Leslie! The dog scene in South America has actually been one of my favorite parts so far. I've never seen such happy and independent dogs. It's interesting to see a different way that things can be done and still have relatively positive results (it would seem). In my ten plus years at working at veterinary hospitals and helping to euthanize unwanted animals when the local shelters ran out of space and there was no other option, it makes we think that there is something to this less hands-on approach. I know it's a complicated issue though.

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