|Now we are in Chile's capital city, Santiago. It is a nice city with over 5 million residents, about a third of Chile's total population. The city is not really remarkable in terms of sights and attractions, but there are some impressive things about it. Like we said in our previous entry, Chile has a big middle class and friendly people. This is even more evident in Santiago. The city is very American (or European), there are wide boulevards, lots of parks, big shopping malls, modern office buildings, and a ton of sidewalk cafes.
But to us, the greatest part is how safe and clean the city is. Chile is one of the only countries in Latin America (that we have seen anyway) that Lisy can walk alone down the street without being hassled. We have not seen a single beggar, nor have we seen homeless teenage moms with lots of kids. Things function here just like they would in any other big, safe city. Chile has a polite society with a stable government, and a strong economy and it shows. We have a feeling that this easiness will disappear when we arrive in Peru, which is our next stop.
English is not widely spoken here, and the locals speak fast and with a lot of slang. Thankfully Lisy has been a champ and her great Spanish has taken care of everything we need. I try my best though, and I even served as a transaltor for a woman from Chicago, who "just couldn't believe that the whole world hasn't learned English yet." Like I said, I tried my best, but who knows where I actually sent her!!
For geography and climate, Santiago is a lot like LA. The weather has been sunny and warm. The city is surrounded by very tall snow capped mountains, that (like LA) you can only rarely see due to the smog. We are spending a few days staying in a nice hotel, taking care of documents and flights, and exploring the city before we fly to Lima, on Sunday Feb 19, and start roughing it again.