Sunday, February 23, 2014

Santiago Part 2

Here are a few views from around town. Mostly taken from the car as we are zipping around so please excuse the odd angles and blurry images.

La Moneda is the office of the president and it was being prepared for the inauguration of the new president, Michelle Bachelet.

The Entel tower which is the biggest cell phone company

Construction everywhere - condos and office buildings
Costanera Center Sep. 13.jpg
Here is a picture I got off wikipedia of the Gran Torre Santiago
It should be completed this year. It was begun in 2006 and despite some rumors we heard that it was structurally unsound, it survived the 2010 earthquake with flying colors.

The downtown area and on the right is the Gran Torre Santiago which is the tallest building in South America at 984 ft with 64 floors + 6 basements  and 24 elevators. It is part of the Costanera Center which includes a 6 story mall and 2 hotels.

The eastern side of Santiago is growing up into the hills of the Andes

Heading east on the highway towards Las Condes and home you can see the snow capped mountains just below the clouds.

St Teresa de los Andes

Jim and I have been watching the chilean movie on this saint done in spanish with english subtitles. It was very long but very interesting. At a very young age, she had a great devotion to Jesus. She became a carmelite nun at the age of 18 and died at the age of 20 of typhus in 1920. Her total love and devotion to God are great example for us all.
We visited the convent and chapel where her tomb is located. It is 1 1/2 hrs north of Santiago in Rinconada near Los Andes. There was very little information available even in Spanish but from talking with a lady in the parking lot we discovered that the actual convent she lived in is in the town of Los Andes nearby. There were so many people coming to visit her tomb that someone donated this land to the carmelites so they could move the cloister and the tomb to this location.

Snow capped mountains nearby even in the summer heat

Vineyards in the arid climate

The chapel 

The crypt with her tomb in the center

the view from the  front of the church

the monastery which houses 15 carmelite nuns

St Teresa, pray for us!

Saturday, February 22, 2014


We have been in Santiago now for almost 2 weeks. Our host family came down to Quilanto on Feb. 2 and we spent a nice week together. Then we headed north 11 hours to spend 2 weeks here in their house in Santiago. We are headed back early next week to spend some time with them before they return to Santiago for the start of the school year in March.
Right before we left, we spent 3 days in Osorno finalizing our paperwork for temporary residency. We had our background check done at the PDI which is the chilean FBI. This took 2 days because of the antiquated computer system. Then we headed over to the civil registry to get our national ID or cedula. We got fingerprinted and had our pictures taken and in 4 weeks we will be card carrying temporary residents.
But anyway, about Santiago. We are just not big city people but we have enjoyed the change of pace here and the opportunity to look around and see what kind of things are available.One nice thing is the city is relatively uncrowded because so many people are on vacation. Jim has gotten really good at driving around so we don't always have to take the subway. We are staying in Las Condes which is the rich section of town at the foot of the mountains. It is very affluent here. The president lives in this area. It feels like the USA because of the affluence - nice homes- well landscaped - lots of shopping. We felt better after having a delicious Dominoe's pizza and good burgers at Burger King. We went to Parque Arauca which is the american style mega mall. We hate malls but I wanted to find a craft shop there for some wool carding tools. This mall has 300+ shops - underground parking for 5,000 - and every conceivable north american store and restaurant- Applebee's - Starbucks - PF Changs - Guess -
Levi - $88 for jeans-  Gap - Timberland - patagonia- KFC- Taco Bell -
Interestingly, Santiago has a building boom. many cranes in the skyline building condos and office towers. Economy seems strong - lots of consuming going on but still the prices are so high. I find it very discouraging.
Looking for lower prices, we headed over to the poorer section of town where our Spartanburg friends live. They took us to La Vega which is a large dirty open air market but it had a great selection of beautiful produce, cheese, pickles, and some dry goods. Good prices and really fresh. Chile is truly the fruit capital of the world. When we were driving up to Santiago on Ruta 5, we were amazed at the amount of trucks carrying fruit to the city and port. So many fruit processing plants. Miles and miles of fruit farms. And then I thought about every grocery store in the USA carrying chilean fruit and I was staggered to think how much fruit Chile must export. raspberries and grapes and wine being the most common. I paid $4 for a large watermelon - $5 for a kg of raspberries which is a half a pound.- that's a lot of berries.
Then we roamed the streets where most of the hardware stores and computer parts stores were.
Disappointingly, it is all cheaper in the USA and computer supplies are a couple years behind the times.
As Jim says, this is all opportunity for us.
Today, we are headed for Los Andes which is a small town about 1 1/2 hrs north of here to visit the shrine of Chile's only saint. St Teresa de los Andes. I will post some pictures and more thoughts on Santiago later.