Hitting rock bottom in Santiago

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
Trip End Mar 16, 2009

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

A few time on the trip we had a few low points where everything had just become a little too overwhelming, Santiago however will go down as our lowest point in the entire trip. It might have been a culmination of the long bus trips over the last few weeks, the constant moving every few days, the fact that we were still struggling with our Spanish, budgetary woes or that we were realising that our trip was rapidly coming to an end.
Maybe it was just a case of LTTS, Long Term Travellers Syndrome brought on by being on the road for a lengthily period of time. The visit to Santiago was marred with three restless nights of the "where are we's" that you might recall plagued us, or rather me on many previous occasions. The feeling of waking every night not having a clue where you are and wondering around a strange room looking for something familiar is quite unsettling at the time, but usually a cause for much amusement the next morning. Three nights of this however mean not much sleep for both of us and not much sleep leads to grumpy campers the next morning.
There were times during our stay in Santiago that we felt we should maybe just fly directly home from Santiago and cut the trip short and this of course led to some heated debates. So much of the sights we saw in Santiago were on our own as we took a few time outs to keep the peace. At the end of the day we realised that we had to focus on make in the most of the last few weeks of the trip and that there was still so much to look forward to including the famed Chilean and Argentinian wine region, Buenos Aires, Uruguay and Brazil. So by our last day in Santiago we'd managed to clear our heads of the worries of future jobs, finances and re-settling in South Africa and started getting excited about the next few stops.
We might not have done Santiago justice considering our situation but the little we did see gave us the impression it was a vibrant city with a wonderful mix of old and new architecture, with great big parks filled with families on the weekend. We also managed to sample a few of Santiago's many wonderful wine bars and restaurants and found the informal street restaurants around Poi Nono very interesting.
A short walk through any of Santiago's park along the Rio Mapocho River and you would know this is where couples meet for romantic encounters. We though parts of Europe were well known as kissing parks but the couples in Santiago would surly put them to shame. Sundays also seemed like a day where all the street buskers and jugglers got together to show off their skills. In one particular square there must have been 20 - 30 jugglers all going at the same time, quite something to watch.
The only problem we could see with Santiago was that that had a major pollution problem. Like every major city pollution is often generated by heavy industries and vehicle emissions amongst others. The problem in Santiago was that the city was surrounded by tall mountains resulting in much of the pollution being trapped in the city bowl. Seems this has been an ongoing problem and there is no easy way to fix the problem except by trying to reduce pollution which isn't always easy in a growing city.
So a trip up the funicular to the top of Parque Metropolitano which sometimes promises spectacular view of the Andes was a little disappointing as the smog clouded much of the view. We could however make out the where the mountain range was and got a feeling for the scale of this impressive mountain range. Hopefully we would have better views of the Andes when we headed south to the wine lands.
At this stage in the trip we were also finding that keeping the blog up to date was becoming increasingly difficult. We didn't seem to have any real meaningful free time to spend on the blog and always had a creeping feeling that we were getting further and further behind. With out a doubt we still believe that keeping a blog or diary for a trip like this is important as many amazing and amusing experiences would otherwise have been forgotten over time. So, for now we'll have to settle for scribbles notes till we get a little more free time to catch up.
When we left Santiago we were over the LTTS and started wondering if our slump wasn't just due to a lack of good wine? The though of five days of tasting in Chile's best wine producing areas had all fired up! We picked up our tiny little rental car, headed south and never looked back!
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