20.11.2008 - 20.11.2008 27 °C
After many months of contemplation, deliberations and eventually some methodical planning and packing, finally we were on the plane to Santiago de Chile. Departure from Auckland was very uneventful. The flight was long 11 hours, and we suffered from broken, patchy sleep. The pacific winds were great aid, chiseling off 50 minutes off the flight time, to arrive in Santiago on a clear and hot summers day. We negotiated customs and managed to secure a shuttle from the airport to our home stay with ease and no real stress or panic. So now that we are here, a great sense of adventure and excitement is slowly setting in.
The shuttle drive from the airport was a great scenic experience to get a brief glimpse of the city. Here are a few of our initial impressions: We landed in a city that is surrounded by mountains of all shapes and sizes some look like volcanos others more sedate. Their ghostly siluets are a nice presence reminding you of the geographical richness of this land. We even cought a glimpse of high peaks still covered by snow, quite a contrast to the sweltering heat of 29C.
The architecture in the city is diverse and representative of many different eras and trends. The multi coloured buildings seem to flow down endless narrow streets, all connected via a tangled mess of power and phone cables. It seems that no one cottoned on to having a "T" shape power pole would separate the many wires.
Driving seems a little intense for me at the moment, Indicators seem to be reserved for leaving car parks only, the horn is essential for moving through a recently changed green light as well as catching the eye of pretty ladies.
We staying with the lovely Paulina, who lives on the 16th floor of an apartment building, overlooking a growing suburb of more high-rise apartments and mountains. We went for a walk around the neighborhood, took us a few hours to navigate the long blocks of streets and find a retreat in a manicured park. It seams most apartment buildings have a secure gated parking area along with a friendly concierge help you find your way home. The city seams very clean and policed, where even parks are gated and secured. In general everyone we met has been very happy and helpful.
As in any other first impressions we tend to spot the more familiar before seeking out the unusual and the unique. Like other cosmopolitan cities, there are lot of western food joints like Macs, BK and even Pizza Hut, even the supermarket has a lots of familiar brands. The Flora of Chile seems to be very familiar, with most things in flower.
The temperature will be a something to get used to but not complain about, its 7.30pm and its still 27 C, we can get used to this weather where a light breeze brings relief. Well that was our first day on limited sleep, tomorrow we will endeavor to get back to the city centre.