Corrugated City

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Santiago-great to place to live...

Well, the title is slightly misleading...

Santiago (or santiasco as many chileans know it or santiarsehole as i christened it a while back) is not really the ideal place to live. In fact, i've been known to describe the place as a smog-filled hellhole that suks the life-force from me and crushes my soul with a big, heavy weight on my shoulders...

Despite being a pretty pretty city-lots of green, lots of old turn of the century buildings, lots of big old houses in the middle class residential areas of nuñoa and providencia-Santiago is in fact a total dump. The biggest problems are: Santiaguiños are rude, casually racist, arrogant and aggressive (NB: wild generalisation alert-not all people from santiago are like this and i personally know quite a few lovely ones, but compared to the chileans you'll meet in valpo, la serena, the lake district or pretty much anywhere that's not santiago, santiaguiños are a pretty horrid bunch. Typical capital city syndrome). And on top of this, the city suffers from a slight smog problem. When i say 'slight', i mean it's one of the most polluted cities on Earth. Santiago is in a bowl, surrounded by mountains, and all the smoke and fumes that come from cars, factories, houses etc cannot escape the city. Summer is ok-ish because the heat rises and takes a lot of the crap with it. Winter is disgusting-the air actually has a flavour (not a very nice one if you really have to ask) and the smog is so bad that the Andes (big mountains just 30km away) can't be seen. In fact, the Cerro San Cristobal, a big emblematic hill in the city centre can't be seen from more than 1km away for most of June. Foul. In the last week, the city has met emergency levels on a regular basis and has beaten a 9 year old record for pollution levels.

Another problem is that santiago is home to the best of everything professional-lawyers, architects, bankers...and dentists...

So that is why i've found myself in the capital on three out of the last four weekends-friday at the dentist and saturday/sunday to spend time with the girlf's family-i really like them btw, otherwise i'd be back in valpo by friday afternoon. On the other hand, I hate the dentist-every time i go they find something wrong...so i don't go for years-and they find something wrong...see-my point proven. bastards...

anyway, this weekend we went to a concert after my trip to the butcher/dentist. we went to see julieta venegas, a mexican singer-songwriter with quizzical eyebrows who used to write really catchy, but pathetically mushy, pop songs (sample lyric: 'stay with me, i'll give you whatever you want, just don't ever leave') but now writes really catchy, but slightly spiteful, pop songs (sample lyric: 'i used to think i lost you; now i realise you lost me. i don't love you anymore' and also: 'today is the last day i'll speak to you.'). I think she was dumped. It's the kind of music that i naturally detest. Really detest. But i like julieta. She writes kind of fun pop songs and the concert had people of all ages-from 3 to 70-which was kind of nice as well but, again, something i usually hate. She's also really easy to understand for a non-spanish mother tonguer. And she's really cute. And, hey-call me a pathetic sell out loser-at least i don't like Miranda...

Here are a couple of photos from santiarsehole to illustrate my point about the smog. They were taken at around 3pm on a sunny saturday (ie not even during the week when the pollution is at its worst) with the temperature around 15c. This is the kind of pollution that kills babies stone dead in their sleep and causes major respiratory problems in an over-average percentage of the 30% of chileans who live in the capital city. In the background you can just make out the foothills of the Andes (which can sometimes be seen covered in snow, just a few Kms from the city) and the outline of the cerro san cristobal...The pall of smog that you see starts about 500m from where i took the photo. And it doesn't look half as bad as it is in reality. And remember that the sky is supposed to be blue-there are no clouds in the photo...What's to be done...hows abouts a Transantiago?




Man, i'm glad i live in Valpo...

3 comments:

nature lover said...

I thought Santiguenos would be nice, but I guess that happens in every or most capital cities. Usually the people aren't the friendliest people. I had no idea it was one of the most polluted cities, but after living in China Santiago would appear to be cleaner. Beijing and Shanghai are horridly polluted.

Matt said...

yeah, i mean nice people from santiago do exist-the girlf's from there and so are all her friends- but the atmosphere in the city is one of aggression and arrogance. It's just not pleasant. And then you add the pollution. Outside of santiago, chileans are just so much nicer. unfortunately, most people's first and often last impression is of santiago and a lot of them don't bother to stick around for long to see the rest of the country. i know quite a few people who had bad experiences in santiago and then just left chile because of it-most of them heading straight back to argentina where life's more relaxed...

M said...

Hey Miranda is a lot better than Venegas, even without the fact that when I've seen her live she 'sings' worse than my cat. Doesn't originality mean anything to you.. Hard to understand the lyrics though I guess.