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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Dangerous Smog Levels and MORE

Dangerous smog levels have been reached in Santiago.

Our morning view begs the question: fog or smog? 

Fog or Smog?

Several days ago our apartment began vibrating.  If it were not for the cheers and honks resounding from below, one might think the city was experiencing a small earthquake.  The opposite of a disaster, Chile had just scored a second goal against Spain in the World Cup, sealing a victory against its age old foe and assuring advancement to the next round.  People flooded into the streets in jubilee and flocked to Plaza Italia, the epicenter of the celebration.  Red, white, and blue -- Chilean colors, streamed though the streets. The underdogs had won. 

Meanwhile, we went grocery shopping, ransacking local vendors in victory. 

I would say that I've gone from ramen to gourmet in under three weeks.  The raw precision and flavor of our food has increased dramatically over the last several weeks. We have worked wonders with the toaster oven (banana bread, burgers) and have wreaked havoc with our three hot plates (sausage soy sauce sauté anyone?). 

We were invited to join in a Friday day trip to Valparaiso with a bunch of Hah-vard schmucks.  

I was worried about alienating my entire office by randomly taking a day off, but I went for it anyway.  The day trip was a fully paid tour of some of the best places in the city. Totally worth it!

Valparaíso is a cultural center and port city in Chile famous for its artistic and political roots.  Birthplace of Pinochet and homestead of Pablo Neruda (poet), Valparaíso is a patchwork of multicolored houses nestled into the hill side along an industrial coast.  A well-versed Chilean guide led our tour and took us to Neruda's house (one of three), the art district, and a fantastic lunch place. 

  Tour Guide + Prepsters
A City Best Seen Through Cacti

We returned to Santiago at the end of the day.  Somewhat torn about not staying in Valparaíso, we decided to gorge ourselves with mall food in a SUPER tall mall.  The mall sticks out of the Santiago skyline like a thumb of modernity.  It reminded me of huge malls in the US like the Galleria in Houston or that other giant mall in Minneapolis.  We ate sushi and had milkshakes afterwards. Yum.

Now the only thing left to do was to go clubbing. Fast forward one day. Our MIT companion Kate was celebrating her 20th birthday first at her host family's house and finally at a local disco tech in Las Condes.  A group assembled for dinner with some engineering students from Universidad de Cátolica.  They were a fun group to wine and dine with.  A half Chilean, half Kiwi described to me his horrible experience in an exchange program to Granite Falls, North Carolina, population 4000 for two months.  Later at Kate's host family's house, her host mom made us delicious empanadas topped off with Pisco.  

Our Cronies Pre-gaming Hard for the Club

The club was in a surprisingly remote location, and was a money sink but a reasonable time overall. 

Today Patience and I felt the revolutionary air of Barrio Brasil, eating lunch in the best local cafe we have found yet, eating meat, rice, bread, salad, coffee, and a dessert for about five dollars each.  

Patience has started automatically keeping track of the number of dogs that she sees on the street.  She saw over thirty a couple days ago but only sixteen the next day.  Who knows how this will develop?

Ian is worried that his emotions are determined almost exclusively by money. 

Until next time,  

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