The 3 things I can’t quite get over about Santiago

Today marks the end of my second week in Santiago, and after being here for a couple weeks, I can finally say that I’m starting to feel a little more adjusted.

That being said, there are a few things I still can’t quite get used to…

So here they are, my least favorite things about Santiago:

#3 The Cold

It’s not just that Santiago is cold. It’s really not bad for the end of winter. It’s just that there’s no escape from the cold. It’s a deep cold, that gets into your bones and follows you throughout the day. There’s no central heating, so you’re just as cold inside, as you are outside. And quite frankly, I still haven’t figured out the little gas heater that my host family has, so last night, when I was home alone, I had to wear about 4 layers of clothes and huddle under about 4 layers of thick blankets just to stay warm.

I’ve learned the hard way that you have to wear something on your feet at all times (in addition to socks), because the tile floors just seem to suck up all the heat from your feet.

And coming from a summer climate, in Northern Virginia, I forgot how cold the beginning of spring can be. I had it in my mind that the spring season here would be warm, so I didn’t bring a coat, all my sweaters are short-sleeved or elbow length and I have no long sleeved shirts, besides some thin cotton, button-ups….

which brings me to be next subject

#2 THE PRICES!

It’s so expensive here! I’ve been to a couple of the malls here (in search of warmer clothes) and I just can’t believe the prices. I have to double-check my math on the Peso to Dollar conversion to make sure I’m not crazy. Everything is double (at least!) of what it would be in Northern Virginia (and Nova isn’t a cheap place to live) and the quality of the clothes, doesn’t justify the price. One girl I met from the U.S. says that she refuses to buy clothes here. She only goes shopping when she returns home for holidays.

And the restaurants are the same way. Luckily I live with a host family who provides me with all of my meals at home, so I don’t have to worry about going broke from going out to eat. But occasionally, when I meet some new people and want to go out to dinner, it’s ridiculous how much I’ll pay for a simple salad or a side dish.

#1 The Smog

Everywhere I go, I smell it, I taste it. I just can’t seem to get a breath of fresh air here.

Beautiful View of the Cordillera los Andes, hidden behind a layer of smog
Beautiful View of the Cordillera los Andes, hidden behind a layer of smog

The air is just so polluted here. People have even warned me that some days, outdoor exercise can be a serious health hazard. That’s been particularly disappointing for me, because I haven’t been able to go running as much as I like, and I don’t really have a lot of other work out options.

Vitacura isn’t even as bad as downtown, Providencia. The first few nights I was there with my Dad, and it was so smoggy, that it wasn’t until I left the city, that I realized we were surrounded by these gorgeous mountains! It’s sort of sad that we’re in such a beautiful, scenic landscape, but it’s hidden by all this smog!

I think that’s a first-rate example of the tragedy of human impact on the natural beauty of the planet.

I have to hand it to the people who live here though, they are really trying to cut down on their energy, waste and CO2 production, but it’s hard to see the impact of all of these amazing recycling and conservation campaigns, through the Santiago smog.

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