We set out for a city tour this morning, riding by bus through this very modern town of tall glass buildings, wide streets, and broad sidewalks. We can tell from the amount of sidewalk cafes and restaurants, they the weather here must be beautiful for much of the year.
They say the weather is similar to Los Angeles, and because it’s in the Southern Hemisphere, as we start our first day of Spring today in the US, they start their first day of fall with a beautiful 80 degrees. Located in a valley between the Andes Mountains and the coast, Chile is longer than the United States is wide, with Santiago landing about mid-point of the country. Winters are very mild, with only about 12” of rain, with skiing in the mountains only an hour away. Not to worry…they get a lot of water from glaciers in the Andes mountains.
The architecture is quite amazing with many of the new buildings being anything but rectangle, with most being made of endless sides of glass, reflecting the clouds and sky on their reflective surfaces.
This capital city of 7 million people has had its share of earthquakes though, with the most recent one being in 2010, registering 8.8, the sixth largest ever to be recorded. Yikes, I am so happy I was not around for that! Yet, much of this advanced construction design has allowed the metal to absorb the incredible stress from such catastrophic events without too devastating results considering the magnitude.
Founded in 1541 by Spain, not much is left of those colonial times, largely due to the earthquakes over time, but there are a few reminders of their past among the the modern edifices.
The ethnic mix is quite a surprise here. 65% are Caucasian, 5% are Native American, and the rest are Mestizos (blend of Caucasian and Native American). It looks quite a bit like a European city.
This perfect weather gives rise to a booming industry of growing grapes, leading to a huge wine industry, along with a huge export business of fruits and vegetables with much of it going to the US. Most of our blueberries come from Chile, exporting 110 thousand tons a season, the largest exporter of blueberries in the world. Who knew?!
With the idyllic weather, clean spotless streets, lots of restaurants, modern shops, music (Paul McCartney will be here next week!), theatre, art galleries, and skiing only an hour away, this would certainly be a very livable place. The only downside might be that $28,000 annual income per family.