Greetings hypothetical audience,

You can check out my photos here: Google’s Picasa Web Albums

I have settled into my wonderful home here in Santiago in a community called Providencia which is one of the three or so best communities here in the gargantuan metropolis of Santiago.  Let me assure you, that Santiago is indeed humungolicious in many ways.  It is a city that is very spread out with 5 metro lines that haul 2.3 million people throughout the area every day, not to mention one of the highest concentrations of city buses I have ever witnessed.  Although it is a large beast of 6-7 million people, it never shows it; as one in goes about his days he only experiences that which is directly around him and remains oblivious to the hundreds of thousands of hectares of humanity around him.  A great case of this is the community that I live in, a beautiful and relatively tranquil neighborhood filled with people of all sorts: hippies, successful business people, musicians, stay at home mothers, children discovering the world, the elderly that lie on the other side of discovery, pot heads, egg heads, and almost all of them are trying to get ahead.  

I consider this to be week number two, however, I have been in the country nearly a month.  The first two weeks were spent marauding around the country with the family in an enjoyably touristic manner to such cities as Vina del Mar, Valparaiso, Cajon de Maipo (region), and the glorious Pucon.  Our travels took us west to the coast, as well as south into the Lakes region; we saw challenges, such as a 9,300 foot volcano, class 5 rapids, rough roads, steep ascents, and white knuckle urban driving in a city of 6 million.  We managed to stay calm, cool, and creative throughout the adventure, though.  Reserving our hotels the day before the voyage, brainstorming engaging activities, and planning out transportation on a daily basis became the norm.  The 14 day experience was filled with action, and naturally, passed by in the blink of a shutter.  The days of family style travel are over for now, and now comes the time to lower the standards, decrease the budget, and turn on the risk taking part of my psyche to make sure that no drop of Chile’s goodness is spared.  

For now, however, settling in is the name of the game: most of my fellow students in the program are settling into their respective “alojamientos,” which are in communities such as Providencia, Las Condes, Santiago Centre, and Nunoa.  My alojamiento is a 10 bedroom bohemith known as the Casa Blanco, located on one of the very few streets that happened to be named after a woman, Elena Blanco.  The house’s exterior and interior are in complete discord: the outside of the house is brown and has an unmoving, thick layer of paint chips and dust, while the inside is bursting with life and vitality.  The house is deep and extends to a backyard and patio on the first floor where our resident, adopted stray dog Machuca spends his days.  The ground level is painted entirely in yellow with 12 foot white cielings – as you enter a two tiered staircase to the second level greets you on your right, and a hallway with three bedrooms on the left leads into the living room that features an ebony wooden amorphous table atop a funky zebra carpet.  A leather couch is the centerpiece of the living room atlhough comfy yellow leather chairs provide great accents; the double doors leading out the patio are part of a 11 foot beast: with windows, yellow and maroon polka dot drapes, and blue and yellow polka dot doors.  The second floor is painted entirely red and has a very different feel from the first floor, this is where I live.  The third floor follows suit by completely breaking the mold with a bright green and pink striped theme that cathes every visitor off their gaurd.  The house really brings out the creative and free sides of people with all the colors and eccentricities that abound.  My room is actually the largest in the house and features a good sized balcony accessed by a double door, a double sized bed, sufficiently large television hooked up to digital cable (this means that I can watch soccer ANYTIME of the day), wireless internet access, and a 10 foot cieling, as well as direct access to the adjoined bathroom.  

Well, I hope that that long description didn’t scare you off, and that you’re still here.  Since it’s becoming a little bit late and I haven’t started studying yet, I’ll make the end of this entry fairly short.  Recently I’ve come across a few of my favorite spots in Santiago:  my butcher that sells cheap, good meat, my favorite park to take daytime naps in, as well as my all time favorite fruit and vegetable store.  Allow me to explain:  today I went (as a I always do) to the fruit store with a friend who lives nearby and I bought four giant platanos (bananas), a healthy bunch of delicious green grapes, 1 liter box of Apricot Juiice, and 3 ripening pairs, needless to say my bag was quite heavy as I walked out of the tiny store.  Now my favorite part: it cost me $3.  Sweet!  Anyone who knows me the least bit knows that I love a great deal, and this place is proving to provide a steady stream of quality produce at rock bottom prices.

A first for me today: I took our little quiltro (stray dog) Machuca for a walk, two of them, actually.  I had previously been self conscious about bringing her out into the public eye because of the fact that he is a former street dog, but I decided that today was the day.  The voyage started off with Machuca comically scurrying about in a way that one would see in the Roadrunner cartoons of old: his little legs running furiously, but his body staying entirely stationary as I held on to the other end of the leash.  The walk was an interesting experience to say the least, as we attempted to bob and weave around giant (relative to him) street dogs, the vicious looking bulldog that lives across the street, and any other dogs.  It goes without saying that this little pooch would have to earn my trust, and he did.  I am thinking of taking him under my wing, giving him a bath, and maybe even a haircut.  Once one of these gets done, I plan on taking him to the posh Parque forestral, or the exclusive Parque Bustamente.


Well, for now this is Ciao.

Ian J