...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The most striking thing I´ve ever seen

I hope I never get used to seeing the Andes rising above the city.

Yesterday we were driving around Santiago in our huge, conspicuous, embarrasing ´´Turismo Internacional´´ bus when we turned down a street. Suddenly, we could see the cordillera of the Andes, perfectly clear, snow-capped, pure. It was breath-taking, and I mean that in the literal sense that I gasped. Santiago is one of the most polluted cities in the world, and usually the smog is so thick that I guess you can´t see the Andes. El Mercurio, the national newspaper, prints a smog index on the front page every day; by some stroke of luck, or maybe it was the rain, we had enjoyed a couple consecutive days on the green, or lowest, level.

Because the view was so unusually good, our program director Marcia quickly decided to take advantage of the opportunity, and we went to a park where we could ride a funicular to a vista. From there, we could see the city of Santiago, spreading out to the horizon, and rising above it the Andes, like sleeping giants. It was so beautiful and striking that I felt like crying.

Before coming here, I had heard really negative things about Santiago: it´s big, it´s confusing, it´s dirty, the people are mean, but above all, that it was ugly. Maybe it´s been the weather, or maybe I´m just happy to be in Chile, but I like Santiago much more than I expected. And I love, but love, walking down the street, looking east, and seeing the Andes.