Well, we made it out of the country and have been wandering around Santiago, Chile for about two weeks now. Sounds like a long time to stay in one place when there are so many new places surrounding us but Santiago is a huge city and I have lots of family here. It´s been almost 10 years since I was here last, it being much easier now to explore places this time around. We are staying right in the city center with my Aunt in her apartment. On the 14th floor we watch the smog roll in on Monday, growing thicker through the week, fading out on Saturday as the mountains surrounding the city come into clear view on Sunday. We listen to the car alarms, the roar of buses shifting gears, and the never ending chorus of cars honking.
During the day we wander around the city, finding new places to investigate and commenting on every dog that passes by… it´s stray dogs galore out here. Today we watched a pack of 8 dogs take control of an intersection, they´d chase away cars and bark out their frustration while blocking the road. From the rooftop we´ve watched dogs on a mission and I started to wonder what kind of research has been done on stray dogs in cities. How large is their territory? Who do they interact with? What is their average lifespan? How does their population grow? Some follow us briefly or approach us for a sniff, but most keep on walking. As Matt says, the dogs are street smart. If we aren´t watching and commenting on the dog population we keep entertained by the pigeons and their daily activities.
Ok, so we´ve done more that just watch city fauna. We´ve explored and had delicious dinners with my family. We took a day trip to the beach in Viña del Mar and climbed the narrow steep hills in Valparaiso admiring the colorful buildings. I may or may not have made it a personal mission to update the Happy Cow listings for Santiago as we scout out vegetarian-vegan friendly places. I devoured some vegan flan last week… it has been years since I´ve had flan. Yum! We also went to a local punk hardcore show where plenty of kids were vegan, straightedge or both. Seems like a pretty good scene out here, especially when you can buy vegan empanadas at a punk show! Papa has taken us out for lunch, Central Market and other places as well, all the while telling us about Chile. There are plenty of museums, parks and markets here to keep us busy… but not for too long.
I need more birds to find than just pigeons. I need more flora than trees in a park. Next week when Papa heads back to Michigan we´ll be moving on. Santiago is much more globalized than when I was here last and I´m hoping not all of Chile will be the same. We have plans to head South until the rain and cold make us miserable. We want mountains and nature and our tent has been packed up for too long. When heading south begins to not treat us so well, we might search out epic waterfalls in Argentina. We never plan too far ahead, knowing something else might lure us in another direction. Until then…. Chile has our attention.