“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” – Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer Abroad
About a month and a half ago, my host family received another IES Abroad student. Jeff was in Santiago on a separate program that consisted of half a semester in Buenos Aires and half a semester in Santiago. The second segment of his semester came to a close on Thursday and now he is currently flying over South America on his way back home to the States.
For Jeff’s full final day in Santiago, I wanted to make sure my “host brother” took advantage of what little time he had left in Chile. We woke up Friday, a day that we both had off this week, and decided that because the skies were so clear as a result of the night-rain, we would capitalize on the clean airs and take a trip up South America’s tallest building (located in the downtown of Santiago), the Costanera Center. The Costanera is truly an awe-inspiring feat of architecture. Stretching up to about the same height as the Empire State Building, it spires into the sky well beyond the rest of the city’s buildings. The design of the skyscraper is quite similar to that of the Freedom Tower in New York with its shimmering glass walls that reflect the image of the crowded streets and behemoth mountains in the distance. We arrived at the top of the center and walked onto the 360˚ panoramic viewing platform. As we walked the full circle of the platform, we were simply entranced by the sprawling city that continued on until it faded into the hazy horizon on one side, and the epic, snow-covered Andes politely looking down on the city from the other side. After over an hour spent gaping at the city through the nearly pristine sky, Jeff and I made our way back down.
Once we left the Costanera Center, Jeff and I headed to a different section of the city to visit to a museum that I needed to go to for a school project. Although rather than taking the metro, which was the logical option for this moderately long route, Jeff and I decided we would walk to our destination. Walking along Santiago’s unfortunately lackluster Rio Mapocho (the size of the river has been significantly reduced in recent years as a result of global warming; the effects of global warming have been quite poignant in the Andes regions in recent years) we were able to peruse the artsy graffiti on the river canal walls and walk through an exotic sculpture park. We reached the street of the museum after an arduous, but rewarding trek through the city that left our feet screaming in pain from their new blisters.
The street of the museum (Calle Londres, or London Street) possessed a very distinct and attractive form of architecture that looked as if it was attempting to emulate London’s own “low-rise” nature. We proceeded down the calm street and arrived at Londres 38, a museum dedicated to the memory of torture victims in Chile during the dictatorship of Agosto Pinochet. The museum itself was not very large, just about the size a regular two-story house. Its purpose was simply to provide the public a place with which to enter and see where the government of Pinochet performed some of their harshest acts rather than being an informative museum about those acts. It was an intense and, if I’m being completely honest, a bit of an unsettling experience, but it is something that am I content I was able to see as it does represent a significant part of Chile’s history.
After Londres 38, Jeff and I decided that our last stop for the afternoon would be a place called Cerro Santa Lucia (Saint Lucy Hill) located just a few blocks away. We continued our walk despite our feet crying out in agony, but before we reached the hill, we were sidetracked by Chile’s National Library. We of course had to take a look inside and spent a few moments gaping at the building’s expansive study rooms and ostentatious inner architecture. The most fascinating thing we encountered at the library, though, was undoubtedly the elephant-sized 1970s computer that was just sitting in one of the hallways.
Once we exhausted the library, we walked the remaining blocks to Cerro Santa Lucia. A small hill stationed in a park in central Santiago, Santa Lucia is covered in small, ornate fountains and stoic statues. The walking trail up the hill will lead you to the hill’s main look out point that provides you with an excellent view of the city and the Andes. Above this look out point, there is one more small observing area at the absolute highest point of the hill. Once we reached the first lookout area, Jeff decided he just wanted to take a rest on one of the benches and enjoy the view from there. I, on the other hand, being Matt Osche, had to get to the top. So I climbed the remaining, steep stone steps to the top and was welcomed to the crest of the hill by a musician plucking his guitar and blowing his harmonica to rhythm of “La Bamba” as the sun slowly tucked itself away behind the buildings of the city. After a few moments simply relaxing in the presence of the city I’ve come to love, I walked back down to my host brother and we began our way home after closing up one more satisfying day of exploring for Jeff in his last moments in Chile.
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<p>Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Matt Osche and my two greatest passions are my writing and my travels! I’m just your average 20-year old college student trying to “carpe diem” while balancing my studies and my passions. Having grown up in Penn Trafford, PA, a small suburb of Pittsburgh, I’ve come a long way from my humble beginnings as my semester in Santiago, Chile, is my second adventure after my junior year of high school spent in a small town outside of Oslo, Norway as a foreign exchange student. Take a look at my blog and read about my adventures here in South America!</p>