18 Feb, 2002, Santiago, Chile
We over-nighted in Santiago on the way to Easter Island. Santiago is a modern, sprawling city nestled in the foothills of the Chilean Andes. Geographically, it reminded me a lot of the front range of Colorado – plains giving way to golden brown foothills backed by high, snowy peaks. Although we didn’t have a lot of time there, we did get a day to wander around the city, hitting the Lapiz Lazuli shops (Lapiz is a semi-precious blue stone found mainly in Chile and Afghanistan), and taking in the view from the top of Cerro San Cristobal – a local hilltop with a sweeping view of the city. Of course, the view was somewhat hazy – it seems the Chilean’s burn a lot to clear the agricultural lands around the city.
Getting up to San Cristobal turned out to be less of a challenge then getting down. There’s a road, a cable car, and a funicular train to the top of Cerro San Cristobal. From the hotel that morning we tried to get a cab to the funicular so we could ride up and check out the view. Unfortunately, our high school spanish failed us, and the helpful driver from the hotel took us to the top of the hill instead. From there, he thought we could ride the funicular up and down if we wanted to. Since the whole purpose was to get to the top of the hill, and we were already there, we decided not to bother riding the train, but instead told the driver to come back and pick us up in an hour (or so we thought). When he didn’t show back up after an hour and half, we ended up riding the train downthe hill, wandering around the city a bit, and taking a cab back to the hotel.
All’s well that ends well.