It’s been colder lately, getting down to about 32 degrees Fahrenheit every night. Sometimes friends in the States still make the assumption that Chile is a warm and tropical paradise. While some areas are, Santiago is sandwiched in the middle of the country, surrounded by an awe-inspiring mountain range. That produces a climate with a distinct winter–no matter how mild.
The Andes are arguably my favorite sights in Santiago. I grew up in the Midwest, tornado alley, y’all. These mountains impress the crap out of me. It’s like how my husband goes nuts when he sees a lake or a squirrel and can’t get why the first thing I do in the morning is take in the view, I don’t understand why more people aren’t busting out raps and sonnets to the incredible, jagged and snowy mountains in their own backyards.
The mountain view is also a good indicator of the air quality in the winter months. One of the things I perennially hate about Santiago is the smog. It’s not the thick, visible particles that would plaster themselves to my face in Venezuela, but it’s choking and foul just the same–and it obstructs the stark lines of the Andes. Also, it makes your eyes scratchy, your throat tickle, your head ache, and your lungs prickle. Someone once told me that living in the city is akin to smoking ten cigarettes a day. As a non-smoker, that kind of blows my mind.
And we breathe that because holding your breathe is harder than it looks.
But according to the government, it’s all good:
Actually, I heard that it’s because the government only counts those thick particles like the ones I could peel off my face in Venezuela. They conveniently ignore the finer particles that are just as bad. According to this article from Daily Finance, Santiago has the third worst air quality in the world (really the second if you consider that the first two tie). Admittedly, it’s not hard to contaminate a city surrounded by mountains that make it challenging for the air to rise and clear out.
When I decided to use a photo of the mountains in the backdrop of the city for my new blog header, the first thing the designer said to me was that he was surprised he had to Photoshop out the smog. Now, we Photoshop a lot of things these days, fat rolls, thigh gaps, white teeth, but it was the first time I had heard of someone erasing the smog.
Real life Photoshop happens when it rains and we wake in the morning to fresh snow on the mountains. Even though I’m no fan of rain, I’m hoping it does soon. Either that or I’m out of here in a month for vacation!