In Santiago I was lucky enough to meet up with another Berkeley graduate student, Amber Nelson, who is down south visiting her talented boyfriend, Fito. Fito is a member of a performing street troupe, splitting their time between serenading old women in jewelry shops, narrowly missing getting hit by cars, and mixing up a concoction called "fanschop" in the park [a combination of fanta and beer which is surprisingly very good]. I spent the day acting as the honorary photographer, though I was much worse at earning tips...
Santiago is in places very beautiful, especially around the two prominent hills, cerro Santa Lucia and cerro San Cristobal as well as the Providencia region. You don't notice it as much when you're on the ground, but once in one of the funiculars or cable cars in San Cristobal park you get a glimpse of the heavy mat of air pollution that rests on the city like fog's drunk and untrustworthy step-brother. Then like Tolstoy's white bear, it becomes impossible to not think of the smog once you're in the city again [to get into Leo Tolstoy's childhood club, you had to sit in the corner of a room and not think of the imaginary white bear in there as well. You also had to go a whole year without seeing a hare, either alive or cooked... Hard isn't it?]. Santiago proved to be a much need recooperation point for a little R&R [reading and research].
I also got to eat the best [and only] crab pie I've ever had in my life at a bar called Liguria in Providencia. My time in the city allowed me to meet up with a few architects to get the lay of the land and talk Chile. Rodrigo Perez de Arce is a very gifted architect in Santiago that is currently teaching at the Universidad de Catolica Pontifica and redid the main plaza of Santiago, Plaza de Armas, among other projects. He was kind enough to have me over for a truly Chilean meal with his lovely family and gave me great advice about some places to visit when traveling.
I walked around the bohemian feeling courtyard of Universidad de Catolica on my way to the architect Mathias Klotz's office. His office is on the basement floor of his black wooden-sheathed house near the school. Hugo, one of the architects there gave me the tour and showed me what they have on the boards currently. They are doing lots of international work it looks like and look to be extremely busy considering the relatively small office size. He also apparently has a healthy obsession with cars, with little models and replicas scattered all over the shelves. I picked up a Mathias Klotz book in the local bookstore and he described his philosophy on site in that a building should be like an automobile. Parked on site, but able to be driven off at a moment's notice. Then thinking back to the lightness in touching the ground of most of his projects, this is probably a pretty good description.
Thoughts on Traveling #19 : Always double check "googlemaps" in a foreign country. It has no trouble confusing a large movie theater with the middle of the ghetto. Apparently they look the same to a computer.