I'm thrilled to be a part of Annabel's "Show Me Your Neighbourhood Around The Word" Series, where we take a little tour of other people's neighbourhood & town through their cameras. From colourful Pune (India) to splashing in the shade of cherry trees in Tokyo (Japan).From a rural community in Zambia to sun kissed Basiglio (Italy). Hop over to The Piri-Piri Lexicon's page and browse through over 50 neighbourhoods so far!
We recently moved to Santiago, Chile. Our neighbourhood called Las Condes is in the north-east part, i.e. closer to the beautiful snow capped Andies, making it only a 1&1/2 drive to the finest ski resorts. (The distance is perfect for day trips, if like us you don't ski or aren't interested in shelling out $$$ for pricey ski resorts!). Chileans are outdoorsy (yes, such people exist!) so heading to the mountains for hiking, biking, skiing is common.
Santiago is also a 1&1/2 hour away to vineyards and a 1&1/2 hours away from coastal cities such as Viña Del Mar and Valparaíso. So between skiing, wine tasting and beach dipping, weekends can be quite glamorous !
The Series requires a mention & pictures of :
... a playground / play area
... a local mode of transport
... a typical house/building
... a street nearby
... a school, nursery or other education facility
... a market, supermarket or other shopping outlet
So let's begin with a nearby street! As you can see in the following picture, there are three ways: motorway, footpath & bicycle lane. You also have bicycles on easy hire (Those white & green ones in the pic) a program run by the municipality of Las Condes. Members are given a card which you insert to 'borrow' a bike and insert to 'return' a bike. Pretty reasonable too, some $8 monthly fees. We have caught the fitness bug though and have bought bicycles for the 3 of us! Chileans motorists are generally courteous, so we're not scared to death to be run over! and the air is relatively fresh and clean (we're from India!) so we're not afraid to scar our lungs within 10 mins of being outdoors!
Local modes of transport are buses, underground metro & cabs. We've never used the bus or metro since we drive everywhere and we don't use cabs either since they are super expensive!
For a Typical Building, I cannot help but post pictures we took from our hotel room a few months ago. Yes! We get this spectacular view of the Andies from almost anywhere in Santiago!
But buildings do also look like this: since there are many offices around
We usually go to the mall (and not local grocery stores or "farmers market") since I can but *all* weekly supplies in one shot. The common ones are Totus, Jumbo & Lider and they're pretty big, selling items from groceries to tee shirts (i.e. weekly workout that I give some credit to, for my recent weight loss!). These days they look pretty adorable too with aisles and aisles of christmas items!
I still struggle to find things though, since everything is in Spanish. Last weekend I took two hours only to gather items required for baking a cake! It was frustrating looking for common items such as cocoa and caster sugar. After hours or dawdling, looking like a lost foreigner, being sent from one end to another, googling "what is caster sugar called in spanish?" and muttering "argh! Bloody foreign language!" I finally googled "what IS caster sugar?" only to realise that it is normal sugar.
It was all Nigella Lawson's fault after all.
My almost 4 year old's school is fantastic however. It has classes from playgroup right upto year 13 and is authorized by the University of Cambridge to administer examinations for IGSCE. It's further up east, i.e. nestled in the foothills of the Andies, hence has a gorgeous view and atmosphere. It is a half hour drive away from home and is big and spacious, with big and spacious classrooms too! His class has a warm, thoughtful & creative teacher and only six kids- yes you read that correctly, SIX kids, which isn't typical since I get that shocked reaction from mummies whose kids study in other schools in Santiago.
Six is *way* better than twenty, which was the number in his previous school in India. I liked that school, but I realised how big a number 20 was, when we went to their annual concert and saw our little tiny tot just standing in one corner with half the class while the other half took the centre stage. Like we wanted to sit through 3 hours of a preschool concert to watch him stand in one corner! That too after 2 months of practicing dancing to the same song!
On the other hand, his current school has a maximum of 13 kids in any class, even in Year 13. The Chilean show here was cool, his class danced on a typical Easter Island song wearing the most adorable outfits!
Just SIX kids also enables good parent involvement, we were each asked to come for an hour and engage in an activity of our choice with the kids. I picked Art of course and reminisced my Art Studio sessions I had last summer! Even otherwise, kids coming home and indulging freely in paints is something I sorely miss. sigh!
The neighbourhood park is incredible. Not just for walks, cycling, slides and sandpits but even for tennis, cycle stunts, skateboarding, basket ball etc. It even has a aviary for little kids !
My kid spends a great deal of time in school, which includes time in their playground so we don't go to the park as often as we should. But this will be my saving grace next month when his long, endless summer vacation begins!
So that's what our neighbourhood is like! We love it and have only recently officially begun our spanish lessons with a fantastic teacher to further enjoy our stay in Chile!
Until later! Stay in touch!