Amy And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Smog

It refuses to rain in Chile. It has rained 0.0001mm this year in Santiago (seriously). There is a very serious drought north of Santiago in the area of La Serena, and Santiago is not doing much better.

Maybe some of you have thought about visiting Chile. Maybe you talked to a tour operator or travel agent or Google (obviously) about it, and maybe you saw photos of Santiago looking something incredible like this:


So beautiful, so clean, so unrealistic.

Well folks, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but expectations are never quite reality:


That’s more like it.

The above photo was taken this week. Santiago does have a beautiful backdrop…100 years ago before OVERPOPULATION AND TONS OF URBANIZATION TOOK OVER. So, your nice and beautiful ‘expectation’ photo was either taken 100 years ago or immediately after it rained and cleared the smog…probably the latter (even though it seems like they started building the Costanera Tower 1,000 years ago).

On Tuesday, the government declared a smog emergency for the first time since 1999. “You’re breathing dirt into your lungs, please don’t exercise outside” kind of emergency.

Even as I type, two of my coworkers are talking to each other (there seems to be an extended lunch break I’m unaware of on Fridays) about whose fault it is: El Niño or us humans. They’re like, 50/50 and I’m thinking, no losers, 5/95 is probably more accurate. Don’t blame the weather for overpopulation and poor choice of location for the largest city in Chile.  If you shrunk Santiago down, it would look like a Lego city trapped in a cereal bowl. The rain only clears out the crap temporarily, and then smog returns like an unwanted veneral disease within 8 hours and we’re back to where we started.

This week as one of my boredom projects at work, I went to the hardware store and bought an extra trash bin to dispose of recyclable products. After a few days, I honestly don’t think the general Chilean population really understands what is a “recyclable product,” because this is what I have found in the regular trash bin: empty bottles, milk cartons, paper plates and glass jars. This is what I have found my recycling trash bin: coffee grounds. Organic, yes. Recyclable, gross no. I guess my email should have been a little more specific. Andrés also informs me that Chileans don’t get recycling, it’s a new concept for them. After the coffee ground incident (twice), I’ll agree.

Smog is always worse in winter here (June-August). There is more factory activity, less vacations being taken, more cars being driven, and in this month’s case, a crap-ton of barbeques when there are soccer games for Copa America. I am assuming that this will be our last winter in Santiago for the time being, so we’ll just hold our breaths until September. Totally doable.

4 thoughts on “Amy And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Smog

  1. Strange coincidence but this is the second time I’ve heard about this this week. The man from Pickfords who came to assess us for packing the other day had just returned from Santiago and was saying how awful the smog was. Sad as I always imagined Chile would be a great place to move to…

    • Hi Clara, Chile is a great place to move to…but if you’re looking for less smog, just avoid Santiago! There are other really beautiful cities in Chile, Santiago is just the largest and most heard of. Don’t let my Santiago post let you down, come see the other areas of Chile 🙂

  2. Hi Amy. It is disheartening as I hear you and your family are preparing to leave, Chile. I am getting closer to my “plan” of moving there. 😦 I have just sold my home in the Boston area and will rent for a year while my last “baby” finishes up high school here. I experienced the smog two years ago when I visited…most likely worse. I have read every single one of your posts for over two years, have watched you grow, and seen/heard your frustrations. I was planning to visit next spring, but 10 percent of me now says, “Hmm…” Such a major life-changing move for me. Would love your thoughts. I can be reached at this e-mail address if you have time. Keep posting…I’ll keep reading! Thank you, Amy!!

  3. Pingback: New Season, New Beginnings | she's back in chile

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s