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:

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So beautiful, so clean, so unrealistic.

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

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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.

New Look – Fancier Amy

The creativity bug struck yesterday and I decided to change up my 2 1/2 year old blog theme. I  was not so keen on shelling out $125 (omg) dollars on a premium WordPress theme, as I use that sort of money for sustenance and running water. Still, they offer free themes, and I’m all about the free, so here it is. I hope you like it.

The original photo background that came with the theme looked like it could’ve been Chile, but the first thing my dear husband said to me when he saw it was, “that’s not Chile”. And you can’t really have a blog about living in Chile with a background that’s not in Chile. It would generate all kinds of controversy, and who wants to create controversy about a free blog that 5 people read regularly.

I was hunting through my photos, and 2014 is more or less consists of images of a baby named Joaquin who I love very much, but his face on my blog background doesn’t really fit with the title of ‘she’s back in chile’. Then, the lightbulb clicked in my brain and I started flipping through photos of our trip to Puerto Varas a year and a half ago. It maybe was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my 26 years of life. We had the opportunity to spend a day in the national park that houses spectacular views of the Osorno volcano, and even though I took 1,254 pictures of it, I look back through them and think, “Why didn’t I take more?? Why didn’t I anticipate that this would be my future blog background??” I suppose you can’t anticipate things like that, but I note it for future Amy when she’s taking pictures of beautiful things. So, I settled on one of the images from that trip, a true picture of Chile so no one (Andrés) can get sassy with me.

I am about to reach 2 years with my company (-8 months on maternity leave), and though there are some positive things happening and things that I am grateful for, I am generally tired and irritated with some ‘specials’ that will remain anonymous. The specials require information within a day, however when I request information it falls on deaf ears. Why is what you do more important than what I do? You have a higher title than me? You’re a man? And of course, I am 100% positive that I am the only person in the workforce that feels this way and has specials in her life…or maybe not. No matter where you work in the world, you will have specials with you.

Last year, I was able to go to Andrés’ end of the year staff retreat in Algarrobo on the Pacific coast. I had just started maternity leave and was one month away from the arrival of little bear. This year, I am saving my vacation days for other matters, so I will be home alone with my 11 month old for four days and will probably roll over and die at the office. What would I do without Andrés taking the night shift? We’ll find out in 6 days. I refuse to read questions and comments about baby sleep, when they should be sleeping straight for 12 hours, what’s normal, when’s the time to get you baby evaluated by a sleep therapist and the time for the parent to start seeing a therapist. They’re all different, and Joaquin has good weeks and bad weeks. The teeth are not helping, and if you asked me how he slept 5 months ago, I probably couldn’t tell you because I’m pretty sure I have amnesia. Even from looking at his photos from June, I’m thinking, “my kid was a baldy!” I don’t even remember thinking he was that bald, because I didn’t have 11-month-old-Crazy-Hair to compare it with.

My countdown on my phone indicates that we will be in the United States in 22 days and not a minute later. How exciting to be back for Christmas. It will be my first time since 2011, and now married and with a 20 pound human in tow. This will mark Andrés’ first Christmas in the United States, and for how much of a cold-lover he is, I am excited for him to experience the Christmas weather he has seen in movies. I even think that there is an activity planned for him to shoot clay pigeons with my dad and my uncle. I will be in a heated house baking Christmas cookies, thank you very much.

Cheers to me surviving the last 14 1/2 work days until our flight.