Las problemas ambientales de Chile

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There is certainly one ‘big issue’ which has stood out to me when discovering Chile, and that is its problem with pollution.

Just look at that smog!

For a country famous for its vast national parks and beautiful scenery, I was surprised to find that Chile faces vast environmental problems, with air pollution being Santiago’s undisputed worst aspect.

Santiago is often noted as one of the most polluted cities in the world. The particles in the air cause significant health damage and severely lower the locals’ life expectancy.

It is an unsolved issue as everyone can blame someone else. Santiago is “trapped” in a valley surrounded by the Andes on the east and a coastal mountain range on the west, so during winter it suffers a thermal inversion that prevent the pollutants from escaping. Only the winter rain can bring relief.

On top of geographical limits, there is huge population growth, poorly regulated transportation systems (which produce 40% of the city’s air pollution) & manufacturing. Also, the use of polluting energy sources such as coal have made Santiago a life-threateningly smoggy place to live.

The tricky question which we must contemplate now is, how can we solve this issue of environmental degradation?

Since the 1990s, 140 measures have been implemented to control contamination from transport services, industry, commerce, construction, agriculture and households.

At times, driving in the city and using timber for heating were prohibido.

The best improvements that have been made in Santiago were the introduction of catalytic converters in cars, and Santiago’s switch to natural gas. However, I think that Chile needs wider intervention. This is a global matter of health which needs political intervention.

Espero que el gobierno de Chile puede implementar mejores políticas ambientales. la gente de santiago merecen vivir una vida sana.

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¡Los choques culturales!

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Here are some ‘Chileanismos’ I have found out about that would be a bit of a culture shock for me!

La Comida

¡Esta foto me hace tener hambre!

The Chilean food culture is slightly different to my experience of Australian food culture with big family dinners. In Chile, lunch/almuerzo is the biggest meal of the day, and most Chileans won’t eat dinner. Instead, they have ‘once’ (‘eleven’) which is light meal served with tea. Apparently, ‘once’ used to be a codename for the alcohol aguardiente (…count its letters!). The story goes, men used to tell their bosses or wives they were going out for ‘once’ when they wanted a drink! And somehow the name stuck with this meal.

There is one particular part of the Chilean diet I will LOVE when I travel there – Chileans eat avocado with everything! Famously on the hotdogs in Santiago, and also just on bread for onceAguacate en tostada es mi comida favorita en el mundo.

Las normas del bagno

En una nota práctica – take your own toilet paper around with you! And never flush your paper down the loo… The pipes are very narrow, so Chileans always throw it into a bin next to the toilet. …This will take me some time to adjust to!

Los terremotos!

Aunque pueden ser desastrosas, los terremotos son comunes en Chile

Earthquakes! Coming from Australia, an earthquake is a foreign notion to me. However, there are many recounts of the ground shaking beneath naïve tourists’ feet in Santiago! As minor earthquakes rumble, locals just stand and laugh as the buildings sway and the travellers freak out!

Sin embargo, no creo que hay muchas diferencias entre la cultura australiana y chilena. ¡Quizás cuando voy allí, voy a encontrar otras cosas que son chocantes!

Place Essentialism in Valparaiso

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¡Me gusta todos los colores de Valparaiso!

Valparaíso is a hugely popular city in Chile. Over time, many significant changes to its usage, appearance and ‘essence’ have occurred.

In general, tourism thrives on place essentialism and pushing one aspect of a place. Today, Valparaíso’s dominant ‘imaginative geography’ is centered on its UNESCO-designated downtown, with Chile’s main port, colonial architecture and bohemian markets. The history of the area’s original inhabitants, the Chango Indians is therefore hidden.

Massey’s idea of a ‘progressive sense of place’ is helpful here to challenge essentialism.

Uno – Valparaíso is always evolving – it has gone from land of the indigenous people, to the most important town on the pacific coast, to a tourist hub.

Dos – Valparaíso has multiple identities and ongoing histories. It has been ‘owned’ by many people over time, but now it is important to Chile on a national scale, to the world as a significant heritage site, and to every traveller who has created memories there.

Tres – the uniqueness of Valparaiso is defined by its interactions with other places, through its trade route of eras past, and processes, of tourism and travel today.

Valparaíso, like any town, is an organic place that must grow and move on with time. It’s historic centre is currently being restored. I wonder what its future will hold!

¡Verdad quiero viajar a Valparaíso! Los colores de la ciudad parecen hermosos. También, quiero aprender más sobre la historia de Valparaíso de hablar con la gente, ¡no sólo desde el Internet!

Mercados de Santiago

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MERCADO CENTRAL

Qué escena!

The central market in Santiago tops a lot of ‘not to be missed spots’ lists for aspiring Chilean travellers like myself. Mercado Central is covered by an amazing art nouveau canopy dating back to 1872! It is a hustling and bustling fish market, where you can find the freshest seafood, some apparently “untranslatable” into English or unknown outside Chile! The restaurants in the market centre are packed with tourists. However, if you stick to the tiny, low-key stalls around the outside you w experience traditional Chilean seafood lunches, such as paila marina (Chilean bouillabaisse) or the “hangover-curing” fish stews like caldillo de congrio. Delicioso!

I found this video entertaining! It is great to see what the market is like from within.

LA VEGA

Delicioso!

Right next door is La Vega market, the perfect place to watch the Santiago locals go by. It is huge and very easy to get lost in (which I would probably enjoy)! Traditionally known as a fruit and veggies market, La Vega also sells lots of other local produce and dry goods, as well as extraordinary food items like chicken feet and pigs’ heads!

You can escape the hustle of the downstairs market by heading upstairs, where you can find clothes and restaurants.

Mercado Central and La Vega are very important in preserving the traditional food and culture of Santiago. They continue the tradition of heading to the markets, becoming friendly with your merchants and cooking for your family, which are important Chilean values.

Estoy muy emocionado de ir a Mercado Central y La Vega en Santiago! Los mercados parecen muy divertido y me encanta comer comida tradicional cuando viajo. El pescado no es mi comida favorita, pero estoy seguro de que el pescado en el Mercado Central es delicioso!

Rapa Nui / Isla de Pascua / Easter Island

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RapaNui 572

Straight from the Moai’s mouth!

Un símbolo misterioso

Rapa Nui is a timeless Chilean icon thanks to its 887 Moai – the mysterious stone monoliths, built 1250-1500AD. Many are unfinished, damaged or fallen.

Rapa Nui is in geographic isolation. The nearest continental point is Chile, over 3500km away!

Why are the Moai there? What happened their creators? The mystery is why the island interests me.

Una breve historia trágico

For 1000 years, Rapa Nui’s inhabitants had zero contact with outsiders. It was discovered by Dutch explorers on Easter Sunday, 1722. This allowed for foreign disease and destruction.

By 1770, the island was in the “aftermath of epidemic and population crash“. By 1868, not one Moai stood. Chile annexed the island, destroyed native vegetation and gave the land to agriculture.

The Moai statues witnessed the instability of Rapa Nui. Thankfully, the Polynesian language survived and the culture lives on.

Una revisión crítica

There are a few points about Rapa Nui that need addressing.

  1. There is more to the island than the Moai. Rapa Nui is not only its past, but has thriving marine life, pink-sand beaches and volcanoes!
  2. More importantly, how did Rapa Nui become a Chileanicon? The Moai weren’t built by Chileans! Chileans even assisted the downfall of the original Rapa Nui. However, it has been the excellent restorative work of Chilean and international specialists who are dedicated to the Moai’s maintenance. Today, Chile embracesthe traditional culture and spirit of the Rapa Nui, which continues with people, language, clothes, music, dance, crafts and food.

The annual Tapati festival celebrates traditions with body-painting, song, dance and the selection of the queen.

En mi opinión, la historia de la Isla de Pascua es muy interesante e quiero ir allí. Espero que las tradiciones de la gente Rapa Nui continúan durante siempre.