Friday, January 10, 2014

Getting to know Chile

JANUARY 9, 2013

US Embassy Meeting and Santiago Tour

We started today meeting with a few representatives from the US Embassy in Chile. Here we learned about the vast diversity in the Chilean products, its climate and its agriculture. Here are some tidbits we learned:
  • Chile is the largest exporter of fruit in the southern hemisphere.
  • Sixteen of the 24 climates in the world exist in Chili.
  • Twenty five percent of the people in Chili work either directly in agriculture production or a processing job related to it.
  • Most people who do not work in agriculture are two generations or less removed from the farm. In the USA people are up to four generations removed from the farm.
  • Copper mining is the #1 industry in Chile.
  • Chile exports many more goods than it imports.
  • The Chilean economy is very stable and the national budget has a large surplus due to the copper mining.
Following the meeting, we set out on a tour of the city. Our tour took us to all the popular spots such as the Plaza de Armas and Cathedral, the Municipal Theater, the Presidential Palace, the Central Fish Market, the San Francisco Church, the hill of San Lucia, and many more. Below are a photos from a few of the places we stopped.

The Chilean economy took a boost as many of us purchased souvenirs
at the Central Market. This market had over 150 small shops.
All the products in the market are made in Chile with many
of the shops being run by the craftsmen themselves. Some of our purchases
included cooper jewelry, alpaca shawls, leather, and paintings.
Some wool waiting to be made into a beautiful creation.
The building in the front is the post office. Much of the older
architecture in Santiago has Spanish influence. The
detail is in many of these older buildings is stunning.
We stopped to tour the Cathedral, built in 1748, at the Armas Plaza.
Santiago has 200 Roman Catholic Churches, and nearly 70% of the
population in Chile are members of this church.
The front of the cathedral.
Another corner of the cathedral.
The second cathedral we stopped at, the Church of San Francisco, is the oldest
church in the city. It was built between 1586 and 1618. You can see many cracks in the walls
that have been repaired over the years. Most of the damage comes
from the earthquakes that often happen in the country.

In a back corner of the San Francisco church you can write a wish on the wall.
This started many years ago when a student wrote for a wish to do well on
final exams. The tradition grew from there. Kevin and Teri joined in
by adding to the many wishes written on the wall.
We spent the rest of the day relaxing and finished with dinner at a few different restaurants within walking distance of the hotel. 

Our meals included everything from a full trout shown here to pasta to rabbit.
Here is a meal of the Turbot fish on top of a vegetable sauté. Fresh fish is
popular in Chile, being the country boarders the Pacific Ocean.