La Rana in Santiago
City Parks, Maintenance and General Quality of Life: The parks within the city are beautiful and are a nice retreat from the crowds of the city streets. Parque Metropolitano has both a teleferico and a funicular for spectacular views of the city and the Andes. Cerro Santo Lucia has a Japanese garden and a mirador for city views. The entire length of the Mapocho river is flanked by parks that are generally underutilized by locals and are peppered with fountains, park benches and in one instance a permanent sculpture exhibit. Maintenance is impeccable - no litter, no dog droppings and homeless are the exception rather than the rule. In fact the entire city is rather garbage and homeless free. Throughout the entire day and night, maintenance and clean-up crew rove the city sweeping and dredging. The lack of homeless is probably due to the Latin American attitude toward family. Family is important above all else. Children typically live at home until they marry and will rarely move into an apartment before that. The elderly are taken care of by their children. Pollution is inevitable given the number of vehicles and that the city is situated in a valley in the mountains. The most annoying thing about the pollution is that we can never get a really good shot of the Andes from the city because there is always a layer of haze in front of the mountains.

The People: Extraordinarily friendly and helpful. Mike has been successful in obtaining some great interviews, information and footage because of the kindness of strangers. I'm certain his more than adequate Spanish skills have helped this effort but even I with my very limited skills have had good encounters. I personally have not experienced any anti-American sentiments yet. However, my partner at the language cambio (exchange) did inform me, that he had no interest in visiting the US because of George Bush. I don't think my partner is alone in his attitude toward "Dubba U."

The Coffee: No real "Coffee House Culture" like what exists in the US. Instead, there are a multitude of coffee bars referred to by locals as cafe con piernas(cafe with legs). These bars have waitresses, in short, short tight dresses wearing high heel shoes. They stand on a platform about 5 inches above their clientele (typically male) and serve coffee. At first it seems like a throwback, but then the US still has "Hooters," just not 10 of them in a 6 block radius. At other coffee bars, where the windows are blacked out, apparently the outfits get a bit racier and the coffee gets a little worse. A picture may follow in our next update.