Sadly, but unsurprisingly, not every metro stop on linea uno has the charm of Universidad Catolica. This post details some of the areas on line one that I am not so keen on. Fortunately, this post is much shorter than the previous, which says a lot about my opinion of Santiago. But nevertheless, here are a few areas that I have not been so enamored with for various reasons:
Union Latinoamericana is a zone largely comprising of commercial markets. At the moment, as Chile is entering its winter months most of these stalls (who clearly all visit the same suppliers) attempt to flog identical merchandise ranging from Spongebob Squarepants onsies to bizarre fluffy dog coats and questionable faux fur Russian styled hats. The lack of originality and individualism of this market quickly makes it very tedious and marginally irritating (‘no I don’t want to buy a Minion towel, as I have previously told the past eight stalls’).
However a couple of weeks ago an incident occurred which changed my impatient attitude towards the the markets of Union Latinoamericana into one of active dislike. I think it is fair to say that I am not particularly ‘street savvy’, and often forget that I am in a capital city in South America where pickpocketing is rife (especially in busy markets such as Union Latinoamericana). On this particular day I was on a quest to my favourite Peruvian café, hoping one of their delicious sandwiches would cure my persistent hangover. Sadly the café was closed, and I dejectedly walked back to Casa Republica feeling very sorry for myself. James Blunt was playing on my spotify; cheerful music to match my equally cheery mood. At the traffic lights I took my phone out of my pocket, and lightly held it in my hand as I scrolled through Instagram, probably admiring someone’s story of their drunken Friday night. Two seconds later and so quickly that I hardly registered what had happened, my phone had disappeared from my light grip and a man was legging it down the street. I’m not sure what possessed me to chase after him, bellowing at him from the top of my voice ‘GIVE ME MY BLOODY PHONE BACK YOU IDIOT’ (maybe using slightly more colourful language than that) but he suddenly slowed down into a jog, and held my phone out for me to take. I wasn’t sure whether to be grateful that he had returned it so easily, or livid that he had had the audacity to steal it in the first place. I compromised by giving him a light push and an angry glance. That definitely taught him. So, I returned home without my Peruvian sandwich but with my phone still intact, feeling pretty victorious but also a little shaken. And with a newfound distaste for Union Latinoamericana.
Another area which I haven’t a great affinity for is Manquehue, the Canary Wharf of Santiago. Located in the east of the city in a province called Las Condes (or Quiklandia, as a friend accurately termed it- a quiko is a term for the upper class here), Manquehue is by no means an awful place. Slick glass buildings, fancy restaurants and an upmarket shopping centre make it all perfectly pleasant. However, in comparison to many other areas mentioned in my previous post, Manquehue lacks any character, charm or charisma. There are no historical buildings, cobbled streets or colourful houses. Like many other business areas in capital cities, this zone is pretty superficial and you feel like you could simply be anywhere else in the world. Many of my students live and work around Manquehue, and therefore it is an area in which I spend much time. Fortunately, I have found a few café’s where I can happily pass an afternoon, and recently discovered a beautiful park which I will be sure to enjoy in summer. So really, it’s not too bad.