Smoky Santiago.

Santiago (the capital of Chile) is situated in a valley between two mountain ranges. The bigger of the two is called the Andes. The other… I never did get round to finding out its name. Anyway, the reason I’m telling you this is that, by and large, the wind here tends to blow across these ridges – i.e., not down the valley – leaving the valley, and Santiago, thoroughly ventilation-less. This means there’s nothing to shift the thick smog that hangs over the valley. It looks, to be honest, disturbing. Imagine breathing that in all day and night, year after year. Yikes!

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Santiago is a rather large capital city – 5.4 million-strong out of the nation’s 17 million – and it sprawls far and wide throughout the valley. No wonder, then, that this smog forms as it does. And I thought Moscow’s visible smog was bad :-).

We were in town for our fifth Lat-Am conference, all about our cyber-business and all things security. It was a lot of the usual for me – presentations, Q&As, several interviews, chatting with interesting folks, a few pics for the album blog, and dinner with conference guests – but all of it was both enjoyable and useful, also as per usual.

Then the following morning it was more of the customary on-the-road routine that I could do with my eyes closed and my hands behind my back: > car > airport > plane > the next port of call on another continent. It’s all good…

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Unlike in Brazil, we don’t have a local office here, so there was nowhere to drop into for the usual friendly hellos and coffee. We didn’t even manage a stroll about the city, so, apart from the thoroughly conspicuous smog situation, I’m afraid I’ve absolutely zero interesting tales to tell this time. Only a few pics…

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“It’s as if everyone and everything is smoking like a chimney in the city and this valley isn’t a valley but a cramped room with no window!” a colleague exclaimed.

“Si. What this place needs is massive hairdryer installed at the end of the valley!” retorted another :-).

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Turns out that there are around 500 volcanoes in Chile – all of them active, and four of which are erupting right now!! There’s tectonism too: in 20 years a real serious earthquake is expected (8+ on the Richter scale!). Actually, on average, the average Chilean experiences three serious earthquakes in a lifetime… plus plenty of lesser earthquakes (the day before we arrived a ‘moderate’ earthquake had hit (magnitude 5). Phew!)

A bit of nostalgia came over me at the airport, for it was from here where one of the most amazing adventures in my life began – a trip to the South Pole!

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Adios amigos! Till mañana!…

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    Gustavo

    There are two mountain ranges in Santiago: Los Andes and Cordillera de La Costa (Chilean Coast Range), in parallel to the Andean Mountains and along the Pacific Coast :)

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