Santiago Days (Rain and Quakes in Chile)

By 24 February, 2011

In the couple of weeks since I last blogged a couple of strange things have happened.

Firstly, it rained!

I have not seen a cloud since I arrived (no, I’m not trying to wind you up), then last week small puffs of cloud began to appear over the foothills. The next two days saw them reach higher and higher into the sky. Then they flowed down and engulfed the city.

Me and some friends were in the city centre and could smell the rain, though it hadn’t started yet. But on the phone we were told further out of town in a barrio called Providencia the rains had come.

Unaccompanied by winds it took the whole night to reach the centre. Then it hit. Huge splashes of water hit the leaves outside my window. Puddles appeared within minutes and barely twenty minutes in a stream had formed through my sloped garden water-falling down the steps.

Two days before we’d been treating to an electric storm, now the thunder came. When it rumbles, it rumbles! I clocked one at 20 seconds, then next at 30.

My main gripe against Santiago is the air. The pollution sits on your lungs. But the days after the rains the air was fresh and fun to breath. Dare I say without getting overly nostalgic, it smelt like home.

Huge snow-capped mountains suddenly loomed over the foothill visible through the now clear air. Truly an awesome sight. I’ve seen pictures of Santiago in the winter with the snow on the hills in the background. But to see them while strolling home in t-shirt and shorts drew a short exhale of breath from me.

Secondly, on Valentine’s night my room shook. Sadly not in throes of passion, but instead due to the release of pressure built up from the subduction of oceanic crust under the South American continent with an epicentre 100 miles south.

Translated, I felt my first earthquake! It woke me up at around two in the morning. It sounded like a mobile phone was vibrating next to my ear. But the noise was everything I owned vibrating against the floor, the shelves, and the door rattling in its door frame.

The whole thing lasted much less time than the thunder, but will live longer in the memory. It was a small earthquake, it caused no damage, nothing even fell over. It did however set all the car alarms off in the area and so kept me awake for the next hour.

Last weekend I ventured out to parts of town hitherto unvisited. With good reason. Some friends had a gig at a small dive bar. All roll ups, long hair and well-endowed goatees. The Chileans love their rock music. It’s probably one of the reasons why Lollapolooza is coming here in April. While the genre may appear on its last legs in other parts of the world, down here it lives on. Chilean heavy rockers are as common as the British indie kid.

The day after the gig, heading over for a few celebratory drinks I walked into the flat owned by the guitarist, to see my friend, hammered, playing the guitar in his underwear, being accompanied by the lead singer of a band called Lucybell who he’d met in the supermarket 20 minutes before.

Lucybell are a big rock band in Chile, and have been around since the beginning of the 90s. Those in the flat who knew what was going on were all very impressed. An hour later he’d said his goodbyes and my friend had passed out due to alcohol intake and lack of sleep from the night before. Rock and Roll.

As ever feel free to leave comments at the bottom or ask questions via twitter @briggsma. And if anyone’s interested they can take a look at the band here

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