After a good night’s sleep at the Happy House, we enjoyed breakfast (pan, huevos, jugos de frutas y cafe) before meeting up with Rachel and our translators, Claudia and Catalina, recent university graduates interning with Habitat.
We walked from the hotel to the nearest Metro stop, where we hopped on a train and traveled to the base of Cerro San Cristobal, the highest point in the city. We rode the funicular to the top of the hill, took in an amazing view of the city and hiked to the statue of the Virgin Mary that towers high above the city.
More than a third of Chile’s population lives in Santiago, and the size of the city was evident from our vantage point–it sprawls throughout the valley, sky scrapers and bustling neighborhoods amidst the mountains. We learned from Rachel that the wealth gap in Chile is extreme; the rich are very rich, and the poor are very poor. Our afternoon stroll through downtown districts revealed the wealthier parts of Santiago: tree-lined streets, nice restaurants, beautiful parks, public artwork and state universities.
We stopped for lunch at a restaurant that served traditional Chilean sandwiches and tried “hot dogs” topped with avocado, tomatoes and mayonnaise… lots and lots of mayonnaise. Much of the afternoon was spent exploring a public market, where local artisans and vendors set up shop, selling copper pieces, lapis lazuli jewelry, and blankets, scarves and sweaters made from alpaca wool.
Upon our return to the hotel, we tried to stream the varsity basketball team’s Final Four game but, unfortunately, the Wifi connection at Happy House isn’t so happy. Instead, Ms. Rhodes followed the game on Twitter and announced the Knights’ victory as we gathered in the courtyard for dinner (go, Knights!).
After potatoes and beef, we met as a team to discuss logistics for the coming day and set the tone for the build. Tomorrow morning, we’ll leave Santiago for the build site. We’re ready to get to work and are looking forward to everything the week has in store!