“Kathleen, we were in Santiago for a few days in March of 2005. We really liked the city, but it did remind me of L.A. in many ways, including the smog. Despite the Southern California air, we thought Santiago was a delightful city. We stayed in the Las Condes area, northeast of downtown. The air was better there because the elevation is higher. We toured a winery a few miles south of the city. The air there (in Buin, I think) was somewhat better, too. Then we went to Valparaiso. Well, that’s like going from San Jose to Sausalito. Cool, clear ocean air!
“Then we went to Coquimbo and La Serena and up the valley to Vicuna. That area looks like a great place to live. The ocean is a little warmer than off Valparaiso, and the countryside is very lovely–hills with plenty of trees, a rushing river (Rio Turbio, I think), and very friendly people.
“Last, we visited Arica, which is a fairly large city about 20 kilometers south of the Peruvian border. The countryside around Arica is mostly desert. In fact, we saw a golf course without a blade of grass! The course is all sand except the greens, which are oiled sand. I understand it’s very expensive to play that course. I’d say Arica might be something like Albuquerque with a beach.
“All in all, we were very impressed with Chile and wouldn’t mind living in that country. For us, the negatives are that it’s so far away and it’s more expensive than many other alternatives. The positives are that the government is stable, the economy is vibrant, and the currency is not the dollar.”
–Mike N., United States
“Kathleen, although I have my retirement figured out, with the six winter months spent on the west coast of Mexico in the water-taxi-only access village of Yelapa (which you must know from your time in Puerto Vallarta) and the summer months spread between homes at Lake Tahoe and Coronado in California, I am an ardent follower of your newsletters.
“I want to echo the recent recommendation that you spend more time in Chile. My wife is Chilean, and my visits there confirm the comments made. The southern Lakes District is especially worthy of a visit. There are 10 beautiful big lakes spread out from north to south, dozens of thermal hot springs for soaking, about a dozen large, snowcapped, sometimes smoking volcanoes dotting the distant horizons, contented cattle and horses occupying green fields, numerous waterfalls and river rapids, state parks, bed and breakfasts, and little clean inns, as well as luxury hotels, etc., everywhere you turn.
“Roads are in good shape, the people are friendly and educated, the national police are famously incorruptible, crime is very low, and health care is ridiculously affordable compared with the United States. I’ve traveled widely, and this area is among the most beautiful I have ever seen.”
–Bob M., United States