Our apartment is on the 17th floor and we have a great view to the north of the Gran Torre de Santiago, the tallest building in South America. The Torre sits directly on top of the fancy-pants Costanera Mall, almost exactly one mile north of where we live.
Exactly one block north, 100 meters away, is a construction site, and six days a week, shortly after 8am in the morning, this happens…
The song playing in the background is a famous Chilean ballad called Si vas para Chile (“If You Go to Chile”), in which a homesick Chileno tells a traveler to stop by and deliver a love message from him to a woman in a little town called Los Condes. You can actually see Las Condes in this video. It starts at Gran Torre Santiago and goes eastward for a couple of miles.
Las Condes is now one of the two richest communities in Chile, the other being Vitacura, which is just to the north of the Torre. We live in Providencia, just to the south, which is the third richest. In terms of annual household incomes (in dollars) here’s how they rank: 1) Vitacura, $76,155; 2) Las Condes, $67,672; 3) Providencia, $53,767.
To an American, those numbers don’t sound especially outrageous, but you have to remember that the average household income in Chile is $13,762, and that the minimum wage is 225,000 Chilean Pesos, which at today’s exchange rate is a little less than $360 a month for a 45 hour work week. Undoubtedly, Señor Crane Guy is doing better than that. This newspaper report from last year, says that Chilean tower-crane operators average around 1 million pesos a month, about $1600. Not a lot, and certainly less than the $100,000 an American construction crane operator would bring home with overtime, but still almost five times the Chilean minimum wage.
P.S Apologies for the shaky camera work. I’m a novice with a camera. Here’s a still photo to make amends.