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A brand new, poshish mall opened up within a stone’s throw of some of Santiago’s consumer-goods-happy-and-(mostly)-budget-to-support-it neighborhoods, Providencia and Las Condes. The two neighborhoods are split by the street Tobalaba, which wends its way pretty much from the river all the way south to where it splits La Reina and Ñuñoa, and later Peñalolén. The area where the mall was built has been slowly taking shape as something that reminded me only of the Jacob Javitz center on the West Side Highway in NYC, which also looked like it landed from outer space when it first went up. Particularly un-Santiago-looking is the pasarela, or skybridge over the street 11 de Septiembre, which is a help for traffic, pedestrian and vehicular, but the area was already a traffic snarl, and many complain that this gigundo tower and surrounding mall is only going to make matters worse. Surely they are right.

Here’s the pasarela and pretty view therefrom:

But let’s get down to it. How can I get there? Metro to Los Leones or Tobalaba, and follow your nose (or eyes) to the tallest tower in Santiago. And in South America, for that matter. Entrances on Sept 11th and the Costanera (Andres Bello), with the latter including a festive walk up the vehicular ramp, which I always enjoy (see a pain-addled ragey blog post about same here). I suggest using the other entrance. Both sides have bike lock-ups, which are actually wide enough to get your front wheel, frame and the rack in a standard U-lock, which is excellent. I didn’t see any signs saying that the mall is not responsible for theft or damage to your bike, but I’m sure those are coming, as will the complaints about bike theft. Be ye not stupid. U-lock or hold it. Those cable locks are easily snipped with a napoleon (bolt cutter), which is easily concealed in a large backpack, or so they say. I already have two bikes, don’t look at me.

So, what about the mall?

It’s a fairly pretty mall, I suppose.

Fake palm trees, very tropical (I guess).

But not all the stores were open.

The good: I will probably never again schlep up to Parque Arauco for anything other than the Mac Store, and on rare occasion, a smoothie. Also, the selection of outdoor clothing (and to a lesser extent, gear) rivals the selection at Mall Sport (where I posted about a friend who floated in the hamster balls (which, I shall reveal to you in that nested parenthetical clause so typical of my blog style, he said hurt his back quite a bit)). I counted the following stores in this mall: Timberland, Rockford, Doite, Mamut, Lippi, Rip Curl, Sparta (the only bike store), a swimming store (that I don’t remember the name of), and coming soon, a North Face.

Also good: thematic floors, so you don’t have to go from floor to floor to comparison shop. Some exceptions, like the lonely Timberland which is not on the deportes floor.

Also also good: Three kitchen stores, including CocinArte, which has cast iron skillets, if you were looking for one. Lots of Jamie Oliver peelers and garlic presses and such as well.

Double plus good: the design of the escalators is such that you don’t have to walk all the way around the escalator bank (thus seeing more crap you don’t need and might buy) to get to the next level down. Quick and efficient.

Mild drawbacks: No plants, fake palm trees notwithstanding. Food court looks bare-bones (but there will be a Freddo gelato, and of course, there is a sushi place). This is not necessarily bad, and anyway, this neighborhood is absolutely repleto (full) of restaurants. I also hear that on weekends, you need traffic directions inside, it’s so crowded. I was up there anyway, so went during the week. It was pleasantly quiet.

The hilarious: Info people walking around in silly blue and white outfits helping people find where they’re going. They were giving out maps and those gomitas (like gigantic gumdrops with more gelatin) candies, but I declined the candies, and was glad not to have to wear the outfits.

Bonus Supermarket report (you know how I love a good supermarket report)

Jumbo comments. There is a Jumbo supermarket in the mall as well. They have a large selection of German sweets, a decent cheese selection (feta, raclette the most expensive tofu on the planet). Aside from that, there’s not too much you wouldn’t see at a regular Jumbo. The vegetable selection is fairly pathetic, and for some reason, they have someone tending the small red peppers and brussel sprouts and things behind a counter. It’s been 14 days since their last brussel sprout theft (kidding).

I also saw these peppers they were calling ajíes Lima, which look a bit like scotch bonnet peppers, and if they are, I shall report back to the people who crave peppers other than our typical ají cacho de cabra. There is no interesting bread, but there is phyllo dough (two different brands). No frozen veggie burgers, but yes frozen mac and cheese. No root beer, yes Sunkist. No particularly interesting cereals, sadly, Froot Loops yes, Lucky Charms no (which I know are toxic, but they are my one toxic cereal vice, please cut me some slack).

Jumbo conclusion: if you live in the area or are in the neighborhood and need some eats, it’s not a bad place to go. But for my money (and about as convenient for me, given where I live, the Unimarc on Manquehue and Los Militares le da mil patadas a (kicks the hindquarters of) this Jumbo.

Overall: For me, the mall is a metro-accessible (and single-bus accessible) upscale mall, which I didn’t have before. It has kitchen supplies and sporty clothes, both of which I like, but usually bring back from the states, or have my mother bring. Ask her about the cast-iron skillet delivery of 2006. I dare you. I very seldom go to the mall, but if I had to, this is a good option. It also has an Easy, which is an alternative to Sodimac/HomeCenter, but I have two of those that are much closer/ easier for me to get to, so that’s not a big lure.

And what about the insane height of this new tower (245 meters), which towers way over the rest of the city? It overlooks the US Embassy compound, and I have no idea how they’re going to deal with that, though I guess anyone who has binoculars will have a nice view of the rose garden inside. But on the odd heavy mist day, we can ignore the top 30 or so floors, and pretend it’s a normal-sized building.