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A Fun but Useless RTW Journal Watch me RTW in 2 days less than the maximum period I can leave NZ with my loan remaining interest free without spraining my ankle/losing all possessions/becoming a Hungarian farmer's wife. NZ - TX - Chile - Bolivia - Colombia etc

Observations on life in Santiago & the realisation that walkingboots lose novelty factors quick

CHILE | Saturday, 25 June 2011 | Views [1904]

Observation One: It must be difficult to be a newly single person in Santiago.

(No, I didn't take these photos. Even I, photo taker extreme, draw the line at taking photos of strangers in intimate positions)

With my reluctant gimp like status impacting my ability to get out and about, my daily 15 minutes walks to my language school are the highlight of my day. In order to get to my Bellavista school, I cut through a picturesque park complete with fancy fountain, and during this five minute portion of the journey, without fail, see hordes of couples in various stages of heavy petting. I may have inadvertanely seen several children being conceived.

The reason a stroll through the park is akin to a soft core movie is not because Chileans are particularly hot blooded with permanently unsated libidos. The answer is that Chile is incredibly family orientated and unlike in NZ or the USA, where anyone who doesn't move out at 18 is viewed kind of negatively, most young Chileans live at home until marriage and have very little privacy when it comes to matters of amor. Thus, as Yali (my mama Chileana) put it, "El romance en Chile es MUY EXPLICITE". Couples are forced to 'get to know each other' in public spaces - the park, bus stops, metro trains etc. As someone unused to so much extreme PDA I find it hilarious, but can imagine in the immediate aftermath of a breakup, it could all be a bit much.

Observation Two: Chilean drivers DO NOT RESPECT the crippled

Not so much an observation as an angry statement. Multiple times to and from language school, I'm tempted to scream "I'M FREAKING WALKING HERE" at the latest car driver unable to understand the concept of pedestrians. Apparently a walking boot, the light turning from red to green literally seconds before and my right of way mean very little to the majority of Chilean drivers I've come into contact with.

I've learnt the best way to approach the situation is to bitch stare the driver, march out like I own the road and when this doesn't have the intended effect, awkwardly scurry to the other side of the road.

Observation Three: Sometimes your fear of setting your host's house on fire wins out over your want to take a shower in Chile.

This is my nemesis in Chile.

While I've always taken the ability to get hot water for granted - well not in my student flats in Wellington but that's another story altogether - Chile has robbed me of this. In order to get hot water, one needs to turn this contraception on with a combination of gas and flames - never a combination I've been comfortable with. My first week, I refused to take a shower when I was home alone because of my firm conviction I would simultaneously burn down Yali's house and set myself on fire.

This story actually has a silver lining as during my 3 week trip to Costa Rica during Winter Break 2009, I took great delight in annoying the shit out of Faye, constantly exclaiming 'Estoy inciendo!' ("I am on fire!") Faye's fury rose not just from my constant mispronouciation of the phrase but also from her conviction I would never, ever have a reason to use the phrase. The fact that I have now used the saying multiple times when fearfully explaining my concerns/timidly lighting the match whilst standing as far back from the calefon as humanly possible, is the one benefit of my sometimes showerless state.

Observation Five: These last 2 and a half weeks in Santiago are no doubt going to lead to a secondhand smoke related death

My poor baby New Zealand/American lungs aren't used to the rampant smoking that exists anywhere social in Chile. I've had a cough that won't go away and eyes that water ever since I started going out in Santiago and I fear for my chances of avoiding secondhand smoke.

In other news, who says a level 3 sprained ankle with torn ligaments can stop you dancing until 5.30am? (Full disclosure: with sitting breaks every 30 mins or so)

At my new Chilean local, Club Urban, with Katie and her iKwest boss Gonzalo

Not going to lie, the last week of sitting around the house waiting for my ankle to fix itself has not been the time of my life and I've spent more time on facebook this last week than I would have thought possible but its slowly getting better. I still have a very active social life at night thanks to Yali and Katie, and manage to meet new people/practise my Spanish/sometimes very gratefully get the chance to talk in English/learn awesome new Chilean and Brazilian songs.

In order to avoid going stir crazy, I'm planning on spending some time in La Serena next week, a wee colonial town 6 hours north of Santiago - home of pisco distelleries, lots of churches and some of the best viewing sites for astronomy in the world.

After that, I'll head back to Santiago and take more language classes before Katie, Amy and I set off for these 3 amazing places in quick succession:

Laguna San Rafael, Patagonia

Rapa Nui/ Isle de Pascua/ EASTER FREAKING ISLAND!!

San Pedro de Atacama, the moonscape-like desert in Far Northern Chile

Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia

So yes, no exciting plans whatsoever lined up for the near future at all...


Muchos Besos!

Tags: chile, plans, santiago



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