Chile: Santiago

Jesse and I decided to embark on another adventure, this time to Chile. Chile is in South America, south of the equator and has a very interesting topography. Chile is a very long, narrow country that boarders the pacific ocean on one side and the Andes mountains on the other. Chile has the Atacama desert (the driest desert in the world) in the north, Santiago (a city with 7 million people) in the middle of the country and Patagonia the in south.

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After a long, sleepless 24 hours of travelling, we finally made it to Santiago, Chile.  We hoped in a taxi and headed to our AirBnB. We decided to try something a little different and booked a condo for the month. We figured we would try to centralize ourselves and branch out from there. Our condo was a very small one bedroom on the 18th floor in central Santiago. The weather in Santiago was a blistering 30+ everyday and our condo had no AC. I never realized how much I needed a colder climate to sleep in until I had to sleep in this condo every night!

(The first picture is a building covered in vines, the second was a cute little yellow house that I loved and the third is a view from the rooftop of our building)

Going to Chile, we anticipated some challenges with the language barrier but we quickly realized this was going to be much more challenging than we expected. Chile is known to have it’s own Chilean Spanish “slang” or dialect and different generations have variations of this slang. Chileans also speak ridiculously fast, making it next to impossible to understand what was going on. Also, almost no one speaks English in Chile. Jesse and I would get by with hand signals or “charades”. Google translate was also a life saver! If you don’t have this app, I highly recommend downloading it! It was reliving to find out people from Spain and Venezuela also couldn’t understand Chileans ( and they speak Spanish). We did learn some Spanish though! We found it pretty ironic that Chileans wear shirts with English sayings on them and listen to English music, however don’t understand the meaning of them.

 

(we were very lucky to meet such friendly and personable people. Even those who didn’t speak English would take the extra time to try and have a conversation with us)

Jesse and I were shocked with the Chilean food. Most commonly we saw pizza or hamburgers and fries (and not the Canadian hamburgers we’re accustomed to). We also saw this popular drink with corn and peach juice that Chileans seemed to love, I couldn’t get myself to try it. I couldn’t believe how carb loaded and unhealthy everything was. We also seen people drinking pop everywhere, all the time. Chileans eat very little to no vegetables which made it challenging for us to find some. They also hate to use spices. The food was very bland. Salt was the only spice commonly used, it was also difficult for us to find spices anywhere. For these reasons we decided to hit up grocery stores and make most meals at our condo. This is a much healthier and cost effective option. We tried to eat as healthy as possible with a few cheat days here and there.

Santiago had some of the most beautiful architecture I have ever seen. From cobblestone streets, churches, houses and government buildings, you are sure to find some pretty impressive structures. It’s very easy to walk around and get lost in the different “barrias” (neighbourhoods).

 

Chile has an interesting history. Just over 20 years ago Chile had a dictatorship. In 1973, the Chilean military overthrew the government. The new government abolished civil liberties and dissolved the national congress. Political opponents were persecuted or killed, many fled the county. Over 3,000 people were executed or made to disappear, thousands had to go into exile, universities and work centers were intervened or put under surveillanceChileans witnessed a large-scale repression. The dictatorship lasted until 1990. In the 70’s and 80’s during the dictatorship, the “Chicago boys” (a group of men studying at the University of Chicago) came to Chile for an economic experiment. They had 3 main objectives: economic liberalization, privatization of state-owned companies, and stabilization of inflation. The strategies implemented from the group made Chile one of the richest countries in Latin America.

We wanted to maintain some level of fitness during this trip (Thailand was a free for all and we both gained some extra weight), so we decided to try something different and joined a crossfit gym. We met an instructor who spoke English and we were sold. Over the month we learnt a lot from crossfit and made some good friends from the gym. It was nice to do workouts that were different than the traditional weight lifting were used to. We also checked out our instructors crossfit competition which was pretty incredible. We tried pool crossfit which was an incredible workout!

Santiago is such a big city but they do an amazing job at having lots of big beautiful parks. We would always walk around and find more parks to explore. We visited Cerro San Cristobal which is a big hill in the middle of the city that offers beautiful panoramic views. Santiago sits in a valley surrounded by high mountains. We also visited Cerro Santa Lucia, this is the park most commonly visited by tourists. When your in this park you completely forget your in the middle of a city with 7 million people.
The pollution in Santiago was really bad. It’s unfortunate that such a beautiful city had so much pollution.

(Cerro San Cristobal)
(Cerro Santa Lucia)

For anyone who knows me, you know I love red wine. Of course we had to do at least one wine tour during this trip! I had recommendations to check out Vina Cousina Macul, one of Santiago’s oldest wineries. The winery was founded in 1856 and still remains in the ownership of the original family. The vineyard is located right in the hear of Santiago, beside the mountains which creates a favorable environment for the vines. In the spring and summer, the snow melts from the andes which provides ample fresh water for vineyard irrigation. The soil is rich and is well suited for the production of high quality grapes. We had an english tour guide who took us around the property and then we sampled 6 different types of wines and cheeses to accompany them! This was an amazing experience! I loved seeing the authentic structures and learning the history behind the winery.

We went to explore the Andes Mountains – Cajon Del Maipo. It’s a great spot in the mountains just outside of Santiago. The drive took us ~ 2 hours to get to Embalse El Yeso. This is a reservoir that can hold 250,000.000 m3. The turquoise blue water and beautiful mountain landscape make this place a must see near Santiago. The area is pretty far from everything, so make sure to pack some water and snacks! Some other people brought kayaks and stand up paddle boards and went on the water! After we spent a few hours here, we made our way to hunt for some hot springs deeper into the mountains. We weren’t sure our little chevy van would make it down the dirt roads, but believe it or not, it pulled through. After driving ~40 min down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere we made it to the Termas de Colina. There was a guy at the gate who charged 16,000 pesos ( which we thought was expensive) but whatever, we made it all that way. Initially the hot springs looked pretty disgusting but we settled in and they ended up being pretty nice. There were quite a lot of Chilean’s there, everyone was very nice!
There are a ton of activities for everyone in the mountains. They offer bungee jumping, zip lining, horseback riding, guided tours into the mountains, hiking, biking, white water rafting, camping, alpine hiking and I’m sure there’s more!

(Embalse El Yeso)
(Termas De Colinas and exploring the Andes)

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Stayed tuned for part 2 and 3 of Chile! Sand boarding, incredible hot springs, hiking a volcano, and more!

2 thoughts on “Chile: Santiago

  1. That was nice to read! What a great trip! Nice to meet you guys! //the other gringos!

    Like

    1. Thank you!! It was nice meeting you guys too!

      Like

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