The only thing I can really say is, wow.
Before coming to Chile, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I have lived in Central America so I had some assumptions about what this trip would be, and boy was I wrong.
I thought I was walking into the doors of authentic food, some dancing in the street and as many amigos as I could fit in my heart. News Flash! Chile’s typical food is a hot-dog with tomatoes, avocado and mayonnaise piled on top, or an empanada stuffed with olives.
Dancing in the street? Yeah, more like dozens of beggars and homeless people clanking their cans for a few coins. And don’t get me started on the community of stray dogs. Seeing a bunch of hungry people or animals is not how I thought I would start my walk to school everyday, but here I am, giving all my coins to double amputees and elderly men with Parkinson’s.
The most amigos I have made here in Chile have not been Chileans. Apparently the foreigners have to stick together because the people of Chile are cold, and will rarely say anything if you ask them for simple directions. It has definitely not been the warm welcoming I was expecting.
One of my professors said in class that Chile is the strangest country to come to because it is unlike the rest of Latin America. The people of Chile have a dark past and not to mention their roots in the Mapuche (indigenous) culture. He said that the people here have just recently warmed up to making eye contact in the street. He also said that Chile is one of the safest countries in Latin America but the people are the most afraid and paranoid. So, it was nice to know I wasn’t creating all of this in my head.
Chile is a beautiful country, but the beauty is often overlooked after just a few days spent in Santiago. I have encountered several backpackers while going on tours into the mountains (which is the only place that feels like home), so I suggest if Chile is on your bucket list, avoid the cities and go straight for the nature, because Chile is undeniably worth it.