Hola from Santiago! Super excited to be in South American for the first time, and maybe even more excited to be closer to EST. So far Chile is chilly, immediately regretted not bringing my sweaters from home BUT it’s spring time and only getting warmer.
This month, I’m living in a 15 bedroom mansion. It’s AWESOME. All the rooms have their own bathrooms, and we have one large kitchen and common area on the top floor. I say it’s awesome now but we’re also waiting on people to arrive, so maybe it’ll be a bit full later. It is located in the city center, right next to Saint Lucia Hill, one of the ‘must-sees’ of Santiago. The mansion is already a bit better than the Japan house because everyone has their own privacy; it kind of reminds me of a glorified dorm.
Our workspace this month is another WeWork. I’m sorry but they put all other coworking spaces (that we’ve been to) to shame. A private RY room, four floors, kitchens, free flow beer every day at 5pm. This one is located inside a mall with a food court, so literally everything we need is here. And the WeWork is under 10 minutes from the mansion.
Things to Note:
- First thing I noticed when arriving was ‘wow, a lot of Chilean flags everywhere’. I later found out that’s because I arrived
at the end of September and that is their national month. BUT they are very proud of their country overall.
- On that note, they’re also very proud of their national anthem and everyone in the country is required to learn it. It was originally 7 minutes long, it’s now 3 minutes long. Fun fact: FIFA (soccer administration) has a limit on how long they play an anthem before a game and Chile’s exceeds that limit. So before games, the anthem cuts halfway through and the crowd continues to sing the rest of it really loudly, without the music. Look up a video, super cool!
- SPANISH! I have never taken Spanish, so I really gotta step up my game for the next 4 months. Very few people here speak English, and I have to work on my confused look when people speak to me because apparently looking like a deer in the headlights is not enough. At the gym one morning, this guy went on for three minutes explaining an exercise for me to try instead of what I was doing. I nodded along and then felt embarrassed that I couldn’t try it because I didn’t understand a single thing.
- Chile speaks ‘the worst Spanish in the world’ apparently, because they incorporate a lot of slang. We got to learn a bit. One of my favorite ‘you don’t want to get that wrong’ is: Pito in Chile means ‘joint ‘(of weed/other), in Colombia it means ‘dick’ and in normal Spanish it means ‘whistle’. Another one, raja in other places means ‘crack/ass crack’ and here means ‘cool’.
- THRIFT SHOPPING! I love a good thrift store, and this country has so many. We were told Chileans are big into recycling clothes, but yeah, the thrift stores are no joke. Quality clothing, pretty clean, and reasonable prices (~$5/item). This came in handy when I landed to a climate I did not expect.
- Back in the land of diehard soccer fans. Our Experience Manager was very excited to boast that Chile beat Argentina to win the Copa America recently. They have a local league with 16 teams, including Universidad de Catolica who we went to watch. But yeah, there are always games on TV.
- We can drink the tap water here! Though it tastes meh. Also hot water on demand is nice.
- The currency is the Chilean peso. $1 is ~716 pesos sooo not exactly easy to calculate back and forth. Interestingly, Chile has one of the most stable economies in South America. Prices for a meal are around 5-6 USD, instead of the 2 we got used to in Asia.
- Fun fact: Chilean 100 peso coins look and feel a lot like 1 Euro coins, so much so that they work in vending machines in Europe. 100 Chilean pesos is 0.13 Euros, so stock up here if you’re headed to Europe later!
- PROTEST! In 2006, there was a large student protest called Marchas de Los Pinguinos that resulted in actual policy change meeting most of their demands. Because of its success, protests are now very common in Chile, covering issues from feminism to rights for indigenous people. On Sunday, we were privy to a march right outside our apartment at 11am. Nothing says wake the heck up like drumming and horns against a pension fund administration.
Week in Review
- 6 hour flight from Boston to Panama, followed by a 5 hour flight from Panama to Santiago
- Took a shared shuttle to the accommodations, would recommend the service minus the driver that nearly induced me with motion sickness with all his stop and go.
- Jump right into work at the new workspace.
- Get a gym membership and go grocery shopping, aka normal first day things
- Gym, work (woohoo back on a normal schedule!)
- Long walk around the city and see almost every ‘must-do’ listed on Google for Santiago. Yeah, there aren’t a ton of attractions.
- Plaza de Armes, a giant square, is pretty cool. Filled with an almost equal amount of locals and security guards/police. Lol.
- Find my favorite thrift store by accident and buy peanut butter, a must.
- Wine Wednesday hosted at the mansion. So nice to (almost) have all of Parea back together after being scattered last month.
- Nothing special, took another long walk and did more thrift shopping. Seriously, there is a strip of four right next door to each other. ‘Nostalgic’ is a good one.
- Dinner and chats with mansion-mates. Ya, I can get used to this.
- First night out on the town. Celebrate having Parea getting back together with a gathering at the mansion and a trip to Club 57.
- Latin American clubs are already a million times better than Asian ones, I’ll leave it at that.
- Slow start followed by a long walk on my own. I seriously love just walking with a destination but no route so I can take any random turn I fancy.
- Wound through the Bellavista Neighborhood to San Cristobal Hill. You have basically not visited Santiago until you have hiked the hill sooooo check! Absolutely beautiful day.
- At the top of the hill, try ‘mote con huesillo’, a traditional drink made with barley, a dried peach, and LOTS of sugar. Not my favorite.
- Dinner out with other Remotes in a #treatyoself fashion. Place is called Bocanariz, 10/10 would recommend. So good we all got dessert.
- Finish the night sipping sangria with Pareans on the street
- Lazy morning in the mansion, abruptly riled up by the protest coming down our street. Discover rooftop access from which we could watch.
- Climb Cerro Santa Lucia, rewarded with another beautiful day and view. Weather definitely has a factor on how much a like a place, and so far I’m digging it here.
- Attend a Universidad Catolica soccer game at Estadio San Carlos de Apoquindo. It was THE MOST BEAUTIFUL stadium I’ve ever been to because of the insane backdrop of the Andes mountains. It was also smaller and more intimate.
- Universidad Catolica is the top Chilean club this year and the favorite of our Experience Manager, they won 5-0, tons of fun. As with any other country, the fans were great, lots of energy and constant chanting.
Santiago is not the most unique or exciting, but I am enjoying it and Chile has SOO much to offer. Looking forward to the next 4 weeks!