Lo que voy a extrañar de Santiago

Santiago, te voy a extrañar.

I came to this country barely being able to tell about myself in the native language. During the first couple of weeks, I desperately listened to the people around me, understanding maybe 5%. I wished that everyone could start speaking French and I could finally be able to communicate. On my first Saturday here, we went to a party on the rooftop (27th floor!) of our apartment, and I was ecstatic when I met some guy from Lyon. We chatted in French for a while, and then I smiled and tried to string together awkward Spanish sentences for the locals.

Now, everything has changed. Spanish has become a part of my life and being, and I for sure don’t want to let it go anytime soon.

Here’s the thing about Santiago: yes, it may be the fifth largest city in South America, and literally the “New York” of Chile, but barely anyone speaks English. Some level of Spanish is practically mandatory to be able to live sanely here. Forbes calls it the “most underrated city in South America”, mentioning its metropolitan exterior that covers hidden treasures. This is true. There are not many classically pretty buildings and architecture tourists marvel at in the European capitals. But, there is a certain charm. Beyond the skyscrapers and houses, there are the beautiful, timeless, inviting Andes.

The view from our rooftop! 🙂

With the constant looming white mountaintops, Santiago makes me feel like Grenoble had done. Yes, I am in a modern city with little in terms of exotic architecture, but it is energetic and constantly changing. There is something magical and even majestic about the snowy tops against the backdrop of the pink and magenta tones of sky. They take my breath away everytime, and my roommates chuckle as I say “Mira, las montagnas!” everytime they come towering into view from a new viewpoint.

Anyway, what will I miss about Santiago, and Chile in general? Here’s a short list.

1. The fruit and the jugos naturales. You can go to any cafe or restaraunt in Santiago, even some ‘fast-food’ place, and I guarantee you it will have freshly squeezed juice from one of these fruits. There is always a variety – chiromoya, guyaba, papaya, you name it!

But I have to admit I often chose the juego de frambuesa. It is actually quite surprising since they don’t even sell raspberries in the supermarkets in the winter (our summer!) but the juice is as fresco as it can be!

Plus, these things are super cheap. You can get a guyaba milkshake for 1,000 pesos, which is about $1.5 USD. And 1,000 peso empanadas! With meat and egg and everything! It’s like Christmas, except it only happens in South America.

2. Espagnol chileno. Yes, I never imagined I would say it, but I will miss the Spanish language being constantly spoken everywhere. Though, to be specific, the Chilean Spanish! There is a certain intonation and inflection in the words and sentences that Chileans use that is very aesthetic-sounding to my ears. And, I will most definitely miss the classic Chilean-isms such as “Que bueeeena” (Awesome), “Sipo” (Yeah), “Es bakan!” (It’s excellent/cool!).

3. This view every morning, evening, afternoon:

Disclaimer: When not too much smog  🙂

4. The CRAAAAZY partidos de fútbol! The crowd is loco, in a good way, I tell you, and it’s so great! 🙂 We bought the cheapest tickets, for the section where no one, literally no one, sits down at any point in the game (even if nothing is going on) – everyone is busy jumping and singing in support of their team (Bernardo O’Higgins in our case, the team of a local university).

Cheering on a local university club team in Rancagua, 100 km South of Santiago

5. Mis nuevos amigos! It is easy to make friends anywhere in Chile. The first Sunday Kelly ’15, James ’15, and I were in Tocapilla, we made friends with a group of locals and watched the Copa America final with them. The next weekend, we went to hang out with some of our neighbours on the roof of our apartment in Santiago, and all of them where eager to talk to us and welcome us (though of course it may be a bit because we look like tourists :-)). But throughout the 7 weeks here, we have made friends here from all over the world… the most lovely friends from Venezuela, Argentina, Mexico, Russia, Dominican Republic and Brazil. So many adventures and conversations that have really given us a new outlook on this culture, from so many perspectives. From nights out salsa dancing until late night hours to hitchhiking from football games to cooking a Venezualan dish called arepas with one of my new friends Ana (who is just wonderful, by the way) to singing late-night Sin Bandera songs on guitar in our apartment, I will cherish and miss every moment…

My new lovely friends from Venezuela, Chile, Kazakhstan, and Chile (left to right) PC: Martin Andres Cabezas

6. Easy access to some of the world’s most incredible hiking spots. 

El Cerro Manquehue (1638 m)

El Cerro Pochoco (1882m)


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