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Published: January 5th 2010
From the roof of our building
So I have been in Santiago for a week now and it feels like I have been here forever. I absolutely LOVE this city and have had no problem adjusting, making friends, and figuring out how to get around.
New Years Eve was really fantastic. I went with my flatmate to a party at the language school where I started classes today. It is all of a half a block from my apartment, so very convenient. Plus the owner is a couchsurfer, so what more can you ask for! We partied with some other students and couchsurfers and then came to my building to watch the fireworks from the Terrace on the 19th floor! We have an absolutely beautiful view from both the apartment and from the terrace where the pool is and I am found most hours just sitting on the porch or by the pool staring at the beautiful mountains.
So the rest of the weekend most of the shops were closed because of the holiday, so my flatmate and I adjusted accordingly and spent the majority of our time by the pool or hanging out. He is a brilliant cook and so I
The city at night
have enjoyed hanging out with him and sampling some of his specialties. I hope that I will be able to convince him to let me cook some of the time. haha.
Rita and Andrew arrived safely on Saturday. We are all very close to one another, merely a 5 min walk. So we met up and walked around the area a bit. It is always so nice to see familiar faces in an unfamiliar place. I had received lots of emails from couchsurfers and people that I met at the NYE party that there was a party at a typical dive bar. So I grabbed Rita, Andrew and some other MBA exchange students to meet up with the other couchsurfers for what ended up being a very entertaining evening. The bar we went to, La Piojera is in an area that I wouldn't exactly call nice, but this bar was worth every bit of the trip. It was your typical dirty, crazy, local dive bar. The walls were covered in writing and posted signs and the place was packed full of people, drinking, singing, playing guitar and yelling. We all ordered a drink called the Terremoto (Earthquake) which consists
of cheap white wine, pineapple ice cream and a shot of liquor (they told us not to worry about what kind liquor it was). Wow, what a powerful concoction! I was happy that I heeded everyone's advice only to have ONE of these drinks, I think two and I might have fell over on the floor right there (which is what a lot of people in the bar were in fact doing). Overall, this was quite an experience and I believe we will be returning very soon to La Piojera (which means 'fleas'). The party moved across town to one of the guys apartments where we continued until very late in the morning observing some interesting antics.
Needless to say, on Sunday I was feeling like a truck hit me. I woke up late and went to grab a lomita sandwich with Rita. This is a local treat that consists of the local round flat bread, piled high with marinated pork slices, mounds of avocado, sauerkraut, tomatoes, and mayo (which i graciously declined). All together it was a beast of a sandwich and I only made it through half, but it was definitely a good choice for a hangover.
Feeling much better, Rita and I met up with Ale and Paul who own the language school, and some other MBA kids to go hike up San Cristobal which is the "hill" next to the area where I live. From what we had heard this sounded like more of a stroll than a hike, but with extreme temperatures and an intense sun, it was quite the adventure. We hiked for about an hour up the trails and through a beautiful park. Then we took the rest of the climb on the road up to the statue of the Virgin on the top of the hill. Up there, it quickly became tourist land, so we opted for a beer garden at the top overlooking the beautiful view of Santiago and the mountains. It is a huge city, 6 million people, and it was quite impressive to see from above. We took the cop out on the way down and rode the funicular car back to the Bellavista neighborhood. I was exhausted and without any proper tennis shoes (they didn't make the bag) I was ready to give my poor feet a rest. We took a stroll through the cute
Another couchsurfer and I
Bellavista area, which I love, and then walked down a long park back to Providencia, which is where I live.
Exhausted I got home ready to call it a night, but noticed an invite from some of the UNC MBA kids for a Peruvian dinner back in Bellavista. I figured it would be good to go out and meet everyone, so met up with Andrew and Rita for the trek back to Bellavista. Everyone that is doing exchange here is really nice and I have enjoyed getting to know them all so far. Lots more time for that over the next few weeks though.
So here we are, I had to actually get up this morning to attend my first language class. It went really well and my Spanish is improving very quickly. I am surprised at how much I remember. Hopefully I will graduate to Beginner 2 by the end of my 2 weeks of class. ha. Rita and I decided, since we had enough credits already, it was pointless for us to waste our time with both classes here, so we dropped one today. Therefore, I wont start my night classes at the University until tomorrow,
but we did go by to see the campus. It is really beautiful and the MBA building is brand spankin new, 10x better than ours t home. So we'll see how all of that goes.
I hope you all are well and enjoy these adventures. There will be some more fun weekend trips coming up, which we are all excited about! :-) Until then...chau.
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james st. james
i'm glad you've taken to santiago as well as you have. i also think it's a great city and it irked me to no end that many 'gringo' backpacker types think the city is crap, since it's not flashy and showy like buenos aires or rio, nor does it have colorful markets and downtrodden masses like the more northern countries. it's lowkey and quirky, like chileans themselves, who are reather lowkey and understated. piojo means lice (pulga means flea), but piojera means "a lice-infested place", ie, a dump. it's said that when one of chile's early 20th century presidents was brought there by a friend of his, he is said to have exclaimed "why did you bring me to this 'piojera'?", ha ha (a word of advise if you go back: watch your belongings, as many a purse or backpack has been snatched there from drunk or overly-relaxed foreigners. you will, no doubt, find your way around the city. the area around barrio brasil, avenida cummings, and barrio concha y toro (metro stop republica on line 1) has lots of restaurants, bars, and cafes. the lastarria area just east of cerro santa lucia (also known as bellas artes) is a nice quiet area with coffee shops and book stores. the area around plaza NuNoa (tildes on both N's) is another nice area for drinks. if you haven't already done so, i strongly recommend the pitchers of wine with fruit. red wine and strawberries is nice (called borgoNia) as is the white wine with chirimoya or white wine with peaches). for a nice chilean ice cream flavor try chirimoya alegre (chirimoya ice cream with orange sherbert mixed). though it's kinda cheesy, there is a nice revolving restaurant in the heart of providencia called 'giratorio' which is worth a visit. as you may or may not have noticed, chileans speak a unique dialect of spanish, with many new words and expressiones not used anywhere else. a very helpful and fun book is called "how to survive the chilean jungle: a gringo's guide to chilean spanish, vol. 2". it has a green cover and if it's still in print should be available at a book store on huerfanos (the e-w pedestrian street, between paseo ahumada and cerro santa lucia) or in lastarria. believe me, as a chilean living abroad, even i've found it useful. that's it. enjoy your time. chao pescao.