Here it finally is, my first blog entry. Everything has been so hectic in the great city of Santiago that I simply haven't had the time, or the strenght really, to do it.
I arrived in Santiago airport Friday morning after more than 24 hours of traveling. The airport was so hectic, filled with drug-sniffing dogs and people wanting me to ride in their cab. I quickly changed some US dollars to Chilean pesos and walked out of the airport where I was overwhelmed by the heat, the sounds, the smells and the sight of the Chilean Andes rising in the background. Welcome to Chile.
A busride, 10 metro stops and 10 minutes on foot later I found my friend Bárbara's apartment in Echeñique. I was greeted by her host brother Clemente who was visiting from Chiloé. I took a quick shower to wash off the long journey and then we went into the city to Bárbara's universidad to meet with her and her friends. We had some chelas (beers - they sell them by the litre here)and just talked and chilled. I did not understand half of what they said and my poor Spanish didn't do them much good, but luckily some of them knew English. They were all wonderful people, friendly, talktative and curious and we got along relly well! Bárbara, Clemente and I went home around 8pm, and while Bárbara cooked I took a nap. After dinner it was time to experience Barrio Bellavista by nighttime = see how to party Chilean style. It was CRAZY! People partying in the streets as well as in the bars and the clubs, girls shaking their hips like only latinos know how to, and beer and drinks flowing in a steady stream. Me gusta! Needless to say we didn't get much sleep that night.
The next couple days I just went exploring the city both on my own and with Bárbara and some of her friends. Santiago has so much to offer: parks, museums, shopping, dining, you name it. I am a little in love with this place.
Monday I had a bike city tour at 9.30am. It was a small group of myself, an American couple from San Diego, Paige and Dave, and an American woman from Chicago, Grace. We got along quickly, they were so nice! The bike tour was a big hit, we went some of the places that I'd already been but also we went to the Mercado Central - big open-air market - and a couple other cool places. When the tour ended we all decided to go out for lunch and then up Cerro San Cristobal which is a biiiiig hill in the middle of one of the world's biggest urban parks right in the heart of Santiago. At lunch I had my first pisco sour which is the national drink down here. It's limejuice with a kind of liquor called Pisco. It was good but strong!
The view from Cerro San Cristobal was amazing! Imagine a view of all of Santiago with the huge mountain peaks in the background. Wow wow wow. Paige and Dave had to leave quickly so Grace and I decided to walk down the hill. None of us had the appropriate shoes for that since it was very steep and some places muddy. It was a great experience though.
At night Grace, her husband Kyle and I went to a bar called La Piojera (= fleas nest). It was filthy and filled with inapproproatly drunk men but it had a charm to it with all the messages left on the walls. Grace and I had a terremoto (= earthquake) which is a drink made of whitewine with a scoop of pineapple ice cream and a local brand of Fernet. It was good but even stronger than the pisco. Two of those and you're good to go. We finally went to Plaza de Armas and had a completo for dinner. A completo is like a hot dog only it has tomatoes, cucumbers, salsa and mayonnaise on it. Sounds gross? It was delicious! It was getting late so we said out goodbyes and I went home to pack my stuff and get some sleep. Santiago, you have treated me oh so well, but it is time to move on. Next stop: Valparaíso.