I know, I know. Each country in Latin America has its own special uniqueness. But I have to admit that having traveled through Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia in the last 9 months, Chile (well, Santiago) is quite a different beast!
Here are some brief observations from my first 2 days back in Santiago:
- It is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more expensive. Some things are even up there with Aussie prices – and that’s not a good thing!
- The people are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more difficult to understand. I’ve pretty much understood 100% of what people have said to me over the past 9 months without even trying. In Chile, I reckon I’m running at about 80% – and that’s with me really focusing and listening hard!
- The prevalence of smoking amongst the population is orders of magnitude higher than in other countries
- The footpaths (in Santiago at least) are lovely and wide 🙂
- Trees and grass that you are allowed to walk on!
- Public displays of affection … everywhere … all the time. I’d forgotten the romance
- You can flush toilet paper!
- Most of the movies at the cinema are subtitled, not dubbed 🙂
- Although the markets are still brilliant by Australian standards, they don’t have the diversity of produce that other Latin American countries have (leaving Cuba out of the equation for the moment). In fact, the best produce market I saw in the last 9 months was the San Pedro market in Cusco … though its diversity is perhaps partly because of the tourist trade…
- You get fast walkers as well as slow walkers (everywhere else in Latin America there are only slow walkers). The trick is to follow in the slipstream of the fast walkers and not get trapped behind the slow walkers
- Consumerism everywhere. Many of the shops would not be out of place in central Melbourne or Sydney.