Week two in Santiago brought new acquaintances, a new (to me) religion, and lots of color on the coast! Also ample time with Pareans, and I am so grateful for them.
- Santiago is credit card friendly, so not a lot of cash needed. BUT they ask for your signature and passport number every time you use it. Also, you have to choose ‘sin cuotas’ or ‘con cuotas’, with or without a pay program. Even for purchases of small amounts, you can choose to pay all at once or over time.
- Santiago is a sinking city and also very prone to earthquakes. Apparently one has already happened since we’ve been here.
- Fun fact: There’s often an option to get food ‘Italiano’ style. This does NOT mean it is Italian, but rather has the colors of the Italian flag (green, white, and red). Tomato, guacamole, mayonnaise.
- The main resource of Chile has historically been pink gold, or copper. Ironically, they sell most of it to China to manufacture. However, the copper will eventually run out so the country has had to find another resource they can sell. The solution? Renewable energy
- Chilean efforts towards preserving the environment:
- Chile produces a rapidly increasing amount of solar, wind, and geothermal energy. Their long coastal and vest desert geography helps. 60% of the energy it takes to run the Santiago metro system is renewable! For now the energy is used to power Chile, but they hope to produce enough to sell to others.
- Plastic bags are also banned
- Separated recycling is everywhere. WOOT! (and we even have compost in WeWork!)
- In Vina del Mar, they’ve switched their sidewalk lanterns to downward facing street lights to cut down on light pollution, and not interfere with migrating birds who think it’s a different city
- Santiago is +1 hours from EST. I think my favorite part about being back with my office’s hours is being on the same schedule as the locals. It makes it really feel like I’m living here when I go to the gym, to work, and out of work at the same time as everyone else. ALSO, Parea is back on the same schedule so I’ve gotten to see more of people.
- Learned a little bit about the Baha’i religion this week after visiting one of their temples. Basically it’s all about unity, unity of God (the almighty creator of the universe), of religion, and of humanity. Follows the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh (1817–1892) and wasn’t established until 1863.
- All about Valparaiso, Chile (the coastal town we visited this weekend):
- Former port city for Europeans travelling by ship to the US west coast (pre-Panama Canal), thus lots of European influence in the architecture and life
- Historically set itself apart from Chile, and consequently was left out of the development of the rest of the country. Only more recently modernizing, due in large part to tourists.
- Part of the beautification was allowing street art EVERYWHERE. Never been in such a covered city. And honestly without the art, it definitely would have been a pretty drab place.
- Series of rolling hills with houses covering them, people joke women from Valparaiso have the best legs.
- In an effort to be more inclusive, universities in Chile have started using gender neutral nouns. For example, amigo and amigo are usually used to refer to friends (o for boy, a for girl). However, this is gender binary and those who don’t identify as either don’t have a word to use. Thus, they have started to use amige. Same with todos/todas, now can use todes to generally describe a group of all people. Love this.
- VERY IMP’T: This week I learned that Latin Americans and Mexicans are taught there are 5 or 6 continents, not 7!! Mexican claimed 6 (Americas all one), Chilean claimed 5 (Antarctica not one). My mind is bloowwwwnn. If you Google in Spanish ‘how many continents are there?’ you don’t get 7. Personal opinion: I’m not opposed to having one ‘America’. Also, this is why in Spanish you can’t say ‘soy Americana’ because then you could be from anywhere in North or South America. I have to say ‘soy estadounidense’.
Week in Review:
- Gym, work, meal prep, writing…on the (literal) bright side, it was 80 degrees and sunny!
- Took a trip out to Templo Bahá’í de Sudamérica, about 40 minutes via metro and Uber from the city center, in the foothills of the Andes.
- Santiago’s metro system? Really clean and modern! Not what I was expecting. Only a $1 per ride, too.
- The temple was really cool architecturally and there was zero noise pollution in the area (partly because the grounds were all a silent zone). Been a while since I’ve been in a place so quiet.
- Side note: after 4 months in Asia and I find myself back at a temple?! Saw enough of those didn’t I?
- Took an Uber ride back to the station and struck up a conversation in Spanish (!!!!) with the driver. We expressed that we were hungry and he rerouted us to the ‘best food in La Reina’. It was a subpar restaurant but John and I were so satisfied to have successfully used our small amount of Español.
- These little adventures are my favorite.
- Impromptu movie night at the mansion: 40 yr old virgin. I forgot how crazy funny that movie is.
- Grab gelato (helado) after work with some Pareans, do a little shopping, and hang in for the night.
- Definitely hitting the gas pedal on the Spanish. Squeezing in lessons on my phone between work.
- Empanada dinner with one of my uncle’s students, Maria Teresa (MT). This is now the third connection this year that he’s made for me and I have LOVED every single one.
- MT is a sweet lady who works in the university’s nutrition department. She now does administrative stuff but was previously a part of numerous cool studies. For example, she helped write, test, and publish nutrition books for children in Argentina and Northern Chile to help educate them on the importance of eating well. She spoke of the obesity problems facing Chileans today, somewhat similar to what the US sees.
- I will share more tidbits I learned from her about Chile, but yeah, so SO cool. Could have talked to her longer. I am so lucky to reap the benefits of my Uncle’s long career in education. MT and he haven’t seen each other in 30 years!! How does he do it?!
- Finished the night watching a Patriots win with mansion-mates who do nothing but shit on the Pats.
- Normal day, took a lunch break to Santiago’s Central Market where I was summoned into multiple restaurants and nearly gagged at the smell of all the seafood
- Much needed night in of nothing
- RY Track event this month was to the coastal town of Valparaiso. Only one event was offered so all of Parea got to be together!
- First stop was at a sweets store on the side of the highway with, more excitingly, LLAMAS.
- Second was the flower clock of Vina del Mar, the twin city of our final destination. The clock was made for the World Cup when Chile hosted in 1962. Not good for much but a picture.
- Take subway to Valparaiso for a walking tour of the colorful town with RY friends/vendor. The guides were great, both gender equality activists so I enjoyed picking their brain
- The tour itself was really cool, lots of photo-ops. Winds us up and down and through the center city and main tourist/Instagram spots. Another example of a place where social media has done (some) good in bringing money to a place that needed it.
- Took one of many funiculars from the port area up into the hills.
- This city is unlike any other I’ve ever been too, seriously so much paint. Definitely has hippie vibes, too, with lots of artists and musicians roaming the streets. Live music everywhere.
- Lunch at El Internado and dinner/drinks with the group at Inquilino. Note: It was 50 degrees which felt verrrry cold. But otherwise a great day!
- Spent the night in Valparaiso at an AirBnb for 10 of us. Good times.
- Slow morning for all due to previous night’s activities. Brunch at ‘Good Morning Valparaiso’, noteworthy mostly because it is owned by a guy from Boston and his wife. Small world! Great food, too.
- Take a long walk through the city on my own, no destination in particular but it was cool to see just how vast the art spread and what the non-touristy parts looked like. Lots of dogs roaming the streets (and dog poop that I stepped in the day before).
- Treacherous ride home to Santiago. Red flag #1: Driver was 40 minutes late. #2: He took us on a windy, dirt mountain road out of the city, unlike the one we had come in on. #3: He stopped a couple times and asked locals which direction to Santiago (uuhhhh dude, that’s your job). #4, the worst: he took a turn up the WRONG direction of an off ramp and proceeded to do a three-point turn in the middle of the freeway……..ya, nothing feels as hopeless as being perpendicular to the road, oh and then stalling, in the middle of a highway. Luckily it was quiet enough. I mean seriously, I was terrified, so much screaming. #5: Almost rear-ended a car, if it weren’t for a hard stop, coming back into the city
- Friendly reminder that I’ve put my life in the hands of several strangers this year..eeekk.
- Final Four celebration with Parea. Our program leader reached out to our loved ones and had them write letters to us all. We took turn reading each other’s letters aloud. It was nice, kinda intense, some tears, but cool to get to know Parea’s real-life people.
The Final Four celebration (honoring our last 4 months) was a wake-up call in a sense. Four months is a long time, but damn, thinking about this program ending is kind of intimidating. Everyone is starting to make post-Remote Year plans, including myself, while also trying to soak in all that we still can. I am just happy and grateful.
Looking forward to this week and a really cool side trip! Salud!