Thursday, September 4, 2008

It's Santiago, Baby!

I'd like to take just a moment to say hi to my fellow bloggers who are dropping by today from Blog around the world. Welcome! Please pull up a chair, or grab some space over on the couch and get comfortable.

My maid should be by in a moment or two if you would like to try a Pisco Sour. It's the national drink here. It's not too strong, and it has the right combination of sweet and sour.

For my pregnant friends, I do have some lemonade. And for those of us (note, I say us ) who cannot make it through the day without a Coke beverage, I have some stashed in the fridge. Now because I have guests today, I went ahead and made some ice. As a friendly reminder, I should warn you that the rest of your stay here in Chile shall be for the most part, "ice free". For some reason or another, they are not big on ice.

My name is Leslie and I will be your waitress, flight attendant, nurse, hostess for today. Yes, sometimes I still get confused. I've worn many hats. For now, I am a stay at home mommy to two rambunctious kids. I am also an overly devoted Air Force wife to DH. He's camera shy, so you won't catch pictures of him here. In fact, he's just plain shy. Which is why he left the building when I told him you all were coming. He really is a nice guy though. And that's why I stick around. Oh, and he cooks too. (But I digress.)

Let's dig right in, shall we? Chile is the longest country in the world. It stretches roughly 2700 miles from tip to tip. That's about the same distance from San Francisco to New York.

The city of Santiago is nestled at the foothills of the Andes mountains. We are located just a short 25 miles to the nearest skiing. Home to 1/3 of the entire population of Chile, we have close to 6 million people here!

{Do you see the tan building just above the terra cotta colored roof at the bottom of the picture? This is the hotel we stayed in for 61 days. Really.}


There is a terrific resort that I am just itching to get to. It's called Valle Nevado. With fantastic tour packages, discount half day tickets, as well as off season pricing, one just can't go wrong. I see a trip here in the very near future for my family. Especially since I have never been skiing in my life.



Now if you might be thinking that it's hot here, it isn't! Here in Santiago, we are coming to the end of our winter. It's reversed from the United States. Winter is from June until August, with temperatures rarely dipping below 32 degrees, and staying mainly in the 40's and 50's. The summer months are from December through February. I have yet to experience a hot Christmas, but they tell me that the temps range from 80 degrees on up to 90.

Santiago also has an incredible walking tour that takes you up to the top of Cerro San Cristobal, which is the highest point in the city. Once you arrive, you will have the most incredible panoramic views of the city. There are two swimming pools up on the hill that open during summer, and a variety of gift shops and stops along the way to grab a snack and a beverage. If walking isn't your thing, there is also a funicular, or cable car ride. Be on the lookout for the car that took Pope John Paul II up the hill back in 1987.

Close by, is the Mercado Central. This steel constructed building was actually made in England before being brought over to Santiago. It is an amazing and busy market place with an abundance of fresh produce and a seemingly endless supply of seafood sliced and diced before your eyes. It doesn't get any fresher than this. You must try the restaurants in the middle of the market, they are fabulous!

Being that you are now in the center of town, you must swing by the Plaza de Armas, a large square surrounded by historical buildings that date back to the 1540's. You might see painters selling their artwork along the walk as you pass by. And without a doubt there will be a variety of young people (and some not so young) dancing, singing or performing flips from the shoulders of a partner in hopes of a tip from the onlookers. Some consider this place the heart of Santiago. Take a stroll, soak it up, and enjoy!


There are many beautiful things to appreciate about this city. On your way to investigate, you might want to hop on the metro (our subway system). It's very fast, quiet, surprisingly clean, and extremely cheap! You can get from one side of town to the other in a matter of minutes. I wouldn't go during rush hours, because that is when the bulk of the people are trying to get to or from work. And I promise you, you will get to know your neighbors up close and personal.

If you are a shopper like myself, then I must share a little gem with you. The Bellavista neighborhood is one you must see. This quaint old residential neighborhood has colorfully painted homes up and down it's tree lined streets. Some of the homes have been transformed into cafes, shoppes, restaurants or bars. Here you can find many of the local art shops, crafts, clothing, and the lovely Lapis lazuli a brilliant blue stone, which is made into a variety of jewelry pieces here in Chile. Along the way, you will want to stop at the former home of Pablo Neruda. He is Chile's Nobel Prize winning poet.

A few of the things that are on my to do list in the coming months are to hit up a couple of museums: The Museo Interactivo Mirador, which was recommended to us as being a great place for the family and kids. And the National Museum of Natural History. (Kids under 8 are free, and so are military personnel. Need I say more? I'm all about a good deal here.) I also want to take a dip in this little pool. And in case you didn't want to click on the link, the pool has made it into the Guinness book of world records. Pretty cool! When the weather warms up of course. Here is the actual website for San Alfonso del Mar.

Since I previously mentioned shopping, I wanted to add a word about the malls. Santiago has some rather impressive shopping malls. Our anchor department stores here are called Falabella, Ripley, and Paris. I would have to say that they are pretty first class, as far as shopping goes. You won't be disappointed.

So, in case you are wondering, some things here are cheap. MOST are not. And that includes our gas prices. At 660 pesos per liter, that works out to about 4.99 a gallon. (given an exchange rate of 500 pesos for the dollar) The dollar does fluctuate, so some days are better than others. Since I've been here (arrived June 15) I've seen the dollar go down to 490 pesos, and all the way up to 521. It hoovers around the 500 mark.


Now, on to some things that most likely won't be in your travel guide.

~The milk comes in a box. It's not refrigerated until after you open it. It tastes weird.

~It's perfectly acceptable to chain your dog up inside the grocery store while you shop. And though acceptable, it's annoying to hear said dog barking throughout your entire trip.

~In certain malls you must pay 150 pesos (about 30 cents) to use the bathroom.

~Don't forget to grab the funky coin they give you to pass through the turn style.


~You must also note that you should grab some toilet paper from the ONE dispenser on the wall before entering. Not all bathrooms are like this, so pay attention.

~If you use a public restroom near the street, you will actually have to pay more for #2. There is an attendant there, and they will hand you toilet paper depending on how much you pay.

~ They serve alcohol in Pizza Hut. (that's pretty cool) If you happen to stop in on Father's day, they will give you free Pisco Sours!

~ Pizza Hut in Santiago uses breakable dishware. Real glasses and ceramic plates. No plastic. It's like fine dining. Maybe this is why it costs so much to eat there.

~ Toys are insanely overpriced. I don't recommend buying any.

~Products such as ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, tomato sauce, and jelly all come in a bag. Which doesn't make for good storage does it?

~ They have a problem with strays. It's kind of heartbreaking to see it, but there are dogs all over the city.

~ Apartments here are called departementos.

~ People will run you over. And by that, I mean run into you, on foot, with a shopping cart, with a bag, they don't care. Just get out of the way. Don't block aisles, you will get hit. (yes, I've been hit)

~ People don't really have a "personal space" thing here like they do in the states. They will get all up on you. I'm not kidding.

~ There is no "right of way" here. It's all about me. Whoever me happens to be. And that goes for cars, bikes, motorcycles, and foot traffic. Don't assume someone will stop for you, they won't.

~ If you speak Spanish already, you will be confused when you get here. I promise. Santiaguinos have their own language complete with a large vocabulary of made up English/Spanish words and uncountable slang words that make my Spanish speaking English as a second language husband dizzy.

~ Trying to dial a number here takes a PhD. You first have to figure out if you are dialing land to land, land to cell, cell to cell, or cell to land. There are numbers you must dial first, sometimes and only if you are dialing a cell. None if you are dialing land to land, and then sometimes if someone has a funky cell number. I still can't explain it. And they gave me a laminated card to teach me how. I obviously do not have a PhD. So I haven't figured it out yet. I'd call to ask for help, ah but you see my dilemma

~ The grocery stores here have the largest and most extensive seafood section that I've ever seen in my life.

~ Some people stand at certain intersections and work for tips. They juggle, and do cheerleader type stunts while you wait at the light.

And there you have it. I'm certain that after I hit publish, I'm going to think of 5 more things I forgot to tell you. But you kind of get the picture. It's different. And it's my job as an Air Force wife stationed abroad to appreciate what this country has to offer.

Thanks for stopping by. Please visit me any time, and feel free to ask any questions or post a comment. I'll be sure to answer! Take care~

Ciao~ (Oh yeah, there's another one. They don't say Adios here. It's always Ciao~)

post signature

76 comments:

Debbie said...

That was fabulous!!! I learned so much and was so excited to hear about it. Thanks for all the pictures and everything. Fun, fun fun!

Shannon said...

Wow! What a great tour, thanks! I love this whole BATW thing!
Moving to a foreign country... I don't think I could do it! But kudos to you, it sounds like an awesome adventure :)

kiki6363 said...

Caio Baby!
Great post! Yep, you are teaching us so much on our tour!!! he he he

Great pics and I am still up to read your post here at my house rather than in the morning at work! lol!!!

I love ya Sis!
Have a super day and I will check back later!

Love ya
~Me

Julie said...

Hello from Hungary... we are both spotlighted today! So many of the things are similar... like milk in a box, but I am used to it, ha ha

Thanks for the tour!!!
julie

JourneytoFamily said...

Great post! I loved learning more about Chile! I don't think they're big on ice in drinks anywhere in Latin America.

Fun learning about all the differences!

I'd have trouble with the milk in a box thing... ewwwww

American in Norway said...

Found you from BATW... Super post. Like hearing about your experience in Chile...

We don't get Ice over here either... it must be an American thing...

Melisa said...

Wow! I'm visiting via BATW from Illinois and this was a very fascinating post! Thanks so much for the tour. Good luck on getting that phone thing figured out! :)

(and your kids are ADORABLE!!!)

Patti said...

Thanks for such a great tour! Im here from Texas. I'd be broke if I had to pay 30 cents to go to the bathroom! hahaha

Thanks for the ice, I couldnt have a drink without it! hahaha

Veggie Mom said...

Thanks so much for the tour! I've been to Chile before, but now I feel like I know it even better! In fact, I went to the Northern Chilean Desert AND the ski resort Portillo, all in one trip! Portillo is so high I got altitude sickness, and threw up all over the pretty snow. Thanks so much for hosting us today--isn't BATW wonderful?

Becky Welch said...

great tour! I am an Air Force child - never got to leave the country though. Thanks for letting us stop by!

CaraBee said...

Thanks for all of the interesting information about Chile! Those mountains are so beautiful, I can't imagine looking out at those everyday. Unrefrigerated milk? Eww.

Chelle said...

Wow! I loved learning all of those neat facts about Chile. Sounds fun!! And the drink looks sooo yummy!
Maybe one day my hubby can get orders there? I think I am ready for another overseas tour...

Tiffany said...

Hello! Saw you at BATW! I'm lovin your blog! Thanks for the giggles!

Indiana Angel said...

Visiting from BATW. Wonderful!!! I loved reading so many interesting things about Chile. Thank you for sharing.

Lauren W said...

What a great introduction! I'm so jealous! It sounds wonderful :)
My husband just joined the AF. Any tips?

Melissa Lester said...

I want to swim in that pool too! It sounds like you have the best of everything with beaches and mountains, sun and snow. Thanks for the tour! It sounds like you are a wonderfully supportive wife, and what a great education for your kids to see the world!

Jimmie said...

A fascinating glimpse into your lives. :-)

More for #2? That's hilarious! Do they check? Do you pay before or after, I mean, what if you're not sure? :-)

Dawn said...

Great post!! I really learned a lot and enjoyed the tour!!

Susan said...

Congrats on your BATW spotlight! I learned so much today. You did a great job featuring your home away from home and sharing some interesting tidbits.
Loved it!

Tara said...

Fabulous post! I loved to learn all about Chile. Thanks for hosting us on BATW!

Elena said...

So fun to learn about! And so neat that you get to experience it first hand. Thank you for sharing with BATW today.

Z's Mom said...

What a great opportunity for you and your family to get to experience a totally different culture. Thanks for sharing today! That was a great tour!

That pool is GINORMOUS!!!!

Frizzy and Bird said...

As a former AF wife, I would love to hear more about how you got stationed there. I loved all that you shared with us. Thank you.

Keeper of the Skies Wife said...

Hello from Arkansas! That was great! What is it with having to pay for TP.
Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed.

Tamie said...

isn't caio the italian way of saying good-bye? just asking (not that i know either language....)
that was a fun post and it was great to stop by your place again...never been to chile...and don't soeak much spanish (i'm sure much less than you do...)
lots of fun!

~Trish~ said...

Hi from Kansas!! What a great blog, thanks for all the info!!!

Ashley said...

Hey Leslie! This was a fabulous tour! My husband is from Colombia. I have visited once and many things sound very familiar! I am going back for Christmas so this time I'll be blogging about all these things. I'm going to subscribe to your blog now to continue reading about your life in Chile! Great blog!

Steph said...

Hi from FL! that was really an interesting post!...but do you LIKE living there?? how long will you be there? I thought I was brave moving from MD to FL!

Rene said...

Wow! Great tour!! I was lost in rural Southern Mexico on the language front -- I don't even want to think about down there! At least they still say Adios and that one I know!! Well...actually they prefer Hasta Luego -- they don't like to say goodbye but rather see you later. I kind of like that thinking myself! So...see ya later gator!!

Bobbie said...

That was very interesting... makes me thankful for my cold milk in the fridge!

Ronnica said...

Thanks for the welcome to Chile. A lot of those things remind me of my adventures overseas. I could never get over the unrefridgerated milk thing. Especially when bread has zero preservatives and would go stale if you cut it 30 minutes before you ate it!

TheMama said...

Wow, talk about a world away!

Happy BATW day!

Rene said...

Leslie -- I was just going through the thank yous I hadn't been able to get out until now due to hubby's cancer diagnosis taking over my life and I realized that you left a very sweet comment on my site last week. Thank you so much!!

Our Crazy Happy Family said...

Greetings from North Carolina! Thanks for the tour!

Caution Flag said...

That was a post worth reading. Great to meet you, Leslie. Here in Detroit, we don't say, "Ciao." We just glare and walk away!

oº˚ Anissa ˚ºo said...

Enjoyed reading your post and looking at the pictures. Coming from BATW (Louisiana).

Kat said...

I am just so fascinated with all of you Americans living abroad. But hubby does not have a job that would lend itself to that.

How long will you be stationed there?

Joy in the Burbs... said...

Leslie: I'm saying hello from Texas via BATW...What a great blog. Thanks for all the details on Chile. You have a beautiful family. Best of luck down there
Joy

Joy in the Burbs... said...

oops. I meant to tell you I love your background. One of the prettiest I've seen.
:)
Joy

Shell said...

Hi Leslie. Coming in from BATW. One of my best friends is named Leslie. Makes me like you even more. Santiago looks like a lovely city. Thanks for all the great info on Chile. Ketchup in a bag! Wow. Your two kids are adorable. Ciao.

Mamasphere said...

Leslie- what a great post! I learned a ton about Chile, and I thought I knew quite a bit.

Elizabeth said...

Aren't we all loving this BATW!? This was so interesting and very well written! I am a geography teacher and I'm loving everything I learn!

Nichole said...

So interesting. Thanks for sharing :o)

Susie said...

Greetings from Wisconsin! I hope that you are enjoying your day in the sun at BATW. I have enjoyed visiting you here in Chile. I love to learn about different places around the world. Thanks for the drink:-)

Jen said...

Ok that was an awesome post. I am so glad that I took that trip over here.
I also love how you have 'quote of the day' from your kids in your side bar. What an awesome idea.

Kerry said...

Thank you so much for letting us visit you today from BATW! I grew up an Air Force Brat and loved it! We only got to live abroad once, but it was a neat experience! Your stories and great! Thank you so much! and Enjoy your journey!

sassy stephanie said...

Yippity yep...I'm ready to visit. Leave the light on.

THopgood said...

Well, Now I'm thinking I'm gonna have to visit Chile some day. Thanks for the tour! Fantastic post!

Steph said...

hey leslie! thanks for stopping by my blog! I'm in Bradenton...near the gulf

Caitlin said...

That was really cool! It's always neat to learn about a different country!

Love ya,
Caitlin :)

Caitlin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly said...

Fascinating!!! I had NO idea that Chile was the longest country...Santiago has a beautiful skyline framed by the mountains - Incredible!! Thanks for allowing us a peek into your life!!

Jen - Balancing beauty and bedlam said...

We studied Chile a bit last year with the kiddos, but hearing about the "real thing" is so much better. Thanks for the tour. You deserve a raise!

Aubrey said...

Gorgeous! Not only your kids but Chile too!

I'll take one, wait...two Pisco Sours. Thank you and the tour was great!

greedygrace said...

So cool! Thanks for the tour!

~~tonya~~ said...

Stopping in for a brief visit from Louisiana via BATW. Thanks for the great tour of Chile. I didn't realize how long the country is until your description. Love the pictures and all the general information. TFS!!

LaDonna said...

Thanks for the great tour. Looks like a great place to live.

Lynda said...

Greetings from Texas and BATW. What a GREAT tour you gave us and the photos are beautiful!

chellekay said...

that was a great post! Thanks for letting me visit I had a blast!

Rela Pantaleon-Manigsaca said...

Hi Leslie!

Life in Santiago, Chile sounds like Manila, Philippines where I come from. (no snow though, of course)!

Anyhow, I've recently noticed a lot of Chilean imports here in the US. I thought how great that the Chilean government and businessmen were able to break into the US market.

I love me some Chilean seafood and grapes! Meanwhile, you are doing a great job in appreciating your host country, different or difficult it may be!

Circling back from TX!

Brian and Staci said...

So sorry for my tardiness..Ms.Oklahoma here! Wow! What a GREAT post! You did an awesome job...I so want to visit Santiago...except, will you make sure you have ice...I LOVE ice! Beautfiul blog! Nice to met ya!

HeathahLee said...

I love learning new stuff about places...I had no idea Chile was that long. Thank you for the tour...This was a great post!

Jennifer said...

Fantastic! You have added Santiago to my world vacation list. Thanks for the tour.

Ashley said...

Wow! That is awesome! My husband is from Manizales - so I've been to Bogota and Manizales. Just once though. This will be my second time and first time as 'wife'. I'm really wanting to make a trip to Cartagena during one of our future trips to visit.

sassy stephanie said...

The book you ask? Oh my friend, I devoured it. I am on to number 2!

Julie said...

Greetings from Virginia - I'm here from BATW. What a great post - I learned so much. And the mountains - amazing!

Caitlin said...

Hey!

Here is the page where you can see the two Twilight Trailers and some other videos too!

You might have to highlight it and then put in the address bar to see it.

http://www.bordersmedia.com/twilight/?cmpid=SL_20080828_REW#video

Enjoy!

Toodles
-Caitlin :)

Lady Dorothy said...

Wow, I learned so much about Chile! We are all just getting so educated with our BATW!

That personal space thing -- are they the odd ones or are we? Seems like so many countries don't even know what that is! Are we the only ones in the world that need it?

JourneytoFamily said...

Oh man... I started reading book 1 on Sunday, and I've been up until 4am every night (or morning). Just finished book 4 today! You'll be glad you got all of them at once! :)

Kerry said...

Hi Leslie,

Yes, I just finished Twilight this morning. I am going to go and get book 2 today and read it. I would have read it a lot faster if I could have stayed up late to read it. Unfortunately, I have to go to work everyday! :-) Thank you for visiting my blog!

Lisa said...

Your blogger background reminds me of scrapbook paper!

I'm not sure how I got to your blog, but I very much enjoyed reading about Chile. I feel like I just a real life account of life in Chile- how interesting.

And I want to visit that pool too! How very cool.

How long will your Chile Tour of duty be?

Gramma 2 Many said...

Am a couple of days late in checking in. Just returned from a super fast trip to Eastern Montana. I find all that you told us so interesting. We really do have it easy here in the U.S. Don't we?
Thanks for the tour. Really enjoyed it.

Tracy P. said...

Yikes, I missed the flight! Glad I caught up with you though--awesome post!

Briana said...

Wow, that was so interesting to read about!! Especially about the 'all about me' thing! Wow!! Coming by from BATW!

VIVIANA MILAM said...

wow!!! im so impress, your blog is awesome...!!
congratulations leslie, incredible work...!!! would you recommend our network in santiago ?
and lets talk about parnetship....youre a very talented writer...!!!


sincerely.

Viv & Ariell
www.expatsinchile.com

Michelle said...

Great post! What an amazing experience.