El Gran Final de Sudamerica: Chile

Though very cliché to say, there is no where in the world like Chile. The landscape is magnificent and all-encompassing, the people are spirited yet stoic, and the air, though hazy, hums with castellano poético (poetic Spanish).

It all began here in this little, frigid bedroom. This religious hostel was my first, cold taste of Chile. / Todo empezó acá en esta habitación pequeña frígida. Este hostal religioso fue mi primer gusto frío de Chile (Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)

There are few places in the world where living at the foot of the Andes is not stupendous and awe-inspiring but suburban and where one can experience an emerging enterprise of post-isolation safely. In our globalizing world, keep a close eye on Chile. It is sure to enter a greater state of economic efflorescence.

Despite the delicious meals from my host families’ tables, my favorite lunch still was the ceviche and soup that I ate in the famous Mercado Central. / Aunque las comidas deliciosas de las mesas de mis familias anfitrionas, mi almuerzo favorito era el ceviche y la sopa que yo comí en el Mercado Central famoso todavía. (Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)

Besides an emerging economy (one of South America’s best), Chile boasts a strong spirit and national pride. Geographic diversity and bewitching customs constitute Chile’s unique, cultural heritage along with a tragic history of conquest, both ancient and recent. However, with student protests appearing commonly and the presidential election approaching – Chile is sure to be changing despite its rather stagnant past.

Good work, U. Católica! I hope that next time there is better weather and a different score. You lost the game, but you gained a fan, if it’s any consolation./ ¡Buen trabajo U. Católica! Yo espero que haga mejor tiempo y haya un marcador diferente el próximo tiempo. Tú perdiste el juego pero obtuviste un aficionado, si te sirve de consuelo. (Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)

One eerie quality that looms over Chilean society (at least where I was) is its socio-economic division. As a result of my moving, I witnessed this in all parts of the city, rich and poor. Gates, walls, and barbed wire solve all the world’s problems I suppose. This social schism was additionally noticed by another exchange student whose testimony was published in the local newspaper. I thought this was funny because before being handed the article to read, I was just explained to that the wide spread, social protests were all meaningless by the most well off of my host families. The irony was lost in translation and perspective.

Though I wasn’t able to touch the barren Atacama sands or smell the frigid air of Tierra del Fuego, Santiago has been more than enough to entice my sense of wonder. The day trip to Viña del Mar and Valparaíso didn’t hurt my experience though. Metropolitan but modest, depending on where you go, the capital is one of South America’s urban gems, though, opaque as a result of smog.

Catholicism is still alive in Chile. Nevertheless, the church and the people are changing. I suppose for the better. But it’s not bad or good, just different. AFS taught me that./
Catolicismo está viviendo en Chile todavía. Sin embargo, la iglesia y la gente están cambiando. Yo supongo por el mejor. Pero no lo es bueno o malo, sólo diferente. AFS me enseñó eso. (Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)

Plus, as a result of my host family hopping, I do feel that I did see multiple perspectives of the city and country. Through the eyes of the youth to the aged, I was able to understand multiple angles of this masterpiece known as Chile and improve my Spanish as well (I hope I translated these snippets correctly).

One of my favorite features about Chile is how it not some súper, exotic destination. Sure, not everyone knows about this country, and it is less popular than Argentina, its rival if you will, but it remains modest. Chile doesn’t try to be anything it is not. Nevertheless, it’s a different culture – artistically cosmopolitan, passionately voiced, and tastefully stern. They have saved the best for last at ‘el fin del mundo’.

There are more adventures to have, more lands to see, and new people to meet. Stay tuned – we have more places to go! But for now – AFS, ¡Gracias por traerme acá! y ¡Chavela Chile! Nosotros nos encontaremos otra vez. ¿Cachai?