Chile Part I – March 23 to April 3
Santiago de Chile and Immersion
Santiago – Diego’s wedding
I arrived into Santiago Thursday evening, just in time to go out with Diego and his friends for his bachelor party. It really is awesome meeting such local people and experiencing their lives with them! This wasn’t anything too different than what you might expect in the states.
Come Friday, we there was plenty of wedding prep to be done. I was trying to let them do their own thing, and fortunately Diego was almost exactly the same size as me, so it was easy enough to just borrow one of his suits to wear to the wedding! Later that evening, I went to a couple of parties with a really fun and kind woman I had met (platonically) in Ilha Grande a couple months before. She was from here and invited me out to meet friends and go to a couple really fun parties. Mane, I can’t thank you enough!
The wedding day has arrived. One major difference I noticed right away is that the wedding ceremony wasn’t starting until 7pm. We get ready and head to the church after plenty of prep and worry about the big day! Diego is the last of his siblings to get married, so his mom was so excited and nervous about the big day. Down here, it’s traditional to live with your parents until you are married, so she was also sad her last child was moving out!
One thing I must reiterate, I can’t even put into words how humbled and appreciative I am for the way Diego and his family treated me. I’ve only met him a couple of times before, but they put me up in their house, feed me, put me in the front row of the wedding with his family, include me in the photos and make sure I’m having fun at the reception. Again, just because I can’t say it enough, thank you so much for how you treated me on one of the most important days of your life. It truly is an experience I will never forget.
The wedding went perfectly. The church was stunning, both Trini (his now wife) and Diego looked great and incredibly happy. The reception was a blast with lost of fun people and the food was awesome! I can’t imagine a thing they would have wanted to go differently.
santiago, immersion and relaxing
The day after the wedding, Diego and his new wife took off to the US for their Honeymoon. I was taking another week or immersion classes with Ecela in Santiago, and with this being closer to city center, I thought of it as a better idea to stay at a hostel that was closer and had more to do around it. I stayed at Hostal Providencia, one of the biggest hostels I’ve ever been to (can sleep more than 200 people, and it was full, even now in the off season). I really did have a good time here. There was a fun bar area that kept busy in the evenings, plenty of good food and other places to go out near the hostel, and the amenities were pretty good for the most part. I’d certainly recommend staying there to anyone passing through!
I also completed another week of immersion with the Ecela location here in Santiago. I believe this was their original location. After taking another week here, I’d definitely recommend this school to anyone interested in immersion. They’re flexible, have fun activities and great teachers. Granted they’re not perfect, but I would give them a very solid 4 out of 5 stars. If you’re looking for a very solid choice of a school, this would be a good bet. During this week I met a 17 year old guy that has a Chilean grandmother. I guess he’s the 4th or 5th person in his family to come down and study Chilean Spanish at this specific school. I also met 4 members of our Airforce that were down here improving their Spanish. It absolutely seems to have a good reputation.
During this week and during the following weekend I took it pretty easy. I walked around the city and saw some sites, made sure I got some good sleep and had fun meeting various people in the hostel from all over the world. You can see me in front of their “White House” to the left and San Cristobal here on the right. San Cristobal is located at the top of a steep hill towards the center of the city and really offers some amazing city-scape views (see below).
One other thing that has really hit me here is, as with previous countries, the cost. The food and drinks here are quite expensive. Comparable, if not more-so, than Buenos Aires, so that’s certainly something I’d keep in mind if you choose to visit!
Similar to Argentina, Chile went through a period of a military government from 1977-1990. Many aspects of this were the same as Argentina, with the government kidnapping, torturing and killing nearly 40,000 civilians that chose to speak out against this rule of government. The museum in Santiago was quite different than the one in Buenos Aires. Here it was an actual museum that was designed to walk you through the events. The craziest thing here was all of the color photos and videos you could watch recounting the events. There were also interviews with people describing how they were tortured, among other things. It was very difficult to make it through, but I also heavily believe it’s worth the trip if you’re down here. It may be an ugly past, but it’s important not to forget.
Tomorrow morning I have a flight to catch to Patagonia, so some of the most intense, pristine and beautiful landscapes in the world, here I come! Stay tuned!