Santiago is soooo expensive to get to. We have been wanting to visit since my sister in law moved here with her family three years ago, but plane tickets from Houston rarely dip below $1000. So, when we first started planning our South American adventure we made sure to include Santiago in our plans. We never planned to fly here since it is so ridiculously expensive. We were going to go by land from Ecuador through Peru and slowly make our way down, but we can never seem to stick to plans. Anyway, we finally made it and we have been enjoying the family all week.
I never had cousins my age to play with, so its such a treat for me to watch my kids grow up with so many cousins. With six boys here between us, our days have to be planned carefully. In Houston, just about all of the cousins are girls, but Israel’s sister has three boys close in age to our little ones. With four boys here between the ages of 3-6 the house is noisy, lively, and fun. Since we live so far apart this is only the second time the kids have gotten to spend time with each other, but they have been playing together like lifelong friends. I love hearing the kids’ Spanish skills improving each day, since that is the language of their play.
Chile fascinates me, obviously I have an interest in Latin America, but for some reason, Chile is different. I first became interested in this country after taking a modern Latin American history class in college. The country has an interesting and dark recent history which is marked by their own September 11 tragedy during the American backed coup and resulting brutal Pinochet dictatorship. Despite all of this recent historical turmoil, Chile is a prospering first world country. The capital of Santiago is a bustling, modern city with plenty of places to spend disposable income. High end shopping malls are packed full of consumers and are found throughout the city. Upper and middle class neighborhoods are akin to those you might see in the U.S. or Europe. All of these aspects along with the long, warm summer days have me in culture shock and feeling a bit disoriented.
Coming here has not abated my curiosity about the country, but has piqued it even more. I have some questions that I’m trying to learn the answers to while I’m here. The first one I think I have an answer to: Why is it so expensive to fly here? That’s not only because it is so far, but because everything is expensive here. Prices for groceries, housing, gasoline, and goods are more expensive than in Houston and much of the U.S. The next questions are a bit more difficult to answer: Why is this a first world country when everywhere else in Latin America seems to struggle economically? Chile is not the only Latin American country with a vast wealth of resources, so why are they prospering where other countries are flailing? Where does all the Chilean wealth come from? What makes Chile so different than other Latin American countries? Feel free to chime in if you have any ideas! I’m looking forward to my search for answers.
We have spent our time here enjoying family with lazy days by the pool, taking kid friendly outings to parks, the movies, and downtown.We have visited Quinta Normal park, which is a large city park close to the center of Santiago. We climbed the Cerro Santa Lucia, a hill in the center of the city with excellent views of the entire city. We strolled through the Plaza de Armas, the city’s central plaza. We visited the Mercado Central. We tried an interesting drink called Mote con huesillo that is sold in street stands everywhere here. We took a day trip to Valparaiso, an almost charming seaside city with some great and not so great graffiti. We still haven’t seen many of the sights that I’d like to, but we plan to return to Santiago after touring more of the country.