Wednesday, August 28, 2013

El Quisco

Anna and I were recently invited to an overnight house party at the beach, in a little town directly west of Santiago called El Quisco. The house was just a couple of blocks up from the ocean and it was a great chance for us to socialize with some Chileans and fellow foreigners, and to practice a little Spanish. We had a great time chatting with people and sipping a variety of flavored pisco, a liqueur produced in Peru and Chile, with some debate over which country it originates from.

Pisco Sour, the citrusy national drink of Peru and Chile. Also available in other fun flavors, like mango, pineapple and lucuma!
El Quisco is a pretty typical small coastal town. In a lot of ways it reminded me of Southern California, with its palm trees and rocky beaches and lots of stucco and red-tile houses.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Santiago de Chile: First Impressions

The view of Santiago from Cerro Santa Lucia
It's amazing how much you can learn about a place in only a month, and how much your perspective can change in such a short amount of time. Coming to Santiago, Chile is like nothing I've ever done before; it's completely different from my experience of first arriving in Japan. In 2010 I arrived in Japan with so much knowledge about the culture, the language, the customs... of course, I still had a great deal to learn, but as I took in my new surroundings, I found so many things that I recognized from Japanese classes and books and movies.

In Chile, everything feels new to me. There's so little here that I recognize that everyday feels like an adventure. The first couple weeks especially so, when I was settling in and exploring the city and trying to understand what Chilean culture is. People would recommend things to me and say, "Oh, you have to try this, it's so Chilean!" and I would be completely mystified as to what made it unique to Chile.

The Terremoto, or "earthquake", a drink consisting of cheap wine, cheap liqueur and cheap ice cream. It's basically a nasty hangover in a plastic cup. For reasons yet unknown to me, it's meant to be "very Chilean".
But after a month in, I'm starting to put some of the puzzle pieces together. It's a slow process, but now I'm beginning to understand when someone says something is "Chilean." Here are some of my first impressions about the city and the culture: