Cityhopping in Chile: Santiago, Valparaíso AND Huépil

After some island hopping in the Pacific we arrived at Santiago, the capital of Chile. It was sunbathing in the valley without any wind nor rain for the days we were there. Ergo: a dusty gaze filled the air which made it difficult to see the mountains surrounding the city. But when we asked the people here when they are able to see the mountains clearly they said “Only after rain. So only once or twice a year”. Promising…

We stayed in the city for about a week, but more because we were looking for a car instead of exploring the city. Nevertheless, the center has some nice areas to roam around between Plaza the Armas up until Bario Bellavista.   We stayed in Bario Brazil with Rodrigo, Soledad and their cat Ivi, people we ‘met’ through Airbnb. A very nice way to indulge more in the local community and learn/improve our Spanish!

So our first week looked like this:

  • Getting a Chilean taxnumber (took 1 visit to a ‘Notario’ and 3 visits to the administration office)

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  • Walked around in Santiago & went up on Cerro Santa Lucia
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  • Had our first Pastel de Choclo at a local market
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  • Visit car dealers and second hand car markets
  • Had our first completos ‘Italiano style’ with Rodrigo & Sole
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  • Visited ‘Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos’
  • Visited Valparaíso for the weekend

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Valparaíso is a nice town by the sea which is famous for its street art. We thought we had seen a lot of graffiti in Santiago, but Valparaíso topped that one easily. It is a nice place with many small bars & restaurants.
Important note: Céline had her best “Volcan de chocolate” (Moelleux) of the whole trip at Fauna, a nice restaurant with a great view over the town.

 

Did you know?

On 11 September 1973 the country changed for a lot of Chilean people. Pinochet and its army attacked the La Moneda Palace (= the office of the president), the current president committed ‘suicide’ (=the official story, many people think/say he was shot by the military), and Pinochet started his dictatorship which lasted 17 years. He captured and tortured thousands of Chilean people for being socialist or communist. Also about 3000 people were ‘missing’ during this period. If you wonder why so many Chilean people fled the country and started a new life somewhere else, this was often the reason. It basically was an extreme situation of the left vs right movement in Chile. This contrast was extremely visible at the end of the dictatorship, people had to vote YES or NO. YES = we want Pinochet longer in power. NO = we don’t want Pinochet anymore. The result of the nationwide vote: 55% of the people voted NO, while still about 44% voted YES … It literally shows the division between the people on this matter.

 

The second week in Chile, we found a car. Two other (Belgian!) travelers, Tom & Liesbeth, sold the car after their trip in South America. So in short it looked a bit like this:

  • We went to a mechanic to have the car checked: the mechanic approved the car but some parts needed to be replaced.
  • We bought the parts in Santiago, drove together to a small town Huépil where the sale could take place (the official car owner lives there).
  • In Huépil we’ve spent a whole day hustling paperwork to buy and register the car on our name. Thursday 24th of March we were the owner of our new car/house/shelter/closet/storage room/ … our everything in South America.
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Before we could hit the road, we have spent 3 days more with the family, Iza & Manuel + the kids: Carlos & Ricardo, in Huépil for Easter Weekend! Everything was closed for the weekend, so we wouldn’t find a mechanic anyway + it was nice to feel like home.

What did we do?

  • Talked a lot of Flemish! With the other Belgian couple of course, but Manuel could also speak Flemish (‘Antwaarps’ actually) and Iza could understand it.
  • Had a Chilean BBQ, a Polish traditional dish (Bigos), freshly baked waffles, Moules Frites, …
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  • We drunk a lot of Pisco Sour, beer and wine :-)
  • We went swimming by the river: you had the choice between a clean cold river and a bit more dirty warmer river… the cold one it was! The beers & grilled chicken afterwards tasted even better.
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  • We went to Parque Nacional Laguna del Laja: a volcanic parc with a big lake around the mountain.
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  • Benjamin & Tom helped Manuel one day as carpenters on one of his jobs. Céline & Lies made spaghetti bolognese & moules frites!
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  • We did the Easter tradition: chocolate eggs and also an ‘egg-ticking’ something: everybody has a hard-boiled egg and you tick your egg to the egg of the person next to you. Only 1 cracks, then the one with the intact egg continues to the next person… in the end the one with the intact egg will have the luck for one year. It wasn’t us, it was one of the kids. But we are already so lucky to being able to do this trip :-)
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  • We danced Merengue! How we actually did will be shown in a movie later on… maybe. Céline probably missed the “Gulden Eifeesten” at her hometown Kruishoutem and started the music here.
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  • We had our first Mate before we left.
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Did you know?

Mate: the thing Argentineans drink all day! Really all day! It is some kind of caffeine rich tea with very strict rules if you drink it in a group: There is 1 cup with a typical straw, the first drinks until it’s empty (usually several sips), then water is poured in the cup again and it goes to on the next who drinks. And so on and so on. If you say thanks after your turn, you will be skipped for the next rounds.

 

After Easter weekend we drove off, left the small town Huépil and drove off to the south to start our Road Trip in South America!
This baby is our car/bedroom/home/kitchen/… for the following months!

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See you soon!

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