Every country has its own unique blend of characteristics that add up in a different way, creating an overall experience that is like nowhere else on Earth. Chile is a great example, so here are five aspects of this country that really made me enjoy my time here.
1. The Varied Landscapes
Chile is a long and skinny country, shaped like the pepper that shares its name. Along this long ribbon of land there are so many different ecosystems, from deserts to mountains to beaches. It’s amazing to see how the landscapes change as you travel down the country.
We arrived in Chile via the surreal and beautiful Salar de Uyuni in Southern Bolivia and as we crossed the border we entered the Atacama Desert, which is the driest place on earth and has been a desert for at least three million years. Our journey took us through the majestic snowcapped Andes, along the rugged coastline and the green vineyards of Central Chile. It was winter so we did not continue further south than Santiago, but if we had we would have seen channels, fjords and the rugged waters off Cape Horn.
2. The Cheap and Fantastic Wine
Back home buying Chilean red wine offers great value and decent quality, but travelling right to the source was even better, because wine from some of the best Chilean vineyards was available everywhere and very affordable. We could find a pretty nice bottle of wine for only around $3 and if we splurged a little more than that we were drinking the good stuff. Oh my god did we ever drink a lot of wine in Chile…
3. The Fun Loving Attitude
I also love the way that the people in Chile know how to relax and have a good time, whether it is hosting a big barbeque with all of their friends and family or dancing until the early hours of the morning.
Chileans love to party and the fun doesn’t stop until long after the sun has come up. A typical night out in Chile starts with pre-drinking at home and most people don’t head out to the bars until 1 or 2am. The dancing and music carries on until 4 or 5am and then you might head to an after party until 6 or 7am.
4. The Ridiculously Good Food
Speaking of barbeques…Chilean food is another reason why I enjoyed my time here so much. It’s the perfect blend of traditional Spanish, Chilean Indigenous and other European influences. We were lucky enough to experience a cooking course in Valparaiso where we got to make our own empanadas, machas a la parmesana, pebre and paila marina.
We also attended our fair share of barbeques where our plates were heaped with steak, chorizo, chicken, potatoes, salad and other wonderful things. You’ll also find the “completo,” which is a hot dog piled high with chopped tomatoes, mayonnaise, sauerkraut and avocado. Be prepared to gain a few pounds when you visit Chile – the food is too delicious to miss out on.
5. Art is an Integral Part of Life
Another aspect of life in Chile I really enjoyed is the way art is alive and thriving and is regarded as such an important part of life. The streets of Valparaiso and Santiago are alive with bright and colourful murals on almost every wall and surface and there are so many independent art galleries to discover.
Chile’s contributions to the world of literature include iconic poet Pablo Neruda and contemporary novelist Isabel Allende. Live music can be found everywhere, ranging from traditional Chilean tunes as well as rock and metal. Many of the Chileans I spoke to on my travels were musicians, artists or creative types who were passionate about expressing themselves – if you are the artsy type you will fit in just fine here.
These are just a few of the reasons why I loved the time we spent in Chile. Have you been to this South American country? Let us know about your travel experiences in the comments!