Our first week here has flown by!
Santiago could be mistaken for any other European city with its over population, busy streets and pollution. The Spanish influence is evident in the architecture and people. However, we are surprised by the range of skin tone, from very fair to your more sterptypical Latin American, with dark hair and dark skin! We are regularly told that Santiago isn’t a great city and that Valparaiso, on the coast, is more cultured and Buenos Aries is a better capital.
We are shocked by the obesity problem here. It is a massive epidemic and was completely unexpected. Their diets are heavily meat based with the majority of food having high levels of sugar. From sight, the obesity problem seems to be as big as that in Britain, if not bigger. It is unbelievable how much sugar is consumed each day, and if the food isn’t sugary it is salty.
The American influence is abundant yet surprising. It links back to the American backed military coup in 1973. There are a lot of Western influences with people skate boarding, band tee shirts like rammstien and iron maiden and a liberal feel to many parts of the city. Something that has been explained to us is that people feel a need to fit in and conform. Due to the recent political unrest, Pinochet’s regien ended in 1990, there is a deep scare upon Chilean society. There is an underlying fear of speaking up and out against the norm, against the system.
We have had a tremendous response to our couch surfing requests and are in high demand. We have been surprised by people’s generosity, openness, pride and keenness to allow us into their life and show off their city. We have found ourself in the flat of two photographers who have art and cool things at every turn.
We have had multiple conversations about politics and culture and spoke with someone who knows more about British politics than we do. We plan to spend more time in Santiago continuing to getting to know and understand Chile’s culture and history, before traveling to Valpariso, then South to the mountains.