10 Quirks of Life in Santiago de Chile

So I recently posted a list of 23 things to love about Santiago de Chile  (read it here). Those in the know may have noticed a few glaring omissions from the list, and that’s because … there are things about Chile that I didn’t love so much. I’ve called them quirks of life and, well I’ll explain below. 

1.         The Extranjería: the place you go to wait in long lines and grovel before dismissive government officials who enjoy telling you you need to do even more trámites (tasks) before they will consider giving you your visa. The process was extremely long and involved lots of money, and waiting, and going back and forth to the bank and the SII and the Policía and the Extranjería and other places I don’t even know the name of. I only got my visa a couple of months before I left the country.

And a word of warning here: if you try to leave the country at any point before the whole visa application process is completed, make sure you take ALL your paperwork with you to show the border officials, or you will be in a world of trouble.

It’s a long winding road through the Andes to cross the border to Argentina. I assume all those cars got through to the other side. I did not, because I left behind a little piece of paper. My bus continued on without me and I had to hitch hike to get home.

2.         PDAs. Come on guys. I know you all live with your parents but that’s why they invented Hoteles de Paso (you can guess what this means, right?). Leave your conduct in parks and on public transport G-rated please…

This is a tame example.

3.         Pastel de choclo. The savoury meat with sugar on top just didn’t do it for me.

4.         Mote con huesillo: kind of weird. It would be alright if they took the massive peach stone out.

Mote con huesillo – I’m not even drinking it, because that’s a spoon.

5.         Mayonesa: once you’ve had a couple of completos piled high with this stuff you kind of hit the limit.

This is an Italiano (tomate-palta-mayonesa). Add sauerkraut and you have the completo. And as if that isn’t enough condiments, you can then add ketchup, mustard and aji chileno.

Ok, I’ll admit the palta is great.

6.         Terremotos (earthquakes): I’m talking about the drink here, although the real thing is also not good. There is something just not right about drinking a litre of bitter alcohol mixed with pineapple sorbet.

I’m smiling because I haven’t tasted my terremoto yet. This photo is taken at La Piojera which is, by the way, the only place to try your terremotos and have a traditional Chilean meal.

7.         The banks that were only open 9-2 Mon-Fri. They were always so crowded with people cashing their cheques and paying their bills.

8.       The city’s poor drainage system. When it did rain the streets would be absolutely flooded.

9.       Men shouting ‘Que linda linda linda’ in your face everywhere you go. Ok, not everywhere. But kind of often.

10.       Chileans’ loose relationship with the clock. I hate to make generalisations, but it seemed like they were never on time and nobody cared. Waiting was a way of life.

Don’t worry, I still love you Chile.


To cheer us up, here is a song I love just because it has been stuck in my head all week and I can’t imagine writing a blog post to which it will ever actually be relevant:

Saint Lo by Washington



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