I made it! After a ten hour flight out of JFK, I found myself standing in customs in Santiago, Chile. I left a 90 degree July day in Connecticut and found myself in the heart of a Chilean winter. After braving the long lines of customs and paying a reciprocity fee at the gate, they finally let me into the country! I got my bags and walked out of the airport to find myself face to face with an unseasonably cold and rainy Chilean winter. Goodbye sweet summer time!
(For the next week I will be spending my time in Chile’s capital, Santiago. Here I will participate in a training course to prepare myself to be an English teacher.)
After about a thirty minute shuttle ride I found myself at Hostelling International, the site where all the volunteers would be staying. I walked through the doors and immediately tried to put my terrible Spanish to use. The woman at the counter handed me an English Opens Doors folder and told me my room was not ready.
I turned around and was greeted by another girl (in Spanish). I stumbled around trying to communicate with her and soon found out she was another volunteer. (back to English..pheww). Since our rooms were not ready yet, we found the few other volunteers that had already arrived and decided to jump into exploring the city. There were five of us in all.
Map in hand a guy named Jake led the way. Looking around Santiago I was immediately reminded of the streets of Madrid, Spain. The European influences in Santiago are very prominent. The rain kept most of the Chileans inside, and we found ourselves alone (for the most part) on the streets. We made our way to La Moneda. Outside we found a few tourists and about thirty Chilean soldiers parading. It was quite the site! There was also a band playing music. We checked out what was going on then continued to tour.
Like I said we were basically alone on the streets, at least when it comes to humans. However, stray dogs were roaming around everywhere, and there were a lot of them! While in Berlin, a few months prior, I met a girl who had gone to Santiago. I asked her what she thought, and the only thing she said was, “There were a lot of dogs there.” Well she was right. Ha ha. They are everywhere! The Chileans have a very interesting interaction with them as well. Although many do not want to be bothered by the dogs, they often feed them and leave out water bowls. Some even dress them. There were a handful of strays in sweaters! As we continued walking, several dogs began to follow us. I was not sure what to think about this. I like dogs, but am not confident that strays can be trusted.
The city itself is very beautiful. There is a river running through it, and a park scattered with statues that sits along a large part of the city. The Andes mountains surround Santiago. Their massive peaks are breathtaking! Absolutely beautiful! I could tell right away that I was going to like this city.