Saludos from Santiago, Chile!

Trip Start Aug 26, 2007
Trip End Jan 05, 2008

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Flag of Chile  ,
Tuesday, August 28, 2007

6,300 miles later and I'm now in the beautiful city of Santiago, Chile!
I arrived last night and words cannot describe how excited I am to be here. This trip is not just a site-seeing vacation, but also a journey of self-actualization, personal insight and discovery, blah blah blah. Lofty goals, I know, but for those of you that have read "The Alchemist," I'm like the boy in search of the Egyptian Pyramids, but hoping to find more. For those that haven't read The Alchemist, go read it! There are no shortcuts in this travel blog.

The Airport
Couldn't help but notice the big Customs' sign at the Santiago airport that points out that only 4 countries charge Chileans for entry into their territories (US, Canada, Australia and Mexico) and as a result their citizens have to pay a "reciprocity fee" when visiting Chile. Talk about eye for an eye! I happily paid my fee and proceeded to complete the required forms. It was the first time in 14 years that I completed a form that asked me for both of my surnames. That was exciting, considering I used to use both of my last names all the time circa 8th and 9th grade when I lived in the Dominican Republic. I completed my forms and headed for the hotel, so I could get some much needed sleep and start my journey!

My Hotel: Disclaimer from the Semi-Backpacker
I will come right out and say it. I'm staying at the Santiago Marriott for 2 nights and I love it! Now, if you are a backpacking purist, hear me out before you start writing me hate mail. I had free reward Marriott points and am staying here for free. Starting tomorrow, I will be staying at hostels that average $30 USD...lest you think I will miss out on communal bathrooms and bunk beds!!

Exploring Santiago by Car, Foot, and Teleférico
In typical semi-backpacking fashion, I passed up on the hotel's Santiago City Tour, which was out of my budget at $85 and instead opted for my own custom tour. Armed with my guidebook notes, I approached a taxi driver and he charged me the equivalent of $12 for an hour of his time, Chilean wit and funny stories included!  During the orientation of the city, Mario, the driver, explained all of the Metro stops I would need to take, so I could go back and explore the sites in more depth through out the day. It was a perfect way to make sure I only spent time visiting places I was really interested in, given that I'm only in Santiago for 1 day.

Mario took me to all of the requisite Santiago treasures, starting with Cerro de Santa Lucía, which he explained was the birthplace of Santiago after some battle in the 1500s. He also added that most neighboring South American countries still hold a grudge against Chile for this tiny matter of loosing all of their Pacific Coastline to Chile during said 16th Century battles. Especially, Bolivia, he pointed out, since they were left with no coastline at all! He threw in a few other tidbits, Chile, as it turns out, is an indigenous word that stands for "where the Earth ends." More to come on that later. 

We also stopped at Plaza de Armas, which is a guide book favorite, not sure why. I had limited interest for any site that did not include a majestic view of the Andes Mountains! As it turns out, I'm a bit obsessed with these mountains. Every time I looked over and saw them I was just gushing. I am dissapointed that my camera just cannot capture how grand they are. In person, they make the New Hampshire White Mountains look like rolling hills! And I LOVE the White Mountains, but there is no comparison. Other stops on this drive included Mercado Central and the Palacio de la Moneda. Incidentally, the Palacio de la Moneda had a strike, so I was advised against visiting. The temporary workers of the grape vineyards were marching and protesting for better wages and benefits, Mario explained before dropping me off at my favorite site: The Cerro of San Cristóbal.

San Cristóbal and the Teleférico
At this point in the morning, I started viewing my favorite site so far! There is much to tell, but the internet cafe is closing in a few minutes and I'm about to get the evil eye if I don't log off soon. In my next update, I will post pictures and comments regarding the breathtaking views from San Cristobal and the interesting people I met along the way! The teleférico (aerial tram) rides were also part of the adventure!  I will make my next post from my next secret destination. Here's a hint:

Lost in the forest, I broke off a dark twig
and lifted its whisper to my thirsty lips:
maybe it was the voice of the rain crying,
a cracked bell, or a torn heart.

Something from far off: it seemed
deep and secret to me, hidden by the earth,
a shout muffled by huge autumns,
by the moist half-open darkness of the leaves.

Wakening from the dreaming forest there, the hazel-sprig
sang under my tongue, its drifting fragrance
climbed up through my conscious mind

as if suddenly the roots I had left behind
cried out to me, the land I had lost with my childhood-
and I stopped, wounded by the wandering scent.
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laorfamily on

Great country
Chile is a favorite, nice people, good food, good beer and cheap.

Don't miss Torres del Paine while in Chile, you'd love it.

carolinaarico on

Traveling Judith
I think Samantha Brown just lost her job! I love these entries girl, keep 'em coming! Hope Buenos Aires more exciting adventures. I would love to try those Thermal Waters you mentioned.

bath mate on

Thank you for posting.
it is really useful for us.


semi-backpacker on

You're welcome!

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