Why You’ll Fall in Love with Santiago!
Santiago de Chile, that is. This was one of my first impromptu and very spontaneous trips. I was with my friend in New York City. It was the 2nd of January, 2014. One conversation led to the next, and before I could stop myself, I had just booked a flight ticket to Chile. I was going to Santiago, for 4 whole days. That was my very first trip to South America. In two days, I was on a flight to Santiago. And because of how impromptu it was, it wasn’t one of those trips I had researched in advance. I had absolutely no clue what to expect, and I think that excited me even more. I made sure to look up nothing other than the weather, and of course the hotel we were staying at. And there was nothing better than ditching dreadful NYC winter for warmer climates, even if only for a few days.
Chile was great. I landed in Santiago pretty early in the morning, and bought a visa on arrival for about $40, I think. And I think they said I could reuse it, but I don’t remember what the duration was. It’s been a while. I flew Copa airlines, and it was a very long flight, as I transited through Panama City. The entire flight took around 18 hours, I think. I stayed at the glorious W Santiago, which was just perfect and had the most stunning views of the city. It was in a very nice neighborhood that had everything I needed within a walking distance – fantastic restaurants, supermarkets, Starbucks, a mall, really nice bars, amazingly beautiful parks, and more. Moving around was relatively easy. I did a lot of walking, but they had a good train network, and then the cabs were pretty decently priced too.
The Chileans are very warm people. Everyone smiled at me. I wandered around a lot! I’d just pick up my camera, and walk away from the hotel and just walk for two to three hours. And everywhere I stopped, everyone was nice. There was the obvious language barrier – they speak Spanish – but it didn’t matter. I managed to get by with my few words here and there of Spanish, and a lot of hang gestures lol. I also didn’t see a lot of black people; which probably explains why a lot of people kept staring at me. But they didn’t stare in a ‘make you uncomfortable’ kind of way. It was more stares of fascination. One time a child was crying so hard, and as soon as she set her eyes on me she stopped. Her parents had been trying to shut her up for a long time. Imagine the effect my skin color had on her, haha! I also had braids in, which seemed to fascinate a lot of people. They actually came to touch my hair a few times. Many people assumed I was Brazilian. Of course when, I told them I was Nigerian, some people hadn’t even heard of it. But many had. And they all had football references once I said Nigeria [most of which I had no clue about, lol].
Why did I fall in love with Santiago? I don’t know. Maybe it was the perfect weather – warm in the day, relatively cool at night. Perfection. Maybe it was the people, everyone was extremely friendly. By the day I was leaving, I had friends at the hotel and at the Starbucks a few blocks from us. Maybe it was the food. I can never forget this shrimp dish I had at this little family owned restaurant. Yes, they are big on seafood. We even once went to this seafood market/restaurant set up where you picked out your fish, and they cooked it right there. Fresh! Maybe it was the beauty of the city itself. I don’t know what it was, but I left Santiago with this intense longing to return soon. I even had the crazy idea of maybe finding a job there or doing business there. But that was then. I’ve since moved on.
These images don’t quite do the city of Santiago justice, but at least it gives you an idea; just in case anyone out there is wondering what it looks like!