Entering the most developed country of Latin America
It feels like an airport security check at the Argentine-Chilean border. Everyone has to get out and get their luggage scanned. The Chilean authorities prohibit the import of fresh food (such as dairy products, fruit or vegetables). After successful immigration the bus winds its way through the pass roads of the Andes which marks the border of the 2 countries.
According to the Human Development Index, Chile is the most developed country in Latin America. My first stop in Chile was Santiago, the capital of the country. The capital is characterized by many small hills and since forest fires were blazing, the city was also riddled with smoke. The Andes Mountains can be seen from most points in the city.
On my first evening I met the 2 young Brazilian girls again, whom I had already met in Uruguay & Argentina. Together with some of their compatriots we went to a bar in the hip nightlife district Providencia and visited a Karoake bar. But I didn't want to sing, that's not for me and the bad singing of the others already annoyed me.
Exploring the city in hot and dry climate
The next day I climbed 2 of the many hills in the city with an Argentinean. The sun was burning relentlessly again, but here more dry than wet. While we climbed on the first hill by foot, we went down via cable car. It was just too hot, nearly 40° degrees. The next day I went on the city tour, which took us to the presidential palace, where in 1973 the communist president Salvador Allende took his life because the military stormed the palace. Under the dictatorship of Pinochet, many dissidents subsequently lost their lives and were politically persecuted. The Museum of Memory and Human Rights commemorates these victims. It is really worth a visit.
I changed to the Don Santiago Hostel, a cozy little hostel and not as big and impersonal as where I was before. There I met a Honduran-Mexican couple and drank a Terremoto with them in the evening, which consists of wine, grenadine syrup and pineapple ice cream. Afterwards one feels shaken like in an earthquake.
Staying at my friend's place
On my last day in Santiago I did couch surfing at my buddy Alvaro's place, whom I had met 2 years before in Venice. He lives in Santiago as a freelance pyschologist and has a chic apartment with his boyfriend Felipe. I didn't even know he was gay before. And you can't tell by looking at them.
Only their Spanish caused me difficulties. I had trouble understanding them. Chileans speak a very fast Spanish, use a lot of slang and partly cut off the ends of words.
Both are really cool. We did a FIFA tournament and drank amazing exotic beer. Felipe even cooked for me. The next morning they both left for a trip to the south of Chile, while I went to Valpariso, 2 hours away from Santiago on the Pacific coast.