As I type this post, I am sitting in a coffee shop on the hills of Valparaiso, Chile. We arrived yesterday after spending our first 3 days in Santiago. Those first days consisted of museum hopping, site-seeing, and tasting the Chilean wines we have heard so much about. Our hostel, La Chimba, sat in the middle of the Barrio Bellavista, a neighborhood tagged by bohemian artists who also probably attend the nearby colleges. It is filled with bars, restaurants, and clubs because most of the people who hang around this area are college aged. Because we were there for slow weekdays, not much was going on at night and we were unable to experience any real nightlife. We are going back to the city tomorrow for the last three days in Chile, so hopefully we will be able to see a lot more.
The differences between Peru and Chile are very stark. Chile is a much wealthier country, something that is obvious just by comparing the public transportation. Nicer buses, bigger/centralized downtown, and a subway. Another big difference I noticed was the skin tone of Chileans. Peruvians are much darker than Chileans, a fact that certainly fuels some of the prejudice in the country. The two countries really don’t get along, and even the mom at my homestay has a strong dislike for Chile. Something to do with fishing rights or borders or something stupid – the problem is really more pride than anything else.
Anyway, we are in Valparaiso right now, a great coastal town with lots of character. Big hills with colorful homes, beautiful views, thrown in with the commercial buildings from the shipping industry. Walking around is really the best thing to do here because the city is so unique.
Another weird thing is the money. One dollar is a little over 500 pesos, so at any given time I carry about 5000 or more pesos. A little strange because a meal can cost a few thousand pesos and still be less than 10 bucks.