Well, my first visit to South America was amazing. I’m still fresh off the plane ride and will probably take several days to adjust to life as usual, but I wanted to flesh out some highlights:
- Gorgeous scenery. Someone told me before I went that Chile is like California, and although I hate to make that kind of comparison (like the kid who goes to Mexico and says, “Look, ma! See all the places they named after California!”), the landscape is somewhat similar. Lovely beaches, painted sunsets, and lush green mountainsides.
- Generous people. It amazed me how giving the Chilean residents were. After just a week we were getting hugs and kisses from our tour guides, and they shared their food, their time, their very lives with us. Another neat observation? Everywhere I looked, I saw parents with their arms around their children in open displays of affection. We’re talking tweens and teens here – definitely not a common sight in the “cool” U.S.
- Great fellow travelers. I met another multicultural couple on the journey – a black woman from the Dominican Republic married to a white New Yorker! They were some of the most easygoing and down-to-earth people I’ve met.
- Lots of Spanish, with a distinct Chilean flavor. Spanish spoken in Chile is fast, fluid and fascinating – like some of the robust red wines I had the pleasure of tasting. I’m nowhere near fluent in Spanish, though I can occasionally pick out words (thanks to some high school courses). But in Chile the language comes mixed with some native words and the “s” tends to disappear at the end of phrases – “Bueno(s) dia(s)!”, for example.
Anyone else been to Chile or somewhere in South America? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.