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Shocking in Santiago- What Surprised you About Life in Santiago, Chile?

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A few months back I started this blog series- ‘A Little Look at my Expat Life’ for several reasons. First, I was in a major blogging slump and really trying to find something to get me excited about this little part of my life again. I was feeling unmotivated and discouraged, and frankly, without many travel plans on the horizon, I felt like I was running out of topics to passionately write about.
Second, during this whole ‘mini-blogging crisis’ of mine, I came to the realization that ‘Hey, I live in Santiago, Chile- and that’s pretty damn cool.’ I realized that while I may not have many crazy travels to write about, I hadn’t thoroughly covered my life in Santiago yet. While my everyday routine here might seem somewhat boring and mundane to me now, to you guys out there reading this, it’s something different.
So, anyway, I asked you all (& my followers on Instagram) for some ideas. ‘What did you all want to know about life in Santiago, Chile?’
One of the questions I got from Lorna over at The Painted Globe was- ‘What shocked or surprised you about life in Santiago?”
And well, this is a loaded answer. MANY things shocked me about life in Santiago. Before moving down here, I had never even set foot in South America. This was a whole new world to me. Some things good, some things, well, not so good, and some just different. While I don’t think I could ever cover each and every one in just one post, here are my main Santiago Shockers:

The Sheer Size of Santiago

After stepping off a 10-hour overnight flight, scrambling with all my luggage to find a transfer and later trying to find our hostel, checking in, dropping our bags and all the while in a half-asleep- ‘oh my god I just moved to Chile’– daze, my friend Mandy and I decided it was time to go exploring. We walked a few blocks down the street and found a cable-car scaling a hill in the middle of Santiago called ‘Cerro San Cristobal.” My first fluid thought after really seeing Santiago from above for the very first time- ‘HOLY SH*T this city is freakin’ humongous.’ Or as my friend Mandy put it- “now that’s what I call an urban sprawl!”

The Santiago Smog

After looking around and taking in the scene a bit- my second fluid thought was- why the heck is it SO foggy?! From where we were standing, at a vantage point overlooking a good part of the city, you could hardly see the surrounding mountains. I later found out that I was wrong and that this thick ‘fog’ was actually smog. And yes, Santiago and Smog seem to be very fond friends. After long stints without rain, that smog sure does build….

The Andes Mountains

Thankfully, every once in a while, that persistent smog does lift. And let me tell you, what you’re left with is one INCREDIBLE scene. Santiago’s mountainous backdrop makes for one dramatic skyline. I’ve lived here for a year and a half now, and (when I can see them) these mountains still surprise me every day. I’m talking daily jaw-dropping awe. Actually, I wrote a whole post about my love for the Santiago skyline!

You’re not Supposed to Flush the Toilet Paper

So apparently in South America, you’re NOT supposed to flush the toilet paper. Something that no one really seems to talk about before arriving. Of course there are exceptions, and newer buildings around the city have pipes and plumbing designed to handle this situation, but man did this throw me off. I didn’t even realize for the first few days and just continued to go about my business. No, I didn’t read all those warning signs plastered around the hostel bathrooms. What can I say? I’m a rebel …
toilet paper

Santiago’s Stray Dogs

One thing that I still have very mixed feelings about here in Santiago is the number of stray dogs on the streets. On one hand, it’s really sad and hard for me to see so many homeless pups roaming around. On the other hand, the people in this city really do care for them. These dogs are fed in abundance and even spoiled with toys and dressed in clothing. During the winter months you’re sure to encounter a bunch of happy pups running around in coats and circle scarves!
What even further surprised me was the, for lack of a better word, ‘quality’ of these street dogs. There are full bred Retrievers and Huskies, even smaller breeds like Dachshunds and Chihuahuas just running around free in the streets. These dogs would cost you a pretty penny back in the States. Also, for the most part, they’re very well behaved and more friendly than most house dogs I know!

Chilean Cuisine

I have to admit, I had not a clue what to expect as far as food goes before making my way to Chile. I had heard that avocados were plenty (& cheap), but that’s as far as my knowledge (and my research) stretched. What I later learned about Chilean cuisine when I got here, was pretty damn shocking! Let’s just start by saying that Chileans LOVE sugar. And Mayo. And red meat. They call their hotdogs ‘completos’ and douse them with various sauces. Did I mention Mayo? Also, ‘salad’ usually means tomato or onion, or some mix of the two on a plate. As far as drinks go, soda and fizzy water are the norm……
I know what you’re thinking, the US doesn’t have the best food rep either. And no, Chilean Cuisine is not all bad! Avocados sure are readily available and for a fraction of the price at home! I also really love a dish called “Pastel de Choclo,” which is almost like a chicken pot pie, but in my opinion, a lot sweeter. OH AND manjar and alfajores! ….. I’ll stop here, because I could ramble on for a whole post on this subject alone. (One day soon I probably will!)

Chilean Temblores

Of alllllll the shock above, (and everything I didn’t even list), I have to say Chile’s “temblores” or tremors, AKA EARTHQUAKES where I’m from, probably shocked me the most.
Before moving to Santiago, I had only ever felt one earthquake (if you can even call the mild earth shake that took place while I was getting my wisdom teeth pulled an “earthquake”). Now, a seasoned Santiaguiña, I can say my number is somewhere around 10! I’ve even lost count! Thankfully, the buildings here are built to withstand and even succumb to the movement, but I have to admit, each and every time, I still get pretty uneasy.
welcome to chile
For an inside look at what shocked me about life in Santiago, and to hear from some of my expat friends, tune into my Instagram story today!
Have you ever moved somewhere where the lifestyle shocked you? From reading this post, what about life in Santiago shocked you the most? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Welcome to Wanderful Wednesdays!
Consider yourself a wanderer?! Well then, this Blog Hop is for you! 
Meet your hosts: ME, Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World.
Here on Wanderful Wednesday we hope to promote an open and supportive community for like-minded bloggers- expats, travelers and all kinds of wanderers!
The linkup will take place every Wednesday at 8AM GMT.
Wanderful Wednesday Guidelines:

  1. Link up wanderful travel related post below! One per blogger per week please!
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Happy Hopping Friends!! 😀

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