10 THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT CHILE

1) Valparaiso is one of the hilliest cities in the world. They have elevator like lifts on a railway that uses a pulley system to get pedestrians up the hill. They are cheap and so worth it when your calves are killing you!

2) Chile is a long, narrow country and is quite prone to natural disasters. Fires are prominent, but the real issue is with earthquakes. According to weather.com, Chile suffers about one earthquake every day, but can sometimes reach up to 300 per week. The strongest earthquake ever recorded on Earth also happened in Chile- with a whopping magnitude of 9.5, claiming more than 5,000 lives. And of course, in a country that is made up of so much coastline, there is a constant threat of tsunamis.

3) Valparaiso is a UNESCO world heritage sight, and was once a booming port city. While the opening of the Panama Canal caused a severe decrease in traffic through the port, it is still one of the busiest port cities in South America. While we were in Valparaiso, American warships stopped here on their way to San Francisco.  It was in the newspaper that they were coming and were to be greeted with a band and cannon fire. We were close enough to be able to hear their arrival from our window.

4) There are 2 separate taps in the sink for hot and cold water. Never expect to get a perfect medium; it's either ice cold or scorching your skin. They have very hard water with an extremely high mineral content. It is completely safe to drink, it doesn’t contain pathogens but I did notice it really dried out my skin and hair. I noticed no taste difference and had no ill effects when drinking from the tap.

5) Greetings are especially important in this culture. The very first day we arrived, we were told that even if we didn't speak the same language as guests we should do our best to give them a very warm greeting and a long goodbye. Even the women we worked with would come in every single morning and kiss us on the cheek, ask us how we slept, and how we were feeling. When they ask how you slept and how you are, they expect a real answer- just saying “good” will not suffice. Good byes were just as important with more kisses and well wishes. 

6) This is not a place where English is widely spoken, and Chilean Spanish is quite different from any of the Spanish I’ve ever heard. Chileans speak very fast and drop letters when they speak. They have a completely different set of vocabulary as well, which was kind of overwhelming at first. However, for the most part people were helpful when I asked questions or didn’t understand. After about 3 weeks I was getting the hang of it. It just takes some time to get used to.

7) Valparaiso in particular is a very artsy city. The buildings are colorful, street art and murals cover the walls, and local artists have stores, workshops, galleries, and booths everywhere. It was really cool and refreshing to visit a place where the importance of art is evident and artists are celebrated. 

8) Chileans have a high standard of living. The infrastructure is great, they rank among the top education systems in Latin America, they have a reliable public transportation system, and it is safe to walk the streets at night.

9) Every food or drink item you buy has a very clear label with the nutrition facts and ingredients listed. If it is something imported from America they paste a sticker over it to comply with their labeling standards. They also have large warning signs on the front of an item if it is high in sugar/fats/calories/etc.

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10) Everywhere we go we love to eat street food. Here we were obsessed with the churrasco sandwiches. They are sandwiches made from thin strips of sautéed steak, and you can order them different ways. Our favorite was with avocado, tomato bits, onions and lettuce. These sandwiches were BURSTING at the seams! You can get hotdogs made the same way, with all the fixins, called Completos. Half of an avocado comes on nearly everything you order, you won’t pay extra for guac here! Another favorite across Latin America is empanadas. Here they make ones with a filling called Pino. Pino is mixture of ground beef, onions, raisins, black olives and hard-boiled eggs. We tried it and it is better than it sounds, I’m just not a fan of olives. Of course we can’t forget that they are well known for their marvelous seafood and wonderful red wines as well.

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 Chile is a spectacular country but we only got to explore a small portion of it, we will surely be back to experience Patagonia when it is not so frigid. We really enjoyed our time wandering the streets looking for art and soaking up the views from atop the hills. We decided that the only thing we didn't like about this place was how far away it is from home. 

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

Willie Nelson said it best, but we're off on another adventure. 

It was requested that I make a map of where we have been and where we are going. Below I have done that to the best of my ability. Some cities are left out because I couldn't fit more Xs in the smaller counties but the overall pathway is correct. 

The purple Xs represent where we have been, the red, where we are planning to go. As you can see we depart for Europe shortly. We begin in Barcelona. The time change is pretty significant so we give ourselves a few days to adjust then head to Valencia for La Tomatina, the largest food fight in the world.

After that we meet back with some friends in Barcelona then we're off to Lisbon, Portugal. Since we want to go so many places in Europe we wanted to find the cheapest, most efficient way to move about the continent. We found a hop on/hop off bus that stops in 46 cities in Europe. We like the flexibility of being able to pick our own route and staying as long as we want in a place since buses come by every other day. We decided to start on their network in Lisbon. It's a bit backwards since from Lisbon we go back into Spain and visit Madrid then San Sebastián but it works! The rest of the path is pretty straightforward. From Paris we go to Bruges, Belgium and circle downward to Italy and finish back up in Paris again. We will stay longer in the places we find work and shorter in the cities we are just passing through. After Paris we will try to find work in London and hopefully get tickets to see Vince's favorite soccer team, Arsenal, play at their home stadium! From London we will fly to Chicago because international flights are always cheaper from there rather than St. Louis. However on the way to Chicago, several airlines have started doing free stopovers in Iceland, which we plan to take full advantage of! 

So there you have it! Where we started, where we have been, and our plan for the future. (Always subject to change of course😉).

If you are interested I will list the cities in order below the map since not everything is labeled on the map. Italicized letters indicate cities we have not yet visited. 

St. Louis 

Layover in Houston, Texas

San Jose, Costa Rica 

Playa Bejuco, Costa Rica (not pictured)

Mal País, Costa Rica (not pictured)

Santa Teresa, Costa Rica (not pictured)

Montezuma, Costa Rica (not pictured)

Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica (not pictured)

Quepos, Costa Roca (not pictured)

-Back to Playa Bejuco 

La Fortuna, Costa Rica (not pictured)

-Back to San Jose to catch the bus to Panama

 

Bocas del Toro, Panama 

Bastimentos Island, Panama (not pictured)

Zapatilla Island, Panama (not pictured)

Panama City, Panama 

 

Lima, Peru 

Cusco, Peru 

Ollantaytambo, Peru (not pictured)

Pisac, Peru (not pictured)

-Back to Cusco to fly to Chile

 

Santiago, Chile 

Valparaiso, Chile

Viña Del Mar, Chile (not pictured) 

-Back to Santiago to fly to Barcelona

 

Barcelona, Spain

Valencia, Spain

-Back to Barcelona to Lisbon

 

Lisbon, Portugal

Madrid, Spain

San Sebastián, Spain

Boudreaux, France

Paris, France

Bruges, Belgium

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Berlin, Germany

Prague, Czech Republic

Munich, Germany

Innsbruck, Austria

Venice, Italy

Ancona, Italy

Rome, Italy

Florence, Italy

La Speza/Cinque Terre, Italy

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

- Back to Paris to catch train to London

London, UK

Stopover in Reykjavik, Iceland

Chicago, Illinois

HOME!

 

PERU BUDGET

Y I K E S

Well guys, If i'm sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly with you... This is the ugly. 

Our trip to Peru started out rocky since our Workaway Volunteer position didn't work out. We ended up having to pay for a place to stay the whole time which quickly put us over budget. Aside from that, visiting Machu Picchu was expensive and the flight to even get to Peru was just ridiculous. I thought for sure we would be coming in WAY under budget for Peru because everything is so stinking cheap, but I guess not everything is. But I mean, you can't possibly go to Peru and skip out on Machu Picchu just because you're over budget!

The ending total is almost 2 times what we budget per month. Honestly, if we hadn't already purchased our flights to Chile we would have been out of there way sooner to save money. The problem is that we'd practically have to sell a kidney to pay for an international last minute flight. So, we had to stick it out for a month even if it meant coming home sooner than planned or skipping something else down the road. You can see the price breakdown for 1 week in Lima and 3 weeks in Cusco below.