> The people are so friendly, it's overwhelming. To ask for directions is to get a full list of possibilities of what may happen, and you may even acquire and impromptu tour guide. I fully appreciated the extra effort people put it to make me feel like I wasn't totally lost (which I was, often).
> The pace of life was a perfect balance between city life and a small town, no matter where I was. From the desert to the capital, there was a relaxed, easy pace that made me feel comfortable, and almost European.
> The art in Chile is fully flourishing in their post-dictatorship world. International guests are welcome to graffiti just about anywhere, music can be heard on every corner, architectural symbolism is ingrained into the buildings, and museums are bursting with fresh and original work. It was truly amazing to be able to wander through a city or town and see art from local and distinguished artists alike.
> I've already written about the stray dog problem, and it is a constant issue in every city of Chile.
> It's expensive for a backpacker! Admittedly, I didn't do any research before I came, so I should have been less shocked. But it's about 700 pesos per $1 USD. So a 4,000 peso sandwich adds up quickly. Sodas and waters are rounded up to 1,000 pesos, which makes most drinks more expensive than in the U.S.! Although the tour, hostel, and bus prices were fair, many backpackers I met were counting down the days until the Bolivian or Peruvian borders.
> Because Chile is so incredibly long, overnight busses are a necessity. Unfortunately, Chile's idea of a comfortable bus ride is anything but. I learned to layer my clothes because it was freezing most of the time, or a movie was playing really loudly late at night, or the reclining part of the seat was broken. I actually ended up breaking down and crying on the way from Calama to Arica, after being told there were no blankets on an extremely chilly bus--the lack of sleep and shaking from lack of heat was a form of torture. Of course it was a language error, and around 4am I was given two blankets from extremely concerned bus employees...but still.
> The landscapes of Chile are unique and unforgettable. Although my tour guide in Santiago complained that Chile has no national identity after the years of oppressive military dictatorship, I found a friendly country full of expression. It is a country that is working to improve the rivers of Santiago, preserve the Salt Lands of San Pedro de Atacama, and maintain their ownership of the Pisco Sour with fervor. Guides were full of passion, the streets full of color, and the neighborhoods brimming with character. Although I was only able to travel north from Santiago, Chile as a whole is a country working hard towards its future. And like its rich and fine wines, it can only get better with age.