Chile is the Thailand of South America: it’s the safest and easiest country to start exploring the area. But I feel like everything is much safer and easier in Southeast Asia.
You can live the condo live in the skyscrapers of the better parts of the city. You’ll be going to malls that feel similar to being in the US, to areas without overhead wiring and to sushi restaurants just like in any other city – but if that is was you are looking for then I wouldn’t recommend to go to Santiago. The beaches are not too nice, the food gets boring although the quality of fruits is the best I’ve ever had, the mountains are a nice thing to have but you won’t spend as much time there as you might want to.
I have lived there for 3/4 of a year, but that was before my DN live started. I lived in a guest family in a poorer part of the city but pretty close to the center, doing a social project with street children. Taxi drivers wouldn’t want to drive me into that area unless I managed to convince them that it was safe enough for them. I heard shots at night but was told by my family, with a smile, that it was only because someone shot into the air for celebrating the win of a soccer match. I grew up as a single child and enjoyed becoming part of a large family I never had before. Once, while I introduced my new family to some drinking games, we ran out of beer and had to go out with my guest father at night to buy some more through a neighbors’ cage like barred mini shop. I then had to see two dead bodies laid out over the curbside surrounded by a crowd of weird looking people just a few meters next to my house. My guest father quickly explained to me that I had to look away and to not intervene. That was very much against all I had learned and every instinct I possessed. Wasn’t the nicest experience and makes you wonder who would intervene if you were in problems.
I am a white blonde European having ties to Germany and Spain, both having a long and totally fucked up history with Chile. I often felt racism that made me uncomfortable. To a lot of uneducated people, which of course are the majority, I was just a US-gringo and they looked at me as if every problem they had was my fault. In the city center I and other white people, especially those with a Spanish language that sounds like the one the Spanish royal family speaks, not like the Spanish spoken in Latin America, were treated in a privileged manner. I didn’t like it either. I wanted to emerge, not to be special. I remember standing in a long line of a phone carriers’ shop with around 50 people in front of me waiting to be attended. I was approached by a security guard and was pushed to the front of the line to be attended next. I was expecting the crowd to give me angry faces but, much worse, they looked at me as if it was the correct thing to do.
A lot of socialism, a lot of religion. Fucked up brainless TV, reggeaton (think of Hip Hop with more sex, one rhythm only and even much less intelligent texts), corruption, dependent media. A very divided society. People that I had contact with in my neighborhood where either scarred of me because I was shocking them with my Spanish or because they saw me walking through the streets without fear of being hijacked. At the end some respected me because they had heard that I was helping the community. Othesr thought that I was some sort of fearless rich gangster ruling the area and started greeting me in an overly respectful manner. All in all a good travel experience for adventurous people and good story to have lived but I would think about other places first if I’d work as a DN.
Chile is extremely long and thin. Flying to other places is not common. You will take moderately priced luxury over night busses to either the north or the south because that is the only two directions you can drive in this country. I have been to impressively dry deserts in the north and just by accident, without knowing it, had been much further south than Tasmania, which is souther of Australia. Santiago already is at the same latitude as Cape Town in South Africa is. The landscapes are diverse and the national parks are nice but there are other options on the planet I’d go first.