Today I’ve officially been in Santiago for one month! I can’t believe it’s been that long. I still feel like such a tourist.
Alejandra and I met for coffee yesterday so she could check up on me and see how I was doing.
Her first question was, “What have you seen in Santiago so far?”
To be honest, I haven’t seen much outside of Vitacura.
I was suddenly reminded of a conversation we had when I first arrived in Santiago.
“Most students in this program stay in their home-stay communities”, she said, “because it’s what’s comfortable, but to make the most of your experience, you should try to explore other parts of the city”.
At the time I thought, “of course I will! I’m in a foreign country! Do you really think I’m going to stay at home?”
Well…I hate to admit it, but that’s pretty much what I’ve done.
It’s not that I haven’t wanted to go places, but It’s hard to force myself to go out by myself, into an unfamiliar place, where I also don’t speak the language.
Well today I finally decided it was time to get over all that, so I don’t wake up at the end of my trip and realize I haven’t gone anywhere!
The first place I went to was a cafe con piernas (Yep! Coffee with legs). I’ve heard a lot about these places since I’ve been in Santiago. They’re basically the Hooters of Coffee bars, amazing espresso, being served by scantily clad ladies (more clad in some bars than others). I’ve secretly (not so secretly now that I’m blogging about it) been dying to see one of these places in person, but I’ve always been too shy to go into one. Well today I just decided to go for it.
I have to admit, it was a little awkward being the only female customer…but honestly, it might have been the best espresso I’ve ever had!
The one I went into, Cafe Haiti, really was pretty tame. The skirts were a little short and the heals were a little high (I’ve been a waitress before, and I gotta say, I have no idea how they do it!), but all-in-all it was just a regular coffee bar (with ridiculously good coffee).
Another interesting thing about this place, was that instead of tables, you stood at this long bar that wrapped all the way around the espresso machines, etc. The bar was open underneath, probably so you could see the waitresses legs, but it was also very aesthetically interesting.
After my “Cortado Grande”, I decided to walk a ways, and ended up in Correo Central, this huge court square with the old Presidential Palace and old Congressional Building (both have since been relocated). The Palace was now the central post office and Congress Building was now the National History Museum, which, thanks to my student ID card, I got to explore for only 300 Chilean Pesos (less than 1 U.S. Dollar).
The best part was, since I had a coherent, 5 -second Spanish conversation with the guy at the information desk, he thought I spoke enough Spanish to give me…
DUN-da-da-DA! The Spanish version of the Visitor’s Guide! (Which I had to trade in for English version…but that’s besides the point)
Outside of the museum, the whole square was filled with artists, artisans, musicians, taro card readers, evangelical christians literally standing on soap boxes, and one chess tournament.
There was so much life and energy here that I ended up spending hours just walking around. I even had a nice outdoor lunch in the area, where I finally got to try…
The Pastel de Choclo (corn pie)!
It was so much better than I ever thought it could be! Underneath a crispy, top layer is this amazing, smooth, sweet, creamy corn filling, with onions, chunks of juicy turkey breast, black olives and pieces of hard boiled egg. It was sort of similar to an empanada (which usually has a beef, onions, olives and egg in it’s filling), but in my opinion, the Pastel de Choclo was ten times better! It was like Thanksgiving all rolled into one little pie.
I’m already craving another one.
So the big bad downtown area of the city wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. I definitely plan to make a habit of exploring more of it, on my own or with others.
- Chewin’ on Chilean Pastel de Choclo (annieharkins.wordpress.com)
- Coffee with Legs (bkpk.me)
- Day 27 in Santiago (htyndorf.wordpress.com)