Back in late November I woke up to messages about a flight deal from DC to Santiago, Chile for $170. I speak very little Spanish and I had no idea what I’d do there but for that price I decided it was more than worth exploring. I reached out to some friends to join me and thankfully two of them were willing to take a leap of faith with me.
I researched and planned an itinerary for 4 full days in a foreign country with my fingers crossed that everything would go as planned. On our first day in the city we decided to take in the sights and sounds of the city by metro and by foot. Our first impression of the metro train system was that it was large but very efficient. We took the train from Universidad Catolica to Salvador and made our way to La Chascona Musuem House, one of the homes of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda in Providencia. Afterward we took the Santiago Funicular up Cerro San Cristóbal and spent time admiring the Blessed Virgin Mary and enjoying the quiet 300 meters above the rest of Santiago. After taking the funicular down we spent more time walking the neighborhood then took an Uber back to our apartment. The next day we took a free walking tour with Free Walking Tour of Santiago and our tour guide Valentina was amazing. She was knowledgeable as well as flexible. While the tour is 4 hours and full of information, Valentina was very good at keeping the crowd engaged. It is suggested that we tip $10 or the equivalent in Chilean pesos and it was well worth it. The following day we took a cooking class offered by Uncorked Cooking Workshop. The class was $95 and included a tour of the different fresh food markets in Santiago, hands on prep of a delicious lunch and great wine. The workshop was very hands-on and overall was worth the money. Our chef, Felipe, was able to accommodate my diet, I’m a pescetarian, with no issue. On our last full day we took a day trip with Stamps Tours and were able to visit Valparaíso, Viña del Mar and Viña Indómita, Casablanca & Maipo Vineyards. Our guide Frank was great and I would recommend spending the day with this tour group.
In addition to enjoying different meals and miles of walking we were also able to just relax and enjoy the great vibes in one of our favorite neighborhoods, Lastarria. We were lucky to find an apartment to rent in Lastarria and the neighborhood was both lively and safe. Lastarria is full of trendy restaurants, places to sit and relax and places to people watch.
As a Haitian American living in the United States I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t briefly talk about how it felt to be a minority while in Chile. On our first day in Chile we saw no other people of color and while we didn’t feel any negative energy from the Chileans we interacted with or passed while traveling we did have people staring at us in what appeared to be in curiosity. On our second day while on our walking tour we did encounter more men and women of color and learned that there is a large population of Haitians living in Chile. This news was both unique and comforting. After the realization that we weren’t the only people of color in the city the entire experience became richer as we learned more about the Haitian migration to Chile. I look forward to visiting again and learning more first hand about the Haitian Chilean experience.
This is by far one of my favorite trips and I am thankful that I had the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone to learn and embrace a new culture. This vacation ended leaving me wanting to return and explore Chile further and also excited about what’s next on the adventure called my life.
Cheers to epic vacations with awesome company!