Culture Shock South America

We’re now in South America. The contrast with New Zealand has taken some getting used to. It could have been a bigger shock as we are in Santiago and Chile feels quite European in many ways. (Imagine a version of Spain that took an extra 15 years to emerge from dictatorship and never joined the EU). Santiago is not a huge city by Latin American standards, but it still has more inhabitants that the whole of NZ. It is also quite noisy and busy and our previous stop was in the out-of-season Coromandel peninsula, which is neither of those things. Finally, we’ve got the language barrier to deal with. Our Spanish is mostly based on our knowledge of Portuguese, so it probably sounds pretty odd.

Unfortunately when we arrived here tired and jetlagged the apartment we booked turned out to be lacking in several respects and cold in the night. Put that on top of the culture shock and you have a recipe for some unhappy campers. Once we’d booked ourselves into a nice hotel instead, things started looking up. Now I wish we had longer here so we could see a few more things around the city…

I was struck by the games of chess and checkers going on in the centre of Santiago, with groups of men standing around watching. In this case the competitors seemed to be a beggar and a man in a smart business suit, so I couldn’t resist taking a photo. (Large version to appear on Flickr in due course)

Game of Checkers in Centro, Santiago

2 thoughts on “Culture Shock South America

  1. I spent a week or so in Santiago as a stop over, and you are totally right – it feels very European. In fact it was more how I perceived Spain to be that Spain actually was when I visited!

    Think the reason for that are in the Museo Histórico Nacional, which was fascinating although a little dated when I went, and I found the Pre-Columbian Museum slightly more interesting.

  2. Hi Al, we didn’t get to the Museo Histórico Nacional, but we did see the pre-columbian museum which was interesting. Now I know what a vomit spatula is for!

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