Monday morning we received our third passport stamp of our South American tour as we crossed the border into Argentina!
We have high expectations of this large country. Most of the travelers that we have met on our journey list Argentina as one of their favourite countries visited. We plan on spending a lot of time covering this country - maybe even sitting still somewhere for awhile, just to enjoy...sitting still.
But, before we get to our plans for Argentina, we both felt that we need to wrap up our 38 day experience in Chile. What better way to do it then via top 5 lists?
Top 5 things we lovvvved about Chile
1. Desserts!! Seriously. While their food leaves a lot to be desired (see below in the top 5 things about Chile we did not love), they know how to cook some kick ass tortas (cakes). So many times, Pete and I were ready to forego dinner and head straight for the dessert menu.
2. The variety of scenery. This country is 2,600 miles long and thus it offers an everchanging array of things to see: tropical beaches, mountain ski resorts, volcanoes, desert, rainforest, glaciers, etc. It has it all!
3. Penguins! I know other countries have penguins, but it was our #1 favourite thing we saw in Chile so it had to make the list.
4. The island of Chiloe was easily our favourite spot in the whole country. Removed from the mainland, it held a culture all of it's own that was so enjoyable to explore.
5. The ease of which we traveled. Every bus was on time, every hostel was exactly what it said it would be. Never once did we feel stressed about our next step, never once did we feel uncomfortable or scared of the situation we were in. It is a very modern country that caters well to it's tourism industry.
Top 5 things we didn't like about Chile
1. The food. Coming from Bolivia where some of our favourite foods were scarce, we had big expectations. And big disappointments. Their food is so uninspired, our favourite meals where the ones that Pete cooked himself. Should have stuck with just eating desserts.
2. Chilean Spanish. Actually, one Chilean even told us this: "We don't speak Spanish, we speak Chileno." We both feel that our Spanish progressed very little, and perhaps even slipped backwards as we now have to get rid of the slangy Chilean we've picked up.
3. If you asked me right now, what is significant about Chilean culture? , I couldn't answer. Nothing stands out as being uniquely Chilean. And almost everywhere we've been, we felt like we had been there before. The entire country felt just like North America in Spanish.
4. The weather. Okay, it's probably not appropriate to pin the blame for this on the actual country, but I'm going to anyways. South of Santiago, it's been almost nothing but rain, wind, and even some snow. We are only just across the border into Argentina and I have finally been able to wear my sandals again! Hallelujiah!
5. It's effin' expensive. Not expensive by North American or European standards, but still pretty pricey compared to the other countries down here.
All this being said, we did have some tremendous experiences in Chile, but we are so ready to dive into Argentina. As we crossed the border on Monday morning, the roads went from tarmac back to the dirt and gravel that we grew used to in Bolivia. For some ridiculous reason, this made me extremely happy. I took the dirt road as being symbolic for greater adventure as we move away from the clean and orderly Chile. We are ready to be wowed with all that this country has to offer: supposedly the best beef in the world (we'll be judging vs. Alberta!), wine country (where we'll be spending Christmas!) and learning to tango, baby!
I! AM! CANADIAN!
As we were checking into our hostel yesterday, our exceptionally gracious hostess was commenting on how much we were going to love Argentina, and even added: "Especially for you guys, because we LOVE Canadians here!"
I can't even count the number of times we have heard that statement from people we have met from all over the world. I have never been more proud of my heritage as I have been in the past few months as people constantly tell us how extremely nice we are as a "people". This is a far cry from some other cultures that we have heard of who lie to hide their nationality unless it is absolutely necessary to divulge.
We are wearing the maple leaf sewn on our backpacks proudly. And we hope we are continuing to uphold the glorious perception the world has of our country!
Contestants for The Amazing Race 16 have recently been spotted racing around central Chile and Argentina. We missed them by only a few days at one of our spots in Chile, but one of our new friends caught up with them in Bariloche. She actually helped the "mom" team with one of the challenges (and also apparently tried to jump on the end mat)! We will be watching for her when the series airs!