You will never understand a country through its tourist guide or map. The only way to really know a country and not just visit it, is to encounter with its singular traditions and have a one-on-one with its people, but that may take more time than your Chilean travel schedule allows, so here comes the insiders list of “weird” Chilean things, with the special contribution of Megan Bascom and her incredible travel blog about Chile.
In Chilean households most of the heating is by Kerosene “Estufas” some apartments have central heating but estufas are widely used, even if they smell really wrong when you turn it on. They also use a water heating system powered by gas called Calefont which it is always on ( NOT ecological) or that you have to turn it on every time is it used .
2.Got Bread?: Everybody eats bread, which in Chile is really the main food, the most typical ones are the Hallulla and Marraqueta, always with some toppings. How much do they eat? Two in the morning, one in lunch time, two or more at “Once”…yeah that is a lot of bread. The toppings for bread: the regular stuff: butter, pate, scrambled eggs, jam, avocado…WHAT? yes, avocado, they eat it smashed with salt and oil. Bread with Avocado is a 80’s classic and one of my favorites.
3. Got Tea for that bread? Most of this bread mania comes with tea consumption, which comes in tea bags, not many people use tea leaves filter. The tea rack on the supermarket is huge, and has not only earl grey but also ceylan, black tea, red tea, green tea and herbal teas (manzanilla, rosa mosqueta, matico, boldo, most of them to stomach ache).
4. Recycle: No one recycles, but “Cartoneros” who mainly pick cardboard and paper make a great job separating and recycling from the garbage bins (most people leave it separated for them).
5. Social thing: Any eating event, is more about the people sharing on the table rather than eating, that is called “Sobremesa” and can last hours.
Everyone kisses hello and goodbye one time on the cheak, men do not kiss among them, that is an Argentine thing only!.
All parties starts from midnight, any day of the week can be a party week. Thursday are called “Viernes chico” and Fridays are called “San Viernes”.
Being late in Chile is a social standard, everyone knows that when you say 3’o clock it is more likely to be 15 minutes past three, but don’t do that, even if it is a social standard is very rude and !.
6. Social status: Cuicos are the people with money, Flayte are those who don’t. The class division is very notorious specially on Santiago where people don’t even go to some places beyond Plaza Italia (downtown start point).
7. Sports: Tennis but everyone’s favorite is soccer, the whole country stops when there is a match of the national soccer team and when they win, they go to Plaza Italia to celebrate with cars and Chilean flags.
8. Transport: there are these taxi with a route called “colectivos”, which have their own stops and the fee depends on where are you going. Most people use buses which here are called Micros, during the rush hour (7pm-8pm) they tend to be cramped with people and the stop (paraderos) has long lines of people waiting.
9. Religion: There are a lot of catholic churches everywhere! But here self-denominated catholic people are pro-choice, pro-divorce and endorse priests getting married, LOL.
10. Language: the official is spanish, the one used is Chileno, which makes most of the dictionaries quite worthless. The Chileno is a mix of slangs that are rooted on old saying of the country side and some american-chilenisms like: Cachai, which means do you understand or do you get it, which comes from Catch.
11. Dogs and more dogs: there are stray dogs everywhere, which means dog poo everywhere too, the funny thing is that no people adopts them but everyone gets angry if one is hurt or captured.
If you are a foreigner, everyone will ask the same things:
Do you like Chile?
How much time have you been here?
(If you have been in Chile for a long time, they will ask if you have visited your home country recently)
What do you like more? Chile o your home country?
Do you like Chilean men? (if you are a girl)
These is some of the things that can make you understand Chilean people a little more, thanks again to Megan Bascom to let us be inspired by her post.