By Scott Mistler-Ferguson
1. An Adventure-Seeker's Paradise
Chile has been selected as the World’s leading adventure tourism destination for the third year in a row. They say that when forming an argument, you should hit ‘em with the brick immediately, so I’m going to lead with what is potentially an instant sell on the longest country in the world. This year, at the World Travel Awards, described as, “the Oscars of the international tourism industry.” Chile took first place, yet again. This is the result of years of work to make the country more navigable for tourists and more conscious and protective of its renowned natural beauty. In 2017, Chile began work to add roughly 10 million acres of national parkland.
2. Please improve my English!
I’ve had the good fortune to visit areas all over the country, and without fail, there are always people who desire the chance to learn English or give that opportunity to their children. English teachers are in highest demand in Central Chile (Santiago, Valparaíso, and Viña Del Mar), but I was able to find a job just as quickly in the South. Wherever you are in Chile, the English language is recognized as the international language of business, and as a key to improving one’s life dramatically.
3. Food and (more importantly) Wine
Admittedly, Chilean cuisine is not quite as world-renowned as some of its South American counterparts. Spice and variety are often somewhat lacking, but luckily the country has managed to create its own sort of South American melting pot and offer the delicious grill options of its neighbor to the East and the ever-sought-after seafood of Peru to the North. Furthermore, what Chile may lack in terms of in-house cooking, it makes up for in wine! Worldwide, Chilean wine has the reputation of matching quality with affordability and that accolade is well-deserved. If you’re a fan of the reds, you’ll never be without options, regardless of your “fun” budget.
4. Living the Good Life
Chile is the richest and most expensive country in South America. People are shocked to hear the level of similarity between the standard of living in the States and down here. Obviously, no country is without its hardships and Chile is no exception. However, an English teacher certified by ITA can absolutely expect to live a comfortable life surrounded by beaches, lakes, forests, mountains, or skyscrapers!
5. Living the Kind Life
The following is a short story about one of my more difficult nights in Santiago which will hopefully highlight the generally warmer class of individuals you’ll meet in Chile. I was spending the night in the Capital (about two hours from my home city) for a brief two-day orientation for my new job at Adolfo Ibañez University. I’d booked an Airbnb for the night and as I hadn’t been in the country very long, I still was using a phone without any data (the reality is that I’m cheap and wouldn’t buy a newer, unlocked phone). I took the metro and then walked to the address I’d been given by the host only to realize as I was walking down the streets at 10:30 p.m. that the apartment was nowhere to be found. I was lost, without internet, and my grasp of Spanish was still fairly poor at the time. I went into a local pizza place and asked if I could use their internet to contact my host for the evening and they instead introduced me to a shop owner across the street who spoke English fluently. The owner was about to close, but rather than turning me away, he invited me inside to use his personal computer and helped me locate the Airbnb and get in contact with the host. The whole process took over forty minutes as the host had gone to bed at this point, and I was naturally embarrassed. Mauricio (the shop owner) however, could not have been more gracious and gave me food, water, written directions, and even ordered a cab for me. This has been a really longwinded explanation, but I feel it’s important to highlight the genuinely altruistic nature of so many Chileans. That night was Mauricio’s final night working that shop before he rented it out and he undoubtedly just wanted to get home. Instead, he stayed with me for about an hour and saved me from what could’ve been a much more miserable evening.
6. Safety is key
As I stated above, Chile is far closer to the U.S. in terms of lifestyle than many people realize. I’ve felt no more at risk walking the streets of Santiago or Valparaíso than I would back in the States. That’s not to say it’s a haven of total ease. As a traveler, you must still guard your possessions and personage, but you can often count on the locals to help you in this regard. When walking the streets of Valpo, the elderly will often call out to you if you’re nearing areas deemed unsafe for tourists. Listen to the locals and your own common sense and you’ll remain secure as I have.
7. Every City is a Snowflake
The level of variety in Chile’s different cities is astounding. From German-inspired Puerto Varas, to Valparaíso’s gritty San Francisco vibes, each city is its own design and the denizens will be proud to tell you as much. I have never seen such distinction between cities in terms of architecture, geography, and size. The one constant is that you can usually assume that any city you’re visiting will afford gorgeous views of mountains in the distance.
8. Fútbol Culture: Goal, Goal, Goal!
Despite a somewhat rocky standing on the international level, soccer is very much engrained in Chilean society. The sport is watched, played, and debated in every corner of the nation. As an exciting new development, women’s soccer is slowly but surely gaining footing as the national team qualified for the World Cup for the first time in history! This is a remarkable step forward for a team that had largely been scrapped about three years ago, and while I’m still going to cheer for the USWNT, I’ll be sporting La Roja jersey as well.
9. Beaches, Volcanoes, and everything in between
I’m beating a dead horse with this variety theme, but it’s just undeniably true. Whether you’re a hiking fanatic, beach bum, stargazers, nature enthusiast, island hopper, or any other pet name I can’t think of for people who go outside, Chile delivers. I mean, the country’s quintessential nature paradise, Patagonia, inspired an entire clothing brand that’s now worn across the United States by Fraternity brothers everywhere.
10. Gone Green!
Whereas the US appears to still be dragging its feet over protecting the environment, South America’s powerhouse is fully committed. As I mentioned before, in 2017 the national parkland was massively expanded, solar energy is being pursued with a vengeance (especially in the North where entire cities glean portions of their energy from the sun), and just recently Chile began unveiling the largest electric bus fleet in Latin America. Additionally, the country invests hundreds of millions (US currency) in wind farms and geothermal energy. This trend only appears to be growing.
An excursionist at heart from the town of Bethlehem, New York, Scott moved to Chile immediately after graduation in pursuit of adventure, learning, and some awesome story-telling material. Read more about Scott.