A Week in Santiago
I don't know if we could have chosen a South American city that is more different than Guatemala. Santiago feels pretty much like we flew back to the States. There are mostly the same cars, the buildings look the same, even the people look like Americans, everyone just has a nice tan. There is just the one small detail of everyone speaking Spanish.
It has actually rejuvenated my desire to get to an English speaking country. In Antigua there are tourists everywhere and the economy depends on them so nobody really minds if you don't speak much Spanish. They are used to dumb monolingual people fumbling through sentences in Spanish, barely making any sense. Here, they just look at you like you're stupid.
The other day I went to the grocery store to buy food for the week. We are making more of an effort to live cheaply now that we are not in a country where you can easily eat out three meals a day for less than 15 dollars. I spent about 2 hours in that grocery store wandering about looking for things to eat, not knowing where anything was located or if they even carried the foods I was looking for. While I know enough Spanish to ask someone where something is, the times I tried I was lucky to understand 3 words of the answer. Needless to say, it was a frustrating experience.
Other than that, I have quite enjoyed my stay in Santiago. As far as big cities go, this is definitely one of my favorites. It is basically a big flat valley surrounded on all sides by snow capped mountains. We spent a long time walking around downtown and were often able to walk through the numerous parks to get where we were going. On every block it seems there is a store devoted to either hiking, skiing, kayaking or wind-surfing. My kind of place.