Is Chile so fome (Chilean for boring), that you’d only want to stay here for 36 hours? Or maybe I’m just bitter that I didn’t write this piece. Not true! I did write that piece. I have continually been writing and rewriting it ever since I got into travel writing 2ish years ago. But this author sent hers in, and I didn’t, and maybe she’s famous in the kind of circle that makes you get published in the NYT, perhaps rightfully so. So my version sits on my hard drive, and hers is on your breakfast table besides your bagel and cream cheese. Please tell me there are tomatoes on that. And pepper.
So 36 hours of shopping! and fashion! Sounds fashion-shoppy. Also doesn’t sound much like my Santiago. My Santiago looks like this. Or at least it did when I wrote that. If you read here, you know a little about my Santiago. It has crumbly old buildings and splashy new ones and people doing interesting things on the street, and being nice to each other and searching for good food and a restaurant where they will give you a full (rather than 2/3 full) glass of water and photos of stuff like this:
The thing is, everyone’s Santiago looks different. Kyle’s looks different from Emily’s looks different from Margaret’s looks different from Abby’s looks different from Annje’s looks different from all the people who aren’t gringa bloggers, and every Santiaguino has their own version of what it looks like, what it smells like, what it feels like to put one foot in front of the other to arrive to their next destination, where with any luck they’ll be served something tasty to eat or drink, or see something humorous, or get the refreshing spray that lifts off of the Fuerza Aerea (Air Force) fountain near the Salvador Metro, or look up and realize that all this time, there was a rainbow, just hanging there.
I happen to know I’m not alone (oh! this has been discussed ad fingers crampicum, though the story technically comes out tomorrow) when I say I believe it’s really important for the person who trots out Santiago as their place to actually live here. Which is why if you’ve already clicked on the article above, I must make two admissions. One, I am a blunderer for never having emailed my pitch to the New York Times. I know my Santiago well, and I write about it all the time. Simma down (that’s me talking to me) At least now I am free of the agonizing dithering of whether or not to send in my pitch/completed story. Two, I knew this article was being written, and could have taken the reins and taken the author all around town, showing her my Santiago. And I didn’t. We had contact, and I declined to help.
And so what I get, what she gets, what all of us get, is a guided tour through Santiago by someone who really likes fashion (yes, I have more detail, no I will not give it). Which also explains why when Santiago won the New York Times’ first place for places to go, they mentioned the Museo de la Moda. Repetition is the mother of invention, or something.
Ah, sweet Santiago. A new side revealed to me, which I will mostly ignore, and scratch my head about. A lesson learned about not grabbing tofu bulls by their soy horns, and the self-satisfied sleep of someone who has really made Santiago (and parts of Chile, even) her own. Or maybe the self-satisfied sleep is due to the new, improved apartmentage of your author (that’s me). Details to follow for my beloved fans and “when are you ever going to move” harranguers, you know who you are.
And now, my “official” reaction to the piece (on NileGuide, another place I used to work) clickety do. And I really love the photo I chose for the head there, because that’s what much of Santiago actually looks like. A little color, a little run-down, convenient, easy and pretty safe, but it never hurt to be careful.
And if I haven’t worn out my link love, and you read Spanish, and want to see another person’s perspective on what’s on view in Chile, check out this Venezuelan author’s take on Cafés con Piernas (coffee with legs) here in Santiago on MatadorNetwork (disclaimer, I used to work there), in Spanish.