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Living in what Chileans often like to call the “poto del mundo” or the world’s backside (I like the word tush better, but the phrase just weighed better with backside, try it, you’ll see), you’d think that the number of people coming to visit or stopping by to say hi would be small to negligible.

After all, who wants to come to Santiago when you could go to neighboring Argentina and eat beef until your pores are weeping cholesterol, or watch elegant older men dance tango with nubile young things that will never give you their number? Chile has a reputation for being “Latin America Lite,” an impossibility beyond logical fathoming. It is Latin America. It cannot be a lighter version thereof. Your Latin-America-meter is miscalibrated. May I suggest some porotos granados while you get it fixed?


And so, my soapbox disassembled, tucked away for some other time, I wanted to tell you about some of our recentish visitors. Since moving to Chile, a couple of people I actually knew from the real world BC (before Chile) have come to visit. Mainly, Mamaj. She’s hilarious, easily entertained and only complains about the cold. A good guest, by all stretches. She also allows me to pause and take pictures, including this ridiculous one of her “hitchhiking” in San Pedro de Atacama, which I’ve posted before but never stops entertaining my socks off. Also, she doesn’t have a camera, so she never takes pictures of me (score!)

mom, hitchiking

But Mamaj has to come visit. I’m her kid. There’s also this other whole group of people that have come through town in the last couple of years that I’ve hung out with or dragged hither and yon or let drag me hither and yon. Travelers, people I’ve met before, people I’ve not met before, people who’ve found me through my writing, through twitter, through TBEX or who knows how.

A couple of well-placed (and reasonably normal-sounding) emails, and we’re off. I don’t do a background check or anything, just a cup of coffee and a portal into my life in Chile. Sometimes I miss people because I’m not around, or am actually where you’re from (Looking at you, Linda and Craig from Indietravelpodcast (though I had met up with them in Christchurch a month or so before), but lots of times it works out, and it’s usually great. People come to visit here, and I get to learn about wherever their “there” is (or was, or will be), usually over a long walk or something to eat or drink. The conversations often turn away from travel and to something more overarching. That’s my favorite. Sometimes I find new friends, or in one case, a primo político (someone who’s like a cousin to me, though we have no family ties). A found family, if you will.

In what I believe is their order of appearance from most recent into the past, here are some visitors that have made the trek down to Santiago.

Anil from Foxnomad
Audrey and Dan from Uncornered Market
Ivy Manning who is a foodie, writer, and cooking instructor
David Miller, Senior Editor at MatadorNetwork who also has his own sites and writes all over the place
Laura (David’s wife), who I share a birthday with, and their tot, who doesn’t yet blog.
Chris from the Art of Nonconformity
Heather and Eric from dirtyhippies
Jeff Jung from Career Break Secrets
and a slew of people who either don’t blog or don’t blog anymore. I’m looking at you Padraic, Maria and Pam, Sam and Rich, etc.

Anthony Bourdain apparently also came to visit, but didn’t make an appointment to stop by. I know, I can hardly believe it myself.

So I guess what I’m saying is, even if you feel like you’re kind of stuck where you are for the count, eye-opening visits can come from out of the blue, even if you live on the tush side of the planet.

Just let me know if you’re on your way. Pam, Marie, are you reading me?