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Cultural Differences, a Friend For Life, and a Diwali in Chile

in chile in cauquenes with friends teaching english in chile

It is Diwali and I’m reminded of a Diwali I spent with three crazy Chilean sisters in a country home of Chile five years ago. Damn! It has been five years. The narrative tells just how different two cultures can be.

 

In 2016, I had been volunteering as an English teacher with the English Open Doors program in Chile. I was in the south of Chile on the Chiloé island in its capital city Castro. Like other volunteers I stayed in a Chilean home. The house had my bubbly host mother, other Chilean borders, and two more volunteers from England and the US.

It was Diwali and also an extended weekend in Chile. My host mother was visiting her relatives. Other housemates were traveling.

I had made many friends by then but Gabriela, another English teacher on the island, had become a special one. She invited me to a countryside family get-together with her two elder sisters. They were going to their parental home in Cauquenes, a small town in Southern Chile, to celebrate Gabby’s daughter Javiera’s eighteenth birthday.

Either I could’ve gone with Gabriela or traveled with an English volunteer best friend and housemate (and his other friends) to another cool place. (This things to do in Chile travel blog from my experiences will help you plan your trip.)

But spending Diwali with three crazy Chilean sisters sounded much more fun than talking about foreign things with other foreign travelers. So I packed my bags, took a bus to Gabby’s house, and together we took another bus to Cauquenes.

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Chile Visa Fiasco – When I Was Stranded at the Bolivia-Chile Border

flags in the salar de uyuni tour of bolivia's salar de uyuni

When I Couldn’t Get a Chilean Visa at the Border and Bolivia Wouldn’t Take me Back.

My cheeky Canadian friend Alison walked towards me from the immigration counter at the Bolivia-Chile border in San Pedro de Atacama. Fanning herself with the green Chile tourist card that boasted her free entry into Chile for ninety-days, she smiled.

Now it was my turn. The young immigration officer looked at me and gestured me to come closer. I walked to his desk. He asked for my passport. I slid my blue passport through the gap under the glass that stood erect between us. 

Instead of handing me a green card as he issued to other tourists, the officer turned the pages of my passport and squinted to read the various visas and immigration stamps I had collected over the years. When he found my Chile temporary resident visa stamped on one of the passport pages, he asked for my RUT. 

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A Peruvian Grandmother’s Act of Kindness

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A gray-haired lady entered the restaurant and turned her eyes to me instantly. Her gaze didn’t surprise me. During the eight months I had been traveling in South America, I visited indigenous Andean villages and remote islands where the locals had never met someone from India before. My earthy complexion and kohled eyes always raised a plethora of questions about my origin.

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Quick Chile Travel Tips [10-Minute Read From a Chile Expert]

travel tips for chile feature image horses on chilean road

Chile is a long country sandwiched between the Pacific ocean and the Andes mountains. I have written twelve other articles on Chile that go from covering the Chile culture to fun things to do in Chile to a comprehensive Chile travel guide — so this one is going to be a point to point informative Chile tips guide.

This travel tips for Chile list is a quick handbook to acquaint travelers visiting Chile with the country’s most important travel information.

Let’s get started.

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Things To Do in Chile – 50 Incredible Experiences

moai-easter-island-rapa-nui chile

My List of top things to do in Chile.

Table of Content.

  1. Best Things To Do in the North of Chile
  2. Best Things To Do in the Central Valley of Chile
  3. Best Things To Do in the Lake region, known as Los Lagos in Chile
  4. Best Things To Do in the South of Chile, known as Patagonia
  5. Some General Top Things To Do in Chile.

 

I spent six months in Chile that were spread across July 2016 to April 2017.

Here I am sipping coconut water and writing about the best things to do in Chile, but a few years ago, I didn’t know much about Chile. I just decided to travel to Chile and teach English there on an instinct.

After I had been to Chile, an artist in Pushkar told me that Chile is like a long river, flowing on the edge of the American continent. And Pablo Neruda describes Chile as a long, thin ship. Running from the Atacama desert in the North to almost into Antarctica in the West, every corner of Chile has been well-planned by nature to surprises its residents and travelers alike. 

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Bolivian Salt Flats Tour – Exploring South America’s Weirdest Landscape

flamingoes bolivia salar de uyuni pictures

An Unforgettable Trip to the Salt Flats of Bolivia

Uyuni salt flats is a mystifying place. You must have seen the regular mountains, rivers, glaciers, deserts, but before the Salar de Uyuni, I had never seen salt flats, at least not as gigantic as the one in Uyuni. The Uyuni Salar are the world’s largest salt flat, extending over 9,000 square km. 

On top of the vastness, the Salar del Uyuni is special because it is high up near the Andes at a height of 3,600 meters above sea level.

When you stand upright in these bizarre salt flats of Bolivia, you see a salt desert billowing into the infinity and beyond. The copper mountains with the mix of an occasional snowy volcano try their best to fringe the horizon. Walking on the Salar could be the closest we can get to walking on the moon.

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Te Quiero, Chiloé

castro stilt houses island chiloe chile (1)

The island of Chiloé in South Chile will be marked in my memories forever. When I applied to the English Open Doors program in Chile, I didn’t realize that the program would give me some of the best times of my life.

Run by the government of Chile and the United Nations, English Open Doors invites international volunteers to teach English to government school students in Chile. As a near-native English speaker, I could apply for the volunteer program.

Until I landed in Santiago, I didn’t know that I would be placed in Chiloé. When the program coordinator told me that I had to teach students in Castro, the capital of Chiloé, I ran back to my room and Googled Castro.

Rainbow-like stilt houses lined up against an azure shore. Velvety-green hills filled my screen. Stout lambs grazed over those hillocks in groups. Steam smoked out of a chimney in a hut-shaped roof.

Wooden churches were flaunted in abundance. Legendary and mythical were the keywords on-screen.

Azure rivers, dense national parks, fresh seafood brought a grin to my face.

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Backpacking in South America – A Beginner’s Guide

collage of backpacking in south america images

What does this guide to traveling South America contain?

  1. Is South America Latin America?
  2. What are the countries in South America?
  3. Is South America safe to travel?
  4. What about the natural calamities and political situations of South America?
  5. What is the best time to visit South America?
  6. What is the cost of backpacking South America? How can you do South America on a budget?
  7. Do you need a visa for South America?
  8. Do we need travel insurance for backpacking in South America?
  9. What are the best South American countries to visit?
  10. What are the best things to do in South America?
  11. What are the possible South American itineraries?
  12. What are the best places to travel in South America as per each country?
  13. Do we visit the Amazon rainforest in South America?
  14. Which are the best cities in South America for digital nomads?
  15. Do we need to know Spanish for South America?
  16. What are the best places to learn Spanish in South America?
  17. What should be an ideal backpacking South America packing list?
  18. What is the currency of South America? How do we carry money to South America?
  19. Can we get vegetarian food in South America?
  20. Do we need any vaccinations for South America?
  21. Can we work in South America?
  22. Can we volunteer in South America?
  23. Can we teach English in South America?
  24. Are the people of South America friendly?
  25. What is the drinking culture in South America?
  26. What are the kinds of hotels in South America?
  27. Does Airbnb work in South America?
  28. Can we couch surf in South America?
  29. Can we cross land borders in South America?
  30. Is it safe to do hitchhiking in South America?
  31. Do we need to pre-book everything in South America?
  32. How do we plan a trip to South America?
  33. What are some of the best South America travel books?
  34. Are there any South American traveler forums we can join?
  35. All South America Articles

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Manu National Park – 4 Days in the Amazon Rainforest Peru

parrots as life partners

Blissful four days in the Manu National Park, Amazon Rainforest Peru

I visited the Manu National Park, part of the Amazon Peru, exactly three years ago.

You would wonder why I didn’t write about my Amazon trip earlier. Why pen down my Amazon story now after three years?

I didn’t write this article before as I didn’t have great pictures of the Amazon jungle for I was clicking with my phone camera back then.

But as I have been getting a lot of questions from readers who have planned their South America trip using my articles, I finally decided to write a piece that gives all the information on the Amazon en Peru.

Amazon, the world’s most biodiverse tropical rainforest, covers nine South American countries — Brazil (60% of the Amazon), Peru (13%), Colombia (10%), and the rest within Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana.

As a little girl, I had seen the Amazon forest on the television. My parents and I used to watch the National Geographic and Discovery channel every evening for hours.

Though during dinner we would switch to some other channel for my mother couldn’t tolerate the gory images of lions and jackals devouring their dead deers, papa would put on Discovery channel as soon as my mother took her last bite.

The dense jungles of Karnataka, the dry ochre land of Rajasthan forests, sultry Africa, and the most mysterious of them all — the Amazon — spellbound us for hours.

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How to Visit Machu Picchu on Your Own [With 2019 Entrance Fees and Rules]

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If you are looking for how to visit Machu Picchu on your own, then you have come to the right travel guide. As all you dear readers know that I hate the idea of arranging tours and booking trips and getting into a group, I will be honest that I didn’t even look at the options of going to Machu Picchu with a travel agency. I took a bus ride from Cusco to a town near Machu Picchu known as Hidroeléctrica and then walked and hiked the rest of the way —which is around 16 kilometers and more than 3000 stairs —to the top of the Incan royal city sitting at an altitude of 2,500 meters.

I wouldn’t have even taken the bus from Cusco to Hidroeléctrica if I had known that I could have walked there all the way from Ollantaytambo, a UNESCO world heritage site and a village near Cusco. But I know now, and you, too.

cusco+to+ollantaytambo+Hidroeléctrica+google+maps

 

If you are looking for the cheapest way to get to Machu Picchu on your own, then let us continue this guide for I have many things to talk about.

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Things to Do Around Cusco, Peru – Your Reasons to Never Leave

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Located high in the Andes, Cusco is one of the most culturally significant cities in Peru. Once the capital of the Inca empire, Cusco is surrounded by the Inca ruins (including Machu Picchu) which are scattered in the Andes circumscribing the city.

Cusco is a city that can be what you want it to be. Any traveler can find a myriad of things to do around Cusco Peru as per her or his own taste.

During the 20 days I explored Cusco, I was never bored. Sometimes I was hiking in the uninhabited mountain valleys near Cusco, at other days I was in the plaza drinking chicha morada and soaking in the sun, while some evenings I was admiring the rainbows behind the baroque cathedrals only to end up drinking at a fun bar, some mornings you could find me elbowing the locals in collectivos on the way to the sacred ruins, once I was chatting up with fun Dutch and Argentinians in a minibus that drove us to a town near Machu Picchu, and the rest of the times I was packing my bag to visit the Parque Nacional Manu in the Amazon forest or to a random hike that I fancied.

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