Santiago: Clubbing in Yoga Pants
January 1, 1970
by N.H. Chavez
My first morning in Chile I woke up hung-over, smelly, and with coins stuck all over my body. I had been in Santiago for approximately 17 hours, and was already falling for the complexity of this city.
Silhouette of Plaza de Armes
The previous night had been danced at away at a posh night club, where I had been sorely under dressed. I found myself wriggling around to techno music dressed in the same yoga pants and sweatshirt I’d been wearing for 3 days of travel, as beautiful Chileans floated around me in little black dresses, heels, and collared shirts. These Chileans however, could not have been more fun to party with. They ignored my sandaled feet, nonexistent Spanish and greasy hair, and insisted on sharing their drinks of pisco-cola, or “piscola” with me. After dancing with my new friends for 6 hours, I had found my way back to the hostel and drunkenly fell asleep on my open wallet, which resulted in a layer of coins being glued to my body by sweat.
Traveling has always been a source of happiness for me and being Santiago, Chile was no different. I don’t always wake up covered in sweat and Chilean currency, but there are worse ways to wake up. I had arrived in Santiago the day prior and it had taken me 72 hours, one missed flight, and a lost bag to get here. I was trying really hard not to feel worn out and exhausted. While traveling, it’s almost like your luggage becomes a piece of home you carry around, a small piece of known comfort and without it, I was feeling unsteady and a little homesick. However, no matter how much meticulous planning you do, some things are just supposed to go wrong and unplanned. I knew this, and I was trying hard to accept it.
I decided to walk off my hangover by climbing up Santa Lucia, a hill that held a ruin of a fort and towered over Santiago. Winding my way through the narrow streets, I found myself in solitude among the concrete walls, along with a man sporting a bright pink wig.
Streets of Santiago: Miraflores
Santa Lucia was perched precariously on top of a hill, with a winding cobbled road leading up to it. Mossy foliage, bright pink and purple flowers and tangles of vines covered the entire complex. As you reached the top, more random paths and stairways appeared and I found myself climbing and leaping through the ruins of this old fort.
Cobbled Roads and Stairways of Santa Lucia
Near the very top of the fort was a clearing with a view of the city and an old man selling candy and juice. Craving sugar, I ordered a melon drink and found myself sipping a neon green beverage and staring at the city skyline below.
“Jugo de Melon”
Feeling energized and maybe a little nauseous, I climbed the last few, falling apart steps to the viewpoint at the top of the fort, which had a 360 degree view of the city. Though there was a small cloud cover, peaking up and over the clouds were the Andes. To see such an incredible mountain range peering over an oblivious city like that was so incredibly humbling and inspiring, I felt teary eyed and rejuvenated.
View from the Top
I spent the next three days getting lost in Santiago. Scattered within this concrete and brick jungle were little parks filled with trees, playgrounds, people walking their dogs and couples making out on benches. These small sanctuaries became my resting points, as I explored the free museums and walked through the many different neighborhoods out skirting the city central.
Wandering Through Santiago
Now I don’t want to sound like an alcoholic, but whenever I travel I make it a goal to find a brewery and the most popular drinking spots for locals. Finding these joints gives me an excuse to walk away from the touristy parts of the city and get lost in the most local neighborhoods. On my third day in Santiago, I was searching for a brewery called “Loom.” It was about 3 kilometers from my hostel and involved crossing a river into a part of the Bellavista neighborhood that I had not yet explored. After winding through some very empty and graffiti filled streets, I finally came across it. I walked into a room empty of people and filled with chairs. I was just about to turn around and walk out when a man appeared from the back, carrying a tray full of hot, delicious smelling pub food. I uttered the only Spanish word I could say well, “cerveza?” and he nodded with a smile and ushered me to follow him up a stairway. Going up the stairs and into the bar, I honestly felt like Alice in Wonderland, and this beautiful room of beer was my fantasy world. The cheery bartender enthusiastically poured me a taster of every single beer, and between sips I attempted to use the few Spanish words I knew to casually chat.
Tasters from Loom Brewpub
Sipping on delicious, rich beer surrounded by fellow friendly beer lovers made me feel at home. I was lucky enough to meet one of the owners and was treated to a delicious stout on the house. Yep, I was definitely in a beer wonderland.
Head Brewer of Loom
I talked with the head brewer/owner and learned that he had spent some time in Chicago, learning to brew. He explained to me that Chile hadn’t quite hopped on the brewery bandwagon yet, and Loom is one of the few breweries leading the way. They are currently relocating the actual brewery and when I was there, all of the beer on tap were favorites from other Chilean breweries. Thank goodness for people who brew incredible beer, the kindness of strangers, and winding, beautiful streets designed to help you get lost.