Monthly Archives: May 2010

Día del Patrimonio Nacional 2010- Chilean National Heritage Day

Día de Patrimonio Nacional / National Heritage DayThe last Sunday of May is one of my favorite days in Chile. Since 1999, it is the Día del Patrimonio Nacional—National Heritage Day—in which many buildings, both public and private, many of which are usually closed to the public, open their doors to the public. This is your chance to get a peek into some of those buildings you’ve been wondering about…

Check out the entire list of activities for the entire country at, but the site is a bit cumbersome (and in Spanish, if that’s an issue), so here’s a run-down. Take a quick read, get your walking shoes on, grab you camera, and get out there to enjoy this gorgeous Sunday morning!

A word of warning–if there’s a place you’re particularly interested in, this is your chance because there is no guarantee it will be open again next year!

For a list of places to visit on this special day… or for a route to follow any time of the years, read on… Continue reading

BYOTP in Chile

I suspect that anyone who has done any amount of traveling outside their comfort zone is familiar with the acronym “BYOTP.” For those who are not, let me spell it out for you, because if you’re a woman in Chile, this is going to become pretty important: Bring Your Own Toilet Paper.

Confort toilet paperOf course this is an odd—less than delicate, shall we say—topic, but let’s face it, there are things that a traveler just needs to be forewarned about, and the whole idea behind Cachando Chile is to let you in on the things that no one else ever bothers to mention!

And since Eileen kicked it off today with her piece on “The Case of the Hot TP,” I figured it’s time to pass on a bit of advice for newbies that I’ve been planning to haul out at the right time… and it seems there’s no time like the present. Continue reading

Alameda 777 Something old, Something new

Santiago de Chile–city full of nooks and crannies and little secrets right under your nose–no wonder I love it.

Alameda 777 Santiago  © M Snook 2010Despite having lived here “forever” it took a foreigner less than 2 days in Chile (that’s you @cfarivar) to find a place I’d walked by a zillion times and never noticed! So the other night, after an incredible Chinese meal at Mr. Wu (which I’ll leave for another post), the four of us were still enjoying ourselves too much to go home, and as we zipped along Alameda (Santiago’s main drag), I asked if anyone had ever heard of what had been described as an “unpretentious” bar called 777… and the next thing you know, there we were, standing in front of the entrance with no sign, a barely legible and heavily tarnished brass street number about 8 feet up, a tattered liquor license posted above that, and a steep and winding, dark, and heavily graffitied stairway leading to who knows where… Continue reading

Ode to the Completo Chileno

Chilean hot dog completoPablo Neruda wrote odes to Chilean foods, but he left out one of the most beloved of all: the Completo. Some might think I’m talking about a Chilean hot dog, but don’t be fooled! Don’t believe me? Check out: A Hotdog is Not a Completo.

When it comes to a frankfurter on a bun, it’s hard to beat the Chilean version—the completo—for a colorfully creative revelry in excess gunkyness. And it is so well loved that there are entire Facebook pages dedicated to it! Continue reading

Me duele la cabeza: Whose head hurts you?

IbuprofenWhose hair is that on your head? Whose throbbing molar is making you suffer? Whose aching back has put you out of commission for the weekend? Mastering a new language involves far more than memorizing vocabulary and verb conjugations. It also means adapting to unexpected combinations of words and ideas that can put some very basic notions of how the world works to the test. For example, what is uniquely yours and what is not.

In contrast to my last post (Ya mi niña, Who do YOU belong to? ), which pondered certain possessive idiosyncrasies of spoken Spanish (mi niña, mi reina, mi mamá), today I flip to the polar extreme and wonder why it is that Spanish speakers seem to disown body parts, which could not possibly be more uniquely personal.

For example, want to get your hair cut? Go ahead and tell someone “Necesito cortar mi pelo” (I need to cut my hair)… chuckle, chortle, ha-ha-ha… no you don’t… what you need to say is: Continue reading

Ya mi niña: who do YOU belong to?

Mi, mi, mi… A few thoughts on linguistic ownership today.

Ya mi niña, nos vemos…

¿Mi niña? I thought, there it is again… Mi niña—my girl—an oddly common expression in Chilean vernacular. I had really tried not be drawn into the cell phone conversation going on next to me in the crowded waiting room yesterday and was pretty successful until the blah-blah-blah, ha-ha-ha, turned to “ya mi niña.” It’s one of those expressions that often seems to signal the end of a conversation and always grabs my attention. I knew she was not talking to her daughter.

Mi niña, mi hija, mi reina, mi general, mi mamá…. who do YOU belong to? Continue reading