Argentina and Chile are very close together and often overlooked on a map as similar areas. However, the Patagonian mountains stretch down the middle which also denotes a huge shift in culture. These are some ways in which Argentina and Chile vastly differ:
I'm positive I've beat the Argentine Inflation crisis to death in this blog over time, but as a reminder the Argentine Peso has an inflation rate of 100% or more per year. This is great if you're an American tourist and you want your money to go farther, but for citizens of Argentina the rate of inflation increase is life-crumbling. Shop local, do your research, pay cash where possible.
With this in mind we were already expecting quite an increase in our spending, but our spending over doubled in Chile! While part of the reason for that could be the sorry excuse for a kitchen at our stay and much more eating out, we also noticed grocery prices were much higher than Argentina.
Now while the food was much more expensive, it seemed like what you were actually paying for was SPICE. We were in serious need of some heat after Argentina's, while very flavorful, very heat-avoidant palette. In Santiago we were greeted by hot fried chicken, spicy ramen, byrianis, doner kebabs, chinese takeout, Belgium waffles and even a cheesy crab cake soup. The variety and spice of Santiago, Valparaiso, Vina del Mar, Casablanca Valley and more has us convinced we need to come back and do a more thorough review of the Chilean food scene.
The weather in Santiago claims it is very similar to Mendoza, but in terms of feeling it we were surprised by Santiago's cool brisk air as it is closer to the mountains and the high level of smog in the air. It very rarely rains in Santiago so there is sometimes a very strong air of dust and smog in the city. This can prevent you from seeing the mountains clearly or at all. Both Menodza and Buenos Aires had great air quality while we were there.
There is definitely a vibe shift across the mountains. While part of this is of course attributed to the size difference between Mendoza and Santiago there is a clear difference between Argentina's European energy and Chile's Americanized vibe. There were a lot more fluent English speakers in Chile so when they found out we were American they very often switched us to someone that could help us in English. In Argentina there are fewer English speakers, but everyone is incredibly patient so it forces you to try and learn Spanish better which was very helpful for us. Different vibes for different tribes, but we greatly enjoyed both countries and hope you do too!
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