Chile

Key Country Facts

Historical & Interesting Facts:

Chile is home to the largest swimming pool in the world located at the San Alfonso del Mar resort . The pool is a record 2km long!

Top Activities and Places to Visit:

San Cristobal Hill, Chilean National Zoo, Torres del Paine National Park, Valle de la Luna, Atacama Desert

Other Information:

Major exports: copper, fruit, fish products, paper, pulp, chemicals, and wine

Me with the Arancibia family, Hector, Paulita, Erika
Valparaiso, Chile in 1981

During the summer of 1981, as a rising junior at Boca Raton High School, I applied to be an exchange student with American Field Service, or AFS. I was accepted into the program and assigned to Chile, in South America. My host parents Erika and Hector Arancibia met me at the airport. I remember Erika being so happy that I had arrived … and yet Hector was so solemn.  Hmmm.  Wonder why?  It turns out that Erika had not told her husband until that day that I would be spending the summer at their home in Valparaiso! Yikes! And to boot, they had a young child, Paulita, whose room I would be occupying … which meant she was staying in their room!

I loved my time in Valparaiso, in Cerro Placeres. It was a working class city, and we lived in a humble two-bedroom / 1 bath home.  As Chile is in the southern hemisphere, that meant summer was their winter, and it was cold! To take a warm shower you had to pour phosphorous into the tray where the shower spigot, and then light it. For food, I remember eating lots of wonderful bread and prietas (blood in intestines), which I found horrifying. I went to school during the week at the Liceo Commercial, a pre-university that prepared its students for financial-related jobs. And I met a wonderful friend, Ms. Erica Castro, with whom I hung out with every day after school.

After Hector got over the shock of a strange American living in his home for three months, he finally took a liking to me, and attempted to show me how to play the guitar. To this day, I still play “Baila Bamba”, and think of him when I play those 3 chords he showed me. After school, I enjoyed going down to the Police Department where Hector and Erika worked, to get a delicious bocadillo (sandwich).

Erika’s family were wonderful and we’d often go to their home for various celebrations, occasions and holidays. I have several distinct memories of my time in Chile. One was traveling to the Portillo ski resort,  a few hours outside of Santiago. Another of the most memorable times I remember in Valparaiso was being shaken out of bed by a large earthquake. I vividly remember thinking that the house might fall down on me … this was not something I had ever experienced living in Florida. To this day, I look so fondly back on my time in Chile, and stay in touch with my Chilean mother Erika on Facebook.

 

Jim's Mile Marker

UN Recognized Countries

193

Countries Visited

190

Featured Destination

AZERBAIJAN