Before we began this trip, we dreamed of all the delicious food we'd be eating. Savory meats, fresh seafood, rice, beans, empanadas, etc. But the morning of our third day in Santiago we had already eaten in a handful of restaurants and hadn't been wowed by the food. Finally we talked with our housemates and learned that if we were waiting for that pinnacle gastronomic moment where we look at each other across the table and mumble "oh my god" before even swallowing the first bite, well, it wasn't going to happen. Turns out Chile isn't know for their culinary prowess. After all, one of the more famous dishes is a hot dog covered in mayonnaise.
So after spending way too much money on our third or fourth so-so meal, we determined that buying groceries and cooking at home was the way to go. And what better way to get to know Santiago than a trip to La Vega, the famous open air market!
Knowing at least a little about what we were undertaking in visiting La Vega, we decided to stroll around first to get a feel for the market before buying anything. Turns out this is not at all a good strategy. No sooner had we spotted something that we liked (we'll come back for it later! we thought) than we lost it amidst the endless aisles and crowded stalls bustling with buyers, vendors, carts, and occasionally, an actual car. It wasn't until we left that we noticed the aisles did have numbers on them so you could find your way.
It was an exhausting trip though. And man did we underestimate our Spanish skills. We both thought that for the most part things would sound familiar and thus trigger the release of 10 years of Spanish education, but no. Chile has the most difficult accent in all of South America (go figure) and tons of strange expressions that make zero sense to foreigners, even ones fluent in Spanish. And if Chilean Spanish is the worst, then the Spanish in La Vega is the worst in Chile. Of course we learned these things after we made it home with our bags of groceries so we didn't feel as bad about how much we had struggled through our shopping trip but still. We also had a brain fart moment converting kilograms to pounds and ended up with almost 2.25 pounds of cheese...
All in all, we've been eating most of our meals at home and feel like we're settling in nicely to our new neighborhood. Ahora nosotros tenemos que practicar nuestro Español.
Note: At the time of this post we are about halfway through our 2.25 pounds of cheese.