If you are walking through the streets of a Chilean city for the first time, you will need to correct your idea of the "typical Latino". The Chileans have a familiar European appearance. These people have been influenced by the continuous stream of immigrants, but due to their isolated position they did not have much of an impact in world history for centuries. You will only learn more of the special characteristics of these people on a closer look.
Familiar, but different. This is what you will think after an endless flight to Chile, once you sit down at Plaza de Armas, the main center of Santiago de Chile, and take a look around. On this continent in the South the seasons are all different. You may have left your home country in the rainy autumn season and now you find yourself amidst a warm spring day. Here at midday the sun is up in the North, but it sure gets hot. The surroundings seem to be familiar: Arcades similar to those in Spain, over there a splendid Palais, at the corner a modern tall glass building next to the neo classicistic cathedral. The faces of the people also seem familiar: But no, these people are not typical Latinos. They look just like the people in New York, Frankfurt or London. Yuppies hurry down the street in their designer suits, giggling school girls in their uniform pass by, you will see the common businessmen in their characteristic grey suits or self-confident business women with their mobiles phones at hand on the way to a meeting.
At the Plaza you are in the center of the tumult: While all around you can sense the hectic of this metropolitan city, people begin to walk slower, they watch the chess players or listen to some street musician. The image of a chaotic Latin-American city does not fit in Chile; instead life is civilized and quiet over here: There is no beggar asking you for money, the taxi drivers do not honk at you, only here and there maybe a street vendor will try to sell cheap jewelry to you. There is no trace of the extroverted temperament, which is so typical for the Argentineans. You will encounter difficulties in understanding the Chileans at first, even though you think you know Spanish. In Chile the people are fast-talkers and they swallow parts of words more than others in the Hispanic world.
Nevertheless, it is easy to start a conversation with the person next to you on the bench, who is reading a newspaper or with the vendor, who turns out to be an English student, and all of a sudden everything is different. Chileans are not pushy, but curious and interested in the foreigners. Where do you come from? Where do you go? ¡Te gusta Chile? (Do you like Chile?) Those are always the first questions. Soon you will learn that the vendor's aunt's brother-in-law once lived in Chicago just like you and now you are Amigos and you will be invited to a barbecue on Sunday. No doubt, you will often experience the warm hospitality on your travels everywhere in Chile.