One of the pleasures with traveling for a year is that you can stay in a place for a while, like Chile- without deadlines- and get a good feel of daily life and the best of what the country can offer. Having been here for almost a month now, we can say we're impressed and yet a bit in awe at the 'first world' and 'third world' feel.
In the old days, the First World consisted of the U.S., Western Europe and their allies. The Second World was the so-called Communist Bloc: the Soviet Union, China, Cuba and friends. The remaining nations, which aligned with neither group, were assigned to the Third World. Then, it was termed 'developing' nations or countries.
With Chile, there is no denying that there is a 'first world' feel. Especially since the return of
democracy in Chile in the 1990's, the country has progressed significantly.
You can just take a look at the condominium and commercial buildings that have been built in the 4 major cities over the past 20+ years in Santiago, Valparaiso, Vina Del Mar and ConCon.
But you get the feeling, when you walk around, that there is an 'old Chile', be it the older houses, the bus system, the fabulous beaches without the commercial fast food and Golden Arches. Among the skyscrapers you get to see older structures and the people- a tired feel yet a laid back, no excusing, happy-people environment. They seem to be ok with the old and the new. For us travellers, it's a good feeling.
There may be a sense of 'busyness' in Santiago (so the residents of ConCon and Vina Del Mar will say) but everywhere else, there is not a whiff of frustration at not catching a train or bus or the fast pace you sometimes see in major North American cities.
Of course, we're laid back and we don't have jobs to go to on Monday mornings and maybe that's just for the better.