If there is one thing that I miss most about American culture – one aspect that is so ingrained into my daily life that I can’t imagine life without it – that thing is coffee shops. Which, I sadly say, is not a part of the Chilean lifestyle.
There is one main road that stretches down most of the length of Viña del Mar, Ave. Libertad. If you need a coffee – a real coffee, mind you, not that instant coffee Chileans love so much – you go to Libertad. There’s a string of cafés down this road, but they aren’t really for coffee; they have it, but that’s not why they are there. You’d most likely go to a café for a sandwich. Maybe some tea. But even then, people don’t typically sit around and drink and talk.
I can’t understand this. If any aspect of the American culture seems like it would fit into the South American lifestyle, it would be the event of sitting somewhere, drinking and talking. When I’m in the States and there is nothing to do, I call up a friend and meet that friend in a café. But here, these cafés and coffeeshops are scarce and unpopular. It hurts.
My positive spin to this negative situation is that I am clearly spending less, make that no, money on coffee. I drink a cup or two of tea a day, at least in the morning, at my host family’s host; then, after that, I try to stick to water.
(The little American brat inside of me, despite all this, just wants to whine, but I only want a coffeeshop to talk to friends and read my books! Wahh!)