1. You’ll erect altars to the palta (avocado) gods and depending on your religion of choice, find yourself lighting votives/softly chanting/depluming pigeons in honor of the person who first thought of spreading it on hot dogs (completos) and various burgers (churrascos). Home-grown and delicious, Chilean avocados are so prized they have their own Facebook fan page (seriously: look it up.) Seized by palta frenzy, you may find yourself tempted to start complementing unorthodox choices — chocolate, Reese’s, socks — with this sweet, green substance. Tread carefully.
2. Bread will slowly but surely begin replacing all other food groups until your personal food pyramid is an amalgamation of marraquetas, hallullas, and cotizas. Typically consumed for breakfast along with avocado (see #1), as well as a faithful lunch, dinner, and once (the equivalent of the Brits’ elevenses) companion, its encroaching presence in your life will eventually manifest itself on your expanding midsection.
3. The sight of a mounted police officer galloping toward you at a major intersection won’t scare the living daylights out of you. Though it may initially conjure up images of ringwraiths charging Frodo, in time you will become so accustomed to these towering law enforcers that when one night, as you attempt to hail a cab, one sidles up to you — purportedly to ensure your safety — and proceeds to ask you for your number, you’ll respond by merely rolling your eyes, and exchanging a complicit glance with its steed. See #4.
4. As a woman, you’ll master your ‘resting bitch face’ when out and about — any other expression being a clear invitation to elope and/or fornicate with male passersby.
5. No matter how despotic your education in proper Spanish pronunciation, you’ll abandon the academic rigor your accent betrayed and begin sounding like a Chilean trucker. Chileans are notorious for dropping d’s and s’s as well as dousing their speech with chilenismos, words and expressions exclusively used in Chile, and speaking at an incomprehensibly fast pace. As a non-Latino, be ready to become the laughing stock of other Spanish-speaking countries: basically, you’ll be the equivalent of a Swiss landing in the US and speaking English with a Bengali accent.
6. You’ll hold back tears the first few times you’re asked to cough up monetary values in the thousands for a simple beer or pack of hair scrunchies (thought they’d gone extinct after the 1990s? They died and went to the Southern Cone).
7. Thinking you’re going native, you’ll buy an alpaca wool sweater — the one with the llama soul train dancing across your chest — only to realize that none of the locals would be caught dead wearing one, you tourist. Nevertheless, it will become a staple of your winter wardrobe, your second skin essentially, as betrayed by your refusal to ever remove it and, accordingly, wash it.
8. You’ll convince yourself you’ve learned to handle terremotos, a deadly mix of pineapple ice cream and young fermented wine. This will never be true, as you’ll discover (again) when you find yourself blurrily debating whether the lunar landing took place in a Hollywood studio with random bar patrons.
9. After dreaming of the country’s fabled beaches, you’ll dive into its sparkling waters only to realize their sub-Arctic temperatures can only possibly accommodate beluga whales and other large maritime mammals (#2 may help you in that pursuit). Thankfully, there are always the Andes.