1. Dance cueca in public.
Chile’s national dance, cueca, consists of a series of stomps, sashays, and twirled handkerchiefs, all supposedly re-creating a cock’s conquest of a hen. Locals have the remarkable ability to make this dance not only look elegant but outright sexy (see cueca brava). However, no matter how much effort you put into its mastery, you — dear foreigner — will only ever succeed in looking like a toddler engaged in a stamping fit, lassoing a napkin over his head Indiana Jones-style.
2. Put too much ají on your sopaipilla.
It’s 4 am, you’ve just stumbled out of a bar and to your delight, you spot a sopaipilla cart in the distance. You order one from the kindly older woman tossing them in a gigantic vat of oil and nonchalantly pour half of the ají (hot sauce) container’s worth onto your precious cargo. You spend the next 5 minutes doubled over, a discarded mouthful of half-chewed fried wheat paste at your feet, tears streaming down your cheeks as you hack the very life out of you. Patrons look pityingly on at you.
3. Try to bond with the local park llama.
Her name is Lunita and she wears a hat. You’ve watched her proudly strut around your local park’s grounds, guided by a stout man offering to take park-goers’ pictures with her. Fascinated by this noble beast, you’ve creeped around the pair for a few weeks hoping to get a closer look, pretending to be captivated by the foliage whenever said guide caught you lurking around.
4. Attend a posh film premiere wearing an alpaca sweater.
After spending half of your first winter in Santiago huddled by a small electric heater draped in all of yours and your roommates’ blankets, you’ve finally given in and purchased an alpaca sweater, that scarlet letter of the mega tourist. It’s so amazingly warm, however, that you refuse to take it off — ever — and find yourself dragging your small decorative alpaca friends with you to all social events, making you the one wooly outcast in a sea of suits and sequins.
5. Suggest that any of the following is better in Peru:
Pisco, ceviche, seafood, people, staplers, etc.
6. Insist on putting all of the condiments on your complete.
Elegantly eating a completo — a Chilean wonder of a hot dog that comes complete with avocado, tomato, sauerkraut, and any number of sauces — is an art one may only perfect over years of consumption. As a foreigner in Santiago, you’re inevitably at a disadvantage. The only way to ingest one of these suckers is by bending over at a 90 degree angle and letting an unsightly mix of avocado, ketchup, and various kinds of mayonnaises drip onto the floor in front of you. Just eat on as locals sneer at your ineptitude.
7. Start an indoor fire because you sat too close to the electric heater.
You’ve taken to sitting a millimeter away from electric heaters in order to survive the winter (see #4). Most of your clothes are now pockmarked with crater-like burn holes. You look perpetually homeless.
8. Speak with an Argentine accent.
You may as well speak any other tongue — be it Urdu or Inuit — and save yourself the embarrassment.
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