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Paige: You're listening to Coffee with Gringos. I'm Paige Sutherland.

Mariah: And I'm Mariah Wika. Chile's a beautiful country. There's so much to see here. From the mountains to the sea to the desert to the forest... sometimes I don't think Chileans even realize how much their country has to offer. And so today we'll be chatting about some of the places that we've been to and comparing them because Chile has a lot of really, really different places.

As we talk, we'll be using comparatives and superlatives. Now, if you're not sure how to form comparatives and superlatives, as part of the vocabulary guide and transcript of this episode, we will have a little guide reminding you how to form comparatives and superlatives on your own. So, be sure to check that our if you're confused along the way.

Paige: Okay, so let's just go big. Start off with the biggest comparative we can in Chile - the north and the south, specifically Atacama in the north and Patagonia in the south. Completely different climates, geographies, lifestyles, animal life. Everything. Everything's different.

Mariah: Yeah, and of course... Paige and I, we're not experts, but we'll speak from our impressions and also from what people have told us who are Chilean and have been here for much longer that we have, right. I mean, the north, a lot of it is dry and barren, and you can drive for hours and see almost nothing. But there's a certain beauty to that, too. It means that the sky is huge, the stars are incredible... it's a pretty wild place.

Paige: The Atacama Dessert is the driest desert in the world.

Mariah: I think so too.

Paige: And then you have the south, Patagonia, which is one of the coldest places in the world because it's near Antarctica.

Mariah: It's rainier, it's windier... there are more forests and rivers. It's more mountainous. It's so different from the north of Chile. And the fact that you can fly from one end to the next in just a few hours and experience those differences blows my mind.

Paige: So, you have been to Atacama and a lot of the Patagonia region. What do you think is your favorite area? It's tough because they are so different.

Mariah: I have to say that I prefer the south of Chile. I've also been to the Lakes Region near Valdivia and also to the Bio Bio Region, so I've really had the chance to explore the South a lot. It's greener than the north. From my experience, there's more hiking. I really love places that are mountainous, and the south is fantastic for that. So between the south and the north, I would have to choose the south of Chile. I'm from a place that's filled with lakes and rivers and green, and so I think I feel at home in the south of Chile. Although, the mountains are a difference. How about you? Which do you prefer?

Paige: I think, for reasons that you stated, that the south offers more options for trekking, like you said. I love the mountains, I love the lakes. But, I have to point out in the north, the landscape is much more unique than anywhere that you'd ever have gone. You have in one drive... volcanoes, a desert with geysers and flamingos, salt flats... and then you drive even further, and you have a lagoon with snow and it's just the north is a much more incredible landscape.

Mariah: For me, the north was more shocking. I felt like I was on the moon. I had never had an experience like that before. I mean, I've seen mountains and rivers and lakes, and I love them. But you're completely right that to see places that resembled the Grand Canyon but also volcanoes and mountains in the distance and turquoise lakes in the middle of nowhere... I definitely felt more surprised in the north than in the south. I think that the north is more exciting for a short vacation, but I could see myself living in the south of Chile, you know? It's that sort of difference.

Paige: Absolutely. I think if you're visiting Chile, you should see both the north and the south because they're so different, and they're both breathtaking.

Mariah: Right. Let's talk about the coast. Let's compare the coast and the capitol... because Chileans, especially people from Santiago, where do they go when they want to escape Santiago? They head to the beach. So let's compare the coast and the capitol.

Paige: I think that Santiago could be compared to a lot of European cities. It has the architecture. It has all the amenities that any city that you'd find in the US or Europe, but there are a lot more people. A lot more people than on the coast. The coast is much more... it's not modern urban. It's more small-town urban where you have informal living, the colorful art scene... you don't really get that as much in Santiago as you do in Valparaiso.

Mariah: I think that the coastal region of Chile... of course it's less chaotic, it's less intense, it's just more relaxed than being in the city. I think that the impact of the ocean cannot be underestimated, right? It just has an impact on people. But I think that Santiago of course has more to offer in terms of career opportunities and cultural and museums and things like that that you really can only find in a metropolis, and so in that way, Santiago is much more metropolitan than the coast. Of course. But when I need a break, I also hop on a bus and head to the coast.

Paige: I think in Valparaiso, it has to be stated that there are a lot more hills than in Santiago. And there's a lot more dead-ends. I was in Valpo the other day, and I was walking just using my eyes, and I was like, "Oh if I just go up this street, I can go left!" And it was not possible.

Mariah: Valparaiso is more confusing than Santiago. Santiago is much more logically constructed.

Paige: And there are less people, but there's a lot more street dogs for sure.

Mariah: Yeah, defnitely.

Paige: It feels at least like there are a lot more tourists. Especially with Santiago, it's such a big city. I live in Las Condes... I'm not seeing tourists in Las Condes, you know? In the city center, absolutely. But in Valparaiso, you're going to see tourists.

Mariah: Right, and I also think that Santiago is a business center, and business center also has industries, but one of its largest industries is tourism. And so you're bound to see those tourists, so I would definitely say that Valparaiso is more touristy than Santiago, at least visually. There's one place that people always say is different from the rest of Chile, and that's Chiloe. People always say that it has its own distinct vibe, what did you think when you were there?

Paige: It's obviously an island, and I kind of felt like I would feel like I was on an island, but it was so big. It felt like I was in a different country. A very rural... maybe an Ireland type. A lot of grass, one road. Very small town. But it was really beautiful, and the lifestyle there is very different. It's a lot slower. Less people. People are just outside y'know by the water. It's really a nice getaway.

Mariah: Right, and it's more mystical, magical than the rest of Chile. From my experience because it has this folklore. They have these stories, and they talk about mermaids and trolls, and so I was really surprised by that. I thought that was a fun element of being there.

Paige: Another place that I haven't been and would love to go that I think is even more different than Chiloe or than Santiago is Easter Island. That is a place I think that you would feel like you're going back in time.

Mariah: Right. Isla de Pascua, exactly. That probably is the most distinct sort of destination in Chile that people sometimes is part of Chile, in fact. It's far.

Paige: But it's definitely one I think that when you're there, they speak a different language. The culture is completely different. A lot of the people that are indigenous to the island don't go to the mainland of Chile, right? So I think it is a very incredible place to visit if you have the chance.

Mariah: I would like to someday. Maybe when we visit, we can make a new comparative episode.

Paige: The other place in Chile that's very different is, like you talked about the Lakes Region... is the German influence. If you go a lot to, say, Valdivia or Puerto Varas, you have this German influence.

Mariah: It's more European than other parts of Chile.

Paige: Exactly, the architecture is completely different. It's more European. You can even tell by the churches, the houses, even the food is different. You kind of forget that you're in Chile.

Mariah: Yeah. Right. Of course, that's such an interesting story... how some of the folks that came here from Germany were Nazis that weren't welcome in Germany. And they escaped to South America. Not all the Germans that came here, right? But the history is always so complex. But definitely the south has more of a European influence than the north, absolutely. Because that's where the folks from Germany settled.

Paige: So, as you can see, Chile is the longest country in the world.

Mariah: Right and probably the skinniest.

Paige: So, its climates are different, its geographies are different... you could be on the beach, you could go skiing, you could ski on a volcano, you could be in the Antarctic region, you could be in the driest desert in the world. Crazy!

Mariah: I don't know about you, Paige, but I just feel super fortunate to have experienced it. And we hope that as you've been listening, you've been able to make your own comparisons about the places you've experienced in your country. It's an awesome place to be. Thanks again for listening, and we'll talk to you soon!


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Chat (verb) - casually talk

Example: Today we’ll be chatting about differences between different parts of Chile.

Go big (idiom) - start with something dramatic or impressive

Example: Let’s go big and talk about two of the most obviously different regions in Chile, the south and the north.

Impression (noun) - perspective based on experience

Example: We’re not experts, but we'll speak from our impressions.

Barren (adjective) - land that’s often empty because things don’t grow there

Example: Many parts of the north of Chile are dry and barren.

Mountainous (adjective) - a landscape with many mountains

Example: The south of Chile is generally more mountainous than the north.

Tough (adjective) - difficult or challenging

Example: It’s tough to decide which part of Chile I like best because it’s all so beautiful!

Point out (phrasal verb) - to make an observation

Example: I have to point out that the landscape in the north is much more unique than the landscape in the south.

Shocking (adjective) - extremely surprising

Example: I agree. For me, the landscape of the north was much more shocking.

Resemble (verb) - to look like, be similar to

Example: There are parts of the north that resemble the Grand Canyon!

Dead-ends (noun) - streets that end and don’t go anywhere

Example: Valparaiso is a crazy city with curvy streets and many dead-ends.

Bound to (phrase) - certain or guaranteed

Example: One of Valparaiso’s primary industries is tourism, so you’re bound to see many tourists!

Touristy (adjective) - filled with tourists

Example: The center of Santiago is definitely more touristy than Las Condes.

Getaway (noun) - escape

Example: The coast of Chile is a great getaway from the big city.