Skip to content

Read Around the World: Chile


Map of Chile

May took our world book tour away to Chile in South America. What did we learn and what did we read?

Fun facts about Chile from this website:

  • Chile is the longest country in the world from north to south at 2,653 miles.
  •  Ferdinand Magellan was the first European to set foot on what is now Chile. He visited the land in 1520 during his attempt to circumnavigate the globe.
  • Monte Verde is the oldest-known site of human habitation in the Americas. The widely accepted date for early occupation at Monte Verde is 16,500 B.C.
  • 16,000 fireworks were exploded in the Chilean city of Valparaiso in 2007. This remains a Guinness World Record.
  • Chile is the world’s fifth-largest wine exporter, with 100 wineries
  • Husbands and wives in Chile do not share a same, common last name. Wives use their maiden names. Use of common last names for male and female counterparts is reserved for brothers and sisters.
  • When greeting or leaving, cheek kisses are exchanged between men and women and between women. Both the individuals gently touch cheek to cheek and send kiss in the air. Men exchange handshakes.
  • Pisco is Chile’s national drink. It is home grown in the country and made with a mixture of a few different ingredients. They use Coca-Cola to form Piscola. Lemon juice, ice, sugar, and beaten egg whites are used to make Pisco sour, which is the most common version of the national drink.
  • You can also find the world’s driest desert – the Atacama – in Chile. This place has not seen even a single drop of rain since record-keeping began
  • Chile’s Biblioteca Nacional (National Library), containing 1.8 million volumes, is the largest national library of a Spanish-speaking country outside of Spain.
  • You can spot 4000-year-old trees in Chile’s southern region. They are mostly of the amazingly long-lived Alerce tree species.
  • Chileans refer to their land as a “country of poets.” They have two Nobel Prize winners in Literature: Gabriela Mistral – 1945, (she is also depicted on 5,000 peso bank notes) and Pablo Neruda – 1971.
  • The world’s largest swimming pool is in Chile. It is 1000 yards long, 20 acres in area and 115 feet deep. This giant pool holds 66 million gallons of seawater. Remember: this was not a cheap pool to build. It took five years and one billion U.S. dollars; its annual maintenance cost is close to two million U.S. dollars.
  • Penguins are found in Chile, in addition to Antarctica. With almost 12,000 breeding pairs in the country, ‘Humboldt Penguins’ can be seen on the north coast of Chile.


I visited Chile via By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolaño. I did plan to follow this up with the new Isabel Allende but due to library closures that is not going to happen this month. So what did I think of the book I read?

By Night in Chile tells the story of Father Sebastian Urrutia Lacroix a Chilean priest as he lies on his death bed he recalls key events in his life and the well known people he has met. He relives his days as a literary critic and aspiring poet hoping for a break. He also gets caught up in politics when he is hired to secretly teach Marxism to Pinochet and his generals, a decision? or more likely an obligation that haunts him for the rest of his life and one for which he is still seeking forgiveness.

While the story covers a lot of Chilean history in a short space of time I never really felt like I was in Chile instead I could have been anywhere. In fact there is a whole section where the young father travels Europe to learn about preserving churches mainly by use of birds of prey to keep pigeons away ***shrugs shoulders***. The writing style is stream of consciousness which is not my favourite and long continuous sentences hurt my eyes.

Overall I didn’t particular enjoy this trip but that is a problem with me not the book. I know this because I have read and really appreciated 2666 by the same author a more traditionally written story about the disappearances of women and the lack of value placed on their lives.

Other readers chose to visit Chile via these books:

RachelO from Litsy – My Documents by Alejandro Zambra a short story collection which she is loving.

Currey from Litsy – The House of the Spirits and A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende both of which she rates as a pick.

Did you join us on our trip? Let us know what you read in comments.

For June we will be travelling to Saudi Arabia will you be joining us? What do you intend to read?


No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: