A 24-year old danish blonde girl leaving the cosy, warm danish summer to go on an adventure in Santiago in Chile! whaaaaaaa….
This is it! Santiago here I come!
Hola! ¿Como estas? Dos cervezas, por favor! My daily lingo for the next 5 months! Maybe not everyday… some days I will have Vino instead… Well it would be rude not to considering some of the finest wines are made only a train ride away from me, in my new home, Santiago – Chile. I was overwhelmed when Peter Murphy, manager at La Bicicleta Verde, told me
“You will be a great match for the company, and I look forward to having you here!”
I could not believe that I had to pack my bag and leave Denmark and be an intern at La Bicicleta Verde. It didn’t seem real to me until I was on the plane ready for lift off, leaving the Danish summer behind me.
It was only a few months prior that I was surfing the web looking for companies who searched for interns. La Bicicleta Verde appeared and I didn’t hesitate to email them my CV and application. Peter responded and three months later, here I am. In Santiago. By myself. Aaargh!
After a long and challenging flight with cancellations, rebookings, running around airports and every other travel hiccup imaginable I finally arrived in cold Santiago a day later than expected without my luggage (of course). Not the best start, but with an optimistic mind and a “what else could possibly go wrong” sort of attitude I was looking forward to work, meeting the team and getting started. After four years of theory in university, my knowledge finally was going to be put to the test. Would I be able to do the tasks asked of me and live up to their expectations? What about my expectations of myself?
Meeting the crew
Monday the 3rd of August I stood outside the La Bicicleta Verde office (which is hard to miss considering it is one of the most colourful buildings in the city), took a deep breath and pressed the buzzer. I was greeted by Peters business partner Ben (Peter was on a well deserved holiday.) He showed me around the office and introduced me to the rest of the warm and obliging team and not forgetting the famous fleet of green bicycles. I met my fellow interns, Peigi from Scotland and Maud from France and soon we were talking as if we had been friends for months, all in this exciting new adventure together.. They showed me some of their work tasks, such as a newsletter, reservations, blogs, etc. In the afternoon Peigi and I went on one of the bike tours offered by La Bicicleta Verde. Week one’s duties include taking all of the tours so I am able to answer questions guests might have and to gain a better understanding of the company. It was interesting to see the city from a bike rather than a bus or car.I felt more part of the local community zooming around side streets immersed in the sounds and smells of Santiago. I was blanketed by feelings of relief and excitement as I left the office after day one.
Terremoto and panic
Next day, Tuesday the 4th, I began the day with the sister company, Tours4Tips. We were a group from all over the world going out to explore Santiago. We visited parks, fruit, vegetable, meat and fish markets, the large cemetery with over 2.5 billion graves and tombs finishing the tour off with the famous “Terremoto” drink. A drink stronger than most, but with a taste like candy. When I returned to the office, Peigi, Maud and another French intern, Sophie, was impatiently waiting for me. We were going out on bikes to explore and take new pictures for the website.
During the next couple of days I went on another tours4tips tour where we heard more about the political side of Chile and got familiar with the popular Chilean concept of “café con piernas” (coffee with legs), which is a café where you can get your coffee served by a beautiful waitress wearing outfits not quite suitable for the Santiago winter let’s say….
I also spend time in the office writing articles for the La Bicicleta Verde blog. Apparently, my alter-ego did not find this interesting enough, and therefore making me knock over a full, perfectly brewed, hot cup of tea drowning my computer like Titanic, only faster. The panic was real! No more work was being done on the computer for the next couple of days. In the end, my salvation was the computer-genius Sebastian Catalán who, with his amazing super-powers, managed to give my computer CPR and bring it back to life!
Sophie’s last day
Wednesday the 12th of August I went to our wine tour at the vineyard Cousiño Macul. I had never been to a vineyard before, so it was very interesting to see the impressive, giant vats from 1870, the wine cellar with the family’s private collection and much more. The tour finished with a tasting of different wines and when the tour guide asked if we wanted a refill on the last glass of course nobody protested.
The next day I spent with Sophie, who showed me how she does promotion at different hotels and hostels. It is very important to visit these places as they can inform their guests about La Bicicleta Verde and what a good way to see Santiago it is. It was Sophies final days at the company. My new duties include taking over promotion. I hope I can do as good a job as she did. When we got back everyone in the office gathered to give Sophie a proper farewell with flowers and sweet things.
The first two weeks of working in La Bicicleta Verde has given me a sense of optimism, relief and a drive for what is coming. I know it’s going to be tough and definitely a worth-while experience. Santiago has so much to offer! Many things are very different from what I am used to in Denmark, but little by little I feel myself adapting to the life here in the center of Chile! Now, let’s hope for some warmer weather soon!