This trip didn’t get off to the smoothest start.
I was enjoying a scotch with Cousin Dave the night before departing for Santiago. The only thing missing to complete our usual scotch ritual was a cigar, but I kind of dropped the ball on that. Towards the end he commented that I didn’t seem as excited for the trip as I probably ought to be. He was right; I wasn’t feeling that excited, nor particularly nervous. Outside of a stubborn determination I’d held since coming home from the first big trip that I would do a ’round 2′ when I was 26 I felt strangely apathetic towards the whole thing.
In the lead up to the trip I’d started to feel a sense of guilt that I’d picked up through my own thoughts and conversations with people that I’d over analysed. Maybe a (second) year of wandering around the world was a little self indulgent? Shouldn’t I be buying an investment property, or be coming up with a stronger idea of what I want to do when I grow up? Or what about other adult things like finding a partner, I had begun to develop feelings for someone before I left – should I have approached that differently?
I figured I’d snap out of it when I got to Santiago where it would finally feel ‘real’, I’d meet some cool people and then who knows – adventure and freedom, right?. Between a combination of jet lag and being the only native English speaker in the hostel I had a surprisingly lonely time in Santiago.That’s not to say I had a bad time, only that it wasn’t what I had envisioned.
The city is littered with beautiful parks that are heavily used by people and street dogs. One thing I’ll never understand with the street dogs though is what their problem is with cars and why they need to chase every one that goes past. The city’s greenspaces gave me insight into how open couples in South America are with public displays of affection (like, really open).
In anticipation of heading down to Patagonia I decided to walk up San Cristobal hill rather than take the train up. After taking in what turned out to be a great panorama of the city I managed to space out on the way back down and get lost and ended up on the wrong side of the hill. As at writing (May) this has somehow managed to become a trend and I’ve gotten lost 3 times on simple trails I really shouldn’t have.
Other than that I did what I like to do best in big cities. Walk.
The beautiful plazas made me wish the Spanish had settled Australia (and designed the cities) rather than the English. How much better would a plaza like this (below) be than say, King George Square in Brisbane? A lot. They’re just such great central places where people can meet, relax, enjoy some greenery and street performances.
The street art gave me a taste of what was soon to come in Valparaiso – a city I loved, where I met some fantastic people to spend the week with, snapped out of my funk, and got a really bad T-shirt tan.
On reflection, that sense of guilt I felt before leaving for the trip has dissipated. In the three months I’ve been away so far I’ve had some truly incredible experiences shared with equally great people. I’ve met travelers who are on their 2nd, 3rd, 4th or even 5th year of travelling who were older, younger, richer and poorer than me. There’s no right or wrong life path, and we’re lucky enough to have a ridiculous number of opportunities just there for the taking if we dare to reach for them. Right now, I’m getting a kick out of exploring the world, meeting interesting people, learning about different cultures, (poorly) learning Spanish, drinking and eating local cuisines or just spending a Thursday accidentally getting lost in a forest.
It’s a simple life; a good life. And I’m pretty stoked with it right now.