A good friend of mine was going to spend some of her maternity leave visiting her family in Chile and kindly offered me the opportunity to visit in January. South America was always on my radar but given my lack of Spanish skills, I was too nervous to realize that travel dream on my own as I felt it was too far out of my comfort zone. I’m glad I took her up on her offer as the trip transformed me from a vacationer to a traveller.
As I was approaching the bus terminal in Santiago at 10:30 pm, my phone battery was on its last legs, stuck on a sketchy street that was backlogged with busses and I was uncertain if mama P was going to find me. I watched the 5 Chileano passengers on the bus grab their bags but they all went in different directions and I was terrified. Realizing that knowing how to ask a question in Spanish means nothing when you can’t understand the answer! A hand grabbed my shoulder and a young man with a tear tattooed on his cheek started to speak to me. I am pretty sure the look of confusion and panic was evident and he signalled me to walk with him and his girlfriend. I had to hope for the best. Arriving at the terminal, we parted ways as there were hoards of people waiting for the night busses. Panic started to set in as I found no one that spoke english and was certain mama P wasn’t going to be able to find me as my phone was dead. I refused to appear vulnerable (shocking, I know) so I put my backpack on and started to roam around. Mama P found me, swooped in to give me a big hug and got us out of there. Quite the learning experience and my major takeaway – learn basic Spanish!
Other than that, my time in Santiago was fantastic! My friend showed me different areas of the city, told me stories of her life here, hung out with a couple of her friends and got me to try the local dishes (I still don’t understand her obsession with helado de naranja chocolate). Also, I got to hang out with her brother who was so kind to show me the city in his eyes. We drove around to see Sanhattan, saw his tennis club, hit up local spots where he and his friends would hang out and I even got to party like a
Pichilemu was my game changer as I was back on my own, staying in a hostel for the first time and hoping to meet people. It worked out because I met a couple of friends during surf lessons at Punta de Lobos and we ended up hanging out during my time in Pichilemu. I listened to their experiences in South America as first time solo travellers and knew it was something I wanted to do. To top things off, we watched Ramon Navarro, Chilean pro-surfer, catch some sick waves!
By exploring new places, chatting with fellow travellers, eating at local restaurants and embracing the experiences around me.. I knew that this is what I wanted to do with my vacation time. Live from my backpack and discover all that I can for as long as I can. This was my first trip to South America and I knew I was in love.
To all the people that made this trip such a positive experience (especially the P family), without you, I would have never been inspired to solo travel or learn Spanish. Mucho Gracias! Besos.