Reflections

I miss the quiet of the road.

I’m back at the same hostel in Santiago where my trip began. I came here because I knew what to expect. And it was convenient not to have to enter a new wifi password.

Southern Chile was enticing, but the weather was uncooperative. It’s the rainy season, which doesn’t lend itself well to wandering about and exploring. And the far south, with its lakes and glaciers, is too damn cold this time of year.

So I went back to the well. It made sense. In a few days, I’ll be on a plane headed for Buenos Aires. My flight leaves from Santiago, so I had to come back to this city sooner or later. I chose sooner, so I could do my laundry and relax in a familiar environment. After a week spent exploring new places, that is all there need be.

I’m on my own, but definitely not alone here. As I write this, an intense foosball match is happening to my right. The bartender/DJ is blasting some form of Spanish-language dance music that I’ve heard so many times on this trip already. Girls are singing. Guys are getting rowdy. It’s pretty much exactly as I remember it–except I’m not one of the rowdy people this time.

I lucked out arriving in Santiago when I did. I met a great group of diverse people. I’ve now met more English girls in South America than in any other part of the world (noting that I have yet to go to England). Another American arrived at the hostel the same day as me. A couple of Australian guys were starting their own trip through South America; a pair of Australian girls were finishing theirs; all four said Melbourne is the best city in Australia. And Brazilians. So many Brazilians.

Now I’m the weird guy with the laptop who doesn’t say much. I added the weird part; I have no idea whether anyone actually thinks I’m weird.

And I’m realizing that I enjoyed the silence and solitude that came with venturing out on my own. In Santiago, I had friends to lean on for things to do, and to help communicate with the locals. From the minute I left for Rancagua, I had to sort things out for myself. I had a guidebook, but it proved itself not wholly reliable when it came to restaurants. My best resource was the populace, who I couldn’t always talk to thanks to the language barrier.

But I managed. I ate at some local spots. I bought a pair of hiking shoes, which so far have not been used for hiking but are much appreciated for being waterproof. I went skiing in July–one of my stated objectives–for probably half of what I spent per day in Colorado earlier this year.

I’ll remember the first week here fondly. Now it’s time for the next adventure.

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