A weekend getaway from Santiago with my Swedish roommate Julie. We chose to visit Valparaiso and Viña del Mar. We had heard that Valparaiso was beautiful and that the walls would be full of graffiti. Viña del Mar, on the other hand, is great for the beach!
We left Santiago on Saturday at around ten in the morning by bus. It took us one and a half hours to arrive in Valparaiso. Valparaiso is a harbour city and lots of neighbourhoods are located on the hills, which are called “Cerro” in Spanish. The Airbnb we booked was also on a hill and it took us some stairs to get there, but it was great! Cute and clean, and in the middle between all the graffiti. Because that is mostly for what Valparaiso is famous for, its graffiti. However, I would more call it art, because it is not just something, it is extremely beautiful.
Furthermore, I will not have a lot to talk about, besides the fact that Valparaiso is poorer than Santiago, which can be mainly seen on the streets in the centre because of the homeless people and dogs. We liked it more to stay up in the hills and wander around over there.
Because all the sightseeing is on the hills, we walked 15 kilometres on the first day; Uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill. Not to forget to mention the sweat… We had loads of full and because in the end, it is actually only walking around and taking pictures, there was a lot of time to get to know each other and talk about our lives. Since Julia and I live together in one house, we still mainly saw each other in the morning during breakfast and talked a bit about our days. There wasn’t really time for sensational conversations, because I needed to go to work and Julia to school. Therefore, it was even nicer to really get to know her better. She is a beautiful girl with a great personality!
To the beach in Viña del Mar
On Sunday morning, when we finally had our breakfast after searching for 45 minutes for a restaurant that was open, we searched for the bus to go to Vina del Mar. We took the local bus and, although it was very cheap (420 pesos = 0.50 cent), we did not really know where to get off after we had been sitting for around twenty minutes. The bus driver only stopped when the other passengers told him to stop. So, when we arrived somewhere where was “live”, we told him to stop and eventually, we made a good choice because we were there.
It felt as if I have never left the beach in Hoek van Holland. I was so happy and glad that Julia and I decided to go to the beach because after I had come home from Colombia, I did not feel very good and when I am at the beach, as you maybe know, I can always empty my head. Julia also has the connection with the sea and the beach, so after we had been walking around for thirty minutes and had taken some pictures, we decided to sit down on the beach and just look at it and be quiet. The weather was by the way amazing and pretty warm, around twenty-four degrees. Lots of Chilean people were having the same idea as us. They only took their food, drink, and towels with them.
We ended our beach day at a delicious Italian restaurant. I ate a great vegetarian Cannoli and we watched a football match between the two rivals of Chile. Both getaways from Santiago were nice! I cannot decide which one I would love more. To visit Valparaiso and Viña del Mar is for sure a recommendation!
After my first blog about settling down in Santiago (if you have not read it yet you really missed something) it is now time for some extra fun and get to know the surroundings and show you me life in Santiago. Santiago has more neigbourhoods than Las Condes (where I live) and Vitacura (where I work). I have the activities I did listed for you and I hope that you get as excited as I am when I am rereading this text.
Skiing in El Colorado
Yes, you read that well! I went for skiing, on a Saturday to be exact, with my supervisor from work (Christian) and two friends of him. On Friday we went to the ski rental because on Saturday morning 7:15 Christian picked me up. It took us around one hour and 15 minutes + 41 harpen bends. They warned me already and asked if I have a weak stomach; and yes oh I really do have one. Gladly, I survived without getting sick. The drive to the top of the mountain was so extremely beautiful with the dawn. I really wanted to make pictures to show you, but I also really needed to think about myself (at those moments I can get sick from looking on my phone for one sec).
Don’t worry, I will make it up to you, because I took some amazing shots on the top of the mountain. But first the area. There are like three or four different area’s there. We went to El Colorado, because it is the less busy one, and indeed it was. I think that until 11:00 we were the only one on the slopes which is quite a big difference for me compared to Austria and Italy.
This picture you see here below, I just really wanted to show you. I was smiling when I saw this, because in Austria and/or Italy I have never seen that before. However, I could really use one from time to time. I think it is very nice that they provide this for us.
Further, I just found it so nice and magical to be there. Although, it was also sort of weird because I expected totally something else than in Austria and Italy. Besides the smaller area, tissues provided and a beautiful view, it was all the same. The kids’ classes, the lifts (although they were a bit old), the restaurants plus singer, and the whole atmosphere. I had an amazing day!
A night out
Although I am working and sort of getting into that lifestyle, I am still 21 and super young. Jep, I went out. On a Wednesday night to a student party called: Miercoles Po.
So, back in the time when I was younger we (my parents, brother and sis) used to go to the camping for some years in Spain with different families from our village and with one of the families we also used to go on wintersport every year. One of the sons, Jesse, studies here in Santiago until November and we decided it would be nice to meet. We first just thought about a drink, but then Jesse asked if I wanted to come with them to the party (he is here with three friends from school) and had dinner at their place. The plan was made!
Until now, I have not really thought about missing home, because I found my place here and everything is good. However, I liked it so much to have some Dutchies around me and especially Jesse then of course. At home, we do not see each other or talk a lot because we have our owns lives now you know, but I just find it so incredible that when you meet, it is like nothing ever changed.
Before we went to the party, we did a pre-drink at a house of their friends. Lots of new people, lots of new names, don’t know any of theirs anymore of course, but they were all very nice and I felt welcome! After a while, the Latino’s grabbed a guitar and started to play and sing. Yeah, can you imagine. It was magical. For them like almost the most normal thing to do, but for us, not. Those moments that you will keep with you forever, this is one of them.
The party was also nice. I liked the music and place itself. Woman get in for free in nightclubs here and men sometimes. Besides that, did Jesse tell me that I should take care of my belongings because there usually are a lot of pickpockets. So, for the first time in my life I put my phone in my bra and all my cards in another part of my bag. Gladly, nothing happened and everything went well!
And yes, I needed to work the other day (slept 3 hours) and yes, I needed until Saturday to recover. But, all worth it people, all worth it, only not for every week haha.
The neighbourhood Santiago (Centre)
Santiago has totally 33 neighbourhoods and even in those neighbourhood there are different parts. Some are very big (like Las Condes), but some also very small.
This last weekend I went twice to Bella Vista which was between 30/40 minutes by Uber. Lots of people told me that it is very “a life” over there and I cannot say they were not right about that. I went twice for dinner (Friday and Saturday) and on Saturday we (Jesse, his friends, and me) also went to a karaoke bar. We laughed a lot!
The reason why I like it so much, is because everything is so close to each other with many restaurants, bars, and little shops. There is a place, called “Patio” (totally called Patio Bella Vista) where those three come more together. On Saturday, there was even a small dance show going on in the middle of the Patio. It was such a very nice and calm atmosphere and the food I ate was delicious, too!
On Saturday, before we went to the karaoke bar, we already had a drink together and later went to a restaurant where we had a special guest. See Cees with his eyes closed on the picture below. Cees is 72 years old (with wife and children/grandchildren at home!!) and Jesse knows him from his work in the Netherlands. He always worked on a ship and travelled around the world. Because it is such a passion of him, he still does it sometimes and helps a bit with the navigation.
This time the ship went from Rotterdam-Hamburg-Antwerp to Cartagena-Panama-Lima to Valparaiso. In Valparaiso he took the bus to Santiago and stayed here for a few days before he was heading back home (by airplane). He even also went to Patagonia, all by himself. It was such a nice dinner to share with everyone and Cees is really inspiring. I hope that he is able to continue to do this as long as he wants to.
On a Monday evening I went to Barrio Lastarria, the bohemian/hippie part of Santiago. I cycled home very fast and immediately took the Uber to the metro station Santa Lucia where Belen and I were meeting. I wanted to have a look for some new rings and earrings and because we have the same taste, she showed me lots of different stores.
After we did a bit of shopping (bought in total one tiny ring haha), we took a walk through the neighbourhood and Belen, as historical lover, told me lots of things about the buildings etc. Very interesting and funny to know. A great tour guide!
Are you ready for the sort of Monday cheat day and something which is probably going to amaze you? Yeah great, read further!
We had not eaten much that day and didn’t have dinner yet, so when Belen saw Buffalo Wafels she asked me whether I wanted to try. I had tried the typical sweet waffels with Nutella and strawberries some time, but waffels with vegetables, chicken, serrano ham and cheese not. I was/is still so weird for me to eat something like that. Still, I thought why not, I should try it once. So, I took the “Vegetarino” with tomato, lettuce, goat cheese and pepper. Besides that, do all the waffels have fries chips as topping. Really had to think of my dad, he loves them! And believe it or not, it was quite nice! Still weird (“Muy raro” in Spanish), but nice.
Playing paddle with Sebastian
Lots of people who read this blog know that I have been playing tennis throughout almost my whole life. So, when Sebastian asked me whether I wanted to play paddle with him I could not reject of course. Besides that, we paddle at home, on the beach, only call it beach tennis then haha.
How to play paddle?
I am not sure if I am giving you the exact, right explanation. However, for me, it is a combination between tennis and squash. The court is much smaller than a tennis court and you are able to use the blue walls (see on the picture). Although, the ball must first touch the ground. The counting system is the same as with tennis. The serve with paddle is not as with tennis, you first must bounce the ball on the ground and then you have to beat it cross to the other side of the field and the rally starts. Besides that, you always have to be on the same line as your partner. So, when you serve, you always have to come to the net and when the other serve you both stand on the baseline.
Another thing, it is impossible to use spin with paddle. Everything is in the volley grip. Because paddle rackets are much smaller than the one from tennis, it happened to me (too often) that I totally missed the ball because I thought he was longer haha….
I did really enjoy it. Although, using the wall was still very difficult and every time I forgot that is it possible. It is a very dynamic game and if you get the game, you can use lots of strategic tricks to make it more difficult for the other.
Although the trip to Salar de Uyuni was quite the getaway, the countryside of Santiago was quiet enough as well. Sometimes you just need to go away. You need away to recharge your battery, to find back your perspective on life. You need to get away in order to come back and see what you have. Well, the countryside of Santiago helped me a lot!
Cajón del Maipo with Belén
So, Cajón del Maipo. The countryside of Santiago. Translated as the “Box between the mountains” and a beautiful getaway place from Santiago. After I arrived home from Bogota at around three in the night, I would meet Belén at her house around twelve in the afternoon. After I unpacked and packed my bag for four days, I took the Uber to Belén. We would go first take the metro and then the bus before her dad picked us up at a town and we would then further go to the village they live in called; El Ingenio. In total, it is around one and a half hour to arrive.
Belén her parents have their holiday house in El Ingenio for already many many years. They were the first ones in the village. The house is literally amazing and feels as if you are in Austria because of the style (all wooden). Besides that, the view which they have is so wonderful.
I am now wondering if I have ever introduced Belén to you? Because I actually do not think that I did.. “oh-oh impolite Isa”. So, Belén and I know each other from England. Since I am here in Chile, we have met a few times and we really get along. No expectations or anything, just all very relaxing. So, yeah that was this long weekend too. We slept, ate, read, talked and relaxed a lot. We played Catan with the neighbours (Daniel and his girlfriend Claudia) and went to a place called Embalse El Yeso (I will tell you later about that).
A funny thing to know is that their neighbours are like family. They share lunch and dinner together very spontaneous and just come by without telling like it is the most normal thing to do. I like that, so relax and no worries at all.
Rayuela con Terremoto
We also played a game called Rayuela and drunk Terremoto with it. Terremoto means earthquake in English and it is a mix of alcohol (sort of white wine), pineapple ice cream and a very sweet/sugar full sirup. Nope, I did not like it, but I liked the game Rayuela and according to the locals I was quite good for the first time playing it. You throw an iron oval “thing” from 7 metres, as close as possible to the white line in the middle. You have two changes and play with a partner against two others. Easy as it is; the couple with their “iron oval things” as closest to the white line in the middle, win points. The ones who have as first ten points win! Belén and I ended up in the finals but lost, because they were very good with lots of experience (just old men actually, oopsie… haha)
Another thing I told you what we did was eating. During the afternoon, they eat big, but for me, that is like big. Besides that, I stopped eating meat but every lunch there was meat. I liked it and thought why not, I just try it another time and see how my body reacts, was a bad idea people, a bad idea…
Embalse El Yeso
On Saturday morning the weather allowed us to go to Embalse El Yeso. We woke up at eight and left around 9:30. The last week it had snowed, therefore the top of the mountains were white. They called me “the lucky woman”.
The road was quite bumpy because of the stones and in the end, it was even closed. We needed to walk the last bit. Welcome to the real countryside of Santiago. No problem for me, I was happy about stretching my legs again after a while haha.
We arrived at the Laguna made pictures, played a bit in the snow and Daniel who has lots of knowledge about all this place explained to me about the water system.
All the water that comes from the Andes mountains goes into a big tube to Santiago. There is only like that one important thing. If you would try the water over there, it is insanely clean. In Santiago, as I also experience it really is not! By the way, I do not drink water from the tap in Santiago. A few times per week I walk on the street as a clumsy person. Too many water bottles to carry in my hand and let one drop once in a while.
Another thing about water. Belén told me that I should wash my hair while I am there. So, I did and really, the first eight hours I could not stop talking about the fact that my hair was so extremely soft and shiny. Now my hair was just naturally perfect. All thanks to the water!
A totally different Christmas than that I have ever experienced before. With my flip flops wondering around in the supermarket searching for coolness because of the 30 degree temperature outside. This was a serious change of life. This was celebrating Christmas in Chile with 34 degrees.
I didn’t have any plans for Christmas with other people, so gladly it was really warm (34 degrees) and I was able to lay in the sun and stay close to the swimming pool which we have. I hear you think.. You celebrated Christmas alone. Well, yes. I did and you probably find it sad for me. Yeah, it was. However, on the other hand, it felt more weird than that I found myself sad. Still I was celebrating Christmas in Chile with 34 degrees, whereas, in the Netherlands it was raining and around 7.
Celebrating Christmas in Chile
So yeah, my Christmas was very relax and besides laying in the sun, reading my book, listening to music and some cookings during the evening, I didn’t do much. And actually, I didn’t really mind about it. The way the Chilean people celebrate Christmas here is different than how we do it in the Netherlands; atmosphere, decorations, etc. When I was in the supermarket on Christmas Eve and wished the employee a very merry Christmas, she looked at me like: “Why are you saying that?”, which is strange and uncomfortable for me because it is so normal for me. Besides that, didn’t I see one house decorated from the outside and are public places only decorated when it has the aim to sell something. Yeah, not really the happy Christmas vibe.
On the first day of Christmas I spoke with my family on WhatsApp video. They apparently still had some very nice presents for me. What a surprise! But that is what I also had for them. For the most of them, because my mom already knew it. However, now I can also tell you that I am coming home earlier than I planned. I would first arrive in the Netherlands on the 4th of February, but that is now changed into the 24th of January. On the 12th of January I will write another blog about what I thought about my five months in Chile, but if I should give a reason for coming home earlier it is just that I really want to go home. To my family, friends, just back in the Netherlands.
New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve was for me something much important to experience than Christmas. Like I said, I didn’t really have that Christmas feeling so I didn’t care about being alone, although many others told me how sad it was ha-ha. For me, being alone with New Year’s Eve would have been much more sad. It would be like, me wishing myself a happy new year with a glass of champagne in my hand. Yeah, I didn’t want that and gladly that didn’t happen.
My old housemate, Maria, who started to live together with her boyfriend invited me for a party with food together with some other friends. So, we first were at their apartment, the swimming pool on the roof and later, the men started to prepare the bbq and some other very delicious dishes.
The time past by very fast that night. At around eleven we decided that it would be time to go on the streets. We were in total with five people. In Santiago there were two places where the National fireworks was and luckily one place was like 800 meters from Maria’s apartment.
There were many many people, children, grandparents, adults, teenagers. Everyone waiting and looking at the screen until it starts to count off from ten.
The fireworks last for around twenty minutes and was really amazing! The vibe was very good and there was music until two from a band. All the people dancing and being happy (First time I saw Chilean people happy). Of course, I found it difficult that I wasn’t at home during this moment, but I am very glad that Maria invited me and made me feel so welcome. I really helped and I enjoyed!
This was my last trip of my time in Chile. I was climbing the Pucon vulcano. It was the last place I wanted to see before I would leave Chile, because I don’t think I will ever come back to this country again.
It all started Friday evening. I took the night bus from Santiago Terminal to Pucón, a small city in the south of Chile. The bus departure was 22:05, but as you can probably already guess, it took a little bit longer for the bus to arrive. I had never been in that neighborhood or either at the terminal before and get shocked by the immense amount of people. I had forgotten about the fact that it was almost Christmas and people would go away for Christmas to visit their families. It only looked like they were all moving out of their movies. All the stuff they will them, it was insane.
The reason why I wanted to go to Pucón was only one actually; climbing the Vulcan Villarrica. Jesse and the others already climbed it, however during winter, still they told me to be prepared, because it was the worst thing they had ever done in life. I would lie if I would say that I wasn’t scared.
The day, finally climbing the Pucon vulcano
On Sunday was the day. At 6:30 I had to be at the agency and would we pick up our clothes and change ourselves. It really wasn’t the most fashionable outfit, but that made it sort of funny. It belonged to the experience.
Jesse and the others already told me that you are able to choose whether you want to take the chairlift, that saves up an hour of walking or not, in the beginning. They advised me to do it, of course you have to pay for it, but I didn’t know how heavy the other hours were going to be, so I rather took the chairlift. The tour guides called us clever, because of our group (total 15 people), only four people took the chairlift.
From the moment we got out of the chairlift, we had to walk in the snow. Climbing the Pucon vulcano really started now. We walked in a line to make sure that it was save. It was all quite steep, but the tempo of the guide was very slow. So slow that my heart rate did not go up and I sometimes even got a little bored, to be honest. However, the view was amazing and breathtaking. Once we arrived at the top, we had lunch which was sometimes a bit difficult to eat. We always had to wear our gas masks because of the smoke from the Vulcan.
I loved to go down. Climbing the Pucon vulcano was still amazing, but going down was the best moment of the day. We slegde all the way down, because it would have been to dangerous, also for the muscles. I felt like a child and got so excited, and sometimes went a bit faster than I should. You should have seen my happy face!
Hola señoras y señores! Here I am, 11.430 kilometres away from what I usually call my “home”. Here, starts my life abroad in Santiago, Chile. The flight from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam to Santiago, Chile, took totally around 18 hours. I had a stop in Buenos Aires, Argentina for two hours. After I bought my breakfast at Starbucks I went back into the, almost empty, aeroplane to make myself ready for the last one and a half hours to Santiago.
Oh, I was so ready to start this adventure. Of course, there was a moment at the airport when we all said goodbye and it became a bit hard, but actually after already five-ten minutes I was okay. I was going to do this and I wanted it so badly. Only needed to wait eighteen hours for it haha…
The start of a life abroad
Even though, my flight was very good and did not feel that long because I slept a lot, I was still very happy when I arrived on Chilean ground and my friends (Sebastian and Constanza) were there. We spend half of the day together until I could go into my apartment, which was around three o’clock. It was so nice to finally spend time with them after two and a half years of not seeing each other! It was a good start of my six months life abroad in Santiago, Chile.
My apartment and neighbourhood
I booked my apartment via Airbnb and really could not have chosen a better apartment than this one. The location is perfect for me! On biking distance to work, walking distance to the pharmacy, several supermarkets, shopping mall, metro, and close to a park where I can run. Like I have said, I could not have chosen it any better.
Here is a link to see pictures of my apartment. I share the kitchen and living room with three other people, so I have my own room and bathroom. Most of the buildings in Santiago are, by the way, high buildings. Until what I have seen now in my neighbourhood, have all buildings a “concierge” as we call it here. He opens the door for you, pays attention to the security camera’s and receives all packages and post, etc. The building also has a gym and an outside swimming pool. The gym is not very big, but they have a crosser, spinning, a machine for abs, a balance ball, and some weights. I am already very glad that I can use it for free!
I live in one of the three best neighbourhoods in Santiago and when I spoke about it with my Colombian flatmate (Maria), she told me that you can also see that when you look outside. The streets are clean, no where is rubbish and there is taken care of nature.
How is everything in Santiago?
So, Santiago is a city of around seven million people and lays between two mountains. At the moment, we are at the end of the winter, which means: blue sky and sun, but four to seven degrees in the morning and seventeen to twenty-five in the afternoon. I only brought spring/summer clothes with me, so I hope it is going to be mid-September very very soooon.
When I arrived, Constanza was a bit sick and told me that it is most likely to happen during the winter. I will explain you why. So, the public transportation in Santiago is not very good. Therefore, lots of people have to go by car to work. During the winter season there is not a lot of wind, therefore, stays the pollution between the mountains in Santiago and creates a cloud above the city. This makes “vulnerable” people, especially children/babies sick. However, as you can guess it is getting worse because more people are getting sick. And yes, I was sick, too…
Another thing, when I walk on the streets and look people in the eyes, I tend to smile at them (in sense of saying: Hola), however, most of the time they look at me like: “Chica why are you smiling? I spoke with Maria about it and she told me actually the same story. Maybe they just do not like the winter…?
Shaky Shaky Shaky
Besides that, it is very common to have earthquakes here. I have already experienced one earthquake when I was at work. Everyone keeps telling me that I should not worry because it is very normal here and all buildings are build in a way to survive Richter Scale 10. Still, my heart was in my throat… In addition, all the wires are not going under the streets, but above the streets. It all looks a bit chaotic and a mess, but they sort of have no choice because putting the wires under the streets is far too expensive because of the insurance.
Chilean pesos compared to Euro’s
Now the cost, my less favourite part of my life abroad… You probably think: “Ahh South-America is very cheap”. If you think this I am not going to say that you are wrong because you are not. However, there are huge differences per country, especially compared to Mexico and Colombia as people tell me here. Still, Santiago is not very cheap, but also that differs per product. I will show you.
1 Euro = 747 Chilean Pesos.
Bread 1643 = € 2,20
Yoghurt 990 = € 1,32
Quinoa 6424 = € 8,60
Ketchup 2289 = € 3,10
Water 610 = € 0,82
Shampoo 3690 = € 4,94
Toothbrush 3790 = € 5,10
The reason why I did not include any fruits or veggies is that people advise not to buy them in the supermarket but go to a local market. I did, on my first day, and I can tell, it was a disaster… With no Spanish for me and no English for them plus I had no idea about the money yet. The amount of 2000 Chilean Pesos is called “Dos Mil”, which for me is actually 2.000.000 (you can guess how confused and shocked I was). Eventually, we managed, but at one point, I was asking myself “Why I am not just going to the supermarket and choose the easy way to do this?”.
Now, the reason why I am in Chile, my internship. As you read, at the beginning of my blog, I go by bike to my work. It is through a sandy park and around 4.3 kilometres one way, with a bit up/downhill. Even though it is very safe where I cycle, I am wearing a helmet. This is not just for fun, because I feel totally ridiculous, but it is a law. So, I bought a helmet, but I would not be me if I did not make sure that the helmet matches my bike haha…
My first working day.
Cristian (my supervisor) welcomed me and we went to all the colleagues to introduce me (some speak English, most of them not). They all left a good impression, I felt welcome! Christian has his own office plus extra desk where I sit with my laptop. This week I have experienced that, even though you spend 41 hours at the office, it does not mean that you work 41 hours. I think, I worked in total three hours and the rest of my colleagues also did not really seem to be in a hurry with everything. Until now, I link it to the culture but this was week one, so maybe it will change in the upcoming week?
How do I feel with a life abroad?
This is a question which is easy and difficult to answer. I feel how I feel and how I experience it. However, because you are not here it is my task to explain that in words. So, I feel great, I feel as if the world is at my feet and I am rocking it. It feels like no one is standing in my way to live life the way I want. I am confident, grateful, positive, and learning. Because yes, learning is a huge thing. The culture is one thing, but the language (me not speaking Spanish, them not speaking English). I came here with let’s say: 15% of Spanish, which is not even the Chilean Spanish… I guess this is what I found the most difficult the first days as part of my life abroad. At work, everyone talks in Chilean Spanish to me and I must try to answer in Spanish too. They let me make mistakes and help me to improve (and yes, I have already really improved my Spanish. I even Whatsapp in Spanish with some friends and that makes me so happy) without laughing at me. This is for me so important and helps me so much with my progress and confidence in learning this language. Same for the people in the supermarkets and the “concierge” of the building.
Besides that, I am exercising a lot. Not in sense of gym five days a week, but I want to walk/run more than 10.000 steps every day (whole day sitting is nothing or me) if I indeed do not go to the gym haha and then I also cycle around 8 kilometres every day. I am full of energy and feel also very energized. Everything is without pressure and that is maybe even the best feeling of all because I still go and do really enjoy it! Now waiting, for how long I am going to feel like that (right mom? haha).
Another thing is just the whole experience; all the new things I do/experience myself and the decisions I make, because whatever the result is, it is what I choose to do. It is me who does it. I again went somewhere new and adapt to the environment, the people. That makes me very proud because I stand here, with my arms, eyes, ears, and heart wide open. Ready for a life abroad.
Where and when all non-mountain lovers become mountain lovers, as I would say now. Even though I thought I wouldn’t have time anymore to go, I felt like I couldn’t leave Chile without a trip to Patagonia, and oh gosh, I am glad so about that. It was a four-day dream bucket-list trip to Patagonia in Chile!
Where to begin…
Maybe with the reason why I, in the beginning thought I wouldn’t have time to go. When I decided that I wanted to go on a trip to Patagonia, I found out about the W-Trekking. A 4-day, 3-night trekking through Patagonia with the Torres at the end. Most of the tours are all very basic with sleeping in tents and preparing own food. I thought about doing it after my internship and preferred to have a normal bed. I had never done anything like that before and knew that it was going to be very exhausting, so I would rather sleep good and have my energy for the days. In the end, nothing really suited my preference or was far too expensive.
I just couldn’t leave Chile without it. So, I decided to go to Patagonia for a weekend; “celebrating mom’s birthday in Patagonia without mom” as I called it. It only took me much longer to arrive at my hotel than I expected. The flight was 2:45 minutes and then still around 3 hours with a bus. I thought: “Ohh 2 hours by flight and 1 hour by bus”. I had done my research very very well… NOT.
I´m sure, horses don’t like me
On Friday I had a horseback riding tour from nine in the morning until four in the afternoon. Yes, quite long and yes, I couldn’t sit normal on my ass that evening and day after.
I booked the tour with Pingo Salvaje which I am so happy with. Apparently and understandable, do not many people book the full-day tour, so as you can probably guess, was it just me and the guide. She is from Switzerland, 47 years old and has lived in Chile for seven years now, with quite an interesting story. Because we had so much time together, we mainly told me how it is to life here.
Work in Patagonia
At most of the farms in Patagonia they work with routes which means that the people work 11 days on and have then 4 or 5 days off. At Pingo Salvaje the people sleep and eat at the farm because it is too far from Puerto Natales (the city where my hotel was, by the way). She was happy with the farm where she now is, because they get treated as human beings and the amount of food they get is bearable, this hadn’t always been the case. They earn around 550 euro’s a month and she told me that most of the people go and live in a hostel, which is also still expensive, or at friends while they have their days off, because it is impossible to rent an apartment or room (most of them around 300 euro’s a month).
Learn from locals
It is so interesting for me to talk with the people here and then also, especially with European people, how they experience it. Besides working for Pingo Salvaje, she has always loved to become a shepherd, that was also her reason for coming to Patagonia. However, because the difference between men and woman is still very big in Patagonia (and also Chile, in general), the men don’t allow woman to become a shepherd. She told me that they were always nice to her and let her do some work until she told them she wanted to do what they do and learn that, too. They didn’t tell her, but she knew it right away: “Woman shouldn’t do such heavy work”. Therefore, she went to Pingo Salvaje, but told me, that she maybe will go back after the season to Switzerland, because there is no future here.
About my horse now, yeah she didn’t listen either, but I was very proud of her. Because, the mountains we went up to were insane high, I actually sometimes felt sad for her because it was so heavy and steep. The views we got very amazing though, it made me so calm, and the weather conditions were perfect for a day like this.
The canceled tour of my trip to Patagonia
Those things happen, too. Tours that get canceled because of the weather conditions. It was on Saturday and I had to wake up at 5:15. Everything went according to plan; I had breakfast, I got pickup and we went to the boat. We would go to the Serrano Glaciers and Balmaceda.
After we were on the boat for 1,5 hour the caption told us that it was getting to dangerous and we had to go back. Tour canceled. I must say that I agreed with his decision. I also went outside once to make some pictures and get some fresh air (helloooo seasickness), because the view was amazing!
But while I was outside, I got soaked and that wasn’t because it was raining ha-ha. It felt like I spend my whole day at the beach house and had swam in the sea. Besides that, as you also can see in the picture below, which I couldn’t see, because there was too much water in my eyes, did I need to hold myself every single second. It would have been, swim swim then, and I wasn’t really in the mood for that.
Unfortunately thing is that while I was back in town around ten o’clock in the morning, all the other tour agencies had already left. In the beginning it felt as if I was waisting my day. I could have done a hike somewhere, but yeah, me alone, in the middle of nowhere, I already saw myself on the news: “Dutch woman lost in Patagonia mountain”. Ha-ha, so yeah that was a NO GO. I just slept first, very tired from very early clock, then I went for my run because I was so blessed with having the sea around me that I had to run near it, and after I just went for a walk through town. Oh, and ate at the same restaurant as on Friday. I don’t know why I always do that when I travel alone, maybe to get a connection with people or just because I like the food. You tell me? Ha-ha.
The wrong tour
As always I got picked up by the agency. By the way, I do want to tell you that I really don’t like that. They tell you to pick you up, for example between 6:30 and 7:00. So, yeah, I am always ready at 6:30, waiting outside. But that, waiting always takes so long and makes me so nervous. Until now, I have always had something where I could think that they would forget me or thought that I would do the tour on a different day, because most of the time I got picked up “too late”. I never had any problems with the pick up though and it is nice that they do it, but I would prefer to go to the agency myself.
I was the last one and while we were heading to the pick up the last ones, I heard some Australians in the back of the bus. Not that I thought there was somethinhg wrong. Until…. grandma came in the bus with her husband, daughter and two little children. No offense to them, but I was wondering if they knew what we were doing today. The grandma couldn’t even walk properly and we were going to do a hike of 9 hours including climbing…
In the end, after I had spoken with one of the Australians who told me that they all had sore muscles because they had done the trekking the day before, I realized that I was the one who didn’t know what we were doing today. The tour of Sunday was indeed through the Nacional Torres del Paine Parque, but not the trekking, just in the bus from viewpoint to viewpoint. I was very disappointed and sad, because the reason why I came to Puerto Natales/Patagonia was for the trekking and now I had to leave without…
Nevertheless, it was an amazing day and sure one I will remember as part of my trip to Patagonia. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it. Here some incredible and magical pictures for you all. I just don’t think I should say more about it, only that nothing else in the world will ever give you the feeling or amazement that Patagonia will do. Because what a place, indescribable!
Go for that dream!
Another thing which I find funny, is that I think 75% of the people that I have seen that weekend were “older people”. It was like: “Okay, the children left the house, the children aren’t coming on holidays with us anymore, so we can finally do what we like, finally go to Patagonia.”
When I got home from that fantastic day, I knew I wanted to stay longer and had discussed some things and ideas with the Australians. They were very kind and helpful. They called me: “Organized, because I had my clothes and protein bar ready”. Whereon I answered: “Organized, but still booked the wrong tour…”. “Yeah, we already thought: So, that girl looks sportive for just sitting in the car”. Ha-ha.
In the end, I figured everything out and found a company to do the trekking with on Monday. I only had to look if I could still change my flight for an affordable price and stay in my hotel a night longer. If that wouldn’t be the case I also of course could have gone to a hostel, but that wasn’t needed. Everything worked out and although I had to pay a bit more for my rebooked ticket than I hoped I did it. Because I couldn’t leave without climbing that mountain.
The big day of my trip to Patagonia
Pick up at seven, nervous again, because at seven fifteen they still weren’t there…
I was the last one, and ended up at the back of the bus with three men around me. We got in a chat, because it was a two hours drive to the park. However, I preferred to shut my mouth because the roads were so bumpy that I felt sick, again. Got it from daddy, my friends.
Dedicaton and entertainment
The night before I downloaded a lot of podcasts of Spotify because I knew I wouldn’t be able to listen to music, nature, and talk with the people for eight or nine hours. In the end, I didn’t even listen a lot, because our group had a great atmosphere and was very open, although the group got split into two. Not that I want to give myself a high price, but I was in the fast group. It consisted of my three male friends, the male guide, and me. I surprised myself so much with how much energy I have and how much my body was able to handle. I liked it, even though, it started to rain after 1,5 hour and didn’t stop until we got back. Plus it was very windy and cold. Still, liked it :).
So, yeah, the hike itself was heavy and sweating, but it wasn’t so heavy that I wanted to stop. It is more that my body wasn’t used to walk for so long that it gets done. The last bit before we would end up at the Torres was by far the heaviest. It was around 1,5 hour of only climbing slippery and muddy rocks. The guys didn’t lose their tempo, so I couldn’t either. I thought to be empty when I finally finally arrived where we are did it for. Where I did change my flight, booked another night in my hotel, for. The three bucket list towers. I was soaked from the rain, cold, tired, hungry, and the towers were in the clouds, but I couldn’t care less actually. I made it and I was so proud of myself, same as for the four men whom I was with. So cute, they all hugged me and told me how proud they were of me.
After a quick lunch it was time to get back and I was glad, because my body was getting too cold. Going down was much harder than I expected. Even much harder than going up. It is less intensive, but the balance and coordination of your body/muscles was so important. Especially, when everything is slippery and muddy.
The only less fun part about something big and long like this, is after you have seen your achievement you still need to get back. It took us 3,5 hours from the towers to the bus and the last 30 minutes I was so done. My knee started to hurt again, from an old injury, and I couldn’t wait for my big plate of pasta. I don’t know if it came to your mind, but I haven’t shown much pictures about this part. That is because:
We walked a lot through a forest, not very special pictures.
I was too much focused and tired to make pictures.
In the end, during this trip in Patagonia we walked 24.5 kilometers and 39.244 steps. A warm shower and my pasta were the only things I wanted, but I felt so complete, so blessed and happy. Everything had been so worth it!
I celebrated the day with eight others from the group at, again, the restaurant where I always ate, and finished the evening with the three men from the “fast” group in a bar. They had their beers, I had my Piña Colada.
A life time experience and the last thing I want to say is: “If you have the possibilities go to Patagonia, don’t doubt, go!”