Today was my last day in Chile. Before arriving in January, I had never been to Chile; now it’s the country I’ve spent the most time in as a visitor. (I’ve spent more time in only the United States and Colombia, the two countries I’ve lived in.) It has been an amazing two and a half months.
After visiting Patagonia in January, I flew to northwest Argentina to meet and travel with a friend. We spent several days exploring Argentina’s Quebrada de Humahuaca before crossing into Bolivia, where we took a three-day tour of the Salar de Uyuni, and ending with a few days in Chile’s Atacama Desert. Traveling on my own again, I spent a month across five cities in northern Chile: San Pedro de Atacama, Calama, Iquique, Antofagasta, and La Serena. I then returned to Santiago, where I spent another week, and continued to Valparaíso, where an intended five-day stay turned into a heavenly nine days. From Valparaíso I headed south again, to Chiloé, before finishing with a final few days in Santiago. It was a circuitous route, illogical except that it let me see much of Chile, travel with a friend, and otherwise move as I pleased.
I wanted to write a few more blog posts over the last couple months, one about the trip into Argentina and Bolivia, one about Valparaíso, and another about Santiago. I might get around to sharing photos or more thoughts someday. For now, it’s enough to say that each place and each experience was all I could have asked for. Valparaíso is a city like no other I’ve been to, its soaring hills covered in buildings of so many architectural styles, and its buildings covered in astonishing artwork. Santiago, while not obviously spectacular, felt powerfully like home. When I returned to the city in February, after a month and a half in smaller cities and towns across Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile, I arrived off a bus at 11 one night. Lights everywhere illuminated the city, the streets were full of people, and the city’s energy hit me in an exhilarating wave. My late dinner of shish kebab bought from a street vendor brought my senses and memories back to Union Square and so many nights in high school, and for the next week I walked around feeling as simply, easily comfortable as I do in New York.
I’m leaving Chile with so much affection and gratitude for this country, all that I saw and did, and the many people I met along the way. To a person, the Chileans I met treated me warmly, openly, kindly, and honorably. And so many of the fellow travelers I crossed paths with—I’m thinking especially of you from Minneapolis, Melbourne, Copenhagen, Houston, L.A., Valparaíso, and Washington State, not to mention the many others from all over the world whom I got to know less well—were, to use a cliche that feels very appropriate here, beautiful people.
Thanks to Chile and to all the people, places, and experiences that made these months so wonderful.
Now, on to the next chapter.