It’s happening.. My last travel update of my 10 months journey in South America.
Eventhough I’m now in the middle of my flight trip back to the Netherlands, I still can’t believe it. Suddenly it feels that it all happens so fast. Especially my last 2 weeks in Chile.. To get where I will be on Thursday afternoon at 5.35 PM, I have 3 flights with 3 different destinations in 3 days. Interesting that number 3, isn’t it? 😉 Maybe it means something, maybe it doesn’t.. The weirdest thing about it is, that in my journey I’ve catched a lot of night buses which took me 12/13 hrs like my flight now. However, then you are still in the same country, just a different part of it. Now, in the same amount of time I cross the atlantic ocean and as soon as I land I will be on a different side of the world again!! It is so strange. You make it such a big thing in your head but the truths is, traveling is kind of super easy! Because of our technologies now, we are able to travel the world in about 2 days. Realizing things like this makes the world always a bit smaller for me ☺ Eventhough it feels a bit like time slipped through my fingers these past days, I feel ready and also happy to be in this flight journey now. I can absolutely not wait to hold my dear people in my arms again 😍❤ Every thought of this gives me tears in my eyes.. But before we get to that part, let’s tell you first how my last 2 weeks were in the country which I fell in love with 😊
The last time, I finished my update while I was arriving in Pucón, a bit more south of Chile. The place where I was back into nature again, surrounded by mountains, lakes and the super impressive Villarrica volcano. Where it was more chilly than in Santiago, but that didn’t matter to me as I knew that this was where I wanted to be for a week.. After I arrived I found my hostel, a very cozy place run by a Ukrainian couple. They had the wood stove on and my bed all ready so I could take a nap eventhough it was very early in the morning 😊 After that little nap I went out for a walk in town to discover what was there. Pucón is normally a very touristy place with lots of cafes, bars, travel agencies etc. However it’s low season now so it wasn’t that busy with people, which I love! 😇 The smell of burning wood was following me around town and it felt like fall/winter in the Netherlands. The funny thing was that while I was walking around with 2 layers of pants, gloves and my beanie, you guys were overwhelmed by the heat and in the middle of surviving days of 30 degrees! Haha. Such a difference.. During my little strawl in town I also visited some agencies for getting some information about doing a tour to the top of the volcano. That was my big wish of doing and the decision why I chose to go to Pucoń in the first place. Other backpackers told me their stories of going up, seeing the lava and sliding down in the snow. Climbing to the the top of the massive, magical, beautiful most active volcano of South America would be the “cherry on the cake” of my journey 😍 However, as soon as I gathered more information about it, I learned that the weather conditions have a huge impact on the possibility to go up and some rainy/snowy days were coming. So, the sooner I was able to do the climb to the volcano, it would be 6 days later, the day I planned to continue my journey to Valparaiso.. For a moment I thought to myself, what would I do in the meantime?! But I knew that it would find its way.
In the hostel I met a French guy who arrived at the same time as me and who was in my dorm. At the agency they told me that there was a nice short tour they organized to see a bit more of the surrounding like lakes and waterfalls. The final destination would be at some hot thermal baths 😊 That sounded like a perfect plan to me for the next day and I asked the French guy if he liked to join me. He would liked that he said, so that evening we cooked together, enjoyed our meal and got to know each other a little better. He also wanted to do the hike to the volcano but didn’t have as much time as me to wait for a clear day. So, he made a plan to do a different day hike which I wanted to join him with, the day after our short tour. Unfortunately my feeling I mention in my last post about having a low immune system and feeling a bit under the weather got worse during our mini tour. The termal baths helped a bit, but I got some headache and felt my throat was hurting. While walking around those nice waterfalls I felt how tired my body was. The intense week in Santiago really got me! So I made the decision to rest instead of going on the day hike with him the next day. Good call, because after our mini tour, as predicted, the weather got pretty bad. It didn’t stop raining for 2.5 days!! There was a strong wind and it got colder. So what better to do than to crawl on the couch under a blanket, with a cup of tea and keeping myself warm next to the wooden stove? 😄 Luckily I bought a lot of food the 1st day I arrived and had a big stock for a couple of days, so while feeling a bit sick, I didn’t have to leave the hostel at all. I just relaxed, wrote in my diary, slept a lot, watched movies, series etc. It got me thinking though if I would be fit enough on time to do the Volcano hike as this was still my mission..
After 2 days of rest and a lot of tea with honey, lemon and ginger I felt a bit better, but was really doubting more if my body would be able to do a hike of 7 hrs, in the snow to climb to the top of the volcano. I visited the agency again to hear more about the hike and to see if the weather conditions have changed. The amount of snow what had fallen in those 2 days was a lot, so they warned me already that the hike would be double as hard and also longer. This made me feel a bit anxious and I just knew what the answer was, my body was not ready yet to do this. The only thing I had to do is to listen and giving myself space to find another way to do a nice hike and be in the pure nature. Oftenly I push myself to the 100%, but this has been a big change in my whole journey as well. Why pushing yourself if you can be 100% happy with the 80% version? 😉 So, I came up with a plan B. My french friend who visited the national park close to us called Parque Huerquehue, got back soaking wet but told me that despite the rain and snow, it was definately worth it! During my 2 days “off” I already looked into possibilities to go there, do the famous day hike he did as well so I could get my body back into shape for the volcano trek. As the volcano trek wouldn’t be the option anymore, I went a bit deeper into the possibilties of staying a night in the National Park. I made a plan, found different places on the map where I would be able to stay the night and I got myself food for a 2 days trip in the park. It got me pretty excited as in this way, I was able to go completely my own way, my own pase and I wouldn’t be in a group, feeling the stress of not keeping up and having the possibility that the guide you pay for is a complete disaster, like when Gin and I did the Salkantay trek in Peru. So there I went with the bus, my day bag full of food for 2 days and some clothes. I hadn’t a reservation yet in one of the sleeping places as I couldn’t get in contact with them, but I knew it would find its way, having faith in the universe ❤ I was expecting to definately see some snow there, but as soon as we got closer to the National Park, the actual amount of snow amazed me a lot! It was one big Winter Wonderland!!! 😍💙❄ The bus wasn’t even able to head up to the entrance of the National Park as it was too risky. We had to leave the bus 6km away from the entrance. It was a beautiful day though and before I started my hike I talked a bit with the bus driver if he would have some recommendations to stay the night in the area. He told me that mostly everything was closed because of the amount of snow what had been falling. The paths to the accommodations were not possible to cross so the chance of me staying the night in the area would be very slim.. Well, let’s see, I thought to myself. I already felt so happy walking in the snow, with such beautiful views that it didn’t matter for me anymore what would happen 😊 After 1.5 hrs walking on the icy road I finally made it to the entrance of the park. There the ranger told me the same “you won’t spend the night here miss, you need to take the bus back to town in this afternoon”. Okay, no worries. Let’s then enjoy this beautiful day as much as I can and make sure I’m back down soon enough to catch the bus so far away from the entrance again. The walking paths within the park were pretty icy, snowy and way tougher than I expected. Trees were so far reversed because of the piles of snow on them, that I had to crawl underneath the branches. Everytime I did that I got a pile of snow on my head or in my neck.. Brrrr! But it was a very unique and authentic experience for me! I felt like I was in Switzerland or Canada 😅 Normally, without the snow you would be able to do a nice loop around the lakes and come back on time to catch the bus. As the conditions were completely different now, it took me way more time than expected to get close to the lakes. I was enjoying the Winter Wonderland a lot but I also felt that my body wasn’t strong enough yet to climb all the way on those icy paths to get to the lakes. Again, pushing for the 100% would do me more harm than just enjoying the 80% which already was given to me 😉 So I made a decision with myself to walk up to a nice viewpoint and would enjoy my lunch there so I could afterwards walk back in peace to catch the bus back without having to stress over the time. The views I was rewarded with was just incredible 😍 The sky was completely clear so from up there I was able to see the mighty volcano, full of snow and with the light of the sun shining on it’s top.. Damn, this was beautiful!! ❤ After enjoying my own made lunch, pasta salad, I made my way back down again. There I bumped into 2 German people who were in the bus with me. We enjoyed a hot chocolate/coffee together to warm up a bit at a little stahl which opened for us and made our way together to the bus. It was really nice to join them for the last part of my day hike as my body was pretty tired already and this helped me to get at the bus on time. As soon as I arrived at the hostel I felt releaved that I was able to sleep in a warm comfy bed that night, in a familiar place and with nice people around me 😊
The next day I got myself a bus ticket to continue my journey to Valparaiso during the night. I treated myself with a nice lunch at a lovely place in town. I reflected on the hike I did the day before and felt so happy with myself that I listened to my body and was able to let go. Just being in the here and now was what mattered. The bus journey was quite comfortable and after I arrived in Valparaiso that morning, I even had enough energy to attend a city tour! Normally the busrides are making me feel so tired, but apparently I got used to it now 😉 The tour itself, the guide was a bit boring, but it was nice to hear the history of the city and walk around. It’s such a difference from anything I’ve seen. This city is protected as a World Heritge site by UNESCO because of it’s uniqueness. Valpo exists of 45 hills. All these hills are full of very unique, colorful houses. It was a fisherman’s village first until Valpo became a very important destination during the Pacific War between Peru, Bolivia & Chile in the 19th century. Another fact why Valparaiso is such a famous place and an attraction for tourists is because of the incredible streetart you see everywhere you go! All the colorful houses have walls with impressive art on them. It’s really beautiful and some famous artists here leave their mark on different places in the city. As the city exists of many hills, there are stairs everywhere. Unpainted staircases are hard to find. There was even one painted as a piano! I really liked strawling through this city. During my second day I even bumped into a painter working on the walls of a picturesque cafe. This cafe was famous because of all the walls he painted. While I was admiring the looks of it, the painter Mario Cedrón started talking to me. After a nice chat about his work, he asked me if I would like to see more of his work around the city. Of course!! I always fully embrace those opportunities where I can get to know a city through the eyes of a local instead of the tourist ones. With the local bus we stopped at several places and he showed me more of his work. Even his first painted wall back in 2008. Listening to his story, his perspective at life and seeing his work was really impressive. He took me to one of the great spots where you have a beautiful view of the city. It was on an old water tower. With an elevator we went up and there we stayed quite a while, talking about different things and enjoying the view. I felt very safe with him by my side.. 😊 While we were on our way to that place he made me a drawing of that tour , very special. Later when we walked back down, we walked a different way then the most people did. We walked through the little streets to experience the true feeling of the city and their habitants. Mario showed me details I normally don’t see. All the colorful houses, in different shapes, not in order, everything criss-cross interchangeably, balconys full with laundry hanging outside, rusted roofs and all the beautiful paintings on the walls. I felt so happy walking around there and all the time I felt the desire of sharing this with all my artsy friends! This will be heaven for them 😍 haha. We ended our strawl together in a well-known bar which Roberto, from Vicuña recommended as well, J-cruz it was called. Here you would be able to taste the local food and then I’m especially talking about the Chorillana, a plate full of french frites, onions, meat and eggs. Yup, pretty weird combo, I know but pretty tasteful! 😉
Then it was almost Friday already.. the start of my last weekend in South America. The plan I had was to go back to Santiago and spend some time with my Australian friend Nardu again. However, she stayed that week with the parents of her Chilean friend Constanza who I met as well during my first week there. Constanza’s parents live 30km from the city in a place called Talagante. Nardu was there by advice of me, to put herself into a local environment where she would be able to practice her Spanish. This is my no.1 advice when learning a new language, get yourself surrounded with the people who speak it, challenge yourself and just do it! Constanza liked that idea and proposed Nardu to stay with her parents for a couple of days so thats how she got there and in the end me as well 😄 When Nardu and I were discussing what to do and where to stay together in Santiago for the weekend, Monica, the mother of Constanza came with the idea to invite me as well and stay the night in Talagante with Nardu and Constanza’s parents. This invitation felt like a guardian angel helping me as this was exactly what I needed. Being all the time in busy cities nowadays cost me a lot of energy. My last days here I wanted to spend in a private room instead of a dorm to have some space for myself, however those rooms are quite expensive in the city! To be honest I didn’t really want to go back to the city.. So when Monica and Nardu called me with this proposition I got a bit emotional, so happy that the universe was helping me 😊 Her husband was working that day in Santiago and together with him I could go to their house in Talagante. Perfect! Once we arrived I was welcomed with a warm hug and a table full of food. I immediately felt at home.. ❤
It was so great to see my dear friend again and after a nice evening talking, laughing and drinking with Constanza’s parents, Nardu and I talked until late at night together in bed ☺ We were even accompanied with Happy, the little dog who crawled under our blankets, so cute! The next day Nardu and I went into Santiago. Nardu would go to Bolivia the next day as she is starting Spanish school there so she had a bag full of her stuff with her and planned to stay the night in Constanza’s apartment. My plan first was to go back to Talagante, but in the end I stayed in Santiago as well. With Nardu, Constanza and some of her other girl friends we had a nice ladies night 😄 Drinking wine, cocktails, paiting our nails and getting out to a club to dance all night 😍 Such a great night it was and a perfect way to celebrate my 10 months travel anniversary!!! 🎉💕 As it was quite a late night, Nardu went immediately from Constanza’s house to the airport, without any sleep and I crawled into the lovely sofa bed Constanza made for us in the living room. I slept like a baby 😇 That sunday was a typical lazy day. Having breakfast in bed, watching movies, all day in pyjamas… Loved it! 😍 For the movie, Constanza invited some more friends so there I was, surrounded by great Chilean people learning their slang words and having a good time together 😃 I had to go back though to Talagante as all my stuff was there. So later that night I arrived back at Constanza’s parents again. They are such lovely people!! The weekend was over and Monday would be my last day there. I woke up early to sort all my stuff, have a last lunch with the family and then took the bus back to Constanza again. It was a bit back and forth, but I didn’t mind that at all as on both places they fully opened their doors for me and shared their love ❤ I didn’t even dare to imagine this, the Friday morning before I got the call to come to Talagante. It was just perfect in the way it all turned out 😍 It also helped me a lot in talking Spanish with everyone now. The family and my Chilean friends corrected me sometimes which got my Spanish to even a higher level now!! Woopwoop 😃 That last day in Santiago I will never forget as I did something I will remember for the rest of my life and was a great ending of my whole journey. What this is I will share another time as I want it to be a secret until I’m actually back in The Netherlands 😉 ghehe. Don’t worry, you will know. And then the time was there. The last evening of my great great journey.. I was pretty emotional and didn’t sleep at all because of all the adrenaline which was pumping through my body. Ready to go back, but sad to leave.. 😔
Somewhere in the next weeks there will be an article published online on a website I discovered while traveling which I wrote. It sums it all up what this journey has done with me and I would love to share it now already with you, but want to wait until its really online 😍 So patience is a virtue…. The people from the website told me that they loved reading every word I wrote, sharing my story with everyone, so I promise your waiting will be rewarded 😉 Sharing that article with you will be really my last post I share with you, to close this journey ❤ But this post was the last one of my South American adventures. This was it… 😱 I still can’t imagine that in a couple of hours I will be back in Holland again, that small flat country where we think that driving from Amsterdam to Groningen is so far away but actually, its around the corner if you traveled for over more than 40.000km and crossed 5 different countries.
I hope you liked reading my adventures, traveling with me through my words 😉 I know that my posts were quite long ones every time but I just loved sharing the datails with you and also having the details with me forever now 😍 As mentioned, one last post will follow as soon as my article is published.. I can’t wait!
Nos vemos muy pronto mis amigos!!! 😘😘 hugs and kisses as always xx ❤