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Week 1: Santiago, Chile (Or, “One Woman’s Tale of Moving to a Foreign Country Alone”)

Week 1:  down. This last week hasn’t been easy, and it definitely hasn’t been a “hands-up-in-the-air/yay-I’m-on-vacation” type of fun. I’d venture to say it’s really been more Type 3* fun. Then again, I didn’t get myself into this thinking that it would be all fun and games. Level setting with myself has been the hardest thing to do this week, as I’ve had to acknowledge that there’ll be big challenges, small frustrations, but in the end, gratifying successes that make it all worth the effort. (Sidebar:  admitting this to yourself is not easy. Go ahead and give it a try.)

Anyway, as I look back to the past seven days I’ve spent in and around Santiago—using its super-efficient metro as I look for cars to purchase, my first 6 days in the suburb of Pudahuél, and wandering around the downtown totally and utterly lost—I wanted to take stock of some of the big wins:

  • Bought a car! She’s a lovely new-to-me Subaru Outback that I am thinking I’ll name Stella. I’m a little paranoid that I’ve been scammed and that the car will somehow break, but I guess I’ll tackle that when it happens (and if it happens, which I really hope doesn’t).
  • Explored the metro of Santiago:  I’ve seen 47 stations in passing, and have actually wandered through/out at least half that number.
  • Snowboarded at Valle Nevado. The snow wasn’t that great and we got totally whited out, but the makings are there for some super fun stuff.
  • Spoke Spanish all week long. Guess what:  people think I’m either Brazilian or….? In the words of one person, “It’s like I have a mashup of 6 different accents.” This is not a surprise to me.
  • Bouldered (albeit inside). Got some nice V3s down, and started in my V4s. My calluses are falling off, much to my chagrin, but I suppose there are worse things that could happen.
  • Avoided getting pickpocketed, stabbed, kidnapped, etc. (Because that doesn’t really happen here, except for maybe the pickpocketing part.)

I guess if I’m listing out last week’s successes, I might as well compile some of the mistakes I’ve made, because there have been a few of those (together with the numerous unlisted frustrations of getting a Chilean phone number, not being able to ever find WiFi, and the hyper self-awareness I’m maintaining on this solo mission).

  • Left luggage in the airport cab. Wait for it, because that’s the next story coming out, and wow, is it a doozy.
  • Got scammed. This, as I’m sure you can imagine, is related to the above bullet point.
  • Spent a lot of time walking. Maybe this belongs in the above list since I got so much exercise, but I’m putting it down here just because a faulty sense of direction and bad maps led me to wander around in circles forever. Rough Guides, I have something to say to you about the maps in your guidebooks!

In hindsight, though, it’s been a great week. Even if it wasn’t all fun at the time, and there was a healthy sense of self-doubt in there, looking back, I am beyond excited. I have the makings for all my adventures pretty much set, and tomorrow, I’m off to Cajón del Maipo for a little snow camping, snowshoeing, perhaps a bit of riding, and lots and lots of hiking. I might even find some hot springs….

[ale_divider style=”medium” text=”textleft”]* Types of FUN [/ale_divider]

Note:  The examples used below are 100% subjective based upon whatever pastimes you consider fun. 

Type 1

Fun in the present, i.e. snowboarding, surfing, bicycling, knitting with friends. Not too much planning is required, and it’s easy.

Type 2

Gratifying fun that you have to earn. It’s not fun as you’re doing it, but the finishing it, getting to the crux or summit, etc. realizes the payout. For example:  running a marathon or crocheting solo. You have to work for this type of fun, but you can sit around and laugh about it after with friends.

Type 3

The most difficult type of fun:  the risks are higher, i.e. you could potentially die if the plan goes awry, but the payout is tremendous. Your life will be changed by this type of fun. Examples could include mountaineering, backcountry skiing, or soloing.

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