Santiago is the capital of Chile (although the legislative branch of the government operates in a different city, which confuses some people). Being the capital, Santiago is big. Something like 1/3rd of Chile’s population lives there. It’s also home to the tallest building in South America. Fun facts. Outside of the travel book-worthy nuggets, Santiago is a really cool. It feels much smaller than the 1/3rd thing would suggest, there’s a solid metro system that has misting fans and is actually clean (looking at you, NYC subway system), and there’s the not-atypical chill vibe that I’ve become familiar with throughout South America.
If you aren’t familiar with Chile’s political history (especially the 1960s – on), it’s fascinating. While America tends to view world history through a lens that looks primarily north of the equator (it’s really a pair of binoculars – one eye piece looks at the US, the other at Europe), a tremendous amount occurred in the western hemisphere during the past fifty years. And of course, America being America, we had a direct hand in almost all of it. Without getting into the details, we supported a military dictator in Chile that, with the help of his (our) other dictator friends in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, developed a habit of throwing alleged opposition members out of helicopters into the Pacific Ocean. If you’ve ever heard somebody talk about how a government “disappeared somebody,” that phrase comes from this era in Latin American politics. But I digress. If you want to talk about Chilean politics, I’ll happily oblige another time. It’s fascinating stuff.
After a week of traipsing around Santiago/Chile – which included a trip to the beach, multiple day-long hangovers and a lot of walking – my partner in crime, Josh Ellis, arrived. Josh was beginning a four-month stay in Chile to teach English before heading back to prison med school (just kidding, he’s going to UNC Med School and we’re all very proud of him). Whatta guy. Josh and I first became friends while studying abroad in Ecuador during our sophomore year of university, so naturally we started things where we left off three years ago.
For anybody that didn’t just read between the lines, that meant that we started things off at a bar. Drinking alcoholic drinks. Now, I can’t help but digress a smidge here in order to provide some context. Beer in South America is dirt cheap. In many countries, you can buy it for less than bottled water. This, combined with the chill social vibe and beer that has a lower alcohol content than that hipster IPA that you paid $12 for in Brooklyn last weekend, means that you can drink for an extended period of time and still function. In the interest of brevity and keeping my job (just kidding, just kidding), I’ll skip over the details of the first night being reunited in Chile and just say that we had a blast.
Week Two (kind of), Chapter One – The day after Josh arrived happened to be the first day of Lollapalooza, a two-day music festival that started in Chicago (I think) and now occurs in Brazil and Chile (I think). Josh and I, being the responsible type, had tickets.
For the uninitiated (I can say that now), music festivals are incredible. There’s tons of room to dance. There’s no judgement (you laugh, but I have been told at a concert in NYC that I wasn’t dancing correctly). There’s a plethora of great music. They’re so fun, in fact, that you can be sober and enjoy it (revolutionary!). This was the case at Lolla, where you couldn’t purchase alcohol unless you had a vip pass. VIP passes really piss me off. What kind of BS is that? I’m already paying to go, don’t make some bologna that essentially says, “yeah, well these people have more money than you, so they get more privileges.” That’s the opposite of chill vibes. Anyways, the weekend at Lollapalooza was incredible.
Week Two, Chapter Two – Hiking in Patagonia was, well, great. For anybody that has never backpacked or done any sort of hiking, it really isn’t all that difficult. People who do it just like to make it sound super hard. It’s just dirty walking while wearing a slightly heavy backpack. That being said, Patagonia is one of the windiest parts of the world, (or maybe I’m just making this up to make it sound cooler), the terrain is a bit rough at times and our bodies hadn’t quite recovered from Lolla (Remember, Josh and I are very responsible young men. We definitely considered the difficulty of the hike, combined with Lollapalooza, before making plans for both). Thankfully we’re both competitive, even when it comes to things that shouldn’t be competitive, so we decided to hike at a blistering pace (Josh was the only one that got blisters). Nobody passed us.
It goes without saying that the views and experience of hiking in Patagonia were incredible. Like the rest of this trip, I could write for pages about the details of the hike. But at this point you’re probably questioning how committed you are to reading the rest of this “blog,” so I’ll just leave a few pictures below. If you’re interested in traveling to Patagonia, please don’t hesitate to ask me questions. I promise that I won’t dramatize it too much.
El Fin – This brings us to the end of the trip (hence, “el fin”). From the time that we completed the hike in Patagonia to the time that my flight left for the states, I had a little over 48 hours. Naturally, Josh and I took advantage of the incredibly cheap (and delicious) wine in Chile and each drank two bottles to celebrate the end of a great hike. This ended with a somewhat large wine stain down the front of my shirt (mom, if you’re reading this, text me the next time Marshalls has Hawaiian shirts for $5) and Josh and I both with more-than-likely food poisoning from empanadas that we ate before the trip back to Santiago. I couldn’t have asked for a more poetic finish to my Brazilian & Chilean adventure.
To see the rest of my pictures (or at least the ones that I’ve edited so far), visit my flickr page.