I acquired my first impression of Chile in the capital, Santiago. Moving here without a plan or a job meant that I had some exploring to do. The first step was to figure out in which city I wanted to live. Santiago was high up on the list of possibilities, primarily because it is the largest city (by far) with the most job opportunities. So, I spent eight days there waiting for it to make a good impression on me… It didn’t, and here’s why:
I arrived in Santiago, Chile after an 11-hour overnight flight from New Zealand and just like that my “traveler” status changed. I was no longer traveling for travel’s sake; I was MOVING. And I was FREAKED OUT. After just a few days here I had a revelation: When you’re traveling in a foreign country, many of its negative qualities can be viewed as minor annoyances. For example: Australia is expensive? That’s okay, I’m only here for two weeks. Hanoi is crazy, loud, and crowded? That’s okay, that’s part of its charm. India is dirty? That’s unfortunate, but at least I’m not living on the streets here. But when you MOVE to a foreign country (especially one you’ve never been to before), your eyes are open in a different way. You notice things that would have gone unnoticed before. You are bothered by things that wouldn’t have bothered you as a mere traveler. And you ask questions, lots of them, to find out more about your new home.
On June 15th, en route from Sydney to Santiago, Chile, I had a layover in Auckland, NZ. It was supposed to be a 3-hour layover, but upon arriving in Auckland, I found out that the flight was delayed by four hours. What do you do when you have a 7-hour layover in Auckland? Get another stamp on your passport and take the airport shuttle bus ($26 roundtrip!) into the city, of course!