I bring this blog to you purely for your entertainment during your self-isolation and the nation’s quarantine.
Actually, I bring this blog to you because, once again, my year abroad is ending in an abrupt, last-minute panic. Oh, de ja vu how I haven’t missed you…
While Latin America is a few weeks behind Europe in terms of the Coronavirus, many countries are already taking severe precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of the virus, such as closing their borders to Europe. Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia have all stopped accepting flights from Europe, and Chile has already closed it ports as it declared a Stage-3 protocol. Although I am in touching distance of the end of my time in Chile and the start of my travels, realistically these are now impossible. I would either get stuck in a different country, or never even make it out. We decided that the sensible thing would be for me to come home now while there are still flights home and before I become stranded in Latin America for the foreseeable future. I know it’s the right option, but “disappointed” really doesn’t cover what I am feeling. I fly home tomorrow.
It feels like so long ago that I left the Costa Rican jungle – that safe, isolated haven. I really miss it. My internship with Magma Partners was wonderful, challenging, and surprisingly fun. I have been in my new internship role with the newspaper for 4 weeks, and spent the last week and a half with my Mum who was visiting. I was already beginning to feel ready to leave Chile, and with some ongoing difficulties at work, perhaps having to go home is a blessing in disguise. Spending the last 10 days being a tourist and ticking off some of the last few things I wanted to do in Santiago was possibly also the best way to say farewell to this country.
I think it’s time for a run-down of my Chile highlights;
The arrival of some more interns at the end of January was a blessing. After spending most of December and January as the only intern and quite alone at times, it was wonderful to once again have some other people to go on adventures with. Undoubtedly, my favourite weekend was a few weeks back when we went out salsa dancing on Friday, went bouldering on Saturday, and then did a hike on Sunday!
We decided to hike Manquehue, a sizeable hill on the edge of Santiago, as many people had recommended it to us for the view of the city from the top. After a strong start entering the park in the wrong place we made it over over Manquecito (“little Manquehue”) in order to tackle the real Manquehue. Towards the top it became a little exciting and we found ourselves rock climbing more than hiking. The way down was equally challenging as it was mainly bare rock and sandy gravel, which meant a lot of slipping and sliding. It’s fair to say that we were all well worn out by the time we got back home. I feel so blessed to have been able to share the past few weeks with these wonderful girls with whom I get on so well. They are kind, funny, and always open to talk – you know who you are, and I just want to say thank you.
In terms of tourist goals, I feel like I have ticked off everything on the Santiago bucket-list: San Cristobal (10/10 running views but it’s a beast to get to the top), La Moneda, Plaza de Armas, Plaza Italia, Barrio Yungay, Barrio Italia, numerous brunch spots, Temple de Ba’hai, Cajon del Maipo (8/10), Valparaiso, Vina del Mar, Con Con…
Leaving so suddenly is jolting, and I have not yet quite got my head around the fact that in 36 hours I will be back in the UK. I actually find myself looking forward to the Spring – I never thought I would say it, but I really missed Winter!
It’s hard to put into words how I feel about this city and about Chile in general. My time here has been wonderful, challenging, rewarding, difficult, delicious, lonely, and exciting. No-one ever said living abroad would be easy after all, but until you do it you don’t know how resilient you are. I think my finest moment was fighting off a parasite for 2 months and taking a one-woman tour of Buenos Aires. It hasn’t been the year I had imagined, but I know I’m not the only one in this boat. One thing remains true though, wherever I go, I am amazed by the goodness of humanity and the kindness of people, no matter who they are or where they are from. I have barely scratched the surface of this continent, and there is no doubt in my mind that I will be back to find the roots soon.
When faced with such a circumstance as this, it is easy to focus only on the disappointment and what has been missed. I am incredibly frustrated to have to cancel my travel plans as that is what I was most looking forward to out of this whole year. That said, my two months in Costa Rica were some of the best of my life, and working with Magma allowed me to meet so many wonderful people, secure my first real job, and revealed to me more talents than I knew I had. The low parts amongst these highlights (the parasite really was a grim experience) are really what make it real. I survived the jungle. I survived Chile. I survived living abroad for 8 months and not going home. That’s not bad.
If someone had told me in September that this is how my year abroad would end, I would have…I don’t even know, the situation is too absurd. When life gives you lemons, make lemon-scented hand sanitizer. Who knows what I’m going to do with myself for the next 5 months, who knows how I’ll take to being back in the UK.
Maybe I’ll start knitting, I think that’s an excellent quarantine activity.
Thank you for your dedicated reading these past 8 months. I can only apologise that we never made it to the best chapters of all.
See you soon my loves. Latin America, I’ll be back.