If you haven´t heard of it, I highly reccomend that you do. Torres del Paine, that is. This is the National Park in southern Chile I went backpacking in. It has been named the 8th wonder of the world, and I can understand why! My backpacking trip in the park was incredible. I started off, prepared to be hiking by myself often, but the trek is so popular, you are never really alone. As an example of some adventures I had on this trek, on the first day while I was hiking to my 1st campsite, a couple stopped me and told me that the campsite was closed and I needed to turn around and go back to another. Luckily, I ran into 2 girls from my hostel and 2 guys from Holland who had heard it might not be closed, and we decided to risk having to turn around and go for it. And…the campsite was open! We saw Las Torres, which is one of the main sites to see and had a lovely evening at the campground. Along my trek, I met so many cool people and saw some of the most beautiful ladscapes I have ever seen. I also encountered insanely heavy winds that almost knocked me over and bent my tent poles…womp womp. I had heard Patagonia was quite windy…and it´s totally true.
I think the craziest thing that happened on my trek was while I was hanging out at my campsite one day with my Zion Adventure jacket on, a man came over and said, “I know someone who works there” and I looked at his shirt that said Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides and I said “I applied for an internship at that company 3 years ago” so he sat down and we chatted for a while. Finally, I asked him his name, and it turns out he was the guy who interviewed me 3 years ago and who I´ve been in friendly contact with for the past 3 years! It was so awesome to meet him… and in Patagonia! Maybe this post should have been named “El Mundo es Muy Pequeno!” How crazy. And those are just a few examples of why Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine were absolutely incredible and such a great adventure!
After spending 3 extra days in Puerto Natales, I left for Chiloe which is a cluster of islands off the coast of Chile. I stayed at a very nice hostel owned by a very funny woman, Anita, whose family and friends were in town while I was there. Chiloe wasn´t quite the adventure I was looking for, but I had many funny encounters with Anita and her friends and practiced my Spanish a lot, as well as met up with a friend I met in Bariloche.
These past 2 days, I was in Valparaiso. Valparaiso is such a cool city! It´s on the coast and has incredible street art EVERYWHERE! It´s a really fun, quirky city with a lot to offer. Within 5 minutes of arriving at my hostel, 2 Dutch girls invited me to go walk around the city with them and later that night we decided to go out for a drink. Well..unfortunately it was Sunday and everything is closed on Sunday! But we finally found a small bar that seemed to be filled only with locals…how perfect! We had such a good time speaking Spanglish, watching performances by their friends, and dancing to great latin music. Wow will I miss this part of the world. My Spanish has even gotten quite a bit better and I was able to have a conversation about politics (I don´t even talk about politics in English) in Spanish yesterday!
Now, I am in Santiago, and tomorrow I leave. It´s hard to believe my travels are about to end, they have been so amazing and better than I could have ever expected. I can´t imagine not coming back, as I keep saying in Spanish, yo soy muy enamorado con sudamerica (I´m enamored with south america). It´s so fun to look at the progress I´ve made in my travels. Thinking about how much trouble I had with the public transporation when I first got here, and then getting back to Santiago today and rocking the public transportation, felt so awesome! Thinking about going home is very mixed: I´m sad to end my travels and say goodbye to South America, but I´m excited to come home and see my friends and family, and I feel so lucky that I am coming home to a job that I love. I know this is not the last time I will be here, but for now, it´s time for some more adventures in the America that is North.