Sunday, October 26, 2008

Last day – first day, one month gone by… (Day 33)

I've just arrived in sunny Sydney, and posting something I've written on the longest flight I've ever taken +14hrs... Hello Australia!

(where I am now: Seat 28J on LAN 801 flight to Sydney – with a stopover into Auckland)
What time is it: 23:50 Chile time, What am I listening to: Easy Lover, Phil Collins )

Fifteen minutes already in this flight that will take me across the Pacific to my next dream destination, I look back on a month’s of travel and share thoughts…It’s been a month… If you look at it from a calendar perspective, it’s been a month. Don’t ask me to comment if it has gone by fast, I’ve done so many things, seen so many places and covered so much distance on this continent and still, as I was sitting a couple of days ago in the Hostel in Valparaiso looking at the huge South America map on the wall, I can only say that I have seen nothing compared to what is out there. I say this will full knowledge of the limitations of my trip and the conscious decision to see “a bit of a lot of locations”. But still when I compare myself with so many other travelers I’ve met that are touring for 4,6 even 9 months this continent, South America was like an empanada served hot and eaten quickly when it should be a 4 course meal eaten with relish, slowly and with appreciation. No regrets, that is clear. I made a clear choice for this trip from the beginning and I know the price I need to pay for it. As I told some of you before I left, the way this trip has been planned is like a box of assorted chocolates: small in size, varied in flavor, a little bit of everything. And if you are wondering why so many food metaphors, it is because I am starving and these guys are just starting now to serve food. Let’s hope they do it from the end of the aircraft because I will start eating the seats…

So indeed it has been a wonderful, amazing, month full of beautiful stories and experiences, that’s for sure. Going out last night in Santiago was the perfect curtain close for the Latin America adventure. Back in Casa Roja, the hostel in Santiago, I stayed on for the barbeque they organize every Friday. Was worth it – I shared a bench with a few people, some American girls, Scott an Aussie guy living in London, Aaron from San Francisco and Jesus from Peru (not Bethlehem) … They had plans to go out. I was yawning after the second piece of steak: yesterday’s all-nighter in Mascara in Valparaiso and few hours of rest this day had already taken their toll. “It’s your last night in Santiago – for us as well”, smiling Anette from the US pointed out.

“It’s my last night on this continent” I thought and stood up to go and wear my jeans.

The place we went was at the Bellavista neighborhood which is actually famous for its restaurants and bars. The place was called Clandestino, a bar/club joint which before midnight had a strange live band playing. Of course, don’t forget, this is the place where 80’s and 90’s live on, so again I was a happy person. It really strikes you when you start thinking about it: A group of perfect strangers, with their own personal stories and backgrounds, brought together for one night of dinning and drinking, like they were old friends… Sure it’s not always easy and at the end they won’t all be your friends but you can at least say that you met some interesting people. It’s fascinating and sad also in some way if you think about it, many of these people you are unlikely to meet again.We left the place at 04:30, by the time we found a taxi and got to the hostel it was 06:00 am, Saturday noon for Western Europe… I love this time difference.

Cross the line, lose a day.
Where am I: same seat same plane, 5836 miles covered, I am almost above Auckland.
Time/Day: Can’t really tell you. My watch says Sunday 11:45 am in Chile, that’s 17:45 Geneva time and I guess it is slowly dawning Monday morning in New Zealand.
My flight is taking 2 days to complete…It’s funny if you think about it, even mind-boggling sometimes. I left on Sat 25 Oct at 23:00 local Chile time and am arriving in Australia on Monday the 27th at 07:00. The flight & stopover are 18hours. So where did the rest of the time go? I guess it is lost in the gorge of the International Date line. (and I don’t mean a phone line where you date internationally) Funny thing how we’re managing time on this planet. At one moment, I am the last to get into a day (Chile only starting a day when Europe is in the middle and New Zealand are at the end of it.

The moment you cross the line, you’re looking at the end of that day. In reality time is not lost. As a friend said, you are still going to be away for 106 days, that doesn’t change so before I start thinking of it in a more scientific way, I will leave it to that.

Parting thoughts for a continent that will be revisited
I loved Latin America, even if I didn’t see much of it, proportionally to its size and number of countries of course. I wanted to post a few points on what I think were the highlights of my trip and maybe a couple of regrets (let’s just call them things that I should do next time!)

Highlights (not in order of preference or importance)
1. Iguazu waterfalls, the closest I’ve been so far to pure nature
2. Using couch surfing and other friends to get a real image of the places I visited
3. Grilled meat in Argentina and Fishsoup in Santiago de Chile
4. Tango night and Horseback riding in Cordoba with Amparo
5. Santa Fe’s lovely buildings and hospitality.
6. Peña night in Buenos Aires with Menelaos & friends
7. Mendoza’s beautiful parks and wine
8. Beautiful, decadent Valparaiso
9. Andes crossing by bus and view of the Aconcagua
10. All the amazing & different people I’ve met so far

1. Not crossing over to Uruguay for a day when I was in Buenos Aires (didn’t plan the day right)
2. Not going to see the Boca stadium or the Argentina-Chile football game for the World Cup Qualifiers or (wasn’t in BA at that day)
3. Not visiting Patagonia in the South and Jujuy in the North of Argentina (not enough time…)
4. Not going for a gourmet dinner in one of Chile’s famous fish restaurants (was in Valparaiso)
5. Not going out to one of the big clubs in Buenos Aires to check out the “local talent” ;-)

Parting thoughts for you.
As I cross into this new part of my adventure, I want to say thank you for reading and writing. Keeping in touch with you has been a great way to feel less lonely on this solo adventure. I only feel sad about the fact that while you know pretty well what I am doing through this blog, I’m missing out on your daily life & stories. It’s a bit unfair, since I would like to also know what you are doing. When I am back, you can’t ask me how the trip was, you already know very well, so I guess you need to get ready to do some talking about what you have been doing.

Let’s make a deal: next time you write me some feedback or a short message, include one sentence about your daily life. It could be anything: I went to Calamar for a friend’s birthday, I went drinking at So-cho’s, I met yesterday X and Y and went to eat souvlakia, I am preparing to move into my new apartment, whatever, just put it on the mail.I am looking at the little TV screen in the middle of the cabin. A red line tracing the little plane going west, from Auckland to Sydney… Another 2 hours to go before I reach the land of Down-Under and fulfill another part of my travel dream. See you around, enjoy Sunday, I am ahead of all of you today (It’s already Monday morning here…)



Christos Teriax JR said...

ok, let's make another deal.

We've got you travelling all over the world, showing us all these amazing stuff and you want us step forward and tell you that i woke up this morning and had my corn flakes in a different bowl than usually????


Oh come on :)

Anyway hope you are well. You have to go back and watch a football match!! When i went to Barcelona this summer i left Mirto wasting time around shops in the morning but she did not know at that time that in the evening she was going to watch Barca-Boca Juniors in Camp Nou!!! :)

One of the main reasons men are good at geography is football!! :)

Hope you are well!!!

See ya!!

Chris W said...

Ok - having enjoyed all the LA stories, I am now really looking forward to the next chapter of the trip. It's fantastic, keep on writing. I will remember back the 2 days I was allowed to stay in Sydney last year - so let me hear more in-depth stories.
Nothing special here on my side: leaving for 2 days of Cannes tomorrow, saw the ultrasonic pics of our "Christmas present" on Friday and feel her moving in Caroline's belly, and am still pricing the fragrance world :)
Cheers man, have great fun.