Chile in 1995
Updated: Aug 19, 2020
As we are currently sitting at home and the next trip is still far away (well, we have some ideas.....) - here a blog of a trip (Nina's trip to be precise) in 1995. On this trip, I used an analogue camera and I had to scan the pictures - sorry for the bad quality. But anyway - these pictures give the blog a retro feeling ;-).
Well, I (Nina) have always been crazy when it comes to travelling. It started at the age of 16 when I booked a 2 weeks language course in Malta without my parent first knowing it (I was perfect in coping my father's signature ;-)). I did a lot of short and cheap trips around Europe with Iceland being the most impressive trip so far. Then, before I started my studies I worked some time at a tour operator and was lucky enough to spend my first 4 days out of Europe. They send me to Bahrain with a colleague. I was really fascinated as these 4 days opened my eyes for totally different cultures. And I wanted more, more, more. No question - when I had the opportunity to spend part of my studies in Spain, I went there. To be honest, not so much for the studies but for living. OK, sometimes I went to university, I even passed most of the exams - but living "the spanish way" was much more appealing to me. But, a small excuse, I was really young at that time......
I was already crazy for travelling - but the travel bug really bit me 1 year later. When I was 22 years old, I was in the middle of my studies ready for an internship again. And as I had learned early in life, I tried to combine the inevitable with something nice. Therefore, I did not think twice when I was offered a 2 month internship in a german company in Chile. Wow, that was going to be my first really big trip! Living in Aachen/Germany a that time it was nearly on the other side of the world. How lucky I was to get this chance.
„...when the travel bug first bit me...”
And it was a long flight. Being a poor student, I took the cheapest flight which was 21 hours to Santiago. I arrived there deadly tired. An employee of my company picked me up, brought me to my hotel room (where I could stay for 4 days) and immediately showed me around town. He patiently showed me how I could find a room. That was my first task. I had 4 days to find a room to stay for 2 month. At that time, there was no internet, no couchsurfing.... I had to rely on newspaper ads and the help of some people and institutions. Anyway, like this I really got to know Santiago very well. It was a huge city which I immediately liked. I loved the combination and the atmosphere of old history and modern buildings. There was a great student vibe in the city with lots of intellectual bars and cafes. And on my fourth day I was really lucky. In one cafe I found a piece of paper on a board "room for rent". I called the lady and 2 hours later I moved in. I had a small room with my private bathroom at an argentinian ladies home. She was nice, the appartment was perfectly located in Providencia in the middle of the action at that time and it was clean and cheap.
The only downside, every morning it was a 1 hour 30 minutes drive by metro and bus to the company. I was working in a project in marketing for a pharmaceutical company. It was quite interesting and I met a lot of nice and helpful people and learned a lot. I always remember one thing: every time I was sitting in my office and looking at the highway which was passing by my window, I was amused by the fact, that at that time, there were bycicles on the highway, modern amercian cars, old stinky buses and horse carts. This combination was like a picture of the Chile I got to know at that time. There was still the feeling of the old, not so nice times and the aim to reach the modern times. I loved that feeling.
During the week, I had to work, but in the evening I often went out with some colleagues from work or some friends I met, just walked through the city or relaxed in one of the many nice parks. My favourite walk was up to Cerro San Cristobal. Up there, there was no smog. Down in the city, it was horrible. In 1995, they still had all the old buses and the smog was horrendous. Most of the times I could not see the Andes. On the weekends I always went out to explore the country. I visited the sleepy bay of Zapallar where nowadays only the rich and famous go to. I went to Valparaiso without seeing one single tourist. I went trekking in peaceful and remote Valle del Maipo (only a dangerous bus ride was taking me there). And I went down the coast to San Antonio and to the famous house of Pablo Neruda which I loved.
After I finished my internship, I took the chance for more travelling. Together with my friend I hired a car and we drove up the coast from Santiago to Los Vilos. This was an unspectacular fishing village where we celebrated in a local fishermens bar the national day of Chile. Well, lesson learned since then..... pisco sour tastes wonderful but it is strong....... I had the worst hangover of my life :-). We went up north to La Serena and visited the famous Valle de Elqui (where they produce this strong stuff). We went for a hike in the foggy Parque Nacional de Fray Jorge -it is on the coast and famous for its vegetation. It is almost always foggy. We had a very special luck as we got stuck in the car because a beautiful small wolve was sitting on the road, just watching as for more than 1 hour. It was an unforgettable experience.
I had fallen in love already with this country before I boarded a plane for my last week in Chile. From Santiago, this plance brought me up north to Calama. Well, I had no idea what to expect. I had no guide book, no map but big dreams and I was ready for an adventure. I wanted to go to the desert and a colleague of work had suggested me to visit San Pedro de Atacama. At the airport of Calama I was told that in some time there was a bus going to San Pedro. And this was true - I will always remember me, sitting in the back of this bus, chicken running between my legs, I baby sleeping in my arm and its mother talking to me in a language I have never heard before. And I was simply happy and calm. When I was sitting in this shaking old bus rumbling through the deserted landscape I felt at the right place. It took as about 3 hours to reach San Pedro. At that time, it really was a small hippy village. There were some tourists, but just a few backpackers. Accomodation was extremely low key and cheap and everything was soooo relaxed. I met an nice girl from France and a guy from Tahiti and for the next 5 days we had a blast together. We shared a nice room, shared a driver and discovered the desert together. We went to the Atacama salt flat, drove up high to the altiplano, took a bath at the El Tatio Geseyers, went to the Valle de la luna and tried all restaurants on the village (there were not sooo many at that time). But the travel bug really bit me, when we were driving towards the snowcapped altiplano early in the morning. At the Laguna Verde we got off the jeep and I walked up a little hill on my own and sat down. The vastness, the colours, the tranquility and the pure beauty of this place made me cry - the travel bug did its job. Since then, I always wanted to return. I always wanted to see all the many, many beautiful places all around our wonderful planet.
So I am more than happy that I returned many years later. And I am still on my way to discover the planet. So, on my first big trip I did an internship - but travelling learned me so much more than sitting in the office.....
It took 13 years to come back....