This was spring of the year 2018. I was just finishing my fourth (and a half) year of university (took me six years to actually graduate — felt like a lifetime), and overall things were… slow and uneventful.
I remember wanting to take a break right after being done with finals, wanting to leave the city for a while. I had some money saved and there was literally nothing tying me down to Mexico City. So I opened Google Maps and started clicking around.
Chile had always been in the back of my mind when considering places to visit. Santiago was
actually too expensive for my budget at the time, so instead I stayed in a cute little Airbnb in
Valparaiso, a beautiful port city about two hours away from Santiago. I literally packed three or four outfits, my camera, and a bunch of books for a twelve-day trip. On my second day I found a hostel with a book trading library inside where I found a beautiful edition of El Aleph by Borges (this is something I’ll always bring up in every single conversation with anybody who will listen because I absolutely love that book lol) and other literary goodies.
Valparaiso, a beautiful port city about two hours away from Santiago. I literally packed three or four outfits, my camera, and a bunch of books for a twelve-day trip.
That set the tone for the whole trip. I had never finished so many books in that time span. I spent all my days reading, and walking, and taking pictures. I allowed myself only a few moments a day to think about my life back home. Then I’d bring myself back to whatever I was reading or doing. And the weird thing is, I never felt far from home, sometimes even not far enough. I completely dissociated from everything. I spoke only when it was absolutely necessary. I wouldn’t speak for days on end. I noticed this towards the end of my trip, when I was buying a loaf of bread in a little store near where I was staying, and the guy behind the counter asked me something, and my voice came out hoarse and deep and rusty. It was weird. It was a weird thing knowing I could manage spending my days like that, not talking to anybody; and maybe not even just manage but also enjoy?
I allowed myself only a few moments a day to think about my life back home. Then I’d bring myself back to whatever I was reading or doing. And the weird thing is, I never felt far from home, sometimes even not far enough.
I remember those twelve days with a warm heart. The quiet, the laying low, the anonymity, the
hills, the ocean, the (endless) stairs everywhere. But don’t get me wrong, the lows came too, and hard. That weird place our minds go where we try to imagine something happening: the tiniest possibility and against all odds of just disappearing completely, out of thin air, and then what would happen? It’s a weird and heavy thought, and I don’t actually know if it was a byproduct of the laying low and the pretending to be invisible.
I don’t think every solo traveler experiences this. I feel like there’s a bunch of corners of the
internet specifically tailored to give tips and tricks to socialize and mingle as a solo traveler. But for me it just kind of happened that way. I didn’t seek others. I didn’t seek interaction. I didn’t seek frivolous chit chat. I went so inside my head it took me a while to come of out it again. But I liked it, and I remember it fondly.
Journal entry from my last or second to last day in Valparaiso
bueno saber que mi nube
no está acotada por mis paredes
ya la siento totalmente exteriorizada de la vida que llevo
ajena de las calles que cruzo
independiente de las miradas que veo
¿era obvio? solo quería asegurarme
se deben saber con una certeza
se deben buscar a gritos
a pasos gigantes y a pulmones vacíos
a cualquier manera de desviarme de la respuesta
a cualquier manera de llevarme arrastrando y cansarme en el camino
y cuando doy con estas verdades,
llego agotada. y
¿no se? lo hace más ameno, tal vez
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