A country I never imagined I’d actually end up visiting!
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To be honest, Uruguay was a country that was not specifically on my bucket list because I thought it was just another, small south american country, and I didn’t really see the point in visiting it. But, now that I’ve been there, I don’t understand that thought process anymore. Uruguay is beautiful!
Yes, it is an expensive country for tourists. But, you just need to set yourself a budget when you go there. Now, that I’ve been to Uruguay I am adding a bunch of others countries to my bucket list because I now realized that even if a country doesn’t ‘seem’ exciting or interesting, it probably is and will definitely be worth the visit.
My goal is to visit as many countries as possible, so now, if I ever doubt going to a country because I don’t think it’s ‘worth it’, I’ll remember that every country is worth it; to fulfill my goal, and to find something different in each country!
…So, this post is from 5 months ago when I lived in Chile… I finally decided to share it because it’s from the day I decided to take a spontaneous trip from my “hometown (Quillota)” to the town of Los Angeles.
So, it all started March 9, 2018 at 8pm when I decided to start exploring more of this beautiful country. So, I got up and headed to the bus station in Quillota, where I would take the 2 hour bus ride to Santiago.
I arrived in Santiago at 10pm, and waited to take the 11pm bus to Los Angeles.
That means I arrived in Los Angeles around 5am, and up to this time I had not thought of what I’d do when I arrived that early (I thought I wouldn’t arrive until at least mid-day), but I was still on a high from spontaneously deciding to take this trip, so I didn’t think much about it.
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So, I arrived at the Los Angeles bus terminal at 5am, and nothing around was open.
So, I decided to copy the people around me (the 5 other people in the bus station – a family of 3, a women with a lot of bags and suitcases, and a business man).
So, I found a bench in the terminal, put my headphones on, and laid down to take a nap.
But, I wasn’t really tired, so I just listened to my music, and tried to keep myself warm – because at 5am in Chile, the temperature drops down below 10 degrees…It goes from 35 to below 10; which is a pretty drastic difference, and makes one feel the cold (so, I couldn’t fall asleep because I couldn’t stop shivering).
When I saw other buses and people arriving in the terminal, I realized I had been laying on the bench for at least 2 hours, and let me tell you, it wasn’t very comfortable.
As soon as I saw a small glimpse of sunlight through the bus terminal window, I got up and ventured out into town, and searched for breakfast. But, since it was barely 8am, (in Chile grocery stores don’t open until at least 10am), I couldn’t get breakfast for another 2 hours.
So, there I was, in an unknown town with nothing to do but explore, and watch the sun rise(which turned out to be pretty amazing).
And, that’s exactly what I did – I walked from one end of town to the other (it wasn’t a very big town), enjoying this exciting, and spontaneous adventure to Los Angeles, Chile.
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Although, the walk was great, and the sunrise was beautiful, I was still a little cold (I was used to the 35 degree heat), and my feet were starting to hurt (really bad), I continued to explore this town at dawn (the beauty of a new town, this early, helped me forget the cold, and the pain).
So, with nothing open, and being a small town, the streets were very quiet, which felt weird (even in Quillota there’s noise at night), but it was kinda nice and peaceful to experience a small town in another country, this early in the morning.
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After ~2 hours of exploring, just aimlessly walking around, and watching the sunrise (and getting kicked out of a hotel – …see below…), I found the first grocery store to open, and immediately went inside.
But, before even looking for breakfast, I just stood inside realizing how cold I’d actually gotten – being outside in below 10 degree weather since 4am I’d started to adjust.
I eventually started walking down the isles of the grocery store thinking of what I wanted for breakfast… (I had no idea, so, I ended up just buying some staple foods like: bread, manjar, bananas, water, and some Chilean treats…).
But, as I was walking to the elevator to leave, the front desk agents saw me and thought I was being suspicious. So, after they questioned me, I told them I was leaving, and that I just wanted to see the view. But, they still called their manager, which is when I realized I could’ve just asked before I went up (but from what other people said, it seemed like it was ok). After they called their manager, I patiently waited, as to not cause any more trouble, and then they escorted me out (I felt weird in the moment, but at least I got a story out of it from my trip to Los Angeles, Chile when I felt like a little rebel :D).
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With breakfast purchased, I headed back outside.
It was now past 10:30am, so it was warming up with the sun, and people were waking up and going about their day.
As I was standing outside of the grocery store enjoying the warmth of the sun, my feet still screaming in pain, I set out to find a park (or plaza, as they call it in Chile) to sit down and eat my breakfast. And, although I had passed many during my walk this morning, it took me a while to find it again.
I eventually found a beautiful plaza where I finally sat down.
While warming up under the sun and eating breakfast, I just watched people go about their day. It was interesting to just sit there and watch people in this new, small town because for a moment, I forgot I was in Chile. It all just seemed and felt normal.
After I had warmed up and ate breakfast, I connected to the internet (in Chile every town has a plaza with free wifi). I took some pictures of the sunrise and posted them on Instagram, texted my host family to let them know I made it, and texted my family back home to show them where I was.
After finishing breakfast, and checking social media, I ventured out again.
This time I went to find the mall, and coffee.
. . .
A few minutes later, I walked into the mall (it was bigger than you’d expect for a small town), and immediately headed to the food court to find coffee (I was tired from only 3 hours of sleep on the bus).
I got a great cup of coffee and did some more people watching in the mall to see if the plaza was only a similar feeling because I was tired, but this also felt very normal (maybe even more).
By this time it was ~11am, so there were more people around, and more places open, and everything just seemed normal (I barely felt like I was in Chile – until I heard people speaking Spanish…).
Once I finished my coffee, I headed back to the bus terminal because my goal when coming to Los Angeles was to go to Saltos del Laja (the Niagara falls of Chile – that’s how my hostfamily explained it to me), which is 30mins from Los Angeles.
At 13:00, I finally got on the bus to Saltos del Laja (my bucket list item was about to be checked off!).
. . .
30 minutes later, I arrived in Saltos del Laja.
The falls were visible from the highway, but to get to the base of them, I had to climb down a hill. And, I made it to the falls (bucket list item: check).
The falls were incredible, and I couldn’t believe I actually made it! (the long journey, and little bit of pain & cold were SOOOOO worth it)! If you’re ever in Chile, I really recommend going to Saltos del Laja!
When I got to the base of the falls, I just sat down staring at the falls eating my last banana from breakfast.
I think I must’ve sat there staring at the falls for a good hour because when I left the falls I was a little damp from the mist coming off them, and a big group of tourists were making their descent to the falls.
After saying “Hi!” to the English speaking tourists (it was nice to hear English :D), I decided it was time to get up, and check out the vendor shops I passed on my way down the hill. (I ended just buying a sticker of the falls, and a Chilean bracelet).
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It was a few minutes past 16:00 when I arrived back in Los Angeles, and since the next bus back to Santiago wasn’t until 18:00, I decided to go explore a little more and buy a / some snacks for the bus ride back.
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That night/morning, I arrived in Santiago SO LATE/EARLY (1am), and the next bus to Quillota didn’t leave until 7am (this is when the spontaneous high started wearing-off…I just wanted to get back now that I checked the falls off my bucket list…I was tired…to say the least).
So, what could I do for ~6 hours, this early in the morning in Santiago?
Yup, you guessed it, I walk around and explored Santiago at night/early morning.
My feet were still in a little pain from Los Angeles walking, but I couldn’t stay at the bus terminal because they were closed, and taxi drivers were insisting on driving me to a hotel (and I think they were raising the price). So, because I didn’t want to pay for a hotel room for less than 6 hours, I told them I would just walk to a hotel (that was my “little white lie” for the day…my bad – But, I just wanted them to stop asking me where I was going…so I left). Spoiler alert: I didn’t walk to a hotel!
Luckily for me, Santiago is still pretty alive at night, so I wasn’t the only person in the streets (let alone the only traveler / backpacker in the streets). While walking around for a couple of hours enjoying the Santiago nightlife, I only found one corner store open (where I just bought a bottle of water for my night exploring in Santiago), not much else was open. So, guess what I did next… You’ll literally never guess…
. . .
While exploring, and discovering a lot of landmarks in Santiago, I found a Starbucks!
…It wasn’t open, but…
I sat down outside of it, and used the internet for a few hours (at least it’s not as cold in Santiago, so I didn’t freeze sitting there).
And, I was only an hour away from the bus terminal I had to go to, to take the bus to Quillota in a few hours.
So, I sat there (at this Starbucks on a random street in Santiago) for a couple of hours (from ~3am to ~5am) using the internet (checking social media), thinking about the past 24 hour adventure. And, I started writing this story because this was a very crazy, spontaneous, and memorable experience.
If I had planned this trip, Iprobably would’ve stayed at a hotel somewhere, and had a better itinerary with more stops.
But, it was so last minute that I literally just put some stuff in a backpack because I wanted to check the waterfalls off my bucket list once and for all.
Sometimes the best trips are the ones that happen spontaneously. (And, this is what that was because I will truly never forget this trip!)
Happy ending to this crazy trip:
After using the internet at Starbucks, the sun was starting (just barely) to rise, so I made my way to the bus terminal, and took a bus back to Quillota, and I made it back to my host family’s home at 11am (just in time for a nice, delicious breakfast – which was cereal…but it was the best cereal ever :D).
And, after breakfast, I immediately went to sleep (I was super exhausted from only 3 hours of sleep in the past 24 hours, and sore from all the walking). I slept that entire day, until 20:00 (but it was so worth it!).
It might have been a crazy / unplanned / painful / exhausting / spontaneous trip in the moment, but, I will never forget this trip because it was one of the best, and most eye-opening trips I’ve ever taken (alone).
If you read this until the end; Thank you for reading this long post about my adventure to Los Angeles / Saltos del Laja, Chile!
I hope it inspired you to take a spontaneous trip somewhere new (I recommend doing at least a little bit of planning).
What was one of your craziest adventures? (comment your story below)
-LiveForAdventure! 🙂 (I definitely lived for adventure on this trip!)
Sometimes you just have to turn around and look behind you for a second.
It might change a lot more than you think!
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Location of picture:
Cortina Puclaro 25 minutes from Vicuña, Chile 50 minutes from La Serena, Chile
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While taking the picture above, I was drawn to the lake because the sun was shining directly on it and it seemed like the perfect picture of a lake in the middle of the mountains. I didn’t really think of taking a picture on the other side because the sun was shining directly at my camera and the view didn’t seem as good, but I took one just to see what it would look like and, it actually came out amazing. I, then, realized that the sun setting behind the mountains, the sun flair on my camera and, the river going through the mountains was a really good picture and I was glad I decided to take both pictures.
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So, why am I sharing this story? Well, after taking a picture of both sides of this bridge, I realized that it was kind of a metaphor for life.
You see, sometimes we can get stuck just looking at one side of things in our life, and we are happy with it because we think it’s a great view.
But, it’s not until we turn around that we realize that we should have turned around much earlier because there was so much more amazing things waiting for us, and all we had to do was turn around and shift our perspective.
And, it’s really quite a simple concept. You just turn around to shift your focus, and watch your perspective change. And, that small shift in your perspective could change your whole world.
One simple shift in your focus
could change your entire perspective of your life!
Thanks for reading! I hope this post inspired you to change your perspective every now and then; and, if you’d like to read more about perspective, check out this post: Perspective… / A Day in Valparaiso, Chile!
So, today, I just learned that chile is a “third world country”.
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I mean, I know, I should’ve known before coming here and done some research about it, but it just didn’t occur to me. Chile doesn’t seem like any of the other “third world countries” I’ve visited; there’s something about it that blinded me from the fact that it actually is a “third world country”.
To me, it’s just different because it’s below the equator, so I just assumed everything is obviously different, and backwards (like, the seasons), so, I didn’t think much about it. I just accepted the fact that the seasons and stuff were backwards and different.
But, now that I know it’s a “third world country”, my view of it has changed, for the better. Now that I know, it’s easier to compare things from my home country because I know why things are different. I guess I would say that, now that I know, I’m “nicer” to the country and the differences I notice because in my mind, it’s doing a great job being a successful (for lack of better word)“third world country”. I mean, seriously, though, I’ve been living here for about a month an a half, and I just realized it now because I heard someone say it. I never felt the need to research what kind of country it was because it seemed so similar from my home country, with a few interesting differences that I love learning about.
And, I think that the fact that it’s not an obvious “third world country” is a great thing for this country. I know, I don’t know anything about the politics about this country (although now I want to learn more about it). But, I do know that, if a tourist visits this country for a week or so, they will most likely not feel like they are in a “third world country”. Unless they come with a mission in mind to help the poor or something, but otherwise, if people come here for a vacation, and don’t think about the politics or research it, they will probably never know.
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All that, just to say: “A country that you might be afraid to visit, or, that you don’t think is worth visiting because it doesn’t seem like it will have much to offer tourists” might be you missing out on something truly interesting to see/learn about. So, if you’re thinking about visiting a “not-so-popular” country, think about what you could gain from the experience & what you could learn, instead of what the country has to offer for tourists. And, don’t research the country too much before going; save some learning for when you arrive in the country.
Be a local, as well as, a tourist in a new country!
(You learn much more by being both!)
Thanks for reading! I hope this post inspired you to visit different countries for more than just a “laying-in-the-sun” type of vacation; to truly experience a new country.
In today’s post, I’m going to give you 15 things to think about before going abroad.
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Don’t be afraid of going abroad!
Don’t think about what you’ll be leaving behind, think about what you’ll get to experience. (you will learn and gain much more than you will be leaving behind)
There’s a big chance that the climate will be different (do some research before packing). This will make your experience abroad much more enjoyable.
Don’t think about what it’s going to be like too much. Let yourself be surprised by things. It will make your experience much more enjoyable, and you will be more open-minded, which will help you learn even more.
Enjoy the journey there, at least as much as being in the country because you might even learn something on the trip there (in the airport or in the bus/plane).
Learn some important words/phrases in the local language. Not everyone will speak your language, and you might want to be able to speak to people instead of always acting things out.
Charades is fun at the beginning of your trip, but later on you will want to be able to say something, so just learn a few things before you leave (this also makes it easier to learn more while in the country).
Don’t be afraid to speak the local language (it will be one of your most valuable memories, especially if you make a funny mistakes).
A foreign language is an amazing assets to have to show future employers. (every mistakes you make while learning will be worth it).
Culture shock is real (but not scary). It just means that you are aware of your new surroundings and you are adjusting. During the culture shock phase, you can learn a lot about yourself and the country.
Don’t plan too much (just go out and explore anything and everything).
Don’t be too much of a tourist (speak to locals, ask them about fun things they like to do).
Don’t take too many pictures (unless you’re a travel photographer). Try to live in the moment and capture the important things.
Try to overcome jet-lag as soon as possible. This will make your trip (long or short) much more enjoyable.
Stay connected with friends and family back home (talk to them at least once a week). It will make culture shock less painful, and you will be able to tell them the exciting things that you experience the day of, instead of waiting until you get back (but save some stories to tell them about in person).
And, lastly, answer this question: WHY are you going abroad?
Thanks for reading! I hope this post encourages you to travel abroad & take advantage of your next adventure abroad!