Comforts of Viña
I don’t like cities, but I like Viña del Mar. It’s a travel destination for many, and at one point it was for me, too, but now it’s my base camp. It’s easy to forget how great it is here when you’re so focused on exploring the rest of the country in a few short months. Viña del Mar has everything you could want in a city; it has ridiculously frequent beautiful sunsets, beaches, lots of great restaurants and the best public transportation. And yet by the second week, I wanted to leave.
I felt myself getting comfortable, and I was ready to be nervous again so I needed to pack and say goodbye to the comforts of this second home for a weekend. I would spend some weekends camping on the beach, one week in Patagonia, a couple days in the north, and every time I remember the nervous energy of knowing that I would be in unfamiliar surroundings, and maybe not have a place to sleep or the right equipment for my travels. Each time was like getting a small taste of that original fear that I felt before coming to South America. But then there was always the feeling of relief at the end of the trip, as I loaded myself onto the bus from Santiago with “Viña del Mar” in big, glowing letters.
The next days were always the ones that I most appreciated Viña. It’s when I would know that I have a bed, my own room, delicious meals made by my mama chilena, and my local spots that have become familiar over the past 3 months. For me personally, the anticipation of travel is two-fold: It’s the excitement of being in a new, unfamiliar place to see if you can survive there, and then the relief of travelling back “home” and being able to enjoy all the things that may become mundane if you stay too long in one place. When I arrive in a town with nowhere to sleep, and the feeling of my backpack cutting into my shoulders, my thoughts go to Viña del Mar. Being recognized at the Panaderia by your house, or talking to the operator of the funicular that you take every day, can eventually become monotonous routine. However, when you’re returning from a place where nobody knows you, those little nuances become signs of home.
Nate Sweasey is the Spring 2015 CEA MOJO Blogger in Viña del Mar, Chile. He is currently a Junior at University of San Diego.