A month in

April 05, 2017

Although I am by no means an expert, I'd say that with travel, following the initial buzz of arrival, there comes the more difficult period of settling in. As lovely as my host family are, I think after just over a month living in Coyhaique- the realisation of "oh shit I really don't know anyone here" has hit me. This, paired with a nasty cough and cold, have made these past few weeks pretty trying; but, on the plus side, have showed me that when moving into a new town, integrating into the way of life isn't just going to happen overnight and it certainly isn't going to come to you. I've spend the last week or so moping about in bed, mostly because of my cough but I'll admit, not entirely.. Whether I like it or not, I will have to make an effort to find ties; even if the idea of turning up at the local university and seeking it out myself does make me cringe a little.

On the plus side, my last few weeks of moping have given me the time to plan a huge trip for the end of this month! Whilst it's advised that the volunteers take a week off to explore Chile, I left England proclaiming that I was not going to leave South America without seeing the salt flats in Bolivia and whilst I said it in the knowledge that it was probably a little ambitious and more a fantasy than a reality.... it is unbelievably happening! I've decided that rather than a week to explore Chile, I'm taking just under a month off (which I think has come as a bit of a surprise to most people, including myself!) and travelling around the North of Chile before crossing into the Bolivian border on one of the many long haul bus journeys.. First on my list is the colourful streets of Valparaíso, followed by the buzzing city of La Paz; both of which should make a refreshing change from the quiet town of Coyhaique. As I mentioned, the salt flats in Uyuni are what have always drawn me to Bolivia; I've booked an eye-wateringly expensive tour, which I will undoubtedly have to sacrifice a few meals to be able to afford once I'm out there, before arriving back in the North of Chile for my flight back.

 With all the flights and long bus journeys there's plenty of opportunities for disasters, so I'm a little apprehensive about going on my own and even more so about fitting 3 and a half weeks of clothes into a 55cm bag.. But if I do make it there alive, it should be an incredible experience with a mixture of bohemian cities, desert landscapes and Amazon rainforests. I cannot wait to visit a country with such a strong and alive indigenous culture, although I am dreading the altitude sickness that'll undoubtedly hit me when I arrive in La Paz, the highest capital city in the world, at 3650 metres above sea level!

For now I'll be sleeping off the last of this cough, counting down the remaining 20 days before I jet off and making the most of these last 3 weeks with luxuries like clean clothes, freshly washed hair and lunches cooked by my host mum before I start my new budget, travel diet (ie. one meal a day and water from a plastic bag)..

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