As I make my way around the world traveling with a group of 24 amazing souls, I'm dedicating this series to capturing my first initial impressions and then lasting impressions in each city we visit. All will encompass observations and first-hand experiences of the city, culture, people, and vibes.
This is just one way I want to document these fleeting moments as I absorb the newness and uniqueness each city holds from the lens of yours truly.
📍Santiago, Chile - The capital of Chile
After spending 27 days in Santiago, these are the lasting impressions this city made on my heart and mind. The good. The bad. The ugly. And the transformative power perspective takes.
Looking back, what will I always remember about Santiago? What experiences did I learn and grow from?
In no particular order, here are 3 of my top lasting impressions.
1. The amazing city team. 🏙️🌟🙌What is a city team, you ask? Well, if you just stumbled upon my blog and wondering what I got myself into, I am embarking on a traveling program called Remote Year. In the company of 24 other amazing souls, I am exploring different parts of the world visiting one new city a month.
In each city, we're guided by local experts (city team) who help us experience the local scene, sites, and bites. They're also incredibly resourceful if you have any questions or need help finding something.
(Quick sidebar: if you want to learn more about the program and get a sweet discount click here or reach out to me anytime 📧firstname.lastname@example.org).
We were blessed with an amazing city team who went above and beyond to cater to our curiosities, made us feel loved and welcome, and ensured we had the most memorable time in their city.
From unique local sites to private parties with DJs, fun weekend excursions to everyday loving on us and being an endless well of resources. I felt as though my social life has never been so full. The dance parties though were of my top faves, of course.
To Gert and Luis if you're reading this, you've both made a lasting impression on my heart and needless to say, a new friend for life. Simply put - you will not be forgotten.
The dream team, right here.
2. A hyperawareness of safety. 🕵️♀️🤨👀It's safe to say I developed a hyperawareness of my belongings and surroundings on multiple levels as a takeaway from Santiago.
It is said that profound growth happens when we're pushed outside of our comfort zone. To that effect, I definitely had that feeling of, "we're not in Kansas anymore."
What I mean by that is when I was taken out of my cushy security blanket I had back in the states, I got to acclimate to a different environment.
Before I give any examples, I want to make a quick point. This is not a complaint nor is it my intention to portray a negative representation of the good people of Santiago in any way. So I don't want to give off that impression at all. It's an observation that the area I spent my time in was different than what I had been used to - which offered an opportunity for growth. It's the same as when you leave "the nest" and go off to college or move to a new town. You're faced with new challenges and hard lessons that force you to grow.
Where I could freely roam the streets without a care in the world at any time of the day or night in Nashville, TN, the same was not the case there.
Where I would talk with strangers and often make new friends off the streets in the states, in Santiago it was best to keep to yourself and stay in your lane, so to speak.
Stopped in my tracks in the middle of a run to pet this little feller. Just felt like he needed some love.
There's a quote out there I remember hearing that goes something like, "Sometimes the most important life lessons are the ones we end up learning the hard way."
If the importance of the lesson is measured by how uncomfortable it is to learn from it, then it's safe to say this was my greatest lesson I have learned thus far on my traveling journey.
Though it was against my nature to be so "cold" the minute I hit the streets when I wanted to shine the most, I learned an important life lesson that will serve me for key survival for the rest of my life. The skills I learned may end up saving my life or another's—who knows.
Another unique characteristic about Santiago was the graffiti. I'm not sure why, but there was SO MUCH street graffiti lining highway barriers (on both sides), walls, buildings, and pretty much any open spot of cement the artist deemed right to tag. For me, it's the most I've ever seen in one city in my life!
To close this thought, all I know is I will always be grateful for Santiago for the ways it's made me smarter and more equipped for living in diverse environments.
After leaving the city and reflecting on my experiences, this quote resonated with me and was the perfect sentiment to speak over this aspect of my journey.
Don't let hard lessons harden your heart.
- Carlos A Rodriguez
3. The most succulents I've personally seen to date. 🌿🌵😍On a lighter note, as a plant enthusiast, I was thrilled to see so many cute succulents and "exotic" (well, seemingly to me anyway) looking flowers.
This extends further out into neighboring cities like Valparaíso and Vina Del Mar as well. With Santiago and all the cities I visited combined, I got a heavy dose of these pretty plants in all sizes and varieties. From towering cacti bushes double the size of me to petite pots adorned in indoor spots, my eyes never got tired of seeing these guys. (Yes, I personify plants because they are living beings too).
Viña del Mar is a coastal resort city northwest of Santiago, Chile. It’s known for its gardens, beaches and high-rise buildings. No doubt they had an impressive plantscaping game.
Valparaíso is a port city on Chile’s coast. It's known for its steep funiculars and colorful, clifftop homes. It has a wonderful charm and community soul to it. You have to visit to know what I'm talking about. I loved seeing creative succulent décor such as the site of a former artist flat that burned down, leaving only remnants of furniture and sculptures. These were beautifully transformed into plant vases—such as an overflowing tub of succulents.
Walking the snaking, colorful streets I came across these! One of many examples.
Needless to say, I made the strong observation Chileans love to decorate and fill their space with succulents among other plants and herbs.
Final reflections: 🧐✈️As I write this I'm flying into Lima, Perú to see what new experiences the city holds. It feels like we’re just getting settled and then before and you know it, we're packing up and leaving again. Though it may seem fleeting, the good thing about leaving is the opportunity to reflect on what you’ve accomplished. It affords to the opportunity to reset. To set intentions on what you want to do, goals you want to hit, and things you would do differently with your time in the next city.
Lasting impressions: Like footprints in the sand it’s the people and connections you make that leave their lasting imprints onto your heart and mind.
Santiago, I’m thankful for all the memories.
Before you question your sanity and check your calendar, we had a Christmas in July wrap up party that ended with an epic dance party...and just like that it was 4am!!
Stay tuned for my next #travelblog post where I'll share my First Impressions of Lima, Perú. (Spoiler alert: I'm already loving this city). Can't wait to share more coming up next!!