In Chile, the question isn’t “East or West?” but “North or South?”
This is the topic that kept us busy after New Year’s Day. Our trip doesn’t end in Santiago, it starts in the Chilean capital. So, where next?
North of Santiago lies the Atacama Desert, the driest on earth, and many mining towns. South of Santiago is the lake district, then Patagonia. On paper, everything looks exciting but when you take a closer look like we did, things get complicated.
We’ve been to Arica (Chile’s Northernmost City) before. There isn’t much there and Feng wasn’t interested into mining towns and this endless stretch of sand. Southern Chile was a more attractive, touristic and doable option. We considered visiting the cities between Santiago and Puerto Montt, each roughly a six-hour bus ride from one another.
But there was a “but.”
Southern Chile is cold. Not as cold as Canada but cold enough, even now in summer. We checked the weather and temperatures were between 10ºC and 15ºC with wind and rain.
For a few days, we hesitated. On one hand, seeing more of Chile. On the other hand, dealing with colder temperatures without “winter” gear.
“Basically, the only place in Chile where the weather is perfect is Santiago,” I sighed. In the capital city, temperatures are around 25°C-30ºC during the day and it cools off to around 20ºC at night. The air is dry and it rarely rains in the summer.
I remembered how cold and windy Patagonia was.
“I don’t want to be cold,” I sighed again.
“Are you going to be sad to leave Chile?” Feng asked.
“I don’t know. I mean, I like the country but I suspect I’m mostly in love with Santiago. We had a good week here but we have seven more to go. We have to move on. We’ve been everywhere. We are travellers, that’s what we do—we leave places, place we hate, places we love, and we discover new ones.”
So we looked for a way out, i.e. East because the Pacific Ocean isn’t exactly an option. From Santiago the answer was Sky Airline, a Chilean budget airline with direct flights to Buenos Aires.
From the Pacific to the Atlantic.
And just like that we spent our last Chilean pesos, packed and took the bus to the airport.
¿Y ahora qué?
Not sure yet. First, a flight across the Andes.