“Are you okay, Juliette?”
“Yes, yes, I’m fine! I just… I just realized I had nothing to do. Feels weird.”
It was close to midnight. Mark was sleeping, Feng was sitting on the bed with the laptop and I was standing here, in front of him. I had taken a shower, organized the content of my backpack, checked my mail, uploaded the pictures and I had nothing else urgent to do but sleep. It felt strange. At home, I always have something to do, something to worry about. I have work to complete, I have chores, one of us is sick, the school is closed, winter weather is forecast, there are dishes to do, laundry to sort out, shit more work due tomorrow and where is Mark’s warmest pair of pants because there may be ice rain tomorrow?
But at that moment, in this hotel room in Santiago, I had nothing to worry about. The three of us were here, everything was fine. I could just do nothing.
I never “do nothing.”
Fuck, I love travelling.
Don’t get me wrong, we have plenty to do during the day and there are chores to take care of as well—it’s just different. For instance, we carry everything we need in two backpacks so we have to be very neat and organized. Underwear is in the side pocket, toiletries are in a waterproof bag on top, shorts and jeans at the bottom, detergent in the other side pocket, etc. If you take something out, you have to put everything back in. We also have to separate the dirty laundry and keep track of everything we use. We have to find places to go, do laundry, find food, etc.—basic survival skills.
We also have to adjust to a bunch of things and it takes time.
First, we have to get used to being together all the time. At home, we don’t actually spend much time together unless we have something specific to do or we are in the car. But travelling brings us back together. We sleep together, eat together, shower together, eat together. There are moments when we have long discussions and times we are lost in thought and silent even though we are inches from each other.
I’m realizing I actually enjoy Feng’s company—and Mark’s.
We also have to get used to the fact we don’t have nor need a schedule. Every day is different and normal “rules” don’t really apply. We can shop late if we feel like it and sunset is only around 9:30 p.m. so we can stretch the days.
And this is how January 1 was spent adjusting and doing nothing. We had expected the city to be dead and it was. All the shops were closed, much like last year in São Paulo—except this time, we were prepared for it.
First, we tried to go on top of Cerro San Cristóbal but half of Santiago had the same idea and we didn’t feel like lining up an hour or two for the train, so we turned around and headed to Quinta Normal, a large park surrounded by museums. I bought Mark “bubbles” (a giant plastic sword filled with soap) and we walked to the Estación Central, so busy the previous day and so dead that day.
Here and there, a store was open so we bought drinks, ice cream, more ice cream, more ice cream and yes, drinks. The city was strangely relaxing with less traffic, empty sidewalks and a friendly holiday atmosphere.
At night, we had a “classic” Santiago dinner in a Peruvian restaurant. Food in Santiago mostly revolves around hot dogs, Chinese food or Peruvian restaurants—the latter being the most upscale option. On January 1, we didn’t have much choice but we all enjoyed our meal.
We talked about our travel plans all day because we don’t have an itinerary and now is the time to consider options. We still don’t know where we are going… we will figure it out. Eventually…
We do have plans for January 2, though: a day trip to Valparaíso, a 100-kilometre bus ride from Santiago!