To find-oneself: (idiomatic) To learn, or attempt to learn, what kind of person one is and what one wants in life. He backpacked around Chile to find himself in his early 20s. Feeling a little lost in life and wondering what your greater purpose is? Here are the 11 ways you can find yourself when you visit Chile.
Do something that scares you
Whether you have a fear of heights, unplanned routes or danger, why not conquer these fears – go sky-diving, say yes to a proposed journey you’d not thought about, or look down into the gurgling heart of an active volcano. If you never push yourself out of your comfort zone then you’ll never realise how great it is!
Pushing yourself to the limits may not sound like something you have been itching to do, but the satisfaction once you’ve accomplished something will not go unrewarded. Why not climb a mountain or a volcano – the Villarrica Volcano in Pucon is a great place to start, taking approximately five hours to ascend and descend. You never know, it might become your new hobby.
Take a trekking trip alone
With no one to get neggy at when you’re tired, grumble at when your tummy rumbles growing ever more hangry, this could be a one-way ticket to self-realisation. Take those moments of outstanding natural beauty in the depths of Chilean Patagonia and cherish it for yourself and your mind, with no one to recant the stories with, this one’s for you and you only. With towering mountain peaks, glistening turquoise lakes providing the perfect reflections, jagged glaciers and sublime vistas, discover it’s inner beauty as well as your own.
Experience a terremoto
Nothing really gets you thinking about life than a big wobble from the ground. What would be your last words, wishes and desires? Chances are you’ll be the only one whose panic level has just hit 11/10. Chileans just don’t bat an eyelid until they’re at least eight on the Richter Scale, and most of them have already experienced a ‘big one’ in their lifetime. In fact, they’re already rather accustomed to them.
Taste the finer things in life
We are of course talking about the wine. Quite the upgrade from the bargain bottles in the supermarket or even the ones you splash out on. Straight from the oak-aged barrels, for some reason, it just tastes so much better in Chile. Next thing you know, you’ve decided to become a wine coinesseur; delving into the finest vintages, tasting your way around the Maipo, Colchagua and Casablanca valleys with a wine glass in hand.
Meet the friendly locals
Chileans are known for being hospitable, so leave the noise of the city behind and discover the rural life, where the mamas are the heart of the family and at the foot of the stove, cooking up a storm for the family. Family life and hearty Chilean cuisine is a very important factor in the Chilean lifestyle, the further south you venture, the more you will be aware of the traditions. Chiloé in particular bases their island lifestyle on community spirit, get involved!
Experience the most beautiful views
Nothing quite beats the sublime views as the sun sets over Valle de la Luna in the Atacama Desert, or the rugged green Torres del Paine landscapes against turquoise lakes and snow-capped mountains. What’s more, these are not the only ‘wow’ moments you’ll have, just the best. Maybe you’ll find some tranquility in the middle of the desert, in the heart of the forests of the south or as you walk across one of the many beautiful, deserted beaches.
Set yourself some goals
You’ll only gain a sense of achievement once you’ve completed your bucket list for Chile – not only will it have opened your eyes, but chances are you will have taken the good with the bad and learnt a lot from the experience. Whether it’s learning the language, how to cook the cuisine, mastering the cueca, completing the O-trek in Torres del Paine or climbing a rather tall mountain, it’s essential to include all the things that normally you would say no to.
Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, meditating can be extremely useful for a number of people, whether your head is chattering away or you just want to relax and take some ‘you time’. Once you’ve got the jist of it, you’ll see how pleasant it is to take 10 minutes on a quiet beach, up a mountain or anywhere you feel like it. There are a number of places you can learn this useful practise and yoga as well in Santiago.
Document your journey
We are talking about both your physical and emotional journey. Writing a travel journal is a great way to note sentiments, funny anecdotes and things that have caught your eye. It doesn’t need to be a witty bestseller – if it’s for anyone, it should be for you. The best part is rereading it and being transported back to the moment.
Your trip has probably had some ups and downs – it’s unlikely that all will run smoothly, and if it does, what’s the fun in that? The way you deal with these situations is the most valuable thing to learn. Look back on this, and the next thing to do is encourage others to do the same – or take them on your next trip!