I love the colors of the life here, the constant vibrance of the streets, the street performers dancing or playing drums, the bustle of men in suits walking to their cafes or families heading to parks. This is the rhythm of Latin America, the rhythm my life has taken on for the last two and a half years, and I’ll miss it.
We arrived in Santiago a week ago and checked into our AirBnB, our apartment home for this stay. When we were planning our Patagonia ride we scheduled just 2 weeks for the time down and back, and planned on meeting a friend from Buenos Aires tango classes who was on another road trip near Santiago. We arrived 4 days late, and so had to rush on our first day to meet up. After checking in and showering, we rushed through the city to a sushi bar in the Bella Vista neighborhood.
First impressions were mixed; coming from the plaza, the surrounding neighborhood was mostly shut down on the Sunday evening, and dodgy. But we transitioned into the Bellas Artie’s district, and suddenly found ourselves in a hipster area, with second wave coffee shops crowded next to vinyl stores and tiny Thai restaurants.
Seeing our friend again was a wonderful finish to the trip, sharing a bottle of wine and a meal and conversation for a few hours to celebrate that, for us and for this trip, this was an ending.
A sense of unreality has pervaded since. On Monday we walked the city, but with the bike in a nearby parking garage, everything was normal except the lack of conversation about where we would ride next. And the sense of relief: driving on the highways in Chile was a little crazier than expected, and both of us had been fighting a sense of doom for the last day or our trip, worried about dying at the very end. That became stronger when we witnessed a car crash in front of the coffee shop we were in, and when Amp was nearly hit by a dolly falling from a Coke delivery truck, both in the space of ten minutes.