After 7 months of travelling I was excited but also apprehensive to reach a new continent and get to South America for the first time. I left Auckland and some lovely family and friends there and to be honest was pretty terrified of going to a new continent and to a place where I didn’t know anyone…oh and didn’t speak a word of Spanish (my anxious streak was in over drive!!).
I landed in Santiago on the 10th April, the capital of Chile and spent 3 days there staying in an Airbnb with a Chilean lady. I always think it’s funny arriving into a new country and being at the airport, when I arrived into Santiago airport I was approached by two men asking me where I was going and did I need a airport taxi, they kept flashing me security badges to reassure me that they worked there. It’s funny looking back on this now, they then wanted to help me with my luggage and when I said I was fine but just needed a cash machine, they took me over to one and proceeded to stand right behind me whilst I tried to get money out.
Yep…my nerves were now in overdrive, but after telling them to move away slightly from me as they were making me a little nervous, they did and finally took me over to a reputable shared taxi service who got me to my Airbnb apartment safely. I realised that this was just their way of trying to help me but it’s funny how we can take some friendliness as a threat. I think that sometimes travelling on your own means you constantly have to have your wits about you, which can be tiring.
I should also mention that after 7 months of travelling, I was getting pretty tired of hosteling! It wasn’t that I had had any real issues (except for some very loud snorers) but I was just finding it hard sharing a room and repeating to people over and over again…. ‘where are you from?’ and ‘how long are you travelling for?’. I think this was totally normal after spending 7 months away from my home comforts and family and friends. So Airbnb was a nice change, nice for a few days and in a big city where there was lots to do! Unfortunately I ended up staying in an Airbnb with a even louder dog to contend with who was also the owners pride and job…oh the joys of travel (I am not a big dog person either).
I was also a bit nervous about travelling solo as a women in South America, you hear so many stories and even before I left New Zealand, people kept saying I was so ‘brave’ to travel alone to South America…..I certainly didn’t feel brave! I think New Zealand had given me a glance back to my life in the UK and I had fallen back into a kind of normality, so landing in Chile felt like me leaving the UK all over again.
Not to help matters, on my first day in Santiago, I witnessed a boy on a bike trying to steal a mobile phone out of someones hand who was right next to me on the pavement. This did nothing to calm my worries and made me feel a little anxious however it also made me think about how this happens all the time in London and that I just had to be sensible with my belongings.