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Neurotic As Hell

Choosing Figs Blog

"Santiago is just another big city." That's what everyone would tell me when they said they went for just a night or two before moving on or skipped it altogether. "It's just another big city," they'd say. "It's boring," they'd say. But I had already decided that Santiago would be where I'd spend my last ten days in Chile, in South America. I was nervous. People made me nervous. Everyone had me thinking that I was making the wrong choice. Maybe I should have decided to spend more time in Valle de Elqui. Maybe I should have decided to go down south....

Every time I was buzzed into my hostel in Valparaiso, Chile, the woman at the front desk would ask me, "A dónde fuiste?": "Where did you go?" "Solo caminar," I'd say. "Just for a walk."* Because that's what I did in Valparaiso: I walked. I walked on my own. I walked on an official walking tour. I walked on an unofficial, impromptu, walking tour with my hostelmates. I walked. Valparaiso is a walking city, and there's one thing to see while walking: The street art. The street art in Valparaiso, Chile, covers most of the edifices, every inch of blank space. Around every corner...

I was taking the photos above when a man tapped my shoulder and pointed across the plaza. A parade of people were walking by, clapping, singing, followed by three cars decorated in orange balloons. I moved away to be closer and, as they walked by, saw that the first of the cars was carrying a coffin. A funeral procession was leading its way through Plaza de Armas. The parade stopped in front of the sculpture I had just been taking photos of. The cars stopped. People gathered around to remove the coffin and set it up. ...

By the time I reached La Serena, Chile, I was feeling a little burnt out. In Bolivia, I had traveled a little quicker than I normally like to. I saw a lot of places, amazing places, sure, but there was no where I could stay, wanted to stay, for more than a few days. So I moved. A lot. I meant to stay just one night in La Serena and use it as a jumping point to explore the Valle de Elqui region of Chile. But I was worn out and I just didn't feel like getting on more buses. So...

It's possible to love two different lives. So many travelers, travel bloggers especially, love life on the road so much that they could never imagine going home, stopping, "settling down." And I know plenty of people in my normal life that would never dream of packing everything away to travel for a year or more. Me and some friends on top of Chicago.   But then there are some of us who live somewhere in between. Who, while at home dream of where we will go next. Dream of our next vacation or career break. Who, while on the road, make copious amounts of...

I'm fascinated by the stars. Mostly, I suppose, because I'm a city girl and I don't get to see stars, let alone a sky full of them, all that often. Chicago is filled with big building and lots of light. I'm lucky if I can see a handful at a time. So I was beyond excited when I read about SPACE — San Pedro de Atacama Celestial Explorations — in my South American guidebook. SPACE Star Tours Atacama is the largest public observatory in Chile and every night they host desert stargazing tour. When I arrived at San Pedro de...

My Salar de Uyuni tour dropped me off in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. It's a small town near the Bolivian border and, while there isn't much to do in the town itself, tours around the area abound. I spent an afternoon on the most popular tour in San Pedro de Atacama: exploring Valle de la Luna, or Moon Valley. Valle de la Luna is located in the heart of the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile and the landscape is ripe with jagged rock formations that make it feel like you've traveled to another planet...

I wasn't exactly sure that I wanted to take the cooperative mine tour in Potosi, Bolivia. It's a working silver mine, meaning that going into the caves involves a voyeuristic view of a painstaking job with tight, claustrophobia-inducing chambers, dirt and dust containing anything from silica to asbestos, and wretched climbs. On one hand, the Potosi mine tour seemed interesting: a chance to see something in action that I would never see elsewhere. On another, it seemed kind of scary, dark, and dangerous. Not to mention the fact that you're going there to watch people work. Do their job. Their dangerous...

I'd like to say that it was my impeccable travel skills that brought me to Sucre, Bolivia, just in time for their biggest festival of the year: Virgen de Guadalupe. But, who are we kidding? I had no idea it was going on until I checked into my hostel and the guy working there told me it was starting the next day. September's Fiesta de la Virgen de Guadalupe brought people from all over the region in to celebrate: the town was packed! The festival centered around a parade that featured community after community performing traditional dances in traditional outfits. There...