Travel Notes

Here and Now: New Year, New Home, New Continent!

February 2, 2017

I’m writing this post from my cozy apartment, curled up on the bright yellow futon that took us weeks to pick out. My mug of fresh coffee sits cooling on the floor next to me, and a fresh summer breeze drifts in from the balcony where our laundry is still drying.

Sounds just like home sweet home, right? And it is…except that, once again, home has jumped a couple of continents. Say hello to my new home base — Puerto Varas, Chile!
 In truth, it’s not that new. I made the big move to Chile amost three months ago — and to the south, no less! It’s a big departure from my usual penchant for all destinations sunny and sandy…although, to be fair, I’m only a few minutes’ walk from the beach. Here, that just so happens to mean a lake where the sand is black, with snow-capped volcanoes spread across the horizon and average peak-of-summer temperatures a couple dozen degrees lower than I’m used to. Occasional chill aside, I absolutely love it!

But while I’ve been dreaming of living in Chile for years, I never would have made it to this little southern town if I hadn’t been in Malaysia last year. Allow me to recap…

Last Feburary, I ended up in Penang on sort of a whim. There, my plan was to settle into a writing routine, eat street food to my heart’s content and save a little money before heading to Borneo and the Philippines.

The writing happened. The street food happened. Borneo and the Philippines…not so much.

Instead — a year ago today, in fact! — I met a guy. We were staying in the same hostel in Penang and hit it off. I joined him for a month in Thailand, we fell in love and then parted ways when I had to fly back home. Classic backpacker romance, right?

Except that it didn’t end there.

Just weeks after I left, Matias got in a motorscooter accident and had to have surgery in Thailand before flying home to Chile to recover.

A few months later, he visited me at home in North Carolina…and we made it official.

From Penang…

Not long after, he got a job flying in the south of the country, and I changed my original plan of moving to Valparaiso to move down to Puerto Varas with him instead.

I finished up work back home and flew to Europe in October (for the first time!) for a road trip with my sister that included my dad’s wedding in France and a reunion with my best friend in Germany.

After a pit stop back home with trips to visit my other sister in Charleston and a good friend in Washington DC, I landed in Lima, Peru (making South America my fifth continent last year!) for an emotional overnight layover at the close of Election Day.

And after nearly half a year of doing the long distance thing, Matias and I finally met at the airport in Santiago, where we stayed for a week catching up with his family and friends before flying down to our new home in the South.

And so, here I am! All thanks to my impulsive decision to hibernate in Penang when I started going broke in Australia, and to House of Journey’s good reviews on Hostelworld. You never know when a decision might change your life.

Since my arrival here in November, we’ve gotten to know Puerto Varas, hosted visiting friends and family in our apartment, survived a month of medical crisis that left me with one less ovary (a longer story for another post!) and celebrated the holidays in Santiago and Valparaiso.

Suffice it to say, it’s been a eventful year together.

…to Chile!

And for the first time in years, I’m kind of nesting. This move to Chile is different from my other moves abroad. In Thailand, I backpacked nearly every weekend in between teaching, while in Australia, I bounced between two major home bases and fit in some big trips traveling. Even back home in North Carolina over the summer, I split my time between two different houses. It’s been awhile since I’ve settled into any one home, and I’m actually pretty psyched about it.

But just because I’m staying in one place this year, doesn’t mean that this is going to stop being a travel blog. It’s been nearly a year since I blogged here with any sort of regularity (shameful, I know!), but this year, I’m getting back in my groove. Here’s what you can expect:

    Travel stories from Australia, Penang, Thailand, France and Germany. I might be a year behind, but there’s still a lot to share!

    A bigger emphasis on living and working abroad — meaning more resources here on the blog! Since graduating from college, I’ve moved to Thailand, Australia and Chile for work — and now, in addition to finding a part-time job teaching English here, my biggest goal for the year is to build up remote freelancing work. I might be slowing down the travel this year, but I’m aspiring to location independence more than ever before.

    Lots of local travel! I’m living in a beautiful and kind of underrated region of Chile, and my wish list of places to explore here is only getting longer every week. I think we have a lot of weekend adventures ahead of us this year — in fact, we’re leaving for a long weekend road trip to Argentina this afternoon!

Which brings me to the end of the post, because I should probably finish packing! Until next time…



Right now, I’m immersing myself in literary Chile. I just finished Pablo Neruda’s Memoirs after visiting his incredible home in Valparaiso, and I’m working through a bilingual anthology (The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems) as I study Spanish. I’m also halfway through Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits. It’s been on my list forever, and I’m already so obsessed that I’m collecting more of her novels to read!

Listening to…

I haven’t been able to stop listening to Bon Iver’s “22, A Million” since its release last fall. Other favorite recent discoveries: Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam’s album “I Had a Dream That You Were Mine,” Whitney’s “Light Upon the Lake” and Tash Sultana’s addictive single “Jungle.”

& Feeling Inspired by…

Lately, I’ve been finding most of my inspiration through digital nomad communities and blogs. I’m loving the Digital Nomad Girls Facebook group and The Gig List, a weekly email sent out by AND CO’s freelancing blog Hustle & Co. They also released this inspiring list of must-reads on their blog last week…and I’m adding a few of these titles to my own reading list!

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