It was once rare for me to pursue an international trip uneducated and uninformed, without specific itinerary. These days I find myself barely researching a thing before I leave. I don't know if this change has been conscious or unconscious; when I consider it now I think perhaps I am just better learning the lesson that everything always works out in the end.
So naturally I didn't know what to expect of Chile. But as I did expect, the experience has been nothing short of pure magic.
It is a country of massive geographical extremes. Australia is so environmentally diverse itself, until this trip I hadn't yet encountered another country whose variety of weather exceeded ours. Chile, however, has it all.
As an observer I attribute it to its positively whacky shape, so very long and so very narrow. Desert to the north, polar conditions to the south, the topography of the Andes! No wonder it seems that almost every possible climate exists somewhere in between.
Jord and I couldn't have asked for more from this country. We scored insane waves all over the coast, ate great food, enjoyed varied cultural inspiration and laid eyes on some of the most beautiful scenes of wilderness on this planet. A stupendous exploratory mission indeed!
And all at a time of national crisis with the worst bushfires in history (literally). It reached a climax in the middle of our visit. Our driving became punctuated with frequent and harrowing detours as we neared flames and watched families flee with only the belongings they could carry. A lot of people have lost literally everything and seeing it with our own eyes chilled us to the bone.
Fireman are called bomberos and, operating solely on a voluntary basis, they are heroes to all. To their misfortune but certainly not to their discredit, they were completely overwhelmed on this occasion. Sad testament to the magnitude of the blaze, the disaster they were fighting.
But behold! Lining the situation with glittering silver was the response of the community. A feel-good story to underscore our trip, the entire country galvanised in support at a level I'd never seen before. Volunteers filled the roads, utes and trucks emblazoned with flags and painted messages, stacked high with supplies en route to those in need. Fuerza Chile. Powerful Chile.
Yep, we've had an awesome time in an awesome place. Chile is epic in every sense. Culture, tick. Climate, tick. Waves, tick. Mountains, tick! I would encourage anyone to visit. I would also encourage to, as I did, leave expectation at home. Richer then the adventure might be, adventure invariably waiting here for whoever wants to chase it.