Apr 272012

Santiago, Chili.

Yesterday morning I was at the Laguna Colorado in Bolivia. Now I am in Santiago, Chili. That is just short of 2.000 kms. Quite a lot to do on buses. A very sizable part of the South American continent: Map here.

The best part of it though was that I had no clue where I was or where I was going exactly.

A week ago, my bag got stolen. That included my E-reader. Which contained my Lonely Planet (a.k.a. ´the traveler´s bible´).

Normally traveling works like this:
1) Look up the place where you are in the Lonely Planet and find out what to do there.
2) Do it.
3) Pick another place not too far away from where you are and look up in the Lonely Planet how to get there.
4) Go there.
5) Repeat steps 1 to 4 to your liking.

You can see how the LP is an essential part of the whole program. And now I´m doing without.

No handy maps. Nothing to tell you what´s cool. Nothing to explain where you can find a hostel. What to pay for a cab. Where to change money. Etc.

Only a few more days and I´m getting visitors! My mom and dad are flying in to Santiago to learn the noble art of backpacking! So looking forward to seeing them again and so happy that they dare try a completely new way of vacationing! Love you both!
And I find I´m enjoying it. Asking people how things work. Blindly wandering through a city, hoping I won´t get too lost (I always make it a point to get a bit lost, it´s the best way of seeing unexpected things). Taking a hostel because it seems to be adequate, not because it´s recommended by some book. Asking fellow travelers what a good next destination would be.

The Lonely Planet is a bible. And sometimes it creates the same blind obedience that any religion can. Go to the places where everybody goes. Do the things that everybody does. And yes, you will have a wonderful experience. But sometimes it does feel like being just one more sheep in the herd.

´No, I´m traveling. I´m special.´

True. For a very limited sense of the word special.

So for a little while I´m enjoying the fact that I´m traveling blind. I´ll miss loads of opportunities. And I´ll see some truly magnificent things as well. Looking forward to it all!