The saddest part of a one week holiday is that just when you relax into your vacation, you have to come home.
So one of the beautiful things about traveling long term is that at some point, you lose track of the days and the hours without even noticing and you don’t mind one bit.
For me, it happened in Santiago. I strolled the streets of the downtown, admiring the mix of old and new.
I wandered the neighbourhood around Providencia. Everyone’s pace seemed relaxed that day. It was early afternoon. Waiters were setting up the patio tables with fresh flowers. Couples walked along the promenade and held hands in the park in their Sunday best.
I thought to myself, ‘Gosh, Santiago is a town of romantics’.
Then fives minutes later, I burst out laughing at myself. I had glanced at a restaurant menu in passing where it loudly proclaimed the Valentine’s Day specials.
After making this realization, I saw Santiago through slightly less rose-coloured glasses. The city was ringed with mountains like La Paz but without the lung-defying altitude or steepness. A river ran through the city, which I had been very excited to walk around given my new found appreciation for water and greenery after so much desert. However, it was a disappointing trickle of muddy brown water littered with garbage and a dog carcass.
Still, February 14th had crept up on me without me noticing at all, six weeks into my year long trip. Maybe it was the 25 hour bus ride south from San Pedro de Atacama that had thrown off my awareness of time. Maybe it was the three days I had spent driving around the desert before that when I disconnected from the world’s calendar. Or maybe I had just been away from home long enough to reset my inner clock to the “Does It Matter?” setting.
For one reason or another, I was definitely on vacation time. And knowing I still had months of travel to go was the best part.