A couple weeks before the end of our trip, there came a point where the reality of going home became strong and present in everything that we did. Things started to unfold and we could count down the days and could imagine what we would do each of those days until eventually getting on the plane to come home. After our time in the Atacama Desert we headed back to a place we had stopped for a few days earlier in the trip. A couple of family members flew down to spend a week with us in Chile and met us at this spot.
It’s a place we both connected to and couldn’t think of a better place to end our time, Pichilemu.
Pichilemu is known for it’s surfing, hands-down. The town is usually crawling with people, vacationing from Santiago and in town for big wave surf competitions. Our experience was quite different, the town felt like a ghost town with half of the businesses open and the other half gated off and locked for the slow season. Thousands of people usually crowd the sidewalks and overtake Pichilemu, which was hard for us to imagine walking down empty sidewalks. It’s one of the best-known surf spots in the world and it was really obvious why. The waves never stopped. Laying in bed at night we could hear and feel the intensity of the waves growing and eventually crashing on the shore.
The second we got into town (the first time) we could see surfers peppered along the shore, various distances out, bobbing up and down on their boards waiting for the waves to break perfectly. That was the reason we came here, to get in the water and see if we could catch a couple waves ourselves. Instead of staying right in the town of Pichilemu, though, we headed a couple of minutes south of Pichilemu to a different beach called Punta de Lobos, another very popular surfing beach and the beach most people actually see in pictures if you were to Google “Pichilemu.”
We were able to stay in an awesome cabana by the water and we spent a couple of days surfing, walking the beach, hiking around the giant rock structures in the water of Punta de Lobos, and chasing sunsets that always seemed to creep up on us.
We even felt our first earthquakes here, which was a new experience for both of us and had us on tsunami watch the remainder of the night (the small earthquakes we felt are very common here.)
The weather was consistent with that of their “fall” season, quite a bit of cloud cover during the day but usually a couple of hours of sunshine during the evening. It wasn’t perfect, but it was probably the reason we were able to relax as much as we did while we were there. Wake up slow, light the wood stove, enjoy our coffee while watching the waves and surfers ride past our window... It was all of this and more that brought us back here for a second time, and we didn’t care how many buses we’d have to take to get us there.
The second time in Pichilemu was a little different than the first. We stayed in a smaller cabana, just big enough for the two of us which was perfect and cozy with places for our toothbrushes and socks and all of the other small things that made us feel at home. When we arrived at the cabanas, the owner (whom we’ve gotten to know and have a lot of respect for) told us, “It’s going to rain.” Which it did. For five days straight.
It wasn’t exactly a part of our plan to have it raining the entire time we were there but we didn’t care. The rain made for guilt-free hours upon hours of journal writing, movies, reading, building fires and reflecting on the last few months. Reflecting and mentally preparing ourselves for some reverse culture shock.
We went back to Duluth with a positive outlook on the future. Between our photos and everything we’ve written down we hope to carry this subtle yet life altering feeling with us for as long as possible.
We hope to remember all the little things that added up and had such an immense impact on us; the way the ocean smelled in Pichilemu, the sensation of floating effortlessly in the salt pools in Atacama, the way the locals said “hola!” with an accent we never could quite master, and the faith that no matter how lost or confusing things may seem, no matter what comes our way, things will come together and work out.
Exactly how they’re supposed to.