Traveling around the world, I often joke that most backpackers “are blonde”. In fact, most travel bloggers are blonde too. Well, obviously not literally. But it is true that the mainstream travel writing world is dominated by people from Anglo-Saxon countries. Blogs from adventurers from the USA are pretty common. And so are those of gap year folks from Australia, UK or New Zealand.
Whenever I come across travel writing done by others from different corners of the world (like many of those featured in Backpack ME’s Travel Blog Traffic Exchange), I take my time to read about their experiences. Often, their views are pretty different, because the place you come from, the realities that you take as “normal” are bound to shape your travel experiences.
We have spent several months exploring Chile and, over there, we met the one travel blogger who writes in English (apart from in Spanish) and, trip by trip, is taking the name of her country around the world! Because she had always wanted to “see what’s beyond the Andes”.
Meet The Nomadic Chica!
Who is The Nomadic Chica?
I am a Chilean girl with some serious wanderlust. I started traveling inside my country with my family when I was 1 year old, and outside the country at 17. My biggest dream since I was very young was to know every country and to see what was on the other side of the Andes.
We hear that you come from a very varied family background. Can you tell us a little bit about it and how that has probably shaped your curiosity for exploring the world?
As you said, I have a mess in my blood and genes. From my father’s side, my great grandparents were from Palestine and Lebanon. And from my mother’s, they came from France and Ex-Yugoslavia to Chile after the wars. So I’ve had information and acknowledged there was something more outside my house, and had in my daily life the input from other countries, other languages and different food since I was born. I can remember being always the one eating different weird things at school, belly dancing since I was 10 and speaking other languages (including some bad words in Arabic). All of this gave me a view of the world as a place I wanted to discover and explore, and I think knowing this and coming from Chile (that is still kind of isolated) helped me to be sure you can travel to the other side of the world if you want.
Tell us more about your blog! What type of travel lovers do you think would most enjoy it?
I was always kind of struggling with my friends and family in relation with this serious wanderlust. When I decided I wanted a life of travel I realized how helpful other blogs I was reading randomly when I was preparing a trip could be for me. So I started sharing my experiences and writing to anybody who wants to enjoy life and wants to experience different fun things when they are on the road. I enjoy encouraging other women to go overseas on solo journeys as I think it is something everybody should experience at least for a few days in their life – to be aware of themselves and about what they really want in life.
How do you think your blog differs from other female solo travel blogs. Do you think that being Latina makes you add something unique to your travel writing?
I think every blogger has a story to tell and a very unique way of looking at things. For sure being Latina and Chilean adds a particular experience to my solo travels. The cultural influence is present in my life and my way of looking things and growing up in a bubble country, as I call it, put my wanderlust as a challenge because everywhere in the world looks so far away being there! The first time I crossed the Andes I cried happy tears and it still happens almost every time I am on a plane.
Apart from traveling across South America, you’ve been to several countries in Europe and Asia. How do people react when you tell them you come from Chile. Do they tend to know where your country is?
Normally, nobody (who’s not from South America) knows a thing about Chile! Plus it’s very difficult to pronounce it as ‘gringos’ say it and I always have little issues trying to make people figuring out where I come from. Thta’s why I always carry a world map on my phone or notebook, to show people where Chile is. The only people I’ve found to know a little bit about it are in Europe and that’s because of our political story and the many immigrants who moved to Europe during the military occupation in the 70-80′s.
Exploring the world having a base in Chile is not very easy as the country is rather isolated and international travel from/to Chile is quite expensive. Do you think this makes people from your country travel less internationally? How do you think you can inspire them to broaden their horizons and travel more?
Ooh it is! I think this issue is discouraging many Chileans and also tourists to come down here. It’s not cheap to flight inside or outside the country. But, according to the Ministery of International Affairs, 4.5 millions Chileans travel outside the country every year. Considering we are not more than 20 million, this is a huge number of travelers, uh? Still most of the people travel to Argentina or Brazil for all-inclusive holidays.
I wish I can inspire more of them to go as far as they can. I keep telling them it is safe out there and it is possible to travel to the other side of the world, even if you are a female traveling alone. I think many people are afraid that if they don’t speak English they’ll get lost, but you don’t need to be an English expert to travel, as you can even do translations with your phone nowadays!
When you travel to a new place you’re not only there to learn from the local culture, but to also share a little from your culture too. What are the facts about Chile that you like sharing with those you meet around the world?
Merkén! The most perfect spice in the world. It is a dried smoked chilli powder mixed with coriander seeds and pepper. I always try to carry a little bit with me and try to introduce it to foodies. Also, Chileans are super friendly and we are used to meeting people in random places and making new friends all the time – that’s my way of traveling too!
Latin countries often get bad press and are associated with violence and a general unsafe atmosphere. We can vouch for the contrary, and I’m sure you can too. What general advice would you give to people traveling in South America and, particularly, to women traveling solo?
There are many places with worse reputation than what they really deserve. Within the region, Chile is one of the easiest and safest countries to travel around. Probably the most important advice I would give to any traveler in South America is to always be aware of your belongings, specially on bus rides. It’s common to hear about theft stories, and same with pickpockets on city centers. If you are not sure about where the water is coming from, don’t drink it! There are some areas where drinking water is not available or might be good for locals but not for your stomach.
We want to hear about one special travel moment of yours. Something good or bad, but memorable! Something you haven’t even shared with The Nomadic Chica blog readers yet. Any travel secrets we can be the first ones to find out?
I can tell you something I’ve learnt on my last journey in Brazil. It was my very first time in the country and I was expecting to spend some days at the beach. But when I arrived to this little town called Trindade, it was raining hard and it was even kind of cold! I met an amazing group of people at the hostel I was staying at and we organized and epic day at the river. So, this day that was supposed to be boring turned into a really fun adventure discovering the area, bathing in a waterfall and even jumping inside some caves under the river! Probably the best secret is to always enjoy your day, those moments will never come back and even if things don’t go as you planned, maybe life is preparing a surprise for you!
For those new to your blog, what are 3 must read articles to get started with?
In this article you can read all about my experience with the cliche of being a Latina traveling the world.
After many years wanting to travel to India and all the things and fears I had about it, I wrote this piece to tell my experience and encourage other women who are afraid of heading there because of all the preconceived ideas.
For all of those thinking of visiting Santiago in Chile, this can be helpful. It covers all the must-visit places in the city center and some of my favorites in the city too!