Santiago is a mad city. At least, for me it is. Santiago’s total population stands at just under 7 million and that number is easily felt every day. From the claustrophobically packed subways, to the heavy smog, to the cars covering every inch of every street during rush hour, humans are everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, I love Santiago but last weekend I desperately needed a break. So, Friday night, after a long day at the library, I hoped on a bus and travelled to the much smaller city of San Fernando where my dad’s brother and his family live.
How often do you give yourself real breaks? A break where your textbooks aren’t within your field of vision and where you don’t constantly worry about all the things you must do once the break is over. During the year, I rarely give myself day breaks or put my work on hold for 48 hours. However, last Friday it was evident that I needed to leave my laptop, and this city aside for a few days and dot a different landscape.
San Fernando was a change of scenery to say the least. There are no buildings towering defiantly over you, some houses are painted in vibrant shades of pink, yellow or green, and the occasional horse strutting around evidences the city’s campestral character.
What I love most about San Fernando is my uncle’s house which has been in my family for about one hundred years and that was, and continues to be, my place of wonders. It is a huge property attached to a school that was founded by my grandfather many years ago. The windowsills are lined with antiquities; kitchen countertops are covered with baskets of onions and potatoes and fruits while the fire-wood stove provides more warmth and comfort than any gas heater could.
We went to the sea on the first day and to the countryside on the second. We ate one too many empanadas, homemade bread and finished off the weekend with chocolate-orange alfajores.
I don’t know why I don’t plan weekend trips more often. And I don’t mean just in Chile but in general. They’re easy to plan, they quickly force me into “vacation mode,” and they rarely ever let me down because my expectations are never high to begin with unlike week-long vacations. This last weekend was confirmation that the ideal study break, for me at least, consists of a complete change of scenery to something more toned-down surrounded by people I love. I only have a few weekends left here but I wouldn’t mind revisiting that house a few times especially if it means I’ll feel this fresh on Monday.
Victor Jara is one of Chile’s most important folk singers/artist/person – period. Here is my favourite song from him and one I played several times over this trip.