At the end of 2014, I had a chance to travel to Chile to help a friend finish filming a personal documentary seven years in the making. Our journey took us to Santiago and beyond and to the amazing Rapa Nui (Easter Island). When filming wrapped, I continued traveling on my own for several weeks, shooting Chile from a visitor’s eyes. My goal was to document Chile in a way that would not only give people an idea what the place is like, but also to inspire others to travel there. Since it wasn’t in the stars for me to go to the extreme north to the Atacama desert (the driest place on earth), or extreme south to Torres del Paine or Tierra del Fuego (the Southern most place in the world before Antartica), I concentrated my storytelling on central Chile, Santiago, the upper reaches of Patagonia in Pucon and the lovely Chiloe Island. Traveling on my own to shoot travel photography almost always gives me a change of perspective in life. It opens my eyes to new cultures and my heart to new people. In the past, I’ve stayed at youth hostels, B&Bs and even five-start resorts. This trip, I decided to check out airbnb globally and it did not disappoint. While I have a working knowledge of Spanish (my skills leave a lot to be desired), I was able to have conversations that allowed me to get to know people first as strangers and to leave them as friends, with new memories and stories to tell.
There is the magnificent singer and english teacher Andrea Quezada and her partner, artist Daniel. They left the lights and big city of Santiago behind to settle in a dream cottage on the ocean in Calen. In this tiny fishing village, they’ve embedded themselves in a community that is peaceful, compassionate, celebrates the culture of Chiloe and recognizes the need of care for one another. They shared their home, their food, their stories and their amazing German Sheppard Awka. Then there was Sandra Naef and her partner Geyson Fernando Millar Manriquez. They ran a youth hostel in Pucon for a few years. Sandra is extremely knowledgeable on great tours in the area and Geyson is an incredible local mountain guide. They talked me into hiking the Volcano Villarica and it did not disappoint. In Limache, I met the incredible Pablo Arenas and his wife Heather Marie Phillip (also a talented singer/songwriter.) They introduced me to the coolest people on the planet, most of whom are working to save native cultural and artist traditions. Natalia Lueje helped me store extra gear at her place in Santiago, for which I’m eternally grateful. And then there is Peter. Peter has the highest ratings on airbnb Santiago for his gracious ability to host people comfortably in his apartment in the Lastarria district.
I eventually had to come home, but when I look at these photos, the memories take me back to the places and people who brought me so much joy on my journeys. Hope they inspire you to turn off your TV and go see Chile in person.