On Wednesday, I decided to take the reins on planning a hiking trip to Cajon del Maipo (2.5 hours SE of Santiago, in the mountains) for Saturday (January 21). I researched transportation routes and read reviews about the transportation companies and the locations to which they bring people, and I decided to commit to taking Turismontaña. We would buy our tickets the morning of and board the bus at 8:30am right outside a metro station. We would arrive at Baños Morales in Cajon del Maipo at about 10am, spend the day hiking to a glacial area called El Morado, and then we would board the same bus at 6pm to take us back to Santiago.
None of that happened. The string of events that followed are honestly pretty confusing, so I’m going to make a long story short: I ended up spending the day at a waterfall a few kilometers from Baños Morales (our originally intended starting-point) and finishingthe day in the “Therapeutic Pools” of Baños Morales (our new ending-point) before going back to Santiago. Our group used a different bus company for transportation and did not reach our intended destination of El Morado, but oh my — what a wonderful day it was.
Based on this roller-coaster of an experience, I would like to share some of what I learned about this funny place…
DO NOT expect your planned mode of transportation to pull through. I honestly should have seen this coming because of the many accounts I have heard about public transportation in Chile, but now I have really experienced it first-hand. To find another bus going to Cajon del Maipo, I had to frantically call bus companies, talk to street vendors, and walk several blocks toward a station I wasn’t sure existed (don’t worry family, I was with many other people).
DO expect to be super flexible and open to the possibility of having to “go with with flow,” as my wonderful mother advised me.
DO NOT expect to have a seat on the bus. And even if you are one of the lucky few to be seated…
DO expect to have zero personal space respected. The name of the game is not “Comfort.” It is “How Many Bodies Will Fit On Here… And Then How Many More Can We Squeeze Anyways?”
DO NOT expect to see the sights you planned to see.
DO expect to have your mind blown anyways. I think it is actually impossible to not have your mind blown and your heart stopped and your eyes melted when you’re in the Andes Mountains. They are quite literally unbelievably ginormous. There is no word to describe their size. Impressive. Ridiculous. Towering. Intimidating. Mammoth. Herculean. Hulking. Something-bigger-than-anything-I-thought-existed-on-Planet-Earth.
They are unlike anything I have ever seen before, not only in size but also in structure. There is hardly any vegetation, and the vegetation that does exist is around the bottom fourth of the mountain. The rest of the formation is kind of rocky and sandy, but it’s mostly just purely rock, the layers of which you can see even from far away. Each mountain shoots practically straight up from the valley without an introductory “rolling hill” or even a gradual slope, and I have yet to see anything that looks like a human structure on any such mountain.
Do you remember last week, when I said I had never felt so small in my life, even when I was standing on the top of Cerro Pochoco? Well. That experience was surpassed by my experience yesterday, standing across the valley and looking at the massive massive massive peak before me while watching cars cruise along the valley floor… Thinking about what it would be like to sit at the foot of the mountain and look straight up toward the peak that I wouldn’t be able to see… Thinking about the crazy amount of force the Earth must have exerted on that spot to create such a feature… Thinking about the Creator of it all and how ridiculously cool of an idea it was for Him to make that happen… And then how ridiculously good of Him it was to allow me to be a witness of His majesty…
I think I could write a book based on the thoughts that ran through my brain yesterday, so I’ll spare you all the reading and just request that you please please please come see for yourself. Or just ask me about it sometime, and I’ll bore you all day long with how wonder-full and beauty-full I think this place is and how grace-full and lovely and powerful and unpredictable our God is.
DO NOT expect just a “fun day out.” DO expect an eye-opening, thought-provoking, heart-filling life experience.
Peace and Blessings and Lots of Joy x
(From the Andes of Chile)