“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”

-Miriam Beard

Expectations can be a bitch.

I like going to movies having heard from all of my friends that it wasn’t very good. This has a tendency to lower my expectations and normally I am pleasantly surprised. When I have high expectations though, my chances for disappointment are increased substantially.

In life, when we experience new things, generally there are expectations attached. Sometimes we aren’t sure what to expect, nevertheless, we hope for the best.

Traveling to a new place is loaded with expectations. Normally they are high or we wouldn’t be traveling there. Different places come with different expectations. I would not expect to have the same experiences in Paris as I would in Mexico City. For me, some places come with high expectations (New York City), others, relatively low ones (Cleveland).

Sorry Ohio.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect heading down to a new continent. I tried to keep an open mind and low expectations. I have not been disappointed.

Santiago, Chile and the coastal towns of Vina del Mar and Valparaiso were magical. The climate and topography are South America’s equivalent of the bay area in the U.S. With the Andes as the backdrop, Santiago is breathtakingly beautiful on a clear day (which was one out five due to pollution while I was there). The people were kind, attractive and more than willing to help a couple of American guys out that generally looked lost and bewildered most of the time.

This is also the heart of wine country for Chile and if you know anything about wine, Chile has really come into her own on the world stage. There is a sophistication about the Chileans that was a welcoming surprise for me. After all, Chile is the country that produced one of my favorite poets, Pablo Neruda, who’s home I was proud to visit.

When the Chileans learned that I was going to spend two months in Argentina to study, there was an instant expression of sibling rivalry. When I arrived in Santa Fe, I discovered quickly that the rivalry goes both ways.

The bulk of my time in South America will be here in Argentina, so I have a feeling that my opinions in the end will be biased a bit toward this land. But Chile will always have a special place in my heart for the experiences that I had, the people that I met, and for a brilliant travel companion that succumbed to the high level of expectations in his own mind. (I love you buddy.)

I have quickly and easily slipped into a comfort level here in Santa Fe that has allowed me to befriend the youths of the city, my professors and their associates and most importantly the urban fabric and rhythms that create the atmosphere of a city that is gently waking to discover her true beauty and potential.

Much, much more to come . . .

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