Having the Courage to Look Overseas

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Vina del Mar is a posh beach community that’s a bit like Punta del Este, Monaco, or the Hamptons… it’s where the wealthy and beautiful Chileans go to be seen during the summer holiday period. Even on a cloudy day, you’ll still see hundreds of thong-clad beach goers pretending to not notice the lack of sunshine.

I generally shun hotels when possible – I prefer to stay in serviced apartments, small boutiques, or B&Bs… and the bed & breakfast that I found was a beautiful, quaint mansion perched at the top of a hill overlooking the city and the bay.

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Standing there admiring the view last Friday, a voice called out to me – “Why don’t you let me help you with your reservation.” It sounded like Iowa, or one of those non-accent areas of the US… a bit out of place here in coastal Chile.

“Uh, yeah, please,” I said. He must have read the expression on my face because he answered almost as if I had asked the question – “I’m from Ohio…” he said, “I run the house. Welcome.”

We got to talking – “Chris” is a young, university-aged worker who had been recently laid off from his job in the US and got tired of filing for unemployment benefits. As he told me later:

“Basically, I was sitting around my house, sending out a bunch of applications, and checking in with the unemployment office from time to time. It got old… real quick. I could feel the life being sucked out of me – my energy, my motivation. I was pretty depressed, I hated it… so I decided to start looking overseas.”

Chris told me how his search opened up literally a world of possibilities, from Switzerland to Mongolia, Singapore to Tanzania, China to Chile. He ended up in Chile because he felt like staying in the western hemisphere, and he really wanted to learn Spanish.

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