Bienvenidos from Chile my #VanLife friends!
Dusty and I are currently on the road eating, drinking, and exploring South America. We started in Lima Peru on the infamous Gringo Trail and have now traveled all the way down into northern Chile on our way to see the Solar Eclipse on July 2nd.
I have decided I am in love with Antofagasta, Chile. It’s like Portland, Oregon back before everyone and their mother moved in. There are beautiful beaches, palm trees, food trucks, art, and tons of really nice people.
We found that in Peru, the people weren’t really very nice unless you were buying something from them.*
Here in Chile though, everyone seems friendly and welcoming.
As much as I would have loved to have taken our cozy little RV home on wheels, we are currently relying on the public transportation system to get us to where we need to go. It can be a little sketchy at times…especially when they stop and make everyone get off the bus randomly in the desert to x-ray your bags for no reason.
From all of the horror stories I read online about South American buses being pits of human despair, it’s actually not all that bad.
In fact, some of these buses are nicer than the expensive airplane we flew in on. And it’s like night and day compared to the Greyhound bus we took from Eugene to Portland to catch our flight.
Did you know that most buses down here not only come with attendants to cater to your every need, but they also feed you!
That’s great news for me because I am a fat kid, and anytime someone wants to hand me a sleeve of Ritz crackers, I’m totally on board with it.
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But as nice as the buses are, we still need to think about personal safety and keeping the important shit, like passports and credit cards hidden.
And I don’t just mean in South America either.
Crimes of opportunity happen everywhere. We no longer live in the 50’s where you can just leave your front door unlocked and be totally safe. I have known plenty of van dwellers that have left their van door unlocked for a moment only to return and find their entire house gone.
Last time I went to Costa Rica, I purchased a flesh colored belt for my passport and money. It was the kind that is meant to be worn just under the waist band of your pants to keep your most important stuff hidden.
It worked OK, but I found that in the heat, my passport soaked up all of my perspiration.
And it is never a good feeling handing your documents over to border patrol when they are wet and smell bad.
I hate being the stinky kid.
So I decided to get something a little more fashionable this time and settled on a Peak Gear neck bag. It’s great because it not only looks nice, but it also has RFID Block, so people can’t scan my stuff while my back is turned.
So far, it has worked like gangbusters. It’s small enough to fit under my jacket, but roomy enough that I can keep my chapstick and bus tickets in it no problem.
Another option which I discovered only after getting down here is the super adorable infinity scarf with pocket. I am a sucker for cute scarves and this would have been right up my alley. It keeps you cozy, you look adorable, and it has a little hidden pocket for your valuables.
I will definitely be purchasing several of those for when I get back to the states.
Of course, staying safe isn’t just about hiding your passport, but about being alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.
My tip for you, whether you’re in Antarctica or Mobile, Alabama is to never let your guard down, not even for a moment. The second you do, someone will swoop in and take all of your gadgets away and you’ll be left with nothing.
How do I know this? Because Dusty has been robbed several times abroad, and it’s because he trusts people too much.
I, on the other hand, treat everyone like they just escaped from a maximum security prison.
I’m not saying you have to live like I do to be safe, just find a happy medium. And for goodness sake, keep an eye on your stuff!
*That is not to say that everyone in Peru is a jerk, they just have their own lives and weren’t very warm or receptive to “gringitas”