Tag Archives: backpacker

Penguins, parks and pesos – tales from the Cono Sur

We hope you’ve enjoyed the sunny spells in the UK and abroad throughout the summer. Summer makes us think about travelling, and Jonathan Wicks, our in-house German and Swedish translator, had an epic adventure earlier this year. This is an account of his travels in Chile:

Not everyone gets the chance to take a sabbatical, so if you do you’d better make sure it counts. These words, or something like them, were probably in the mind of our Senior Translator Jonathan when he made his way to South America for a 7-week, 7000-mile road adventure. ‘It’s completely bonkers,’ he starts. ‘Before I flew to Chile, I thought covering the country north to south would be doable in a seven-week trip, but I was being very European in my estimates – Chile alone is the same length as Norway to Nigeria! The roads range from paved to gravel to dirt, and they stop altogether near Puerto Montt, so we had to catch three ferries down the coast to pick up the road again and get further into Chilean Patagonia.’

Some of Chile’s national parks are off the beaten track, but certainly worth a visit, according to Jonathan. ‘The scenery was stunning. Many of them are virtually empty and unspoilt. The only downside was not having enough time for longer hikes! We also got to see penguins in warm temperatures off the western coast, rather than in the cold of Antarctica.’

Jonathan’s odyssey didn’t stop there, though, as he ventured across Patagonia to visit Argentina and eventually Uruguay. ‘We managed to crash the car,’ he says in the matter-of-fact way you might use to talk about misplacing your keys ‘but we weren’t seriously injured and got it back onto the gravel road the next day to keep heading North.’ And how was Argentina? ‘I got temporary paralysis in my arm after getting shocked by a faulty plug socket, and almost got mugged, but they cater surprisingly well for vegetarians.’

How about the local lingo? Jonathan has had some lessons in Castilian Spanish and spent time living in Barcelona. He initially felt frustrated that he could not understand conversations in Chilean Spanish. However, he soon grew more comfortable with local variations. He learnt that ‘ciao’ sufficed for any goodbye and ‘Kuchen’ referred to many of Chile’s wide selection of cakes; ‘el gasfiter’ was the person to call if you had any issues with your plumbing! Jonathan found that ‘Chile is a melting pot, generally less Italian and less European than Argentina. However, there is still clearly the influence of different European cultures.

Reflections

It’s fair to say that Jonathan came back to work two months older but two years wiser from his adventure. ‘The simple backpacker lifestyle I enjoyed over there has given me new perspective. I feel I’m less bogged down in minor detail and materialism since coming back. I’ve also learnt to appreciate the convenience of travelling in a small place like Europe! It’s a perspective I’m trying to hold on to.’

If Jonathan’s adventure has inspired you to take the plunge and send your documents on a trip around the world, then why not contact hello@surreytranslation.co.uk for a translation quote?