Everyone seemed to be greeting me on the streets of Pichilemu as I must have been one of the first tourists of the season. The cold October air still have some rain in it, and most of the shops are still boarded shut. But this is the quiet before the storm… I’ve been told. The sleepy little town is empty for 6-7 months of the year before the summer brings bus-loads of Chilean and foreign tourists from all over the world. Most of whom come with a surf board.
Most of the action in town happened around the Supermarkets and Empanada shops were there would always be a queue. Oh yeah, and be aware of Tsunamis!
Pichilemu is a surf town with one point break at the town beach, Puntilla, and one just south of town, Infernillo. This however, is not the reason why most surfers visiting Chile stop by. Most surfers will be hurrying even further south, 6 km to be exact, to experience the world famous Punta de Lobos. Made famous through big wave competitions, this point break is known for its two, huge, characteristic rock formation that make out the sketchy entrance point. Which means that when the swell is big you have to jump directly from the rock and paddle into a wave, no hanging around or you’ll be pancaked. So obviously, this was not something I was gonna try.
Apart from the locals there is a growing addition of permanent settlers around the town. Mostly surfers who just couldn’t stay away. And with them they bring coffee shops, surf shops and multiple hostels. Whichever industry will sustain their laid-back lifestyle.
The area between Pichilemu and Punta de Lobos is rapidly being bought up and developed either in whole neighbourhoods or by independent souls. What they have in common however, is the architecture. Almost every new building out here is timber architecture for the win. And a lot of it is quality, no quick-build, corny holiday homes in peach coloured concrete. It definitely adds to the genuine feel that people choose to live here for something more than just sun and parties (neither which is frequent half the year).
As the climate in Chile is quite European I guess its not really far fetched that the Pichilemu area bears a striking resemblance to the coast back home. The pine tree forests and grassy hills create the perfect reflection of the northern European coasts only interrupted by the occasional cactus of course.
Knowing, or sensing, that I would want to stay here for at least a couple of weeks, I arranged a work n’ stay at one of the hostels. Now, if there actually were people around I might have stayed for a couple of weeks, but I ended up cutting it short after one and a half. I really loved the town, but it was probably the loneliest I’ve ever been. This was not a popular hostel, it was basically a cabin at best, and the only people there were the “employees”, another English guy and myself.You might meet people when surfing or going out for drinks, but with no wifi and everyone spread around at different hostels along a 6 km coastline, there was nowhere to go if you just wanted to meet people and just hang out. So having a lot of time to myself, I finished my last books, watched every saved TV-show and a lot of my movies. I mean surfing is fun and everything, but I want to meet people!! I even tried hanging out at some of the cafés/bars but there was no one else coming…
That’s the downside to traveling during low season. I just hit my three months mark and that is way longer than I’ve ever been on the move before. It can’t be compared to living abroad where you make a home for yourself and have a routine with a growing group of friends. When always being on the move you start from scratch every new place you go. I was hoping for Pichilemu to be more than it was, cause at this time I’m feeling the constant starting over again and would love to find a place to stay for a while. But preferably a place warmer than the one I left.
My home and board for the week
Luckily there was always the Friday booze-cruise thanks to one of the local hostelowners/surfers. He would pay our hostel surprise visits and basically bring the booze and the party to us before heading out. You would literally never know where you’d have to sleep that night, but no worries, there was always someone who had an empty hostel we could crash at.