Travel when you do not necessarily want

Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile

The story of Daniel, the Venezuelan who left his country looking for hope and a better future.

Work every day with a splendid view of the glaciers, who would not like it? Those large masses of ice that abound in Chile, particularly Balmaceda and Serrano, are the workplace of Daniel Camarchioli, a 23-year-old Venezuelan whom I met at the same time that I saw, for the first time, the greatness of a glacier.

Judging by the knowledge it conveys and by the accent adopted, it would seem that it was born and grew in Chile.

I was struck by his good service, his endless smile and his authentic way of serving tourists. He gave me the impression that he had no problems, that he did not miss anyone.

Daniel is 23 years old and 3 years of having left Venezuela. He is currently a tour guide in glaciers in southern Chile.
Daniel is 23 years old and 3 years of having left Venezuela. He is currently a tour guide in glaciers in southern Chile.

Is your family well in Venezuela? I ventured to ask you, driven by the feeling that the reality of the country provokes me. “It’s ok thanks to me, because I work and send money.”

Daniel left when he was 20 years old from Merida, a city near the Andes, looking for a better future. He had $100 in his pocket, was the only thing he could collect, selling arepas and working in restaurants.

Daniel Camarchioli is part of the staff of a tourism company in La Patagonia, based in Puerto Natales. He goes every day to the Balmaceda and Serrano glaciers.
Daniel Camarchioli is part of the staff of a tourism company in La Patagonia, based in Puerto Natales. He goes every day to the Balmaceda and Serrano glaciers.

He worked in each country he visited. He passed through Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, but the destination took him to the Region of Magallanes, in Chile.

“I love traveling,” he says, “but it’s not the same to travel and know that you’re not returning home.” Without saying so, he refers to the political and economic crisis of his Venezuela, of which he is pending all the time.

Leaving his country was not easy, and with only 23 years old he already knows the true meaning of impotence. The death of his grandfather surprised him last year in Cuzco, Peru, at a time when it was impossible for him to return home. It is one of the saddest things that has happened to him, he tells me.

Feeling away from home and your loved ones, in the current circumstance of Venezuela, is not easy either. For the moment, he clings to work. He has no free days because he chose it, at least for this season that tourists continue to arrive at the Chilean Patagonia.

His face changes when he tells me that he is about to receive his mother, who will leave Venezuela to join the thousands of people who seek peace and a better future in other countries.

Although she travels to Chile in May, he will see her until September, since he will avoid taking her to La Patagonia during the winter, a time when temperatures drop to -17 ° C.

Daniel tells me that, since he left home, he talked to his mother every week, but in recent months, due to the constant blackouts in Venezuela, he can only talk to her for a few minutes once a week, in an interrupted manner. Very little time for someone who has not seen his mother for 37 months.

Judging from Daniel’s cheerful and enthusiastic look, I would like to witness that meeting. For now, he knows he will stay another period in Chile, he does not rule out moving to another country, but he does rule out returning to Venezuela at least for the next few years.

The daily tour of the glaciers lasts 8 hours. Upon his return to Puerto Natales, Daniel works in the hostel of the family with whom he lives far from his home.
The daily tour of the glaciers lasts 8 hours. Upon his return to Puerto Natales, Daniel works in the hostel of the family with whom he lives far from his home.

I lacked time to talk with the chamo (Venezuelan expression that refers to those who are approaching middle age), but knowing their history left me with a taste of hope. Daniel is one of the many migrants in the world who leave their countries, most of the time without wanting to, looking for a better future.

In my recent visit to Chile, I had a lot of contact with Venezuelans living in different cities. In stores, restaurants, on the street. “We have them invaded,” a kind Venezuelan woman I met in a vineyard told me. Also, a saleswoman of a jewelry store, that recently arrived in Santiago after being in Peru, told me that she expects to feel good in Chile, because “it is not easy to live alone, far from home and without having family close”.

Daniel plans to meet with his mother in September, in Chile. Work 7 days a week to save money and live well.
Daniel plans to meet with his mother in September, in Chile. Work 7 days a week to save money and live well.

This is part of traveling and of what I call knowing the human side of each city: having contact with people, appreciating what you have, being more tolerant and trying to become a better person.

I still believe that the best we can do those of us who live in peaceful countries is to receive these people, of whatever nationality, as we would like to be received. Unfortunately, we will never be exempt from that happening in our own territory.

Categories: Interviews

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