This weekend has been a little hectic for me, but I will do as I promised and finish me story about what I did in the Atacama.
One of my favorite things that I did in the Atacama was go swimming in a salt lake. It took roughly an hour to get to the lake from SPDA, and the lake was in the middle of nowhere. We drove down a dirt road in between two big mountain ranges just to get there. Though we also had to walk in between natural rock structures to get to the lake once the truck went as far as it could. I felt like such an adventurer trying to get to the lake. Before this lake, I had never floated in a salt lake of any kind. I literally got in the lake and just floated, if you try to swim on you belly it doesn’t work out too well. My whole group spent about thirty minutes in the salt pool, and by the time we all got out every scratch and scrape on my body was in pain. The salt really does hurt if you have any open woulds or scratches. Here is a few pictures of the lake.
Aside from this salt lake, we also went to a few different view points of different spots in the desert. I will just let the pictures speak for themselves.
Other than seeing the Atacama from different view points and going to the salt lake, I was able to explore the little pueblo that is San Pedro de Atacama. Here is a picture of the little church in the main plaza in San Pedro.
I also bought plenty of souvenirs in the market center. I do not think I have any pictures of my souvenirs, but I bought a few bracelets and other small things for my friends and family.
The last day, my group got up super early and walked outside of town to cook breakfast and watch the sunrise. This was probably one of the most memorable experiences in the desert because not only were we in the middle of the dessert with the pueblo behind us and a mountain range with a volcano in front of us during the sunrise, I was in great company as well. I was given the opportunity to meet some great people while I was in the Atacama, and when you are with great people it makes your experience that much more worth it.
I hope you all are surrounding yourself with great friends as well.
Hoy voy a hablar un poco sobre mi lugar favorita en Chile. Today I am going to talk about my favorite place in Chile – San Pedro de Atacama. I went a few weeks back to this beautiful pueblo (small town) located in the Atacama desert near Bolivia. Here is a map so you can have an idea where I was.
There were so many things to do in San Pedro de Atacama it was super hard to choose what I should do in the three days I had there. I decided it would be best to pay a tour agency to arrange everything ahead of time for me, and I had so much fun this way! I did not have to worry about choosing what is best, they already knew what were the best and most unique things to see in San Pedro de Atacama (SPDA). That being said, just because I didn’t get to do something in the SPDA doesn’t mean it is not super cool and unique.
The first day we went Sand boarding in the morning on the dunes in Valle de Martes. I have been sand boarding in ConCon before, but this was on a different level of difficulty and skill. The dunes were not only higher, but I was using snow boarding equipment. It was truly a challenge to somewhat master sand boarding in SPDA without falling down every time you stand up. Though I got to meet so many cool people from around the world as well as slide down some dunes in style. I didn’t get to take too many pictures in Valle de Martes or while boarding because my camera isn’t apt to so much action, but here are a few pictures.
After wearing myself out for a few hours we all returned to the pueblo para almorzar y descansar antes de que tuviéramos que ir al otro tour / to the pueblo to eat lunch and rest before we had to go to the next tour. The next lugar (place) that we went to was Valle de la Luna. This valley had beautiful views and a cave that you can walk through as long as you have a flashlight. I reached the valley in a van with a guide, but you can bike to the valley from San Pedro de Atacama if you want to experience the driest desert up close and person. Here are some pictures of me and my pololo (un chilenismo para novio o boyfriend) on top of a dune is valle de la luna and in a cave there as well.
And now the cave:
We also found a dog in the cave…he seemed well taken care of.
The next day we went to the geysers that are about an hour drive from the pueblo. We had to get up around 5 am in order to get there in time for the sunrise. Seeing the geysers at sunrise was absolutely magical! At that time in the day it was -10 Celsius and the contrast between the super hot water and the freezing air created some amazing steam. Here are some pictures.
On the way back to SPDA the tour group visited an area, a little frozen lake which I cannot remember the name of, and a pueblo se llama Machuca. Both in person and from the van on the ride to these lugares (places) I saw so many native animals; my favorite of the animals I saw were wild Vicuñas and a domestic llama que se llama San José in Machuca. No matter what I say, the pictures will say more than I can about el lugar y mi experiencia en este sector de la Atacama.
I will be writing about the second half of my experience in the Atacama in my next post. I just thought that I did way too many interesting things to try and cut them short to fit it into one post. Stay tuned to my experience in a salt lake, and two different view points in the Atacama.
I hope you all are having a wonderful day where ever you are in our huge world.
This past weekend I took a trip to Antofagasta, una ciudad en el norte de Chile, a city in the north of Chile, and I wanted to share my experience and pictures with you all. I flew out of Santiago Friday morning, which I have written about in my previous post, and arrive an hour and a half later around 9:45. Once I got to my hotel and put my bags up I went on a walk to find a beach to sit down and enjoy the beautiful blue water. Where I live in Chile, the water close to the shore is blue, but the rest is dark, cold, and unpleasant,but here in Antofagasta, a lot of the water was a beautiful shade of blue. Here are some pictures of my view.
My favorite part about this beach, and really all of the beaches in Antofagasta, is how many seashells there are on the shore. I spent an hour just searching for the best seashells to take home with me to the United States. There are almost no shells where I am staying, so finding some in Antofagasta was exciting for me.
Also, while in Antofagasta I visited La Mano del Desierto. This was about an hour out of town in a bus with a tour group. There really is no way to get to the hand unless you go with a tour group because the hand is out in the middle of nowhere. Here is a picture of it.
I was told that the artist sculpted this hand and placed it beside the main highway out of town in order to wish those traveling to the capital Santiago a goodbye – as if Antofagasta is waving goodbye to those leaving. I was amazed by the detail in the nails and knuckles and everything about this hand. If you ever get the chance to go to Antofagasta I highly recommend going to see this hand and the Portada.
The Portada is a natural rock arch in Antofagasta that is a major tourist attraction. There is a pair of penguins that lives in a cave below the viewing deck in front of the Portada, but because I was there right when it was turning dark outside, I didn’t get to see the penguins. Here are some of the pictures I snapped of of the Portada before dark on the viewing deck.
Antofagasta is a beautiful city that has many things to appreciate and make better. There is a huge mall in Antofagasta that is surrounding by a port and various piers throughout the city. Just taking a walk along the shore will make you want to stay a few more days in this lovely city. I do hope to go back one day, but for now I can say yo conozco Antofagasta, y en el futuro voy a volver. I know the city of Antofagasta, and one day I will return.
I am just getting back from a five day trip to the north of Chile, and I thought I would comment on my experience in aviones (planes) and in buses. Here, and well I guess anywhere in the world, the cheapest pasajes (tickets) leave at the most inconvenient times. Because I am a college student, of course I am going to buy the cheapest pasajes, and this time that means staying awake all night to catch a 6:45 am flight to Antofagasta from Santiago, Chile. Here is my story.
Okay, upon doing research I found cheap pasajes – ida y vuelta (roundtrip) – to a city in the north of Chile, Antofagasta that left the airport in Santiago at 6:45 am. I live in Viña del Mar, a good two and a half hours from Santiago, but this isn’t much because there are always buses leaving from Viña to Santiago at any point in time – or so I thought. Turns out that the last bus that left for Santiago left at 10:00 pm. Therefore I had to buy a pasaje for a bus that left at 10:00 pm and arrived in Santiago at 12:00 am. At this point I have six hours and twenty five minutes until my flight.
Once in the bus terminal in Santiago I take a taxi to the airport and end up staying awake until my flight arrives and its time to board. That means no sleep at all for that night. Though, I guess it is important to say that the night before I only slept four hours because I decided it was important to go out with my Norwegian friend Hennie to a bar.
So at this point, on the plane, I had only slept four hours in two nights – I was exhausted.
Here are some pictures of me and my boyfriend on the plane to Antofagasta.
Alright, we have made it to Antofagasta, and have taken un taxi a nuestro hotel (a taxi to our hotel). Llegamos con ganas para dormir, pero por 4 días, una siesta grande. We arrive at our hotel with the desire to sleep for four whole days, well at least I could have slept for four days at that point. Though the concierge tells us check in isn’t until 12:00 and it is only 9:45….. we had to go out and walk in the heat like the zombies that we were.
Anyways, I thought I would tell you this story because I find it incredibly hilarious how unfortunate it all was. We had so much fun in Antofagasta, which I will write another blog about, but buying the cheapest and crappiest plane tickets in my opinion, was not worth the torture. I have learned my lesson, next time I will spend maybe an extra $100 dollars for a normal time just so I don’t have to feel like I am dying.
If any of you all have ever experienced anything crazy or unfortunate due to crazy flight times please tell me! I hope my story didn’t only sound like a big complaint session, overall I find the situation hilariously unfortunate.
Today I thought I would talk about the fashion that I see here in Chile. Though I cannot contest for all of Chile, I have only really spent time in the big cities – Santiago and Valparaíso. When I first got here I could definitely tell the difference from the style here and Chile in comparison to back home. I live in North Carolina, southern United States, and I go to school in a mountainous rural area. Therefore at home you see the classy southern look with lace,frills, and cowboy boots, to all black or fringe, to just pajamas and hoodies on campus, but here it is completely different. I see A LOT of platform shoes (no matter what style boots, flip flops, sneakers) and street wear. It is really hard for me to describe street wear and do it justice, but I see a lot of black and half shirts, ripped jeans, and clothing you have probably seen in an H&M street wear catalog.
I really like the style here, but its just not me. I usually dress a little fancier/professional at home, but here I do not do that. I stick with some brownish/rust combat boots with jeans or black leggings, a sweater and a scarf. Though not everyone wears street wear, I have seen a lot of older adults wearing work/dressy clothes with heels and jewelry and so on. Just like anywhere else, Chile has its variety of people, personalities, and styles, and for this you see different types of people and dress in public.
Though I can say that Santiago is very different than Valparaíso. I have taken two trips to Santiago, and I have seen the nightlife dress and daytime dress, and I think that in comparison to Valpo, the people there tend to dress a little fancier. Of course you have people in street wear, but in general I noticed that the people dress fancier in Santiago.
No matter what city I am in I always see platform shoes everywhere. I honestly wish I could take part in this trend, but being so tall already with bad knees, I think I will stick to my flat shoes. Either way, I cannot deny the fact that fashion here has changed my own personal style a little; I feel much more laid back in my choice of dress now.
I don’t have a specific picture of someone on the street, but I have selected a picture of me with a dog from Santiago in the Plaza de Armas to be featured (he has great style). Chile is beautiful.
I have been on the lookout for an authentic Mexican restaurant or food truck, or shop that sells dulces (candies), or anything Mexican…. and oh man how this has been hard. I am absolutely in love with Mexican food and I worship horchata, but I have had almost no luck. There is a “Mexican” fajita restaurant here in Viña, but it dose not sell aguas frescas, and I refuse to eat at a restaurant that claims to be Mexican if there are not aguas frescas. I also tried a restaurant in Valpo that claimed to be Mexican, and it had horchata, but sadly it fell short in harnessing the sabor (flavor) of Mexican food.
The past weekend I took a trip to the capital, Santiago, and to my delight, I found a little Mexican restaurant that sold horchata and used tortillas de maíz! Here is a picture of me and my first cup of horchata in probably five months.
Though while I was in the city I wanted to find a Mexican restaurant that I could sit down in and enjoy some wonderful food, and I almost found one. My boyfriend (whos parents are Mexican), my friend Gerty from Boston, and myself found a cute little “Mexican” restaurant in a plaza that I think is called Bella Vista, we ordered some chips and guacamole, a fajita, and something else I cannot remember, and enjoyed a glass of pisco sour. The food was good, but its not quite there.
For some reason, Chile really doesn’t like spicy anything. If you walk down the chip isle in the grocery store here you will not find a single brand, bag, or anything with spice. Derek and I purchased a bag of Roulette Doritos just to have a spicy chip, and we ate the whole bag without finding the roulette spicy chips. I am not sure if the bag was a default, or we just don’t find the chips spicy and Chileans do.
I will continue my hunt for authentic Mexican food and spicy anything here in Chile.
I thought that I might talk about five things from Valpo an Viña that I absolutely love and will be coming back for in the future. Recently I have been reflecting on my experience so far in Chile and thinking about how much time I have left, and I am just without words! I have had so much fun, met so many people, and fallen in love with where I am. Though I would like to say that there are more than five things that I love about Viña and Valpo, but for the purpose of this blog I will only talk about five.
La Gente (people)
This is a picture of my group here in Chile. Camila and Alejandro are from chile and live here in Viña del Mar, and Samantha is a fellow international student at my university here who is from New York. Overall, friends aside, I have felt that the Chilean people are very nice and supportive of anyone doing their best to learn Spanish. The best example I have of how great and nice Chileans are is the one Lider worker I met in Lider in Valpo.
Me and my friend Hennie from Norway were in Lider shopping for some cookie dough and wine when Hennie tells me she needs to purchase some trash bags as well. We both look through every isle and section where you would thing they would be, but nada, we found nothing. Hennie speaks almost no Spanish, so I end up asking a worker where the bags would be, he shows up where, and then talks to us for a good thirty minutes about how impressed and overjoyed he is that we are learning Spanish as foreigners and are actually in Chile learning his culture and language. There are so many people like this guy in the streets as well. If you just stop in the market and talk to the people selling fruits and flower about their life, language, and country they get so happy. Not every Chilean is supper supportive and nice about foreigners and shared culture, but in my experience I believe the majority of Chileans are very nice and supportive.
Here I am very different, I standout a lot, but I don’t mind it entirely too much, especially when everyone is so nice.
This is not the best picture to showcase the many colors of Valparaíso, but if you google Valparaíso there will be better examples. This picture was taken from a balcony of a little art shop in Cerro Alegre.
When I first arrived in Valparaíso I was astonished at how colorful all the houses and edificios (buildings) were. Coming from the United States where all the houses are a variety of brown and white, the houses here in Valpo looked so much happier! Thinking back on my house in the US, I dont want to return to the same bland neighborhood. Though the colors of Valpo aren’t limited to houses and buildings, the street art here is insane! In the US, at least where I live, the street art is always in dissaray and random, and in truth not much, but here they are works of art.
Here is an example:
3. Nights Out in the Town
The night life here in Valpo and Viña has been the source of some of my best and worst memories made here in Chile. The drinking age here is 18 in comparison to 21 in the US, so I have been able to explore and have so much fun with all of my friends in various bars and dance clubs. In truth, before going to Chile I think I was allergic to dancing, or just too embarrassed to do so. I did not even dance in my room alone, but here I have found my undying love for dancing. Every time I hear good music, my body just has to move. Therefore, I try to go dancing once a week, but lately with all of the trips I have taken and homework, I have been going once every two weeks. I truly will miss the night life here in the city in Chile and I might actually cry when I go back and have the urge to go to a dance club to dance to reggaetón.
4. The Animals
This is a topic that is very heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time. Here in Chile, especially the big cities, there are hundreds of street dogs without homes. This absolutely breaks my heart because I hate seeing dogs or animals in general suffer and be lonely, but at the same time I love petting and hugging all of the dogs I can. I have made it a point to take a picture with every amazing dog I find in all of the different places I go. Also, when I am feeling a little down, homesick, or frustrated, I just go outside and pet the first dog. If I could I would open a dog sanctuary and just love all of the dogs in the city, but because I can’t, I am loving one dog at a time until I can make it home to my dog. I will be taking home some great memories of some great Chilean dogs!
5. The Scenery
Last but not least, the diverse scenery and geography of Chile will keep me coming back. I live on the coast here in Chile, but recently I have taken a day trip to hike Vizcachas, a mountain in the Andes, near a small town named Limache. The hike was four hours up and three and a half down IT WAS CRAZY. I thought I was on top of the world, and it really did look like it. I have also been to the south and seen beautiful lakes, waterfalls, and a volcano. This week, in two days I will be going to the desert to sight see and do some sand boarding. Chile has such an amazing geography, and it you have the ganas (want/passion) to do any activity, there is a place to do so in Chile. Chile is so beautiful, and I will be back too see it again.
Well, to end this post I will leave you a picture of me on the highest point of the mountain I climbed last weekend.
I can finally say I have been to a zoo! Nunca había ido a un zoológico en mi vida antes de Chile…. I know I am late to the party.
Never had I been too a zoo in my life before going to the one in Santiago Chile. I took millions of pictures, and I really enjoyed seeing so many animals that I had only seen on TV. Though I do have to say, the big animals like the elefantes, osos (bears), y jirafas looked super bored/depressed. I imagine they are sad because there was not sufficient space to live and be happy.
Though I want to show you some of my pictures:
Those were only just a few of the many animals I captured in photos. I realize now that I posted a lot of pictures of the birds in the zoo, but I just think they are so pretty. Also, if you did not know, there are so many penguins in Chile. There are not any lounging around where I live, but Chile is known to have a lot down south where it gets super cold, and surprisingly some up north where it is hot.
I have checked the zoo box off of my bucket-list! I probably will not go back to a zoo until a long time, but it was a good memory for me.
I will get back with you all next week about my next adventure!
I have surpassed the halfway mark of studying abroad, and it has been wild. So far I have done so many things that I never would have considered at home, I’ve eaten so many things I never even knew existed, and I have probably drank way too much. I absolutely love Chile, and more specifically Viña and Valpo. Part of me wants to never leave, and part of me absolutely needs a hug from my dad back at home.
Homesickness is a weird thing. I want to describe it to you, but I am unsure if I can. Because I am super content and happy where I am, but a part of my soul just yearns for home. Sometimes I smell something that reminds me of home, like today I thought I smelled the sweet smell of the forest in NC in the summer, and you just want to zip back home for a day and then go right back to where you were. Last week I actually saw a street dog that reminded me of how my dog back at home looks… it was absolutely heart breaking. I am an animal person, and there are many stray dogs in Valpo, but none of them compare to my dog. My baby albus 😥
Here is a picture of my beautiful and sweet Albus asleep like the angel he is.
When you are surrounded by a culture and language that is not your home culture, it can get hard after awhile to not just want to touch something familiar, eat some mac n cheese, and for me oddly, drink some Motts apple juice. I know that I will make it to the end, I just miss home.
Though the complicated part is that half of me feels like this is home. THAT’S SO WEIRD. I could picture myself visiting Chile again in the future and just staying here. THAT’S CRAZY. Chile has indeed stolen my heart, and when I ask for it back at the end of my stay this semester, I am not sure it will give it back, and I’m not sure if I would want it back.
I have made so many friends and connections here that its hard to choose one home over the other. There are so many things here that I don’t have there and visa versa. I guess I was the one who took this risk, the risk of falling in love with another place and other people.
Studying abroad is wild.
With nothing else to say, and no knowledge how to express how I feel, I will leave you here.
I am back again, but this time to talk about on of my favorite Chilean bar foods!!! A Chorillana is a big plate (puede pedir una chica o un grande), of papas fritas (french fries), covered with sausage and what I would consider BBQ (pulled meat?), covered in cheese and toped off with fried eggs. I am sure some chorillanas are made differently, but the ingredients I listed are the fundamental, traditional ingredients. I have tried several different chorillanas from different restaurants and bars, and I would say that the best one was from Barbones Bar here in Viña del Mar – if you ever end up here in Viña, you have to go get one there!
Here is what a chorillana looks like/can look like:
I discovered the chorillana after about a month and a half of being in Chile, and at that point when my Chilean friends had asked if I knew what it was and I did not, they were in shock. The chorillana is native to Chile, and you absolutely cannot come here and leave without ordering one to share with sus amigos. Though this is a bar food, so get out and try out the bars of Chile! Order a pisco sour and a chorillana, and let you worries fade away!
I believe that this dish is on my list of reasons to stay in Chile 🙂