Sunday, September 30, 2012


Let me preface this with the truth: it had been a long, long time since I had been on a bike anywhere other than in a gym, and riding a real bike is quite different than a stationary bike. I was expecting this to be a miserable experience but worth it for the beauty, but it was a lot of fun. We really wanted to see Pisco Elqui and the surrounding area, and we eventually settled on a bike tour offered by Turismo Migrantes. They drove us to the top of the hill, and then let us find our way back to town. The photo above is where we started...

Above is the river that we went down to — one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It had a few leftover campfire pits, and I would love to bring Brandon back here and camp under the stars. It was so peaceful, and the openness was just unreal. Getting back up the hill made me want to die, but it was worth it!

We biked a bit further and came across this breathtaking crevasse, one of several that was just incredible. I can only imagine what this would look like covered in snow.

We got back into the city surprisingly fast — the drive to the top seemed eternal, but getting back to Pisco Elqui was surprisingly prompt. I admit, I was happy to get back and have some juice! 

This was the day before the tour, at one of the hotel/bars we snuck into for a photo. The lighting was wretched, but you can see the important things: The beauty of the valley and the crevasse behind me. Incredible. I'm so happy to be in Chile.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Last week we had a lot of free time, so a few of the girls in the group and I went on a little bus trip up to La Serena/Vicuna/Pisco Elqui for a few nights. I've split up the photos between the two posts so as not to inundate you, but it was breathtaking. 

First stop was La Serena, a mid-size coastal city. It was a long, long bus ride (12 hours+ total) and we were pretty tired when we arrived. We didn't really do much in the way of touring the first day, but we did go for a shortish afternoon walk to the beach. I was surprised at how warm the water was! I am used to the frigid waters of Oregon, and I assumed that the water here would be the same. I really enjoyed slipping my shoes off and enjoying the warm sand and water after the long day!

The main strip had several sculptures, mostly portraying people in acts of bathing or playing with children. This bathtub fascinated me though! Why? Why have a random tub on the side of a walkway? What does it mean?

We spent one night in La Serena, and then traveled to the Pisco Elqui/Vicuna area. We went to Vicuna for the observatories, and it was so worthwhile. The ozone layer is much thinner here than it is in Oregon, and the visibility was amazing. Watching the stars that night, looking into the telescopes, every minute was just mesmerizing. There was such a peaceful stillness there on the mountain, and I hope to experience that again.

Random tidbit: Chile has a great deal of the same franchises/stores as Oregon, and I had seen several McDonalds while here, but no Subways. I had just spent a solid 20 seconds whining about it while walking past McDonalds #20000 when we came across this beauty. I don't eat a ton of Subway in the U.S., but this was such a nice taste of home. I really, really enjoyed that veggie sub! We ate local cuisine every other night, and only stopped here because it was a holiday and a great deal of the good, non-chain restaurants were closed. I'm really trying to eat/shop local as much as I can while here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I decided before I came to Chile that I would try as many local brands/products as I could. Why go live in another country if you are just going to cling to your own? I brought the things that I absolutely had to have (the moisturizers for my sensitive skin, my super-pale foundation, and my hair oil) and left behind my shampoo and conditioner, body wash, nail polish, etc. I want to see what Chile has to offer!

First up is Petrizzio polish. I was out shopping for a coat (again, for some reason I just couldn't comprehend that it was actually cold here while packing in 80 degree weather) when I saw a jar of cheap nail polish at the check stand. I think this was less than $2 USD, but I can't remember. It was pretty cheap! I bought two different shades of gray, and I will post about the other one later on. I have two coats of polish on in these photos! 

I found the polish to be good. Not great, not amazing, but well worth the price. I was able to get decent coverage with two coats, but the polish was a bit soupy and hard to work with. It dries fast, and I have gotten several days of wear out of it with absolutely zero chip wear, which is incredible considering the fact that I haven't purchased base or top coats yet. All in all, I would purchase more polish from this brand but won't go out of my way to find it in the future!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Today is Chile's Independence Day, and we have been celebrating for almost five days already. I have never seen a country with so much pride before, and they completely and utterly put the United States to shame. In the past few days I have gone to so many parties, and two carnivals in celebration of the day. The stores will all be closed today and tomorrow, and I don't have classes this week. I have so much respect for Chile's pride in country, and I will be spending today celebrating with my host family. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012


This week has been pretty wonderful! It is beautiful here, and I have enjoyed going from Summer in the States to Spring in Chile. I managed to survive my first week of classes, and have managed to get a bit of my homework done early. We have a whole week off, and I normally procrastinate. I feel like I'm actually understanding more and more Spanish!

I have really enjoyed the more relaxed culture in respect to alcohol. In the States, alcohol is HEAVILY controlled. Here, the university hosted a party and had random vendors on campus selling alcohol. I think the legal drinking age here is 18, but I never saw anyone check ID. It was so beautiful, and we just danced for ages. Also, I may or may not have eaten my body weight in sopaipillas! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


This has been a week of firsts! We started classes on Monday, and I finally started to figure out the money here — this 7 UP is the first thing I payed cash for here! I have been walking to and from class, and I have to say that 7 UP is quite refreshing. I don't usually drink caffeine-free drinks in the States,  but this is the only diet soda that the store on campus offers. 

Initially, I walked to school because I was unsure of the bus system and didn't want to get lost. Now? I walk because it saves me about $15 a week and I get to see so much of the city. Walking to school has been one of the best things I have done since coming here. It allows for me to feel a little bit more secure, and lets me relax a bit more (I'm never lost, it is now my city.)  There are so many adorable, random street dogs here! I keep trying to get a good photo of this one dog that always follows me a for a block or so in the morning — it is like a pit bull, but it has split nostrils. I don't know how else to describe it! It is almost as if it has two faces, but it is not from an injury. 
There have been a few... shall we say... learning experiences? Like the time I went into the restroom at the university and was rather surprised to find that there was no toilet paper. I had a solid four seconds of thoughts like "They don't use toilet paper here?" before I used a tissue from my backpack and headed for the sink. I then realized that the thin paper by the sinks was not, in fact, paper towels (the university has air dryers) but was actually toilet paper, meant to be grabbed before entering a stall. 

Very confusing.

I have been so busy and have so much to share! I have daily posts for the next few days so as not to write essays every time I post! 

Sunday, September 9, 2012


The past few days have been wonderful! My host family has been so amazing in helping me figure out how to make my smartphone work here, and in helping me buy a coat and sweatpants. I didn't realize how cold it could be here! We are rapidly heading into spring/summer here, and I didn't need to buy much other than a coat and some warm pants to run in. I spent much of Friday attending the orientation at the university and then running errands with my host family/shopping with our new Chilean friends.  I'm still not totally understanding the whole money system here — it is so, so different and I'm nervous to ride the buses until I have it figured out. 

Yesterday we hopped on a bus at an insanely early hour (or, well, 8:30 which is early considering the time change and the fact I am having a hard time sleeping) and headed to Las Termas De Chillan, one of the most beautiful, calming places I have ever been. It is the last couple of days of ski season, so we split off into groups: The ones that wanted to ski on the not-so-great snow, and the ones that wanted to hike and sun themselves by the hot springs. I was a part of the second group, and I spent roughly two hours hiking around, and four or so hours lounging by the pool. I'm a bit lazy, yes! It was really nice though, because I actually had 3g coverage here. It is so weird to be surrounded by the Andes Mountains and yet still have full bars. Claro, you are AMAZING. 

Last night we spent singing karaoke and then headed out to the discotheque to dance for a few hours. It is so different from the States! I don't even know how to describe it, but it was fun. We got home around four am, and tried to sleep  — I didn't do as well with that as I had hoped. I can't wait to get a bit of a schedule going, and then hopefully my sleep will get better. 

I didn't bring any clothes for clubbing, so I thought I would leave you with this gem: 

Yes. I went out dancing in yoga pants and running shoes. SO sexy.

Friday, September 7, 2012


The view from my AWESOME hotel room in Seattle
It has been a while, and for that I am sorry. It has been a whirlwind past few weeks. I drove to Seattle (twice!) for my passport, went on a spur of the moment road trip with Brandon, and flew to Chile. 

I intended to post this last night, right after I got in, but my computer was dead because I didn't have a converter. I hope to post something every day when I have the time, but I will not let it interfere with my life here. I'm so excited for the opportunity! Needless to say, I feel much happier today. Jet lag is a beast. 

Brandon and me, after a long hike through the redwood forest,

It feels rather strange to be writing this post, partially because I'm enjoying a lovely case of jet lag and also because the reality of being here hasn't sunken in yet. It still catches me by surprise when I'm walking around and everything around me is in Spanish.  It doesn't help that my flights were difficult (Great pilots, but my flight was cancelled twice in a row. DFW airport is not that great my friends, not that great) or that my language barrier is greater than expected.

In fact, this is the post that everyone told me I would probably write the first day and I just couldn't hear it. I kind of nodded along, when the reality is that this is incredibly hard. Incredibly hard. My host family is great, but I'm probably coming off as some sort of ass because my Spanish is so poor. My ability to use the proper formality is iffy at best, and I'm lapsing back into English without realizing it. I just feel so incredibly lost. 

It isn't that I have regrets, or even that I am especially homesick. I'm just at a loss for words as to what I feel.