Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When you can't sleep... blog

Well my original plan for tonight was to sleep... but my chilean sister is having a party downstairs.  Now I can't because the music from downstairs, which is not loud, somehow becomes loud on its way up into my room.  So the only thing I can really do is blog! 

My most recent excursion was to the Ocoa National Park.  Hiking into this park was like stepping right into Jurassic Park!  I half expected a T-rex to come charging out of the forest at any moment.  It was so awesome because there were palm trees, cactus, and snow covered mountains all in the same place. 

"There's more to living than being alive with downcast eyes"

The palm trees were not actually palms.  They are a type of grass, which is insane to think about.  I imagined that I was an ant walking through a patch of grass (it's basically what we are in comparison to the magnificence of this world and universe anyways).

The views were absolutely breath taking.  Hills behind hills behind hills, all covered in green and maybe snow.  It was so difficult to follow the group and enjoy the scenery at the same time because the path was pretty tricky, one misstep would mean tumbling down into mud or rocks.

It happened to be raining the morning we left and I did not buy a poncho because I was lazy and just wanted to get home the day before.  It was ok though because I had my kind-of-rainjacket and an umbrella.  When we got to the park and all suited up I was kind of glad not to have a poncho...

they look just a little silly :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Never Forget

I only have a few days left in Chile.  This has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  I am constantly thanking God for blessing me so much!  I have made so many great friends, I have another family, and I have survived in a Spanish speaking country!  The moments that I am most proud of myself are when I am able to sit down with my family and have an intelligent conversation, all in spanish (I'm just as proud if and when I can carry on a conversation in the market with a complete stranger).  Chile is now a part of my heart and I will return one day to share more of life here.  One month seemed to fly by, and yet I have done more things than I would normally do in one year!
 As a recap, I arrived and watched the world cup games Chile vs Spain, and Chile vs Brazil (all on tv of course), visited Chillán and went snowboarding in the Andes, visited Valparaiso, and Santiago.  I went horseback riding through sand dunes and galloping along the beach, found my love for Alpacas, and experienced Jurassic park (minus the dinosaurs).  I lived with a Chilean family, danced the night away, and learned to speak spanish.  I ate my heart's content of bread, paltas, empanadas, and tasted fine Chilean wine.  I saw sealions, penguins, and alpacas.
I may have frozen every night in the house without heat, but wouldn't trade it for the world.  

 Leaving for Chile
[photo taken by my sister]

 Art in Valpo

 Sunset in Santiago

 Sunrise in the Andes

 Canopy tour in the Andes.
[photo taken by a friend]

 Horse show at Puro Caballo

 Cabalgata through sand dunes.
[photo taken by a friend]

 El gran asado despues

[not my photo] Wine tasting

 Sealions, lobos marinos

Amazing Alpacas

Palm tree and snow

Jurassic Park

Amor de la Luna

Friday, July 23, 2010

A few of my favorite things

The boat ride through the Valparaiso harbor.

But that's nothing compared to...


Baby alpacas.

Alpacas with funny teeth.

Alpacas with combed hair.

Alpacas with curly hair.

Alpacas with afros.

Hippy alpacas.

More baby alpacas!

Kissable alpacas.
[photo taken by my friend using my camera]

Amazing alpaca threads^^vv

Al final:
Playing with alpacas
Alpacas just make everyone's day!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Los Flores del Invierno

Even though it's winter here, the flowers are so bright and beautiful!

Sorry, I forgot the name of this flower. It was hard to say, I hope you can forgive me!


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Puro Chile

Valparaiso, a bohemian city

I can't get over how amazing Chile is.  This trip has been so full of adventure!  I have a little less than two weeks left, and I want to make the best of it!

Puro Caballo
A traditional Chilean horse show and lunch.


La Costa
The beautiful coast in Vina del Mar

"I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me."
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Horseback riding through sand dunes, marshes, and the beach.
I rode one of the prettiest horses... but it was also one of the feistiest.

This stallion was (or thought he was) alpha male. Anytime he got near another stallion he would start getting angry.  Needless to say I smacked him a few times... I didn't exactly want him to rear or buck me off and fall to my death at the bottom of the dunes.

A real cowboy!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

One country, a billion different worlds.

One of the most amazing things about Chile is its variety in climates. It goes from dry (but beautiful) desert in the north, to the ideal Mediterranean climate where I am staying, to cold and damp in the south. The eastern border of Chile is lined by the Andes Mountains, which are covered in snow, and the western border is lined by the Pacific ocean. This makes the country very secluded, creating rapid speech and a TON of slang spoken by the native chileans. I have learned this first hand and I am still trying to keep up with my host family! They joke around with me and laugh at my 'horrible' spanish, but it's all in good fun, a broma (joke). Chileans are known for their cleverness, they are true bromistas (jokers).

If you're interested in learning some slang, here are a few things that I've picked up!
  • Cachai? - "Did you catch it?" basically like "you know?"
    • This is said at the end of a sentence and doesn't need a reply, but if you would like to reply you can say "Yo Cacho."
  • Que onda - What's happening? also a way of saying something is really cool. Onda literally means wave.
  • Pololo/a - boyfriend/girlfriend. Novio/a is used for fianceé.
  • Po - just a chilean speech habit, it's attached to the end of random words when speaking and doesn't hold any meaning. 
    • It's kind of similar to "like", as in "I was going to the store and like there was this guy there who like really seemed into me." A really dumb example, but whatever. It's said by all ages, not just the young people.
  • Filete, bacán - both of these words mean "cool."
  • Fome - boring.
  • Huevón - this is a term that you HAVE to use wisely, or don't use at all. In some contexts it can simply mean calling your friend "dude/buddy" but in other contexts it's basically like saying "f**k."
    • Now I only use it occasionally when teasing my host brother because he tried to get me to say it to his friends. When I said it in front of my host mom, to show her what he taught me, she was absolutely in shock... so that shows you how bad it is lol.
 If you want to learn more Chilean slang, go to there's a HUGE list.

I live in Viña del Mar and go to school in Valparaíso. It's winter but there are days when it is really nice and warm. My friends and I walked by the beach in search of a restaurant that served seafood empanadas (a delicious fried bread with stuff in the middle, such as shrimp and cheese).

Here are a few pictures from the walk.
 A few sea lions just chillin

A beautiful view of the glittering Pacific ocean

[photo taken by my friend]

My friend and I.
[photo taken by another friend]

A small sample of the amazing graffiti

This past weekend I went to Chillán (chee-yawn) with my study abroad group. Chillán is a town in the south of Chile pretty much in the Andes Mountains. I have never seen so much snow in my life! We stayed at a really cute lodge for the weekend. I went snowboarding and did a ropes course (canopy). It was really cold and it snowed the last day we were there! 
 A few friends and myself, I'm in the middle on the ground with the alien goggles haha.
[photo taken by a friend]

The people running the lodge said they had jacuzzi s, so after the day of snowboarding and skiing my friends and I were really sore and cold. All we wanted was to sit in hot water. So we signed up for the jacuzzi.
Little did we know that the jacuzzi was outside. We had to walk through the snow to get to it. At first we were in disbelief and everyone thought we were crazy for going out there in the snow; but as soon as we sat down in the hot water we were in heaven. 
The houses in Chile do not have central heating, so in order to sit around the house I wear about 3 or 4 layers of shirts/jackets, sweatpants, a pair of socks, and a pair of knitted booties to go over the socks. Talk about COLD! The lodge had heating and we were loving it.
I won't complain too much about the cold because I absolutely love Chile, I won't ever take central heating for granted again though.

Lets praise GOD!
[photo taken by a friend]

An amazing sunrise over the Andes (above and below)

Behind the lodge. The hot tubs are back there somewhere!

That's right... I not only survived the canopy tour, I mastered it.
[photo taken by a friend]

With so much snow around, it's impossible to NOT make snow angels!
[photo taken by a friend]

Here's an interesting cultural thing that turned into a disaster at the lodge.

Chile is a rising country. It just recently got out of a dictatorship so a lot of buildings have been built within the last 20 years and a lot of things are starting to become more modern. At the moment though some things are still a little behind the US, such as the plumbing. The pipes here are very sensitive, so flushing a lot of unnecessary toilet paper can clog up the pipes or worse. Usually when I go into a public restroom there is a little trash basket next to the toilet for the used toilet paper (it's only for pee, the toilet paper used for the other thing you flush). This cuts down the amount of toilet paper going through the pipes. 

I never really understood how important it is to throw the toilet paper away instead of flushing it; I don't think the girls living above me understood the importance either. 

So one night I ran inside from the jacuzzi to find my room flooded! Water was dripping from the ceiling, covering the floor and the beds. It turned out that some pipes upstairs had either broken or flooded. My friends had already moved our stuff into the other room and we all climbed on the bed waiting for help. Eventually people came to clean it up and change the beds and we got to fall asleep listening to the drip... drip... drip of water leaking into a bucket on the floor.
My theory is that the girls were flushing their toilet paper.
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