¿Donde he estado?
Where have I been? Good question alert reader. And valid, since it has been 2 months since my last post, which wasn’t even about present day. Apologies for the anachronistic, time-traveling entries- and for leaving you hanging regarding my roommate drama- which has since long passed. I’m still here and it is really nice to have Manuel here too. Buena onda.
So I’ve been exploring Santiago, learning new things about myself, making amazing memories, busing all over Argentina, swimming in Iguazú Falls, adventuring with the whole family on a fantastic trip to Ecuador… I’ve been living! (And trying to survive the cold Santiago winter!)
I have so much to write. For now, I am going to enjoy these last few days that I have with my best friends here before they fly away and focus on trying to get a job. Time to make some pesos! Expect more in the next week!
La Isla Grande de Chiloé: Dalcahue y Castro
I’m so annoyed. I was halfway through an amazing post about my adventures in Chiloé and Safari had a heart attack and shut down unexpectedly. No I did not want to send a report to apple. I wanted to scream and hit my computer. Tumblr told me that I had an unpublished post- which of course was sent into oblivion. So I begin again. Begrudgingly. But writing about Chiloé has been on the to-do list since I went there… which was in February- so I suppose its time to close the book on this one. To refresh my memory, I have copied from my journal. I apologize for the repetition (see: Rolling With It) but it is a good introduction. Feel free to skip ahead.
After we finished the ILP on Friday, the 18th of February, a problem occurred. We had bought tickets to Punta Arenas or so we thought. The plan was to go to Patagonia, to Parque Nacional Torres del Paine- backpack it, explore, trek. But not everything in life always goes according to plan and that Friday we discovered that our trip to Patagonia was not going to happen. At least, not now. Basically, my credit card (I had paid for myself and Tarah) and Courtney’s, had both been rejected and therefore our purchases were not processed and the tickets were gone. My old monitor/friend Joaquin tried to buy tickets to go to Punta Arenas the next day, Saturday, as planned. We bought tickets online through LAN. They were extremely cheap ($150 USD). But it sounded too good to be true- and it was. We tried to check-in online for our flight but we were denied. Confused, Joaquin called LAN and that’s when we found out that the tickets were for MARCH! The days and days of the week (Saturday-Sunday, 19-27) corresponded perfectly. So there was the inital sadness, which quickly lifted and I felt free and relieved. We were not prepared whatsoever. I felt bad because our friend Francie, who we were planning on going with, had successfully purchased tickets. Joaquin felt very bad but I was really calm. I went home to Marta and ate palta and tomatoe and my favorite soup in her bed and watched television. I went to bed kind of late after writing a lengthy blog entry describing what was mentioned earlier, about rolling with it.
The next day, February 19th, 2011, was spent buying gear and tickets. We bought tickets close to Los Leones metro station to Castro, the capital of Chiloé, the second largest island in Chile, according to Courtney’s lonely planet guide, which became a sort of sacred, almost biblical text, which we referred to multiple times a day. Anyway, trust me, Chiloé is large! We left from Santiago on Saturday night. Also on Saturday, we had the best gelato ever at Gigi Bontá in Providencia. It tasted like nutella, but better. It was fantastic.
Saturday night we almost missed the bus (cough, Courtney, cough), but we made it. It was 15 hours to Castro. So the night turned to day and the day turned into Sunday, the 20th of February, a long long long long day! The bus driver dropped us off in Mocopulli- closer to Dalcahue, which according to the guidebook, has a large street fair every Sunday. Perfect. ¡Vamos! So off the bus we went. We spent 10 minutes getting ourselves together and ready for the road. I brushed my teeth and used the uh facilities. After about 100ft and seeing two backpackers ahead of us doing it, we decided it was a good idea to hitchhike. It became a way of life. After letting down our hair, we almost immediately got a ride. We hopped in the back of a red pick up truck with a family in the front cabin area. There was a small baby girl smiling playfully at us in the truck bed through the window. Life is awesome.
Riding in the back of the truck
¡Súper rico empanada con mariscos!
¡La ciudad de Dalcahue es hermosa!
We left Dalcahue and marched towards Castro.
Paula and Cristian- the lovely couple who picked us up. They live in Castro and asked us if we would like to sleep on their patio. Our plan was to find nice people and camp in their backyards (or patios) so when they asked we were delighted. We also discovered that they were on their way to a festival, Festival Costumbrista Chilote, Festival of Customs of Chiloé, in Castro, and would we like to come? Of course! We left our backpacks in their car and entered the festival.
On the stage, the people dance the traditional cueca, but in a Chilotan style. The music, song and dance were all native to Chiloé and demonstrated the pride that these people have for their beautiful island.
Some quick notes on Chiloé
- It rains a lot- but we experienced almost all sunshine and beautiful cloudy skies during our time in Chiloé. I think the most it rained was just light sprinkles. :) Nevertheless, we came prepared in matching black parka/raincoats.
- It is safe- a lot safer than Santiago. The people are also extremely kind and hospitable and want you to have a good time.
- It is magical and mythological. There are many legends and myths in Chiloé and according to our friend Pato, a native, in rural areas there are still witches. There is a list of mythological creatures, each with his/her own tale and modern applications.
- The seafood is fantastic. Chiloé is famous for a dish called curanto. More on that later, and my personal experience with curanto…
- The pace of life is much slower than metropolitan Santiago. People are generally more laid back and peaceful.
- Churches- Chiloé is famous for its many wooden churches, an example of the mixture of native and Catholic traditions. 16 are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
- Anything can happen in Chiloé! If you ever have the opportunity to go to Chiloé, I recommend the cities of Castro and Ancud.
A couple dancing at the festival.
Tarah y yo
Courtney’s guidebook told us about the liquor of Chiloé. It is famous for its Licor de Oro- Liquor of Gold. It is spicy and very sweet. The red one had a fruity flavor. Licor de Oro is made of aguardiente (alcohol), whey, saffron and lemon peel. They were giving out samples- so of course we had to try for ourselves. Personally, it is too sweet, but that’s just me.
We bought some chocolates for our sweet hosts, Paula and Cristian.
A HUGE PIG!
We tried on some of the handmade clothing that people were selling at the festival…
Perfect clouds for cloud watching
We left with Paula and Cristian to go to their home and set-up camp! On our way, we got our first glimpse of the famous palafitos- houses on the water that are literally held up by pieces of wood!
Sunset and view of the bay from Paula and Cristian’s house. After we set up our tent, they allowed us to shower in their home and invited us in for tea and bread. I can only hope that I would be that loving to a complete stranger. They said that they would have let us sleep inside, but that Paula’s sister, child, husband and mother were staying over. Yes, we met the whole clan. Such nice people.
Courtney’s sleeping bag/body suit. Too good.
Our tent! We slept in and cooked breakfast inside the house. :)
Timón, the dog
Courtney and the tent
Tarah, rocking the Rotary Club hat, and the tent
We decided that today, Monday the 21st of February, would be spent exploring Castro. Tuesday we would leave and try to get to Chonchi, to the state park of Chiloé and camp there.
Okay sorry, I just think these houses are so cool…
Stopping to smell the roses
Shopping around. In Castro we stocked up on supplies for the next few days. Pasta, prunes and oatmeal. Yum!
We took a quick look through a museum. I liked the model ships.
(foto: Courtney) Lots of churches!!
The church in Castro, one of the 16 UNESCO sites
We sat in the park across from the church and played cards. There was a pack of wild dogs.. always so many dogs in Chile.
Here come the women in black… dun dun dun dun dunn dun. Matching in our black coats.
We played cards, went to dinner and ate a really good burger and went back to our tent in Paula and Cristian’s patio. The next day we left Castro.
More to come!
Valpo, Drama and a photoshoot
So I’m apparently a liar. I stated in the previous post that I would update the blog on that upcoming weekend. Well its 3 weeks later and here I am dear reader. I will make no more promises that I am unable to uphold, but I will really try to be a more active blogger. Whoever invented that word anyway? It reminds me of google, another 21st century word that has transformed itself.
Tarah, Francie and I went to Valparaíso, also known as Valpo, for a little weekend vacation. It was very relaxing and fun! We arrived late Friday. Saturday morning we left the hostel…
Stepping out of the hostel.
There is so much street art in Valpo, well, there is also a lot of graffiti that I wouldn’t call art as well. But it was very cool to see. The city is really hilly, with colorful houses and apartments. It has an old feel to it. Paint chipping. cobblestone roads.
colorful! We took a colectivo, which has a specified route and is much cheaper than a taxi- you also get to ride with other people. Our colectivo ride was like a rollercoaster. The driver backed up on this super steep street and then proceeded to go full speed ahead back down the hill. It was better than Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland, perhaps because of the added andrenalin rush? Ha. We arrived at La Sebastiana, one of Pablo Neruda’s three houses. We did an audio tour of the house, which is included in the admission fee, which was very informative. The house has 5 floors! No photography was allowed, but I snapped a shot of this mirror. The reflection is the door to the bathroom!
Above, the bathroom door next to the bar area of the house.
a photo of the entire house!
Really cool mural on the way to Porto Viejo, a restaurant that we frequented twice in two days! It has fantastic seafood. If you ever go to Valpo, go to Porto Viejo and get the chupe camarones. You will not regret it. Super rico!
This is the view going up the very famous Ascensor, 21 de Mayo. The city has many ascensors- basically outdoor elevators, but bigger, similar to SF’s cable cars. We got a great view of the city and the port area.
Crazy house on the edge of the hill!
On Sunday there was a march in honor of Arturo Pratt.
Yes, Sunday we went back to Porto Viejo. It was too good!
I thought this art really portrayed the emotions that Valparaíso invokes.
A photo from when Tarah and I decided to hike Cerro San Cristobal during sunset. It got really dark and we only made it to the pools! I still have to get to the top! But I will do that during a time with more light and less danger!
This car was parked outside my apartment. So I took a bunch of photos!! So colorful!
Ugh. Pia, my roommate has been very nice. Outwardly. She left me notes on the toilet seat when small issues came up. Passive aggressive. Two weekends ago, on the 6th of May, I had some friends over that I met at this bike shop. More about that later. She was mad that they were in the apartment, but didn’t tell me this until a day later. She pulled me into her room and told me that she had sent me a text message saying that she doesn’t want to live with me but that she sent it because she was fighting with Manuel, her boyfriend, and that the message was for him and not me. It started: mi amor… That was a lie. She insisted that she wanted to live with me but was just in her head, working things out. Yeah. Then she goes out to the living room and tells my friends what a great roommate I am and how outgoing I am and how nice it is to have me, blah blah blah. Very two-faced. Me and my friends left for Bellavista and I put the message out of my mind. Saturday morning I confronted her about the message. She changed the story and told me she sent the message to me and Manuel on purpose. I asked her why and she said it was because she was scared that my friends were going to steal her stuff and that I didn’t know them well enough. That made me mad because in saying this, she is saying that she doesn’t think that I am a good judge of character. I wouldn’t just let anyone over! As it would happen, she really liked the friends and had a nice time! I was really angry. First of all, she is 30 and was acting 15. Secondly, I don’t like when people don’t tell it how it really is, when they avoid confrontation and use notes and strange messages to try to communicate feelings instead of being honest. If I have learned anything about living with others it is that honesty and open communication are key if you are going to be happy in your abode. After a long talk and some jazz with Tarah, I decided to move out. I told Pia on Sunday. I told her I couldn’t live with someone who is fake, or someone who sends messages like that. I told her I would be out by the end of the month because May is paid for. Deciding to leave changed the dynamic, gave me the power. Week passed and I went to Valparaíso this past weekend. When I got back on Sunday, she said she needed to talk with me. She told me that Manuel was so mad at her for sending the message and said that she was immature. On Saturday night, they had a party for Mauel’s birthday. She told me that when she put my bike in my room, and looked around she realized that she didn’t want to live with anyone else. She apologized profusely and really wants me to stay. I told her everything that I have written here- told her to tell things to me, to my face, to deal with things when they came up. I told her that I needed to think about it. She suggested trying another month, giving her a second chance. I’m not sure if I should. I love my room here, the area, the place is great. Manuel is really nice. He moves in 24/7 in June and I’m afraid I will get between them. There is no signed contract, just a verb agreement. So I can leave whenever I want. Advice?? Should I give this emotional woman another chance? I have some thinking to do.
THE BIKE STORY
I went to get my bike seat fixed at this store called Una Velocidad. I got a new seat, then my tire had a hole in it and the tube did too. Then the other tire went. The owner was there and said they were making a calendar of girls with bikes and that everything would be free if I posed for them. So they put me in these crazy clothes and I posed with bikes in the middle of this street. Spontaneous. I also got a free light!
Living and living quite gloriously: a jumbled return to the blogosphere
I am ALIVE! And quite terrible at keeping up this blog. Urg! Well, mom pestered me to tell the world that I am alive and describe a typical day here. Also- I have lots to catch you up on dear reader… adventures hitch-hiking and sleeping in people’s backyards in Chiloé, trekking through one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to in my life- Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, taking a field trip with a survivor of the dictatorship, my new living situation, my awesome research position, school, LIFE!
I have decided to post later about my adventures in Chiloé and Patagonia and fast-forward to present day.
Today is el día de Pascua, Easter Sunday. Here they refer to Easter Break as “Semana Santa” and it is something of a national holiday. Everything is shut down. Friday and Saturday were oddly quiet.
So basics about my life here. I live in Bellas Artes in the center of Santiago. I love it. This barrio is one of the safest in the center and filled with museums, restaurants and cafes. It has a very European feel to it, very hip, liberal, left, arty. Bellas Artes means Fine Arts. I live on this little street named Mosqueto, which is almost like a paseo (a street just for walking) but there are still cars, but very few. Trees line the street and there is a string of little cafes, filled with plants, flowers, music and tranquility. There is a burger joint run by Peruvians on the corner of Mosqueto and Merced called Guido’s that is my favorite burger place in Santiago, granted it is the only burger place that I have been in Santiago- but still, its cheap and its delicious. I live with a woman named Pia, 30 years old, has a degree in cinema design but teaches English and is simultaneously taking English classes. She is very artistic and definitely has a very different and distinct style. She would fit in well in Berkeley. She has this wonderful beautiful Cocker-Spaniel named Laiza, who I adore. I love living with a dog in the house. This week we had one of Laiza’s puppies, Valentino, who lives with Pia’s parents stay with us (they were on vacation). He lives outside and is not house-trained. It was an experience. Not sure if he is still here. He is adorable but was a burden, “pesado” to the house. I will just say that the floor needs to be santitized and I don’t think I will ever sit on our couch again (he pooped on it and it was liquid and some soaked in…). Pia has a serious boyfriend, Manuel, 37, who stays over 4 nights a week. Manuel is really nice and I feel like he balances the apartment. He is going to move in with us in May. I am really excited- we will get a washing machine, dryer, heater, tv and cable!!
Living here is definitely different than my life in the U.S. You have to turn on the gas to take a shower, and our toilet is terrible and old and you have to take the lid off to flush it everytime because it does not function properly. There is the noise. It is not bad- the noises that you hear in the downtown of a giant city. For example, right now, my neighbors are having a party and I can hear everything. I re-painted and re-did my room, color orange! I can’t complain. Pia is really cool and this is an amazing location. I have made myself a home here.
Classes- I am taking Cine Latinoamericano and Political Corruption in Latin America. My internship is a research project. I work over 20 hours a week in the Neuroscience Lab at the Faculty of Medicine, Dept. of Investigation (Research) at La Catolica (my university). We are doing research on Alzheimer’s. I am learning so much and love working in the lab. I will be working in this lab for my entire time here! So awesome!
Went to this thing called a Tamascal today about an hour away from my apt on the outskirts of town. You get in your bathing suit with a skirt and enter this hut thing, enclosed with a circle in the middle. They put rocks in the middle and it becomes very hot, like a sauna. You sweat a lot and get really muddy. You sing, and you go through 4 doors, discussing the state of the world, your family, your friends and finally yourself. Each stage is filled with songs, instruments and hot hot steam as well as time for people to share things. The tamascal is completely pitch black dark. You emerge covered in sweat and mud. It was very fun and definitely a very different type of Easter service.
Current obessions: Perseguidor jazz club in Bellavista, Cerro Santa Lucia, palta (avocados), and the cheese burger from Guidos. :)
I have a test in my Corruption class this Thursday, so I will be busy preparing for that until then. This upcoming weekend I will catch up the blog and tell some good tales. For now, know that I am alive and thriving in Santiago. Apologies for any grammatical errors. ¡Hasta el próximo fin de semana!
Teaser of stories to come about Chiloe!
Survivor: Patagonia?! ;)
Rolling With It
Oyy. Era algo que no tenía que ser. No tenía que suceder. No pretendía ser. No tenía la intención der ser. No estaba destinaba a ser. It wasn’t meant to be. And perhaps it wasn’t. Funny how things some how, in some oftentimes bizarre ways, always work themselves out. Makes me wonder about the level of control that I have over my life, about the existence of free will. Sometimes you need to know when to push and to push hard and others you need to simply sit still and allow the world to sweep you away and perhaps, sweep you off your feet. Sometimes you have to exercise the free will to let go, to roll with the punches, to float. You choose to let go and doors open. So it goes. So it flows.
So, what happened, you ask, to produce such a rant? I’ll start from the beginning and try not to get caught up on unnecessary details. Here it goes.
Today is Friday, viernes. A day filled with excitement and nervous anticipation for the weekend ahead and for EAP students, the nice long 10 day break awaiting us like a light at the end of the tunnel, like the pearly gates of heaven calling to us in the distance. Cliche. Yuck. All the ILP classes had our finals today. After our final, my teacher, Patti, did this beautiful and very poetic slideshow presentation wishing us well and giving us life advice en español por supuesto. Then, she presented each student with a small gift box. Inside was a beautiful key chain, each personalized with the student’s name. It was seriously one of the nicest things a teacher has ever done for me and for a class that I have had. Such love. There was a lot of clapping and “awww”-ing and I felt warm and fuzzy inside. These feelings however were surprisingly transient. As I checked online to print out the two tickets I had bought to Patagonia (one for me and one for Tarah because she has no credit card at the moment), I realized, to my horror, that despite talking with both Schwab and Visa for over an hour and telling them to charge my account, my purchase had been denied and therefore my tickets did not exist. And there went our way to Patagonia. My friend and former monitor Joaquin invited Tarah and I to his house to see if we could buy other tickets online. I still had hope at this point. We found tickets online for almost half the price of what we would have paid before. In total the purchase cost me about 370 US dollars. There was the credit card issue with the airline, LAN. Then there was the issue of check-in. The computer would not let us check-in. We were confused because the flight was in less than 24 hours. Called LAN again and that is when we found out that we had bought tickets in MARCH! The days correspond exactly. Joaquin begged and pleaded on the phone, asking a LAN representative if there was any way that the money could be refunded. Not possible. We then looked at tickets to Patagonia for tomorrow. Super caro (expensive) and very limited. Not worth it. At all. We worked on the flight for 4 hours this afternoon. Finally, we gave up. We decided that it wasn’t meant to be. I felt free from stress. Now we didn’t have to worry about rushing around buying gear, food, and other extraneous camping items. So, now what? Joaquin suggested Chiloé Island, ten hours south. It looked good but I didn’t necessarily want to think about what now. I wanted to go home and eat palta and tomate and fresh fruits and watch terrible shows in Marta’s bed. I wasn’t sad. I felt at peace. We are still going to go in March to Patagonia. No rush. No stress. Tarah and I felt bad for Courtney and Francie, who would now probably tag along with a bigger group. Then I got a call from Joaquin saying that Courtney did not have a ticket and her credit card was denied as well. So plans change. Tomorrow we are buying bus tickets for Puerto Montt. We are taking the bus down Saturday night. And from there we will play it by ear, one of my favorite axioms by the way. The plan is to visit Lago Esmeralda and to make it across the country into Argentina again to Bariloche, the capital of chocolate. Once I found that out, I knew our plan was golden and that we were finally heading in the right direction. Chocolate was a sign. We are going to backpack it and camp at night in the tent that we will buy tomorrow. Joaquin is coming. It is definitely going to be an adventure. Where we are headed, Osorno Volcano, Puerto Montt, Chile:
Sorry it is so small. I stole it off of google images. I want to climb the volcano! So tomorrow we have a busy day, but an exciting one.
A quick anecdote regarding the word: aventura. Oh boy. When I met Joaquin, we all went around in a circle and said our names and what we liked to do, etc. I said that I hoped that we would vamos en aventuras. In Spanish, they say that almost every word has a doble sentido, a double meaning. When I said this in the circle, I was saying that we were going to have affairs (sexual affairs). Joaquin was the only one who understood this so he smiled and laughed to himself. He told me that story recently and I just about died laughing. Lost in translation.
So it goes and goes and goes.
Photos from today…
Courtney, Tarah y yo con nuestra profesora Patti :)
y otra vez! Better lighting in this one.
Mi mamá chilena, Marta. She would definitely kill me if she knew I put this online. I took an unflattering photo and she hit my butt, tried to get my camera and continued to yell “Borrala! Borrala! Borrala ahora!” (Erase it!) until I erased it. I did, but I shouldn’t have. It was pure gold.
Yours truly, playing it by ear
Andrea y yo after Museo de Bellas Artes: kissing the wall people!
This past week…
So what have I been doing? Going to school 5 days a week, going on outings with my awesome monitor Joaquin (monitors are students from our host universities that take us around and show us the culture and life of a university student at their respective universities), eating lots of paltas, doing some homework. Class is from 9am until 1pm. The first week, I went to a vineyard with all the groups called Concha y Toro. It was great. We had an extensive tour of the area and sampled two different wines. Apparently Concha y Toro is one of the biggest producers of wine in the world. We also went out with our groups- each monitor has a group of 7-8 students. We went out to a restaurant in Bellavista and later to this bar/dance club called La Constitución. Courtney and I went to a health clinic together and afterwards had a fancy smancy dinner at a pizza place. We got lots of free bread and free water with ice as well as a large supply of olive oil. We ate like starving college students and demolished everything. I love free bread!
Our customized pizza. Thin crust.
Dusk. Overlooking the river. I love the purples.
Courtney and I had way too much fun playing on the outdoor gym at this park! Glory!
This past Friday we visited Bellavista again and without knowing went into an “alternativo” bar, a LGBT place. We soon realized where we were and that was uhh interesting and quite hilarious. Below is a picture of us with an old male stripper that walked up to us and started dancing. Hot stuff.
On Saturday, we hula hooped at midnight at Plaza Italia in El Centro and ate icecream. Then we met up with Joaquin and some of his friends and very sweet girlfriend, Nicole and went to this office building of one his friends where we plugged a microphone into speakers and had a blast doing karaoke. Below: Courtney, José and Nicole belt it out!
Sunday we went to a birthday party for José, a friend of the brother (Chilean) of Courtney, where we hula hooped all day, played drums and swam in a pool (well, I actually didn’t swim in it because I didn’t bring a suite! So I was kind of bummed about that).
Tarah takes hooping to the next level in the pool!
I love this photo of Francie. Beautiful.
On Monday night we visited La Piojera and afterwards went salsa dancing (see previous post). On Tuesday Francie and I (we are in the same group) went with Joaquin to Museo de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts). It was really fun and there were some wonderful photography exhibitions. Afterwards, we went to a fancy Peruvian restaurant called Tambo, where I had mouth watering shrimp in a cream sauce and tried ceviche for the first time. It was fantastic.
Really great Peruvian food. This isn’t mine (this is Francie’s) but of course I still had to take a picture of it.
Tuesday night we stayed up until 2:30 working on the project about La Piojera. Wednesday we presented. Today I walked to Líder, a supermercado pretty close to my house to buy a notebook and add some minutes to my cell phone. I came home and ate a giant lunch with Marta, who is now watching La Profeta as I type this. Later I have a doctor’s apt and then I am going to go with Tarah and Francie and hopefully Courtney to Andesgear, a store in Los Condes that sells camping stuff. Dad, what should I bring for food? Even though I went to bed last night before 10, I am still exhausted from staying up really late to work on the proyecto. I need to study study study for my final tomorrow. chao chao!