Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Adios, Chile!

So today is my last day in Chile.  My plane is leaving at 10:50pm tonight.  My group is meeting at the university in one hour with all our luggage to go to the airport!  I cannot believe how quickly this is all happening!  I feel like we just got here!!!!  At the same time, though, it feels like YEARS since I landed and met my host family.  Time is a weird thing.

Since I last updated on Monday, I don't have too much to say.  Yesterday was my last day of classes.  I had a final presentation in my literature class and then I was done!!  It was a nice feeling to be work-free in Chile!  My professor took us all our for ice cream after class!  It was really cute of her.  Later that evening was our farewell dinner.  All the students and their host parents, as well as our program directors, Chilean tour guides, and a few staff members from Universidad Mayor had a really great dinner in a restaurant on top of Cerro San Cristobal (which, if you recall, I climbed up about two weeks ago!).  The dinner was seriously nice and so fancy!  I ate this super delicious chocolate mousse for dessert.  Seriously, it may have been the best thing I've eaten in Chile!  It was really great to meet other host families and spend the whole evening speaking Spanish!  After the dinner, the entire group of students went out together!  It was really fun and a great way to end the trip!

Today has consisted mostly of packing and spending my remaining Chilean pesos.  I walked around the city for a while, trying to soak up as much warmth and sun as I possibly could, and then my roommate and I got to eat one more meal with our host parents!   It's funny--we really did not do much bonding with Pachi and Mauro during the first three weeks of the trip, but we have spent so much time with them recently!  I have really loved getting to know my host parents.  I think living with a host family has been such a unique experience (although sometimes it was awkward and frustrating!).  I cannot wait to do it again in Spain!

Now I am trying to kill some time before we have to meet at the university.  Leaving is so bittersweet!  I am really looking forward to seeing my family, eating spaghetti, and sleeping in my own room again, but I really love it here!  I guess that's the sign of a great trip!  I am so sad to be leaving!  Just writing this is making me sad!

I have learned a lot during my month in Chile.  I really think my Spanish speaking skills (say that three times fast haha!) have really improved!  I've also (gracias a Dios) learned a lot of new vocabulary!  I learned a lot about Chilean culture, as well as history and politics.  As fun as this trip was, I am glad I will be walking away from it having learned so much!

I'd like to thank y'all for reading my blog this past month!  I hope that you enjoyed getting a glimpse into my Chilean adventures with University of Delaware!  I am sure you will all hear many more stories about Chile next time I see you!  I can't wait :-)


Mi profesora y yo!

Mis padres chilenos

Lisa (my roommate) y yo

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wines, Mines, and Sunshine!

Buenas noches!

Well, my last full week in Chile has come to an end.  The time has gone by so quickly!!! I cannot believe I only have three more days in South America!  It's rather bittersweet.

My week was really good!!  On Monday, my group toured a vineyard and had a wine tasting!  The vineyard was so beautiful!  We learned all about the history of the place, as well as the wine-making process.  Our guide shared some fun stories about the vineyard, including a tale about how, after the earthquake in February, so many huge tanks filled with wine broke that there was a lake of red wine in the middle of a field!  He told us that all the rabbits and birds were drunk for a few days after, but we did not believe him.  The wine tasting was fun, too!  I am not very into wine, but I still tried the white wine, the two red wines, and the dessert wine we were served!  We also got to eat cheese, crackers, and dried fruit with it!  I felt very classy.  After the tasting, we were told that we could keep our wine glasses!  They have the name and logo of the vineyard on them.  What a cool souvenir!  I hope that mine doesn't break in transit back to the U.S.!

Tuesday I went to el Museo de Bellas Artes in Santiago with a friend.  The museum was so cool!  There was a display of old photos taken of families on vacation in and around Santiago in the 20s, 30s, and 40s!  I think old photos are very cool, so I enjoyed that a lot!  There were also tons of paintings--some by Chileans and some not!  It was a very interesting excursion.

Wednesday was just a chilling day for me in Santiago.  I hung out with friends and got some homework done.  On Thursday, though, my friends and I went to Santa Lucia, a beautiful park on top of a small hill in the middle of the city!  We saw a really adorable puppy, bought ice cream, and walked around!  It's always fun to find nature in the middle of big cities!  We also found tons of cute shops.  I was tempted to buy even more souvenirs, but I really am trying to cut myself off!  Soon I won't have enough room to take all my new things home!

Friday we did not have classes, so my friends and I took advantage of the free time and walked all around Santiago.  We re-visited some places and found some new areas downtown!  It was a really nice day.  I love living in the city!  I don't think I would want to live in one forever, but I have really enjoyed getting to know Santiago so well.  It's so nice to be able to walk everywhere.  No need for a car!  My host family does not even own one!  Anyway, Friday night my friends and I went out to dinner and got ice cream and walked around.  Going out to dinner in Santiago is always a treat, since we almost always eat in our houses!  So that was fun.

We had a free weekend this weekend, so my friends and I decided to visit a copper mine!  We left very early on Saturday and took a bus two hours away to a mine deep in the Andes.  It was the biggest copper mine in the world!  We learned all about the history of the mine, as well as the many safety precautions that they take in the mines.  Then we were given jackets, boots, helmets, lights, and breathing masks for our tour!  Don't worry--most of these things were just a precaution.  I liked dressing up like a miner, though!  It made the tour seem so legit.  We took a bus inside the actual mine, then got out and walked around!  It was definitely chilly in the mine.  Our guide told us all about the different parts and functions of the mine, and we got to see where the rocks and taken and crushed.  It was actually sort of scary.  I can't believe I was inside one of the Andes Mountains!!  We even ate lunch inside the mine!! (They have cafeterias inside it!)  After eating and exploring, we got to tour an old mining town that was high up in the Andes.  We visited the mining museum, the old church, and other old buildings.  It was a very cool experience.  I learned so much! 

Today (Sunday) my friends and I went to the beach!  After a 1.5 hour bus ride, we arrived back at Vina del Mar!  We spent the day walking around, lying on the beach, and enjoying one of our last days of summer until June!  I got really sunburned, but it was worth it!! 

Now I am back in Santiago.  I can't believe that I only have two more days of classes and three more days in Chile!  I have to start packing soon!  So weird.  This month has gone by so quickly!

At the vineyard!

Classy wine tasting!

Picture I took at Museo de Bellas Artes before they told me pictures were not allowed!

Santa Lucia

Santiago en la noche


Me inside the mine!

Stay safe!

La iglesia linda!

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Week in Santiago!


I did not leave the Santiago area this week, but I have a LOT of talk about!  Our profesoras wanted us to explore Santiago during the second half of the trip, and I can definitely say that I am well on my way!

On Monday, half of the group (including me!) had cooking class!  First we learned about some typical Chilean foods, then we learned how to cook some!!  We cooked the following:

Ensalada Chilena- a salad of tomatoes, onions, lemon juice, and some herbs
Pebre- a salsa-like dip with tomatoes, onions, herbs, lemon juice, and some hot pepper that you dip bread in
Empanadas de pino- empanadas with beef, onions (they love their onions here!), olives, and egg
Charquican- a stew-like dish with beef, vegetables, and potatoes
Macedonia- a delicious fruit salad!

It was all really delicious!  When I get home, I am going to have to make a Chilean meal for sure!  We were all so full after that lunch!  After we got back to the university, however, we learned that we were going to go make more food with our tour company!  We went to a soup kitchen that is run by the mother of the two sisters that are our tour guides in Chile and she showed us how to make:

Pastel de Choclo- Ground corn, meat, and onions baked with egg
And some kind of dessert with a potato crust, apples, and meringue

Again, the meal was delicious, but after eating it I felt like I was going to explode!!!  But what great day for food :-)

After class on Tuesday, I went shopping!  Some friends and I walked up and down the streets near our houses and learned a lot about the different sizes and pricing in Chile.  We also discovered that the McDonald's here have Snickers McFlurries and Oreo cones!  It was a pretty chill day, but a nice one!

Wednesday, after our two regular classes we had dance class!!  We split into 4 different groups and were each taught a dance from a different area of the country.  I learned a traditional dance from the South.  I got to wear a skirt and shawl and danced with the short man who was leading the program!  After we all watched each other's dances, we all learned a dance that apparently people did in the 1970s!  It was definitely weird because at the end of the dance, we all sang "Let the sun shine" from the musical Hair!  What a weird experience to have in Chile.

Thursday I had a midterm exam in my Chilean literature class.  It was so weird having to study for a test in another country, but it wasn't bad.  To celebrate after the test, my friends and I walked to a nearby neighborhood called Bella Vista.  This neighborhood basically consists of little shops and cafes, and we spent a long time exploring and eating frozen yogurt!  It was a nice afternoon.  That evening we celebrated my friend's birthday, too, which was really fun!

On Friday, my friends and I climbed up a nearby cerro (small mountain) that overlooks the city.  It was actually pretty steep and we spent a few hours climbing it and looking around.  The view was incredible!  You could see the whole city.  I could even find my apartment building!  The cerro is topped with a huge statue of Mary.  I always see her from the streets of Santiago, so it was really cool to see her up close!

On Saturday, our entire group went to visit a Mapuche community on the outskirts of the city.  The Mapuches are a native group to Chile.  When the Spaniards came and conquered Chile, they took the Mapuches' land and they suffered for years.  Even now, the Mapuches have little space to practice their religion and traditions, but they still seemed to be happy!  They welcomed us into their community with a special ceremony in which they sprinkled us all with water and gave us branches from a sacred bush.  It was pretty cool.  We also got to eat some traditional food!  There was a lot of fruit and bread, as well as some dish made with plantains and another made with grains.  For lunch we had steak on a stick and some sort of bean stew thing.  I really liked it all!  OH! We also had a really delicious strawberry juice that tasted just like real strawberries!  It was the best.  We learned all about the Mapuche history, culture, medicine, and their traditional dress.  We also learned how to play one of their traditional sports!  It was sort of like field hockey.  For those of you who know me, you know I do not play sports, so you can guess that I was just a spectator.  It was a really good day!  I went out to dinner in the evening with some friends and had a really good wrap and even better ice cream!!  Hooray for tres leches!

Sunday was a free day for us, but my friends and I organized a trip to hike the Andes Mountains!  It was so so great!!  The hike was pretty long and so steep, but we got to take a break at a beautiful steam (where we got to swim!).  The water was so cold, but so clear and refreshing! We also got to see a farm on top of a mountain!  That was pretty cool to see all the animals so high up!  I would hate to be the farmer that had to feed them every day!  I got to eat a peach right off of a tree!  That was cool.  After our long hike, we got to eat at a gorgeous restaurant!  I had SO MUCH FOOD.  Salad and bread and chicken and a lot of rice and fruit and ice cream.  It was a SERIOUS meal.  A great end to a seriously awesome day, though;  I was so so dirty when I finally got back to Santiago.  Seriously.  I thought that I had tan lines, but they turned out to be dirt lines!  The mountain was so so dusty.  Santiago is so dry this time of year.

Now I am in my room avoiding homework and talking to our new house-mate, a girl from Brazil!  I hope everyone is having a lovely time in the cold and snow!  I am thinking of you when I am sweating in the sun and getting tan!

Me getting ready to cook!

Making pastel de choclo

Me dancing with the dancing man

Paz y Amor

Bella Vista!

My apartment building from the cerro!

Me and the Mary statue


At the Mapuche community!

Mountain we climbed!

At the stream

Goat that I am bringing back for you, Dad!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

El sur de Chile

Buenas tardes a todos!

I am back from our excursion to the south of Chile, and I have a lot to say!  Let me start with last week, though, before the trip.

Tuesday my group went to the Precolumbian art museum.  Although museums are not my favorite thing in the world, this one was pretty cool.  I always think it's amazing to see the kind of details that natives included in their pottery and statues thousands of years ago!  We got to see art from all over South American, not just Chile.  We even saw some of the oldest mummies in the world!

After class on Wednesday, my friends and I went back to Plaza de las Armas to explore and shop!  We ended up at El Mercado Central- a local market full of local fruits, vegetables, and fish!  It was pretty cool to explore such a typical market in Chile.  The fish was especially a sight to see!  It was really great being in the center of Santiago.  We were able to navigate the metro (with the help of my host mom!) and got ourselves there so easily!  Sometimes it's easy to forget that we live in the biggest city in Chile, since our area is pretty calm, but visiting Plaza de las Armas, el Mercado Central, and the center of the city remiunded us that 40% of Chileans live in Santiago!

On Thursday morning, we left Santiago for the south of Chile!  We flew out of the Santiago Airport at 1pm and landed in Puerto Montt 2 hours later!  While we certainly were not at the southern tip of Chile, the weather was still very different from sunny, warm Santiago!  We met our tour guide for the weekend, a Swiss man named Stephan (who had the best accent!) and went to a restaurant in Puerto Montt for lunch.  Somehow, the restaurant managed to squeeze 32 of us in a tiny room where we were literally sitting on top of each other!  It was a little uncomfortable, but I always figure that invading someone's personal space is a good way to bond.  Some people ate curanto- a typical plate of southern Chile with many different kinds of fish, seafood, and meat- but I was not feeling that adventurous.  The restaurant was right on the water, and after we ate, we got to watch a few seals catch some fish!  That was pretty cool.

After lunch, we went to our hotel (The Holiday Inn, haha!).  It was a breath of fresh air after living in Santiago.  We had a gorgeous view of the water, a balcony, and the cleanest bathroom ever!  After settling in, my friends and I explored Puerto Montt and ended up walking several miles to a great shopping area.  It was so fun!  We explored the mall that was attached to our hotel, as well, and ate in the food court.  I refused to buy from an American chain, though!  Chilean fast food all the way!

On Friday, we ate a huge, delicious breakfast at the hotel.  Then we got on the bus and rode to Puerto Varas, a nearby town.  We visited a national park there, and saw beautiful waterfalls and rapids!  There were these huge horsefly-like creatures that kept attacking everyone, but  luckily I did not get bitten!  After the park, we drove to a beautiful lake between the three volcanoes in the area.  We got to take a tour around the lake in a boat!  Unfortunately, this is when my camera died, so all the pictures I have from the rest of Friday have been stolen from my friends!  The lake was gorgeous and so peaceful, except that the huge bugs continued to try and attack us :-(.  After the boat ride, we got to watch a man paint beautiful landscapes on tiles with his fingers!  It was pretty amazing.

We boarded the bus once more and began the long, crazy drive up one of the nearby volcanoes- Volcan Osorno.  Osorno is one of the three volcanos in the area, and unfortunately it is the more dormant.  We were disappointed to learn that there was not a hole at the top and you could not see any lava.  Our disappointment disappeared, however, when we learned that we could take a chair lift up some of the volcano and then zipline down it!  That was very, very cool.  Even though we had to wait for a really long time and were so starving by then (it was about 4:30 and we had not eaten since 9!), we all loved the volcano and zipline.  I could not believe that I was standing on actual molten rock!  I took some home with me!  The view was incredible, but it was pretty chilly!  I was beginning to wish I had brought gloves!  Very different from what I was used to in Santiago (but still much warmer than in NJ!)

After the volcano, we drove back down and to a restaurant in Puerto Varas.  I was so incredibly hungry by then, but luckily we had an excellent meal.  We celebrated all the birthdays in January  (3 students and 1 professor have birthdays during the trip), so we got delicious cake!  It was a really long day, but so worth it.

On Saturday, it was cold and rainy and windy.  Stephan informed us as we climbed onto the bus that we would not be able to go on our planned penguin tour, and we were all so disappointed.  I wanted to see wild penguins!  But it was just too rainy and windy.  We drove to Chiloe, Chile's largest island.  We had to take a ferry there.  I had no idea a bus as big as ours could even fit on a ferry!  While we were crossing to ocean to the island, I spotted a penguin swimming in the water!  I was glad that I got to see one penguin after all :-)

In Chiloe, we visited the capital city and had lots of time to shop and hang out.  I walked along the shore and took some pictures of the gorgeous view.  We visited a fort that was built by the Spanish when the people in Chiloe began to fight for their independence. At the fort, a 13 year old boy gave us a tour! That was adorable.

Since our penguin tour was canceled, we were able to go to a local Chiloean festival!  It was pretty much in the middle of nowhere and we had to drive an hour down tiny, dirt roads to get there, but it was great!  We were the only tourists there.  We got to eat typical food, listen to traditional music, and talk to Chileans!  I ate an apple empanada!

After the festival, we began the long journey back to Puerto Montt.  Luckily, the view out my bus window was pretty awesome, so I did not mind the ride too much.  When we got back, my friends and I grabbed dinner and spent the rest of the night hanging out in one of our hotel rooms.  It was a really great day.

Sunday consisted mainly of traveling.  I went to the mall for a bit, but we had to meet at 1pm for our journey home.  The plane ride wasn't long, but I still did not get back to my apartment until almost 8pm!  After such a long (but great!) weekend, I was more than ready for a relaxing night and early bedtime.

Cool Precolumbian art!

I liked this little statue man

Creepy fish at el Mercado Central

Very fun store name, right Mom?

My friend Brianna and me on the way to Puerto Montt!

Stephan, our wonderful tour guide!

Puerto Montt!!

Curanto- so much seafood and meat!

With our new Chilean friends

View from my balcony!!

Sweet volcano

At the national park!

My host father said that Puerto Varas was boring, but they have beautiful waterfalls.  He was right about the waterfalls!

Our ferry in the rain

Me in Chiloe!


At the Chiloean festival!  That stuff wrapped around the poles is potato!

Apple empanada!

Volcano Osorno!

Ziplining down the mountain :-)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Valparaiso y Viña del Mar


The past five days have been so busy and exciting!  We started classes on Wednesday.  I am taking a Chilean culture class and a Chilean literature class.  Both seem really interesting!  We have so much reading to do for each class, though.  And the culture class is 2 and a half hours!  That's pretty long, in my opinion.  Luckily, though, we are going to be watching Chilean movies every other class, so that should each up a lot of time.  The literature class is being taught by one of the professors from UD, and the culture class is taught by two professors from Universidad Mayor, where we are taking our classes. 

Last week I did a lot of exploring around our area of Santiago!  I'm definitely becoming more familiar with the city.  Living in a city is so different from what I am used to!  On Thursday, some of us were trying to find Pablo Neruda's house in Santiago.  While we never found the house, we ended up walking around the city for three hours!  We explored all around the river and surrounding areas.  So much walking! 

While my time in Santiago was fun last week, I'd much rather talk about my weekend!  We left Santiago at 8am on Friday and drove to Valparaiso!  Valparaiso is a port city about an hour from Santiago.  It's built on the mountains by the ocean, so the entire city is hilly.  The houses in Valparaiso are gorgeous- so many different colors and shapes!  We got out of the bus and walked through the streets to a lift that people use to go up and down the mountain.  That was pretty cool and so steep!  After Valparaiso, we ate lunch in a cute restaurant.  I ate fish!  For those of you who don't know, that is a big step for me haha!  We then drove through Viña del Mar.  We stopped at a giant clock of flowers and took a picture.  Legend says that if you take a picture in front of the clock, then one day you will return to Viña del Mar.  We shall see!  We also got to see one of the three statues from Easter Island that are not still on the island.  That was pretty cool.

After that, we went to our hotel.  It was pretty adorable and pretty close to the beach!  My friends and I got changed and went straight to the beach for the afternoon.  To be honest, the beach was pretty much like most beaches, but it was still great to be on the beach in January!  I stayed there all afternoon, then left for dinner.  It was a pretty excellent day.

On Saturday, we woke up early enough for the great breakfast at the hotel, then went to the beach for shopping!  There were tons of little stands with jewelry, clothing, and other little things.  I bought a lot!  We bought some fruit from a stand for lunch and then went to the beach!  The Chilean sun is SO STRONG, though, so we did not stay for too long!  Unfortunately, I still got really burned.  Oops!  In Chile, they have dinner at 8 or 9pm, so the restaurants are pretty much deserted until then, so I have been eating late, too!  The nightlife here starts much later than in the United States also, so I have been staying up pretty late!

Sunday we left the hotel early and drove to La Isla Negra--Pablo Neruda's third house in Chile.  The house and view were gorgeous!  He clearly had a lot of money and enjoyed collecting some strange things.  We then ate lunch in a cute little village.  I tried this Chilean dessert called mote-- a sweet tea with corn and a dehydrated peach.  It was pretty weird, honestly.  It had been pretty chilly all weekend in Viña del Mar, but it was so warm in this village!  I definitely got more sunburn :-(

We got back to Santiago around 5pm here and I was pretty exhausted, so I went back to my host apartment and worked and chilled the rest of the evening.  It was nice to have a break after so many days of little sleep! 

Some pottery on the street of ET. This one's for you, Kyla!

View from the bus on the way to Valparaiso

The whole group at a rest stop!



Me with Valparaiso behind me!


Lift up the mountain!  Super steep

Statue of man who discovered Valparaiso... I think

Me again!

Whole group in front of the Swiss clock!

Moai from Easter Island!  (and stray dog... they are everywhere!)

Viña del Mar

Viña del Mar at sunset

Look Dad!  If the mariachi band doesn't work out, you could come play your trumpet in Chile!

Cool sand art

Stands along to beach

View from La Isla Negra

La Isla Negra

Weird Chilean dessert drink.  They love it!  Note that the peach looks like a brain
Now I am at the university eating lunch!  We are eating outside because it is GORGEOUS out!  I am glad to be missing all the snow in New Jersey.