Ziplining in Peru

The last day in Cusco we went Zip-lining.  I flew over the mountains of Peru and met some Quechua people.  My dad’s parents were missionaries to the Quechua people and translated the Bible into their language so my dad grew up with them and was even named after their chief, Tariri. I’ve always wanted to meet those people, and I finally did! There were four guys running the zip-line, and they were talking together. At first, we assumed it was Spanish, but after a moment or two we realized we couldn’t understand it at all. Tristan asked what they were speaking and they said Quechua. I was so happy! Also, the landscape is breathtakingly beautiful.

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There were four zip-lines. The last two were longer and awesomer!

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We met these two adorable little kids. They were the children of a farmer who was ploughing the field behind us and knew the zip-line people somehow. So cute. The little girl had her shoes on the wrong feet so Tristan switched them out haha.

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I flew like superman over the valley! It was the closest I’ve ever been to flying.

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I realized that although the town was incredibly poor monetarily, these people were rich because of the breathtaking beauty that surrounded them. I would give anything to have grown up in a place as beautiful as that.

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Here we are posing with the mountains in the background. Jihoon is being a goof as always 🙂 We all stylin’ with our hard hats and harnesses!

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Disclaimer: These photographs were taken with Tristan’s camera by one of the Quechua guys. So they are not mine.

So that’s the end of our Zip-lining adventure. It was a fun time, and the beauty of the land was food for my soul.

Soon I will post about Machu Picchu and Adventures in Peru and the last few weeks in Chile.

Peace!

The Giving of Thanks

I missed Thanksgiving. I’m in Chile, and they don’t celebrate it here. Yesterday my host mom pulled the Christmas tree out of storage and it makes me sad because it reminds me of the Thanksgiving shaped void in my life right now.

Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday next to Christmas and my birthday (which tie for first). I love the amazing delicious beautiful food that I’m allowed to gorge myself on once a year and not feel bad about my life choices. I love that my family goes around the table and says what we’re thankful for.  I love the story behind the holiday of two races coming together and celebrating their friendship and the plentiful harvest. I love that once a year, all over the country, no matter how terrible a person’s life is or how pessimistic someone is, they have a reason to think of the things and people that make their life wonderful and express that to their loved ones. I love that families who are broken can set aside their differences for just a little bit, eat an amazing meal together, and say something they are thankful for about one another. I love that when you normally wouldn’t express this to someone, you have the excuse of a holiday to tell them just how much you love someone and are thankful for them. I love that we have a once a year reminder to thank God for blessing us so abundantly and we remember all the things in our lives that are worth being thankful about.  I just really love Thanksgiving a lot!

I wish I was in the States right now. I’m missing it by nine days!

But on the bright side, I can still be thankful even from 5000 miles away from home. Obviously.

I’m thankful for my family. My mom and dad are wonderful and they’ve taught me so much. They’ve stuck together through the good and the bad and they’ve set an amazing example for what it means to love unconditionally. Rachel has a beautiful and fun personality. It’s been wonderful growing up with someone so close in age and to know I will always have someone to talk to and turn to. Lucas is funny and has a kind heart. He is a protector and I know he’ll always have my back. Jonathan is so creative and affectionate. He’s really sweet and he loves to love by spending time with his family. Even though we’ve all had our differences and we get fed up with each other sometimes, I know that in the end family is forever and we’ll always love each other.

I’m thankful for Zach.  He has a beautiful heart and a creative mind. He loves God and strives to honor Him. He is loving and thoughtful and sweet and I kind of really love him. 🙂 I’m so blessed to know him and to have dated him for the past year.

I’m thankful for my friends. Elaine, Kayla, Lauren, Caroline, Xanda, DJ, Tris, David, Jihoon, Sodam, etc. They are all beautiful people who I love dearly. They encourage me, challenge me to be a better person, and make me laugh. I’m so blessed to know every one of you.

I’m thankful for Grove City College, for the opportunity I’ve been given to receive such an excellent education, and the amazing friends I’ve made here.

I’m thankful for Chile and for the experiences I’ve had and the memories I’ve made and for the people I’ve met. I’m especially thankful for my host family, Rosy and Manuel, for caring for me and inviting me into their home and family for four months.

I’m thankful for music, and the beauty of nature, and everything else I love that I don’t have time to talk about right now.

Last but definitely not least, I’m thankful for God because all of these other things I’m thankful for are gifts from him. Even though I don’t deserve it I’ve been forgiven, saved, blessed abundantly, and loved unendingly by the creator and sustainer of the universe and that is truly amazing.

Okay so I know I’m posting this a day after Thanksgiving but that’s okay because we can be thankful every day of the year!

Also, I will be posting about Machu Picchu and other adventures very very soon I promise!

Peace!

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At the End of the World

Patagonia is something indescribable. Human language fails me and I don’t know how to relate back to you the incredible experience I had backpacking for five days there. Even the most beautiful pictures can’t do it justice. I can honestly say that those days were the best and most memorable of my time here in Chile. I will do my best to tell you about my time there.

Hostel: Lil’ Patagonia

We arrived in Puerto Natales on the 30th of October. Lil’ Patagonia is a cute little hostel with friendly, informative staff, clean rooms, and fun atmosphere. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone intending to backpack in Las Torres del Paine national park. We spent the day deciding on our trekking course (which depended on the weather), shopping for food/spending wayyyy more money than we intended, renting our camping equipment (which turned out to be five times as expensive as we had expected, because freaking Jaime didn’t tell us that it was charged per day…), and packing our backpacks.  We went to sleep and left really early the next morning to catch a bus to the park. This is a map I drew of our route:

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~ day 1 ~

wild horses, snow and sun, and the freezing beautiful campsite.

1 to 2: 15 km(?), 5 hours

We set out and saw wild horses grazing on the golden grass. The day was beautiful, with weather rapidly changing between snow and high winds and sunny warmth. We hiked for five hours over relatively flat ground and I ate delicious trail mix. With the mountains ahead and a river often visible to our left, the time went by quickly and we soon reached the feet of the mountains.

We camped by the lake with the mountains behind us. It was the most beautiful campsite and we met some really cool people while cooking in the gazebo. We met one of the employees from Lil’ Patagonia and played card games with him and a dude from Ireland. Tris discovered that she lost her phone/id/credit card which reallyyyy sucks.

That night the four of us crawled into our tiny tent and managed to squish in all together.  Tris and Sodam and I giggled for a long time about nothing in particular, and then after a long moment of silence, Tris snorts and says, “imagine the guys giggling themselves to sleep” and we all lost it again. It was freezing cold, so even though there were four of us stuffed in the tent I basically didn’t sleep. My sleeping bag was borrowed and was meant for weather warmer than 10 degrees Celsius. It was definitely wayyyy colder than 10 degrees Celsius every night so the entire trip was pretty rough for sleeping.  But I survived!

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~ Day 2 ~

Halloween, Tiger Balm, and The glacier

2-3: 11 km, 5 hours.

The next day we set out for camp grey, which was a three hour hike up the mountain from the first campsite. Unfortunately, it took us five hours due to fatigue of some members and a hurt knee.

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The view on the way was beautiful and kept getting better as we got closer to our destination. The weather was amazing! We stopped about halfway at the first sight of the glaciers. Pete put Tiger Balm on his lips without knowing exactly what Tiger Balm is. Tris nearly died laughing and Pete’s lips nearly died from the burning. He took it well though; mostly because he didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of showing how miserable he was. Haha!

The lodge at campsite Grey wasn’t as nice and we didn’t have water first thing in the morning. But our campsite was nestled into some trees and it was very peaceful and a lot warmer than the first campsite because a) we were sheltered from the wind and b) I wore all of my clothes to bed.

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~ the glacier grey ~ 

3-4: 3 km, 1 hour

After setting up camp and eating, some of us set out on an hour hike to see the glacier grey. It was a grueling climb but we didn’t have backpacks so we survived. The view was incredible. We climbed over the fence at the view point and ran across some rocks to get closer to the glacier. It was something I can’t describe so here is a picture to sort of insufficiently show the majestic awesomeness that I was experiencing.

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 A condor flew over us too! It was beautiful and I managed to snap a few pictures of it with Tristan’s camera. We also saw icebergs. ICEBERGS!

That evening, we ate dinner and bought some boxed wine to celebrate Halloween. Pete scared the shit out of us after the lights went out by coming up behind us and shouting.  It erased the effects of the wine and I still had a hard time falling asleep. Dang it Pete!

~ day 3 ~

The breathtaking lake and that damn campsite

We all had slightly different routes for the next two days, so I’ll only tell the distance/time for my personal route: 3-6: 24km, 9.5 hours

Amryll hurt her leg the day before so she left early. We hiked back down from campsite grey to the first campsite we stayed at and she took a ferry back to the bus. The rest of us ate lunch in the gazebo and then continued on to campsite Italiano.

David, Pete, Jihoon, and Tristan decided to stay in Italiano because it was free. Sodam and I decided we didn’t want to hike for 11 hours the next day so we continued on to the next campsite to cut two hours off of the next day.

That two hour hike was my favorite part of Patagonia because it was so incredibly beautiful. The path followed the contour of Lake Nordenskjol. For a little while we walked along the stony beach, and it was so beautiful I couldn’t even take a picture of it because there was no way it could capture it. Sodam and I sat down and just listened to the wind waves lapping against the shore. Peaceful.  Here is a photo of the lake from the distance.

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 After the lake shore, we trekked for a long time over stones which killed our ankles, weaving in and out of some trees which I can’t describe. The scenery was gorgeous and incredibly unique.

We finally made it to the campsite about forty minutes ahead of schedule. Sodam had been struggling earlier in the day but she was so determined to get to the campsite before sundown we made really good time! I was really proud of her.  But after we got to the campsite, things started going downhill. That night was amusingly miserable. Here’s the story:

The campsite was rocky and uneven, so there were platforms everywhere to build the tents on. Sodam and I paid to reserve a space, and then found an empty platform and began setting up the tent.  About halfway though a Chilean man came over and spoke to us in broken English. The conversation went something along these lines:

Chilean guy: “Hey did you guys reserve yet?”

“Yeah” I replied.

“Well, that’s my site.”

Sodam and I looked at each other in confusion and then turned to the man and asked him what he meant. “Earlier I came through here with the guys and I said this is my spot and that’s your’s over there.” he gestured in the general direction of another platform.

Sodam said, “I’m sorry, we didn’t know that you had claimed this campsite. You should have left a bag on the platform to mark that it was yours.”

“But I told the guys this was my spot!”

“I’m sorry, but you can’t just tell the guys and then expect other people to also know. You should have put a bag on the platform,” I responded, deciding to myself that he was a childish s.o.b.

“We’re already halfway set up and we spent a lot of time and you can’t just ask us to move.” Sodam added.

A thought suddenly occurred to me that maybe each campsite was assigned to a specific person, so I asked him, “were you assigned to this particular campsite? Were you given a number or something?”

I think something was lost in translation because he looked really confused and said, “No there weren’t no number. I told the guys this was my campsite.”

“Well, are there any other campsites available?”

“That ain’t my problem.”

At that point I was kind of boiling on the inside. That ain’t your problem my ass. I was not about to move just because he was being childish.  I very calmly asked, “Would you like for me to help you look for another campsite?”

“I don’t need no help with that,” he said, looking confused and angry.

“Well then, I’m sorry, but you should have put a bag on this platform to claim it.”

He just left.

Sodam and I looked at each other darkly and started ranting about what an idiot the guy was as we continued to set up our tent.

A few minutes later the lady from the reception desk came over to us. She explained in Spanish (which is what the guy should have done in the first place cause there was so much lost in translation and his English was terrible) that the guy had paid extra for the platform closer to the facilities and thus it was actually his assigned campsite.  She apologized but asked us to move.

Sodam and I were livid. Sodam was so mad she wouldn’t even try to speak Spanish. She said politely but straightforwardly something like, “I’m sorry, we weren’t aware that this was reserved. Your desk should have informed the campers of the situation! We walked for hours and are exhausted and we just wasted all of this time setting up the tent because of this miscommunication. We paid for a place and no one told us that this was reserved. There should be a sign or something with this information on it!”

The lady apologized again and said she understands that but they guy paid for this campsite so we would have to move.  We asked if there were any other available campsites (it was late so the place was already really full) She told us there were six platforms “arriba” which we could use with no problem. She then left to go back to the office.

We started packing our stuff up and ranting about the unfairness and how unprofessional and rude and sooooo incredibly unlike the USA, Europe, or Asia the entire situation was. They sent a guy with a boombox to help us find a campsite. The platforms up above the buildings were all taken, so we had to sleep on the ground. The guy tried to help us set up the tent. It probably would have been faster if just Sodam and I did it because we knew how to, but it was a nice gesture non-the-less.  We lost an hour with that shit. So darkness was falling.

By that time we were both starving and exhausted. But we discovered that we left the cooking pot with the other four people at the last campsite.  We were both incredibly frustrated and decided to just ask another camper to borrow theirs. Thank God we ran into another exchange student from our school who let us use his cooking pot.  Unfortunately, he wanted it back before Sodam had time to cook her meal, so we both shared mine. Rice. It was the most delicious rice I’ve ever eaten in my life but we were both still hungry afterwards.

I went into the bathroom facilities that the campsite provided for those of us who didn’t pay as much, only to discover that there was literally shit in the toilet and no way to flush it because the cover for the tank was gone. It was disgustingly sickening.  I let that reception lady know about it and she allowed me to use the very clean and beautiful bathrooms inside of the lodge. The contrast was ridiculous and made me even angrier.

We finally went to sleep and I shivered violently all night long because there was just two of us in the tent and the lack of body heat was sorely felt.

It was a miserable night. But it sure makes for a good story now!

~ day 4 ~

shortcut, stream, and the hell climb made manageable by the hostel guy.

6 – 8 (via 7); 9 hours, 20 km

The next morning, Sodam was too physically and mentally exhausted that she felt unable to finish the last climb up to Campsite Torres, let alone la Mirador Torres del Paine. She decided to walk with us until we reached the shortcut, and then split from us and go back to the hostel in Puerto Natales. We broke camp and waited for the other four to catch up to us (they left Italiano two hours earlier).  Jihoon had a hurt hip from sleeping funny so he decided to go back with Sodam.

So we set out for the shortcut where we said goodbye. They took one of the tents and a pot. I was sad that they didn’t finish but I think it was for the best because the trek grew miserable as we started climbing higher later on.  It would suck if Jihoon’s hip grew worse or if Sodam just wasn’t able to finish, and they did make it most of the way.

So we took the shortcut. It was mostly flat and very beautiful. The day was gorgeous and sunny. David and I managed to get far ahead of Tris and Pete. We crossed a river and I decided to soak my poor abused feet in the mountain water. SPEAKING OF MOUNTAIN WATER, it’s so incredibly delicious. So fresh and crystal clear and beautiful and thirst quenching and inspiring and I want it in my life all of the time.  I could rant for days about how amazing and lovely and perfect mountain water is. But I digress. I soaked my feet in it and that was an excellent life choice. Here is a photo that Tristan took of me drinking the mountain water (it was a different river, but you get the idea of how beautiful the water is).

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Soon Tris and Pete caught up to us so we journeyed on. After that point, the path grew more difficult as it started going uphill. Really steep uphill. After a grueling climb we finally reached the first campsite (which we were not camping at) and took a much needed rest. We were pleasantly surprised to run into one of the guys who worked at our hostel! Eugenio (pronounced e as in grey, u as in food, gen as in hen, i as in me, o as in go. ey-ew-hen-ee-o. Not Eugene – yew-jean -) bought us a cookie and walked with Tris and I to the campsite Torres.

If the climb was bad before, it got worse from that point on.  We were already completely drained and exhausted, my stomach was cramping, and I couldn’t breathe because of the altitude and lack of energy. And the path was winding straight up a mountain.  Eugenio was a Godsend because he offered to hold on to one end of my trekking pole to give me the extra strength I needed to get up the steepest parts. He joked that it was payment for our pasta later on haha!  I would not have been able to make it without that help.

We finally made it to the campsite! It was snuggled back into a forest with a stream running through the center, a shelter for cooking under, and a crude bathroom building. We set up our tent and I SAW A FOX!! It ran right behind our tent. I freaked out I was so excited. Then we made pasta and talked to other campers and went to sleep.

~ day 5 ~

the frigid heavenly sunrise and back to civilization.

8-9: 1 hour up a mountain.

then 8-10. 2 hours, 9 km

Google Las Torres del Paine and you will find hundreds of photos of these three famous towers brilliantly lit by the rising sun. We awoke at 4:30 to make the climb up the mountain to see the sunrise and las Torres. The climb was absolutely miserable and definitely the most physically and mentally difficult thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.

I didn’t think i could make it. It hurt so much and i was so tired i just wanted to quit. We lost the path and climbed up an abandoned slope with sand-consistency ground for about 10 minutes before we realized our mistake and had to go back down and return to the right path. I felt like I had used up all of my energy and I just wanted to stop. But I knew that there would be a beautiful view at the top and that kept me going.  And at the steepest parts, Eugenio held my pole and pulled me along like before. I thought that maybe he was an angel or something.

We finally made it to the top. We didn’t have any protection from the wind any more. So we were blasted with strong, frigid winds and the altitude made it freezing. I was covered in sweat from the climb and it quickly cooled and started draining my body heat. I normally have an incredibly low tolerance for the cold and this was unbearable. I actually cried from the cold. Tris laughed and at first I was mad but then I realized how ridiculous and funny it actually was that I was crying in that situation. And I laughed too. I managed to change out of my sweaty shirt and wrapped myself up as best I could, and sat with my back to a huge rock which mostly blocked me from the wind but it was still bloody awful.

It was also cloudy so the sunrise wasn’t as spectacular as we had hoped. It was still beautiful though. The mist over las torres made it very mysterious and mystical, and the water was a deep beautiful teal colour. The wind blew over the surface of the water and the ripples danced down towards las torres. The high winds made the clouds constantly change and as the sun rose, everything was stained with a golden tinge. Thirty minutes or so after the sunrise, the sky cleared a little and the sun lit up the face of the rocks like torches. It was beautiful!  Here is a picture. I think I appreciate the beauty more now that I am not freezing, but at the same time this photo doesn’t do it justice. I think that the feeling of accomplishment from surviving the climb as well as the frozenness are a necessary part of that experience and you lose both of those things with a picture. But here it is anyways.

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After a while we headed back down the mountain and broke camp. The hike back to the main entrance was much faster than on the way there because it was mostly downhill. The only bad thing was the wind which kicked the dust up into our eyes and made it difficult to see anything.  We made excellent time, and finally made it back to civilization. The shower in Puerto Natales was the best of my life, even though there was no water pressure or hot water. I didn’t even care.

Reflections:

1. I’m stronger than i thought i was

2. i swear a lot when I’m exhausted and in pain

3. Survival mode brings out the worst in everyone.  I learned things about myself that i didn’t know before. I also saw the worst of the people I was with. But even in that, we came out closer and better friends than before because we proved to each other that we are trustworthy and reliable even when we’re miserable.

4. When you’re miserable sometimes you think deep things. As I climbed the mountain to Las Torres I saw the parallel between what was happening to me and life in general. After I got back to comfort, I thought more about it.  Life hurts. It’s hard to keep going. It would be easier to give up and go back down but we keep going cause we know that it will grow us and make us stronger. Sometimes we stray off the path and have to work hard to return to it. But we hope that there will be something amazing at the end. And when it gets so unbearable that you literally can’t take one more step forward, God holds our hand and gives us that extra strength that we need.

Patagonia was an incredible experience that I learned a lot from and I’m so glad I went. I hope to return some day maybe with my family or Zach. Only time will tell 🙂

I climbed a mountain

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This is the view from the top of La Campana, which is a mountian near Santiago. I climbed it. I freaking climbed a mountain.

I went with Tristan, David, and Tom the Chilean. Now, Tom is super fit and he turned this nice little photographic hike up the hill into a freaking workout from hell! He literally speed walked up the mountain. David has been taking trekking classes so he was able to keep up more or less, and Tristan is just so competitive that she wasn’t about to let herself fall behind, and then there’s poor little me, who died. It was literally every last bit of physical and mental strength that I had in me to put one foot in front of the other for three and a half hours.

But I made it! And I’m really proud of myself now. It hurt but I mean, look at the view! It’s breathtaking. And the photo’s don’t even come close to how incredible it is in real life. So it was absolutely worth it.

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Going down the mountain was really painful but in a different way than on the way up.  My legs were so unstable and I was scared that I would twist my ankle or fall off the mountain. But at the same time I was able to run over the smooth parts of the path to catch up so I took more photos on the way down than on the way up.

These paths are some of the easiest parts of the trek. Most of it was super rocky and super steep but I didn’t take pictures of that because I just wanted to get out of it as quickly as possible.

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The flowers are so delicate and unique

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This is a photo that I took from the bus on the way to the micro after climbing the mountain. Off in the distance is La Campana, and I was standing on it’s peak almost three hours prior. That is freaking awesome.

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Getting my feet wet

This story is from several weeks ago.

Tristan, David, Pepe (the roommate of our friend Jihoon.), and I went to Concón to take pictures of the ocean which was literally so beautiful I couldn’t even handle it. I took a few pictures but I mostly just soaked in the beauty and the sun and the sound of the crashing waves.

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We were there for about fifteen minutes before IT happened.  Okay so the waves were pretty much all the same and they only came up to a certain point on the beach. So we figured we’d be perfectly safe if we stood two or three feet away from that line. We sure figured wrong!

Tristan was taking a picture of David and Pepe and I was taking a picture of Tristan taking a picture of David and Pepe and suddenly five ginormous waves came up all at once and crashed down and the water came up five or six feet higher on the beach than before and we realized what was happening far too late and ran for it but we couldn’t save ourselves so all four of us got completely drenched from the knees down. It was so very cold

Here is a picture of me being sad about wet feet. And another of us drying our shoes as best we could and soaking in the sun.

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The flowers are so pretty! I always take pictures of flowers.

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Tris noticed a ring around the sun when you look at it through sunglasses so I took a picture through my sunglasses lens and it turned out pretty cool. There’s a flock of birds too.

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After the beach, we found a random restaurant and Pepe made the waiter plug in his iPhone. He’s from El Salvador and rich apparently and everyone does everything for him so Tristan and I had a good laugh when he actually had someone plug in his phone for him. The food was decent and afterwards we just went home cause of our wet and sandy shoes.

It was definitely an adventure!

Ukulele and the Earthquake.

Hello friends! It’s been almost a week since my last blog post and so much has happened in between then and now.

“Let me explain…no, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

I can’t possibly write about it all in great detail… So here is the update on my life in Chile.

Last Saturday, Prince Caspian took Tristan and me on a tour of the coast between Viña and Concón. His real name is Nicolas but Tristan and I think he looks a little like Prince Caspian from Narnia so it’s kind of an on-going joke between us now.  The view from the rocks is beautiful! Also some of the plants look like they come from Doctor Seuss illustrations or something. When we returned to Viña we drank coffee at Travelli and I ordered Latte Nutella. It was incredible! It even had actual nutella coated hazelnuts in it.

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Rossy took me to her daughter’s restaurant, Ají Color. It’s really cute and the food is amazing! She encouraged me to take pictures so here is a really adorable one of her and another of Manuel and their granddaughter, Victoria.

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Apparently, Rossy and Manuel have a second house in the hills of Valparaiso! It’s literally in the middle of nowhere. The roads are awful and I may have had mild whiplash for a few days after that drive.  But it was totally worth it because the view is breathtaking and the house is tiny and cute.

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On Tuesday, Tristan jumped in the ocean cause she’s insane. And also because she was nominated for the ice bucket challenge.  Chile doesn’t have ice or buckets, so we figured total immersion in 12 degree celcius ocean water would suffice. She nominated our RD and he said later that he also jumped in the ocean but almost died. He’s dramatic so that’s probably not true but still hilarious!

I bought an ukulele! I miss my guitar from back home, and one of my goals was to learn how to play the ukulele this semester. So I bought this one for around $50USD the other day. It’s really cute and fun to play.  Thus far I have learned I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You by Elvis Presley and Screen by Twenty One Pilots.

Also,  Korean food is incredible! My friends, Jihoon and Sodam cooked us an amazingly flavorful and delicious meal that just might be the best thing I’ve eaten here so far. They made gimbob, which sort of looks like sushi but it isn’t, jae-yuk-bokkum, which is a spicy pork stir-fry, and rice. Yum! Tristan also brought a bottle of wine, which was a nice touch.

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Now we come to the story of the most terrifying experience of my life which I never ever want to experience ever again.

This Saturday around 6:30 I was at home alone doing homework and my desk started shaking. At first I thought, “It’s a tremor!” but then it kept getting stronger and stronger and the entire house convulsed and shook from side to side and stuff was falling all over the floor and the lights were flickering on and off and I started freaking out and I realized it was a real live legit EARTHQUAKE!!!!

I was terrified and after the quake calmed down a little I started thinking about tsunamis.  I had no idea what to do and I didn’t have internet because the electricity was dead so I couldn’t look online for warnings or whatever. So I ran out to the street to see what everyone else was doing. The people were running for their cars and LEAVING. I was like oooohhh shit I don’t know how to get to the high ground quickly without a car!!!!

There was a little old lady walking towards me so I stopped her and stammered in broken and flustered Spanish, “Hi I’m from the U.S. and I don’t know what to do when there’s an earthquake!” She said something about earthquakes and tsunamis and I tried to ask her if there was going to be a tsunami or if it was safe to stay in my house but I couldn’t remember most of those words. She was really nice and told me to come stay in her house until they figure out how bad the earthquake was.

She and her granddaughter seemed pretty chill about the situation as they searched the internet and listened to the news. This helped me calm down a little.  I sat on their sofa awkwardly until we found out the earthquake was a 6.4 on the Richter Scale but there wasn’t going to be a tsunami. I thanked her and went back to my house.

Rossy and Manuel were waiting for me at the door and the lights were still out so I couldn’t contact anyone to see if they were okay and to let them know that I was okay.  Rossy convinced me to go to a birthday party with her so that I wouldn’t be all by myself in the dark. I was feeling extreeeemmelyy introverted and non-social but I am so glad I went. The house had lights and internet and dogs and delicious food and it was basically exactly what I needed after a traumatic experience like that. They also gave me two glasses of something strong and I felt prettyyy buzzed by the end of the evening. Fun times haha!

Also, apparently in Chile if the earthquake is less than a 6.5, it’s considered a “tremor.” I beg to differ. That 6.4 was DEFINITELY an earthquake as far as I’m concerned!

The things which cannot be photographed.

Yesterday at noon my host mom came into my room and spoke words in Spanish. All I understood was “lunch” and “going out.” So I deduced that we were going out for lunch! At what hour and where and with whom, I had no idea. So I waited. At three she came upstairs and said, “Ready? We’re leaving now!” And thus I embarked on a grand adventure.

I squeezed into a jeep with Rossy, Manuel, their grandson Bastian, and two random older ladies and we drove to… a cemetery. Yeah you heard me right; they took poor unsuspecting me to a viewing. It was incredibly awkward. I just kind of stood in the corner staring around the tiny room and up at the coffin and the morning relatives and friends and made myself as small as possible and hoped that no one noticed my extreme discomfort. I also was half smiling to myself because of the hilarity of the situation. I thought I was just going to lunch but somehow I ended up at a funeral.

Apparently, the deceased was in his late seventies and died of stomach cancer. He was the neighbor of either the two old ladies in the car, or of Rossy and Manuel. I wasn’t sure cause of the language barrier but I do know he was Someone’s neighbor. After Rossy prayed, we walked back outside past some doors through which mournful music was drifting.  Manuel said to me, “In there is the church where the funeral service is. But we are not going in there, we’re leaving now.” Thank the gods! hahaha I was so relieved to hear that.

Before leaving, however, we drove through the cemetery to where Manuel’s mother was buried. We paid our respects and stood silently for a moment. I took the time to look around the burial grounds at all of the people visiting the graves of their loved ones. 

It is a beautiful day. The sun shines in the brilliant blue sky illuminating the green grass and a peaceful pond. The landscape is carefully cared for and all of the graves have flowers placed on the tombstone. The beauty of the place stands in sharp contrast to the pain in the eyes of the people. Families stand by the grave of their son, or sister, or grandfather. A woman in her thirties kneels at the side of a grave as four men of different generations stand around silently. Two little girls with ice cream cones jump out of a car and skip across the road to catch up to their mother and older brother. Two cousins smile and greet each other with a kiss. An elderly lady holds her head in her hands with her grown up children standing over her. A father stands by a grave with a baby strapped into a stroller at his side. So much grief and so many bitter-sweet reunions. I was struck by deep thoughts about how death is universal and affects everyone who is left behind.

Rossy crossed herself and Manuel looked up and turned back to the car. Then we left for reals and went to lunch. So I did understand that part right! I just didn’t hear the part about the viewing. It was an experience. 

On that really sad note, I abruptly and unceremoniously move to a much happier topic; the beautiful drive between Viña and Horcón where we had lunch. There are some things which cannot be captured with a camera even when you are stationary so it’s even more impossible from the other side of a dirty window in a moving car. I just stared out of the window and soaked in the beauty of the country’s coast. 

I’ve been keeping a journal of words to document the things I see and hear and experience in my adventures. I wrote down some of the most memorable things from the drive and from the outing. Here is a page of my awful handwriting for your enjoyment. 

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Here I shall interpret some of the chicken scrawl from the picture above:

We drove by the dunes of Concón. They are huge! Mountains of sand stretching as far as the eye can see. Absolutely beautiful. People ride horses along the coast and a hang glider glides over the waters. 

Trees lined the road and the leaves are green even in the winter time.  We pass pastures of sparse bushes and lush grass where hundreds of cows graze and a black horse stands alert staring out into the valley. 

There is a bay called La Ventana, which means “The Window.” Rossy told me that it’s called that because of the huge rock with a hole in it. I wish I could have got a picture of it because I can’t really describe it in words. It was beautiful. 

And the houses! They are so cute and colourful with all different styles of architecture. Every house is unique and lovely.  I got three of them from the car window, so they aren’t the best photos but they’re decent I suppose. 

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One house had armchairs on the porch. Like two legit arm chairs with two old men just chilling in them. 

A Chilean cowboy dude went riding by bareback with a rope halter and leading another horse behind. It was epic. 

Then we entered Horcón, in which we ate lunch. I wrote a separate blog post for that because I took lots of photographs and this one is getting really long. But anyways, fast-forward to the drive home, which was excellent as well. 

The sunset over the ocean was breathtaking. As the sun fell lower in the sky it grew huge and red and the misty clouds ate it from the top down instead of disappearing under the earth like you would expect from a sunset. It was incredible. 

On a rock cliff overlooking the ocean and the sunset was a bench. A boy sat on said bench with his girl laying down beside him with her head in his lap. He was reading a book and it was a beautifully romantic moment. 

The people are beautiful. Rollerskating teens and kids on tiny skateboards. Cute couples walking hand in hand and an old lady in a yellow skirt sitting on the steps of a house. An old weathered man trudging down the street with a newspaper in his hand. A young dad with his five year old on his shoulders. A girl wearing green standing by the road looking for something in the distance. I really want to photograph these people. I want to capture these moments but I can’t because as soon as I know it’s a moment worth capturing, the moment is gone. The car has passed by, the person walks away, changes expression, or makes eye contact. It’s frustrating but also shows how precious moments are because they only happen once and only occasionally and sometimes accidentally can they be recorded. 

I also don’t know how to ask if I can take their picture or use a picture I’ve taken because I don’t speak Chilean Spanish. Maybe it’s okay to just not tell them I took a picture? I don’t really know anything about photographing etiquette. Do you? 

Anyway, it is late and my thoughts are becoming unusually pensive and deep, which usually means it’s time for me to sleep. So I will post this blog post tonight and then finish the one about lunch in Horcón tomorrow after church.

Buenas noches mis amigos!