11 October 2012

Mountains, Oceans and the Rodeo

Hello once again my beautiful LC community and an extra special hello to all you prospective students!

If you read my last post and if you haven't you should!), you'll know that I'm blogging this semester from Santiago, Chile because it's my semester abroad! Yay! Since I've been here almost three months I'm doing some back tracking to let you all know what I have been up to. The theme of today's post is........TRAVELING!

I've been on a couple of fantastic trips so far, from the top of the Andes to the Pacific Ocean. First off, keep in mind that I arrived in mid July in the middle of Chilean winter. Since I love to ski, I took advantage of the ginormous mountain range and winter season to ski a couple of times! From Santiago to the nearest ski place it is about an hour. Getting there involves an incredibly harrowing trip up a million switchbacks. The mountainside is covered in a strange mix of shrubs, cacti and rather intrepid mountain cows. It is a really different looking countryside from anything I have ever seen. As we got higher and higher in the mountains the cacti disappeared and the view transformed into stark rocky mountain peaks. Absolutely stunning.

In addition to my mountain adventures, I went on a trip with CIEE (the program that organizes our homestays and helps coordinate classes n'things) to the 5th region of Chile, the region just north of Santiago that includes Valparaiso and Viña del Mar. We went to two of the poet Pablo Neruda's houses but unfortunately he's been dead for a while so he wasn't around. I did get a good look at two of his bathtubs. A worthy cultural experience. Sarcasm aside, it was a really fun trip. I love the ocean, and we spent a good amount of time on the beach and on the coast. Every day they fed us HUGE yummy lunches, including some really good fish straight from the sea. We also ate a bunch of Empanadas (dough pockets filled with good things), had a great Cazuela (a very Chilean chicken soup), and consumed much grilled meat. Activity wise, we did pretty much everything; we went on a boat to see the lobos del mar (sea lions, thought the literal translation is "sea wolves"), we did a ceramics class in a little village called Pomaire which is famous for their beautiful earthenware, we walked all over Valparaiso, we went to a typical Chilean rodeo, went to a vineyard where they make traditional grape Chicha (a very alcoholic drink that tastes like awesome grape juice which makes it pretty dangerous stuff), and went on a ridiculous hike straight up and then straight down a mountain (ending up crawling on hands and knees through a stream and a thicket). As a result of falling sort of on a cactus on the hike my friend Margaret had to pick spines out of my butt. Margaret and I also got soaked one night by an extra big sassy wave that got too excited, leaped out of the sea and crashed down on us while we were watching the sunset. I got some great take-out sushi one night for dinner and shared it with my friend Gabby who also goes to Lewis & Clark and is studying in Valparaiso this semester.
                                                       Me at the pottery wheel in Pomiare
                                        L&C Pride! Me and Ted (also LC student on the beach)
                                                          A small fishing village

                                                            Sea Lion!

I've headed out of Santiago a few other times, to go to the beach and things but those are the main trips so far. There have been plenty of adventures right here in Santiago! As always, e-mail me with any question or comment, L&C or study abroad related! smiller@lclark.edu