Sunday, April 20, 2008

que pasa

So when I looked at the date of my last entry, I thought April 9th wasn't that long ago. Then I look at today's date and was shocked to see over 10 days have passed. Well I have stopped traveling for a few weeks so I feel like not much is going on but I actually do have things to share.

First off there was a student strike last week. Students strike against not going to class because the bus fare is supposed to go up. We now pay about 30 cents, and they want to raise it about 50 cents. Thats a pretty big increase, I think. I even realized that at home in north carolina, students can ride buses for free, even the one that goes from raleigh to chapel hill and durham. So I thought I didn't have classes, but then I ended up having some of them since they are full of exchange students. I don't really want to further explain because this lack of communication is just one thing that frustrates me. This is a picture of the main building of my university.

Next up we have the celebration of my host parents' wedding anniversary. They are celebrating 20 years this Wednesday. However they celebrate it a little bit differently. Every year they have a little gathering with family and friends. I went with my host parents because I wanted to meet their family and see how Chileans celebrate this event. I was good for the first hour, meeting people and listening to conversation. I want to note the previous night I had gotten about 5 hours of sleep. So I had a pisco sour and then I wanted to just go to bed. The party started at 9:30. We didn't eat dinner till midnight!!! My host mom told me the party would be over early. We didn't get home till 2:30 in the morning!! That is early for me if I was out at the bar or club but I thought that was a little late for my host parents that go to bed around midnight I believe. Anyways, everyone was really nice. Its a custom here to kiss each other on the cheek when you greet someone and its so nice because it feels so welcoming when you meet new people. So it was hard to keep up with all the different conversations in Spanish. Then people started getting a little drunk and it was even harder to understand what was going on. My host parents kept telling me they were telling jokes. Also, my host parents received presents; 2 boxes of chocolates, set of orange sheets, and a set of 4 plates. I am glad I went but if I had known what I was getting myself into, I would have probably passed.

Well I guess thats all for now...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Out of the Ordinary

So I went to Patagonia last week to go backpacking in the Torres del Paine National Park. The whole week I was thinking, what did I get myself into? First of all, I have never been backpacking. And then also, I don't like hiking, I am very out of shape, and camping isn't my favorite activity. However it turned out to be a good experience. I really wanted to travel to this part of the country so I sacrificed my comfort to see some amazing views. Here is what six girls and I did day by day...

It took 7 buses, 4 minibuses (vans), 2 airplanes, 1 ferry and 27 miles of hiking to cover all the ground we did.

Tuesday April 1: Flew out of Santiago to Punta Arenas. Did grocery shopping there, got lunch, took 3 hour bus ride to Puerto Natales. Stayed in a hostel and rented our camping gear.

Wednesday April 2:
Took a 2 1/2 hour bus ride from Puerto Natales to the Torres del Paine National Park entrance. Then we had to wait for the ferry. We had about an hour to wait and that is when I met a NC State graduate and 2 people from Cary, NC. What a coincidence! We even later met them on the trail the next day. The ferry cost about $25 for a 45 min bus ride. I thought that was outrageous after already paying a park entrance fee. When we got to the other side of the lake we set up camp. Then we started on our first hike of the week. Less than 30 minutes of hiking and I already felt out of breath and did not want to continue. But then the thought of seeing a glacier kept me going. The hills were really hard for me, I could not catch my breath a lot and felt like I was having a slight panic attack when I approached a hill. About 4 hours later we finally arrived at the lookout for Glacier Grey. It was a great view, something we all describe as National Geographic like. We followed tradition and had whiskey and glacier ice. I had 2 sips because whiskey is just gross. After enjoying the glacier's view we knew we had to get going because it was going to get dark soon. Luckily we got through the hard part of the trail before dark but then we had to hike for a couple of hours in the dark. All I could think about was this lady who had gotten killed my a puma. I kept my thoughts to myself so I wouldn't scare the other girls. Finally we arrived back to the campsite right after the "kitchen" closed. Peanut butter crackers fulfilled as dinner and then to bed we went. It was hard to sleep, I actually was really hot and even slept on top of my sleeping bag. I also had a fear of rats because I could hear them getting into our bags but I was too scared to look.

Thursday April 2: We woke up to find some ramen eaten by the rats. Oh well, we had like 15 more bags of it. We started on another hike, this time actually backpacking with our stuff. The weather also too a big change and it was windy and rainy. No fun! We had to walk through a river that had flooded. It was the coldest water I have ever had to step in. There were also lots of rocks on the bottom so it was extra painful. We took our shoes and socks off so we could have dry feet for the rest of the day. It took us about 3 hours to get to the other campsite but when I got there I just wanted to be warm and dry. I decided to stay behind at camp instead of going on another hike. It was a good decision, I must say.

Friday April 3: We had all day to get to the next campsite but it took 7 hours plus stopping for lunch and breaks (which i need very often). It wasn't too hard but just a really long day. Luckily my friend Kelin and I have the same pace so I never found myself alone while hiking which was a wonderful motivation. The campsite we stayed at Friday night was really nice because it was the only one where we could have a fire. The past two days had been pretty cold so this was a nice feature.

Saturday April 4: Three girls left at 4:30 am to go on a hike before our bus left in the afternoon. I was not about to go on an optional hike at 4:30 in the morning. Instead the other 4 of us had a nice time around the campfire; the part of camping I enjoy. We left the park, returned our equipment in Puerto Natales and then went to Punta Arenas to stay for the night. The hostel in Punta Arenas was a very authentic hostel but it did have the NCAA tournament on which was very exciting for me because I have missed March Madness this year.

Sunday April 5:
We checked out of the hostel and explore Punta Arenas until our flight at 3:00. There were vendors all set up in the plaza and I went a little crazy with buying things and presents for people at home. I just love those hand craft markets, they have things I won't be able to find anywhere else in the world. We arrived in Santiago and then got a bus to Vina del Mar which was easier to say than do. Finally I arrived in my "warm" and homey apt at 11:30 at night. It was a long week and trip but definitely worth the experiences and sites I saw.

So thats just me rambling and not proofreading. I just wanted to get my thoughts out before I forget.