Author: alyssann88

Pichilemu

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While I love living in a large city, it gets exhausting after a while. This last weekend I decided to take a much needed weekend getaway to Pichilemu. It is a coastal town of about 12,000 people and is considered to be one of the best surfing locations in all of South America. I took this trip with a friend of mine that I have met down here and while neither of us are great at making decisions, this was by far one of the best we have made so far here in Chile. We stayed at a hostel about 12 km outside of the main city called Surfarm; it was located on an actual farm and as close to the ocean as you could get without actually being on the sand itself. When we arrived at the bus station the hostel owner, Nico, picked us up and took us grocery shopping and then back to the hostel. At first, getting into a car with someone we didn’t know in a foreign country didn’t seem like the best idea ever but I pushed that to the back of my mind. Once we arrived at the hostel, we met the other travelers that were staying there – 2 Swedish guys, 2 French guys, 1 Italian guy, and a sprinkling of Chileans that were friends with Nico. 

The first morning I woke up and immediately went to the beach, something about the ocean is so calming and peaceful while reminding me of how much else is out there in our world. The picture above is one of my favorites from the beach – it was a deserted beach so it was exactly what I needed for my relaxing weekend away. After a fun photoshoot on the beach and braving the freezing cold water we decided to make plans for the day. Horseback riding! There were horses on the farm so after they were “rounded up” Elsey, Emil, Diego, and myself went for a semi guided horseback tour along the beach, up into the cliffs, crossing over water coming in from the ocean (my horse HATED that, instead of crossing he started stomping in it), and eventually ended up at this lookout point that was breathtaking. Picture below : )

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Elsey & I with my horse!

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After horseback riding we celebrated a birthday at the hostel for one of the people staying there. Since we didn’t buy return tickets to Santiago we decided to stay until Monday morning. Sunday I spent a large portion of my day reading on the beach – it was a perfect activity in the perfect location. When we went into town to purchase our bus tickets we stopped at Punta de Lobos which is a popular surfing location. I was able to watch some people surf which is incredible! I had only every watched that in movies and on tv but to see it firsthand was mesmerizing; the ocean sort of scares me a bit so to see others look so comfortable in it was very cool.

Overall, I had an amazing trip and I cannot wait to go back. For so long I felt as if I could go back home soon and wouldn’t feel a need to come back, that I had gotten out of this country what I was going to, but after this trip I don’t think that is true. I cannot imagine not going back to Pichilemu and am starting to feel a sense of comfort in my life here in Chile. While I miss home, I don’t think about when I want to go home anymore – I just think about how I know ill go back at some point. There is still a lot here that I want to do & see and even more that I need to accomplish for myself.  

 

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Clarity

As I was coming home tonight from my classes in Lo Barnechea, which is a suburb of the city, I was able to see the city in its entirety – wow. To say it was beautiful is an understatement, to see Santiago without its ever present cloud of smog that seems to inhabit the city welcome or not is a rarity. Coming down the hill to see the lights that seemed to go on forever was a reminder that I did the right thing, I am in South America because I wanted something different. I am a 25 year old girl from the Midwest, at home that means you need to be in a stable job and dating the man you mean to marry or at least be damn certain you are searching for him. I think that is amazing and I am so happy for my friends that have found that and want that in their lives; I however am not that person. I desire something completely different and unfortunately being from Midwest USA makes me the odd man out. I have decided that I want adventure, the unknown, the uncomfortable at times, and to just live my life the way I want rather than the way society dictates. I have had my moments of doubt lately; that I should not be here and trying to figure out the best way to go home and when but I really had a moment of clarity on the bumpy route that the C14 takes back to Santiago tonight. I need to be here, I need to fulfill that nagging feeling that has been in my stomach since about my junior year of college. I am not the girl that gets married early, knows exactly what she wants to be when she grows up right when she gets out of college, has kids at the age of 20 something and honestly I am OK with that. Santiago, Chile has brought out the best of me or at least I am certain it will – I am way out of my comfort zone and I am realizing that is alright. I wanted to be tested, to be uncomfortable, and to come back knowing myself better than I ever have.

I am sure this revelation will not be as compelling to my readers as I have found it but I needed to do a bit of word vomit and just get it out there. I am not sure I have ever articulated the feelings I have about being worlds apart from my friends at home both figuratively and literally- simply I don’t have the same desires and aspirations in my life right now. I am sure some day I will but until then I am going to continue to find out what I am made of and travel as much as I can because I would much rather do it now than when I retire – I mean really, I can do way more questionable things without the voice of judgement in my 20’s than I can in my 60’s : )

Has anyone else had a moment of clarity in their life? If so, tell me about it – I’d love to hear your stories!

Alyssa

Pucón

My first long weekend trip in Chile was to Pucón, a small little town at the base of a volcano. If anyone has seen the movie Dante’s Peak, it probably could have taken place in this town. I made the 12 hour bus trip with Kayla & Cadu. We traveled through wine vineyards, forested areas, dry arid areas, and ended in the lake region. I traveled 11ish hours by plane and another 12 by bus to end up back with the lakes – sort of ironic if I do say so myself. The area of Pucón is absolutely beautiful, I couldn’t stop staring at the Volcano! I was excited to get out of my comfort zone and try some things I don’t normally jump up and volunteer for; things such as hiking, hiking, and more hiking. For those of you that know me well enough I am sure you are laughing at this mental image because well I am the girl who LOVES nice restaurants, shopping, reading, and all things city life related. To say I was a little over zealous and under prepared is putting it kindly.

First our hostel -we slept in a tent, they called it an eco dome but it was a tent with bunk beds and quite cozy actually. Yes, to those with your jaws on the floor, I did volunteer for this. So onto our day trips… The first day we decided to take it easy and go check out some waterfalls – beautiful! They were called ojos del caburgas and so much fun to wander around! After that we decided to jump back on the colectivo (shared bus) and found la playa negra (the black beach), the sand was made out of ground rock from the last volcanic eruption. After that we decided to say screw the bus and walk to the next beach in hopes we would find the green crater lake (we never found it). After walking up what I classify a mountain we found la playa blanca ( youuu guessed it, the white beach); since I had more than enough climbing for the day we took the bus back into town and went in search of food. We ate at a lovely German restaurant solely because they had Harry Potter on the tv and I needed some familiarity back in my life. *Side note, there is a lot of German influence in parts of Chile* When dinner was finished we rounded out our day with a sunset over Lago Villarrica which was very relaxing.

Day 2, the day we thought we were climbing a volcano. The weather on top of the mountain was not cooperating so we couldn’t go up; instead we decided to take on a national park hike. I did really good until the only direction we were going was up and it started to rain… not my idea of a great time unfortunately. We found a waterfall and headed back down – it wasn’t a complete loss however because the views we did see were breathtaking and made the hike totally worth it! We did find out that the weather the next day was being more amicable and we would be able to climb the volcano. I decided that my legs hated me enough after what I had put them through the last two days and opted out  because to me the views from town were just as beautiful. I spent all of Sunday wandering around the town, in and out of shops and spent some time by the beach just sort of taking it all in. When Kayla & Cadu returned from their climb we went to the thermal pools which were essentially warm baths… very relaxing!

Overall, I really enjoyed my trip. I can honestly say that I am learning a lot about myself here in Chile; some things I already knew and am just finding out more in depth and some brand new traits as well. Hopefully this was interesting and until next time; Buenas Noches!

 

Chile Thus Far…

Well I have been in the country for over a month now and I still have yet to post anything for all of my avid readers (I am sure there is at least one of you). I will try to catch you up on my life here in Santiago… unfortunately and fortunately it is my life and not some great tourist dream. I came here to meet people, get a job, and live like a Chilean. I am not saying of course that I have not experienced some amazing things that aren’t also incredibly tourist and I am not loving my trip! Santa Lucia, Musea de Memoria, taking a 12 hour bus trip Pucón to see the Volcano Villarrica, and to Viña del Mar to visit the ocean just to name a few : ) My life here is probably more like those from home than one may realize – I go to restaurants, wander around parks, go out at night, and take the metro or bus to work and everywhere else I go for that matter. Some key differences are that I only understand about 5% of what is going on around me which means that my automatic response has become no to just error on the side of caution. The food is for the most part incredibly boring and yes this is coming from a girl who is rather picky. (However I am becoming quite fond of avocado or palta on my hotdogs!) Fall means 85 degrees and sunny, oh wait 33 degrees Celsius which means little to nothing to me but I am working on my converting skills : ) Another fun fact, my money is very colorful and instead of pictures of dead presidents there are pictures of animals! Everything is in 100’s or 1000’s (smallest bill is 1000 pesos) which tends to make me feel like I have way more money than I really do.

I most definitely have days that I wonder what the hell I am doing here because honestly I don’t feel like my life has changed a whole lot but then I remember I am in Chile, South America, I can see the driest hot desert in the world and penguins all in one country, learn Chilean Spanish because frankly it is different than the rest of the world’s version of the language, and try things I never thought I would! Why wouldn’t anyone want to experience this, at least not just for a little while. I have started teaching and am learning just as much from my students as “hopefully” they are learning from me. I am sure I missed many things about this new home of mine but don’t worry – this is just Blog 1 🙂

 

And so it begins…

I made it! I am in Santiago and it is definitely surreal. It is beautiful and so warm : ) No more of those below 0 days for this girl! I am exhausted from traveling – all of the hurry up and wait stuff really is tiring. I decided to take a cab from the airport because I was not about to try to navigate my way to my hostel on my own; I think I paid too much but its all part of the experience right? I haven’t decided what I am going to do on my first day here; if I am being honest with myself I really want to sleep. I didn’t do a whole lot of that the last couple of weeks with worrying about leaving and making sure everything was ready PLUS that uncomfortable 9 hour plane ride did not help matters. I saw so many things just on my way to La Casona that I have read about and want to do but I am going to just take it day by day because I am not here for a short period so why cram everything into one touristy packed event? That just seems silly! PLUS Kayla & Cadu (friends I met through this process) will be here on Sunday and it would be kind of fun to do some of the touristy stuff together since Kayla and I have been talking about it for months.

With Friday being Valentine’s Day, I have made plans with a Chilean friend that I made through my Gamma Phi sister, Kylie, and am really excited about going out and meeting more people. We are going to an event at a bar here called California Cantina – yup, only been in the country 3 hours and I already located the American sports bar : ) It should definitely be interesting but as overwhelming as I am sure a room full of people speaking a language I can barely understand is going to be I am going to embrace it and try to get as much out of this whole experience as possible. I mean how many people just decide to pick up and move to Chile after all : )

 

Well I should get back to sending out resumes and attempting to find a job… until next time!

 

Alyssa

Getting Ready

I swear the last 6 months seemed to take forever and I felt like it was just this idea, that someday I would be moving to Santiago. Then, this week got here and time started to fly by. I cannot believe that I leave for Chile next Tuesday and am preparing to say goodbye to friends, family, and what I have always known here in the Midwest.

I am crazy excited and insanely nervous to be embarking on this next stage of my life. I have always been the type to get restless if I stayed in one place for too long; so here I go, off on the next adventure. Now what to pack… that is another story.