VALPARAISO

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Valpo. The most unique city in the world. My God, I am seriously in love.

To describe Valpo is a riddle in itself. It is filled head to toe in beautiful, funky, colorful, all encompassing street art. No, it’s not just graffiti; actual artists travel far to Valpo to add their work to the city’s walls.Valparaiso’s historic district is a UNESCO world heritage site and there’s no question why. Staircases, trash cans, houses, stores, railing; they all have a nice coat of spray paint. Valpo is much larger than I had been expecting and very run-down but that adds to the hype in my opinion. While walking around you see these grand, spectacular Victorian mansions, churches, buildings; but they are all slightly falling apart.

The run down buildings make a lot of sense with the city’s history, being that it was the major port for all voyages up until the second half of the 1900’s. Sailors from all over would spend time in this unique location, often, and as a result the economy dramatically boomed. Sadly, the late 1900’s were very rough with the opening of the Panama Canal and in turn the look today is very worn down.

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The people | Dreads and tattoos and piercings and hippies and even business suits and Navy uniforms and everything you could ever want, that is Valpo.

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Heres a quick story from when I was still with fellow volunteers (my first day.)

All of us decided to go out for drinks close to my hostel as a last goodbye. The owners kept talking to us because 1. it was Sunday and 2. we are cool. The night was winding down and Signe, Griffin and I decided to stay a little longer since the 3 of us were together in Punta Arenas (and happen to all be from the Philly area, weird) and this was our final goodbye. The owners did a “lock-in” which I’ve never heard of but it was where they locked the doors and closed all the blinds and began to smoke cigarettes and give us free drinks. So sketchy and strange. Anyways they were middle aged men and kept telling us all about their lives, etc. etc. Finally the owner pulled out a photo book. We glanced at all of his military pictures…20 minutes later….the final page arrived. It was him with PINOCHET. AAAHHH. what. After living in Chile for four months and hearing the horrors of the man this was so uncomfortable. He told us how great he was, how he really cared about Chile and yada yada. Shocking but even more shocking was that a signed picture of the former dictator was the phone background of the other owner. So yes, that is how the first night went.

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My hostel was the best I have stayed in to this day. Hostal-po, loctaed on Cerro Alegre (perfect location), had its own roof-top terrace, a hammock, breakfast and such awesome inhabitants. Anyone going to Valpo– stay there!! Walk a few feet up the hill to the Welsh bar and you can meet the men mentioned above :0

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Hostal-po from the outside. It almost speaks for itself don’t you think. Anways rather than my planned two nights I ended up slowly adding on and adding on until I stayed for a full six! Every night the travelers cooked dinner in the kitchen, bought some wine and sat on the terrace talking together. I began to feel like I would never leave so I forced myself to be on the road to Santiago after the 6th night.

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Something so great about Valparaiso is you can hop on a micro and be at the beach in Vina in 20 minutes, take a 1.5 hour bus to Isla Negra and see Pablo Neruda’s most coveted house, or just sit a people watch; all equally as fun.

La Sebastiana is located in Valpo; one of Neruda’s 3 homes and it is so interesting, with a spectacular view of the city. In all, the city embodies the spirit of Neruda, his funky taste, beautiful art and his youthful love of life.

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The food, the night life, the people, the energy, the art, the water, the port, the cerros, the Ascensores; all of it is unforgettable and if I could pick one place to live outside the US it would be here.

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Located on Beethoven Street. Clever.

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Ascensor. (The view across the water is Vina Del Mar)

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If I didn’t promote the hostal enough….

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Ate lunch alone; really alone, notice the chairs. Lol

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Hello.

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The cows symbolize how Valpo does not embody the typical unfulfilling lifestyle so many become accustomed to (so says my guide at least.)

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From Neruda’s Casa.

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That restaurant I was alone at is pretty humorous.

 

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“Okay…..read enough of this.”

 

 

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The journey

Noche, nieve y arena hacen

la forma de mi delgada patria.

todo el silencio está en su larga línea

-Pablo Neruda

 Chile.

How lucky am I to go on an adverture that lets me discover a country with no limitations. Starting in Atacama, the driest desert on earth ending in the extreme untouched land of Patagonia which I currently reside, Chile is like none other. 

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(stolen from Google but it helps to visualize the post)

My time is almost up, the journey is almost complete and I am so confused how Christmas decorations are being displayed. Isn’t it still July?

In 10 days I will be off to Santiago, my last day of teaching is in 1 week and my time in Punta Arenas is officially ending. It is so bittersweet.

Magallanes is a place full of the most incredible things I have ever seen. Penguins, Torres Del Paine (#1), glaciers, saturated aqua blue waters, condors, guanacos, all four seasons in one day, and even my students feeling proud of themselves.

My experience has been wonderful; at times I did not appreciate Punta Arenas as much as I should have because of the weather/ isolation but in all I can’t imagine a better placement.

The reason it is currently more sweet than bitter (will change when I’m saying my goodbyes) is what I have planned. After I return to Santiago I have 3 jammed packed weeks ahead where I will see my own Chilean bucket list be completed. I will be solo traveling for 2 weeks with just my backpack exploring the north from Valparaiso to San Pedro de Atacama! Having never traveled alone I am soooo excited and it will be an experience. Next, my parents are spontaneously coming to Chile where we will explore Los Lagos and Chiloé 🙂

So yes the journey here in Chile’s XII region, Magallanes, is almost complete but a crazy one lies ahead.

A year ago today I was finishing up my second to last semester of college freaking out. I was considering going to teach in South Korea for a year or simply just beginning  my career as a graphic designer. I was bored and making life travel lists when I realized Patagonia was consistently my number one ( not to mention I had pictures of it all over my walls.) A few months passed and I was in a pretty strange state to be honest; I think I was just terrified to graduate college and also very stressed out/ unsure of what I was possibly doing with my life. Right before spring break I applied for this with a  “get me as far away from everything as possible, and omg I could potentially live in Patagonia?!” It all seemed fake, I in a way wasn’t picturing it all working out and I am still in shock that I am here right now. The beautiful landscapes have become almost a norm which is insane. It also makes me realize that anything is possible, and time has flashed before my eyes.

Number one goal is to make it through my solo travel without getting all my stuff stolen haha so let’s hope for the best! Magallanes has made me become too trust worthy—story:  in Natales, I stayed alone in a dorm style hostel for the first time : I walked in, no one was in the room but all their bags were opened and nice professional video equipment was just sitting on their beds. The trust here is crazy so I need to get that out of my head!!

One real week to go!! Here is an array of pics cause that’s the most exciting thing.

 

Me eating a glacier

  

drinking a cappuccino thinking I was in an IKEA commercial 

  

The German influence around Punta Arenas (possibly Croatian influence because PUQ holds the most Croatians outside of Croatia itself)

  

A dog in my school’s doorway lol

 

INSUCO WHATUP

  

The closest I could get to Argentina without paying a $180 reciprocity fee

  

What I made while missing TDP

  

Feeling nostalgic because I’m teaching Thanksgiving (yet missing it for the first time this year 😦 )


Signe and I are now famous 

 

My school now has their own fancy banner 

Finally, me, it took me about 6 months since I originally wanted it but I have changed my nose piercing to a ring, behold. (message here: don’t wait half a year to do something!!!)

And there you have it, a display of super random everyday life pictures. Adios amigos.

Destination: Punta Arenas

Punta Arenas. PUQ

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I have recently been asked by a lot of people what to do in Punta Arenas so I thought why not make a guide!

Personally, I turn to blogs all the time for travel advice so here is my input on a little city at the end of the world, Punta Arenas, Chile.

How much time do you need in Punta Arenas?

2-3 days. One, if you want to simply see the city, though 2-3 consisting of tours is ideal.

DAY 1.

City exploration and penguins.

8am

Wake up in your hostel (sadly I have no recommendations for this but anything near the plaza is a good location!) enjoy hostel breakfast or plan to go to a café. Café Tostado on Magallanes, a block from the plaza, has a great breakfast deal 2,100-2,800 pesos for eggs, toast and coffee/tea. Café Tapiz, on Roca street is a little more expensive but has a very unique style, inviting atmosphere, great decor and delicious food/ fresh juices. I would highly recommend Tapiz, for any meal of the day! History Coffee located on Calle Lautaro Navarro has great crepes, jucies and coffee; the atmosphere is nothing special but it does have wifi. Most places open around 9am.

10am

After breakfast head to the cemetery. Cemeterio Municipal. It is beautiful, spend some time strolling through the almost eerily huge cemetery, spotting pictures of the deceased and multiple story mausoleums. (30-45 minutes) From the plaza it will take 15-20 minutes to walk here. (Total time 1 hour)

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11:15am

If you wish to see a museum, the Salesian museum is very close to the cemetery and is full of interesting history of Magallanes.It is located across the street, connected to Maria Auxiliadora Church which you cannot miss. (time dependent, and only if you enjoy museums.)

Now it is 12:00 or so and you are planning to see the penguins at Isla Magdalena!

Time to head back to the plaza area and eat lunch.

Experience a Chilean favorite, choripan/ queso and leche con platano! Go to Roca Street and find Kiosko Roca. It is very popular among both locals and tourists, and about one block off of the plaza in the direction of the water. Here they have two menu items, banana milk and a sandwich. It is a must while in Punta Arenas and so delicious. If you eat meat, get the choripan or choriqueso and a glass of leche con platano, if you are like me simpy get the pan con queso no chori. Warning you will need 2 sandwiches if you are hungry (maybe 3, maybe 4). This is fast, easy and always filled with Chileans, so it is authentic. I have stopped in for a glass of the leche multiple times because it is pretty addicting. It is just a bar and usually very crowded so you may ever want it “para llevar” (to go).


Now, let’s say it is 1:30. Go across the street from Kiosko Roca and walk into Confiteria Cohen. Ask for an “alfajor” and enjoy 🙂

Make your way back to the plaza, walk through the center area to see the statue, maybe take a picture kissing the foot and sit at a bench to people watch. Next catch a cab or colectivo to Tres Puentes around 2pm.

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INFO about Isla Magdelena.

The ferry leaves at 3 and returns at 8 every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. If you are not in town on one of these days, there are tour companies who leave in the morning on the off days and take you to 2 islands, for a higher price so you will need to look into that. There is a small snack bar on the ferry but you should bring a few granola bars or some kind of food! (Schedule is different depending on month)

You will need a ticket before hand which almost every tour company sells or you can buy through the ferry directly in an office. I would suggest doing this before coming to Punta Arenas or simply stopping into any tourism office you see while walking around in the morning.

You board the ferry at 2:30 so I would suggest hoping in a taxi or colectivo #15 by 2:00. To get a colectivo, head to Magallanes street because those are going in the direction of the Port, Tres Puentes.

Enjoy Isla Magdalena because it is amazing and the penguins are everywhere. You take a 2 hour ferry, arrive at a small island with nothing but a simple red and white light house and many many penguins. They walk along the human walking path, look you in the eyes and seem to not be phased by human presence. It is so worth the 25,000-35,000 pesos.


You will dock around 8pm and likely be ready to eat! It has been a busy day so hey why not grab a local beer! Hop in colectivo 15 or a taxi until you reach Bar Bulnes. here you can enjoy pizza and home-brewed beer.

After this, head back to the hostel and if you wish to go out you can always check out Casino Dreams! Santino’s on Colon street is great place to grab a casual drink or stay at Bar Bulnes because it is a fun crowd near the University of Magallanes.

DAY 2.

Start your day off with an early view of the city! If your hostel has breakfast, perfect, or go to one of the cafes I mentioned or anything you walk past.

Mirrador Cerro la Cruz. To get here, simply walk up Jose Menendez until you see it. It takes about 10 minutes. Even better, walk to the base before the stairs of the cross then turn left (facing cross) and walk to a better lookout point with arrows pointing to cities all over the world. From here you can see how colorful Punta Arenas is, Tierra Del Fuego and the Estrecho de Magallanes. Take some pics, enjoy the view and picture yourself on a map; it will give you chills.

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Take a leisure stroll back towards the plaza and go into the Museo Regional de Magallanes, or Palacio Sara Braun. Both are houses of the Braun family who economically ruled Punta Arenas during the city’s boom. They are beautiful and shed a lot of light into the history of Magallanes! They are very similar so just going to one will do.

If you have time, head down to the water. One of my favorite things is sitting at the water, birdwatching (thought they were penguins my first day) and feeling the strong wind  while studying the cargo ships coming to dock. In my opinion this is the essence of Punta Arenas, a city which flourished all because of that port located at the end of it all. You are sitting in extreme southern Patagonia, in capital of the most isolated region of Chile; it’s pretty crazy.

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Next, walk up to O’Higgins street, only a street up from the water and pick a place to eat lunch! La Luna, seems great from what I’ve heard and has a very inviting atmosphere. There are many restaurants in that area so see what seems the best to you!

Hopefully you are able to visit Fuerte Bulnes on this day. It is about 45 minutes outside of the city and a must. You need to take a bus or a tour there so I would suggest figuring this out online before your trip. It is possible that you have to go in the morning so if that is true,  just swap it with the mirrador and then do the mirrador in the afternoon instead. (Look into bus Fernandez)

Fuerte Bulnes has views of beautiful Patagonian mountains, is loaded with history and I highly recommend it.

For dinner, head to La Marmita! Absolutely delicious food, a funky atmosphere and very vegetarian friendly (although all my friends ate guanaco.) For dessert get calafate anything because calafate is a berry native to this area.

(Or go to La Perla! Description when you scroll down)

Assuming that you will be off to Natales for Torres del Paine, this is a great goodbye to Punta Arenas. Bus Sur and Bus Fernandez frequently go to Natales (3hrs away). You have to go to their hubs because Punta Arenas does not have a main bus terminal.

ENJOY 🙂
EXTRA SUGGESTIONS:

Food/Cafes-

Armaranta Tea House: real tea (loose) and great cakes. They also have a 5,000 pesos lunch deal. (Meal, tea/ juice and cake). Love the atmosphere, you can even color your own mandala for them to hang up! (I did this yesterday)


Café Inmigrante: Opens at 3:00 and has amazing cakes/ coffees and teas. Great atmosphere and owned by Croatian immigrants.



La Perla Del Estrecho: Highly recommend for dinner! You should  pick between here and La Marmita. It has a GREAT atmosphere, live music and an “off to sea” vibe. The calafate sours are delicious and hand blended. The walls are full of caricatures and you can even sit in a boat for your meal. 

Dino’s Pizza: A favorite in Punta Arenas, I suggest getting a sandwich. Personally, I did not think the pizza was great but it is filled with locals and the sandwiches looked much better. I’ve heard great things about the meat! Atmosphere is nice too. 

Things to try!

Cerveza de Punta Arenas:

  • Hernando de Magallanes (Rubio, Negro, IPA which is Rojo)
    • I love the Negro y Rojo
  • Austral (Calafate, Yagan, Lager, Patagona, Torres del Paine)
    • Calafate- need to try! A Blue Moon-esque beer with hints of calafate berry
    • Yagan- my favorite, a stout
    • Torres del Paine- good, bigger and more alcohol
  • Bar Bulnes Brews! Go and try them 🙂

In general, Punta Arenas is a small, quaint, pretty city and the capital of the region of Magallanes. I suggest making sure you have at least half a day to explore Puerto Natales also because in my opinion Natales is much prettier, being that it has the typical Patagonian mountains as its backdrop.

Beware of the wind! You will likely see ropes put up to help you walk without falling over.

Buen Viaje 🙂

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Los Lagos

“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.”

– Paul Theroux

LOS LAGOS

  

A weekend of spontaneity and wonder in Chile’s 10th region, Los Lagos.

Thursday. A Canadian couch surfer living at the main gringo house here drove Lily, Signe and I to the airport which was perfect because it saved mucho dinero. My flight ended up being delayed from 4pm to 8:30pm but some amusing things happened in the airport. There were herds of older travelers, and one group started talking to Lily and I. They said they had been traveling through South America for 5 weeks and had seen everything you can possibly imagine ex. Machu Picchu, Rio and even TDP! Buuut they had no idea where they really had been or where they were getting on a plane to because it was so planned out. The man said “where did we see the other day? Torres something?” This was about 3 days after I got back from Torres del Paine so that was painful haha. But yeah anyways they were also flying to Puerto Montt but seemed to barely know that they were in Punta Arenas! (Not because of old age) I do think what they were doing was fascinating but the man had to refer to his plane ticket about currently being in Punta Arenas so the quote was just perfect in a funny way.

  

(There was even a beer cart in the airport)

Landed in Puerto Montt at 11pm and Lily and I split up because she was actually spending the weekend in Coyhaique so I taxied to my hostel. At about midnight I arrived at hostel Jacob, put my backpack down and headed to the center to find Signe and Sam (a VS5 volunteer) who were drinking vino at Sherlock! The weekend was off to a late but good start!

Friday. The sun was shining, the volcano was in clear view from our hostel window and life was grand. Sam, Signe and I went to explore artisan markets which are abundant in Puerto Montt. A little later we met up with Angelica who is living there and I hadn’t seen since orientation! She took us to Angelmo which is the local fresh fish market.

  

 

We explored the area teaming with fish, people pressuring you to eat at their restaurant and many more colorful craft stands! Next thing you know we see a crowd surrounding the biggest craziest looking Sean lions I’ve ever seen! They were attacking eachother for fish and barking with blood on their teeth. So gross and hilarious at the same time. 

 

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Within minutes we took up a man’s offer for a 3,000 pesos boat ride ($5) and it was worth every penny! The boat took us around the harbor, passing much calmer sea lions basking in the sun. We asked to be dropped off at an island across from the dock and hiked to the top to experience an unreal view of the sparkling lake, multi- green shaded mountains, city of puerto Montt and even blooming brightly saturated yellow flowers. Que lindo. 
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(Me being happy cause I wasn’t wearing a jacket or hiking clothes which has been rare!)

  After that, we ate in angelomo with a view of the water and volcano! Everyone enjoyed a very delicious fresh seafood meal (except me..I’m that kind of vegetarian, lame I know but my salad and pebre with bread was great.)

The day as a whole was so refreshing and I really enjoyed the company of the other volunteers. It’s so revitalizing to experience life in a new city and with new people. We brought food back to the hostel to cook, in other words all bought food at unimart and Sam cooked us amazing vegetable pasta 🙂 and we all shared some boxed wine. I was muy feliz. 

SABADO

Puerto Varas 

The four of us hopped on a mini hippie-Van looking bus for $1 to take us to Puerto Varas! Arriving to the city was delightful, German influenced buildings and a different volcano, Osorno, as the main one along the water. Another beautiful day and we were ready to explore. We were off to the saltos and joined 5 more VS5 volunteers who I had yet to meet, on the bus. They had a different plan than us which involved hiking to the volcano and we thought why not! All of them were awesome to meet, it’s so interesting to hear about life in the other cities, each is so unique even though we are all English opens doors teachers. We passed the saltos and were dropped at Lago todos Los Santos. 

A 5 hour hike was in store and I was wearing converse, half way done my water and had zero food. So worth it. It was such an experience and I am very happy that we spontaneously changed our plans to a hike, because I am here to explore Chile more than anything else. We hiked through sand and the sun was beating down, the other volunteers luckily shared their food and it was a day for the books. The hike took us to a view point with the volcano on our backs and the rich blue water turning into lush mountains and snowcaps ahead. Chile is unreal. We sat at the base of Osorno volcano and just enjoyed the beauty till finally we hiked back along the lake. It was breathtaking and I ate my first Chilean veggie burger after so it was a day to remember.

   

   

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  Shoe regrets

  Our destination

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Puerto Varas 

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View from dinner 

Overall, it was such a memorable weekend and Los Lagos deserves all its hype. It is beautiful, teaming with Chilean culture and so blue. Puerto Montt is a medium sized port city in which you can feel the energy exuding out, while contrasted with nature. Puerto Varas is small, quaint and very picturesque.

( When I arrived back in Punta Arenas I was welcomed home with strong winds, strong enough that they were not able to take luggage off the plane! )

Some extra random pictures 

 

View from my hostel window   


Main statue of puerto Montt (dos amores)

  
Puerto Montt   

During the Osorno hike 

  
My first Kunstmann, beer from Valdivia, Chile.   
  Manjar ice cream exists!
Thought this was crazy. Saw it close to landing in Punta Arenas. There’s one tiny building and nothing else.   
  Our standing room 45 minute bus to the lake!

 
Gracias Los Lagos 🙂 

Bienvenidos a Patagonia

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FARO SAN ISIDRO

(Publishing this 51 days late,oops)

Sunday was one of my most adventurous days, ever. It seems strange to me to think that it was but all I’ve really done hiking wise are very common day hikes where you pass people doing the same journey. I met with the Punta Arenas outdoors club in the plaza and we hopped on a van to a drop off point about an hour or so from the city. The road seemed to end there and we were dropped off right on the straight with 8 hours of trekking ahead.

I was nervous. Really nervous.

Everyone was wearing super intense hiking outfits, many had poles and I felt like such a poser in my hiking pants and boots. Luckily somehow Chileans walk very leisurely so I was keeping up with room, having to slow down a bit. We were trekking on the beach of the straight on many rocks, wet sand and a view of dolphin fins! For the first time I could see very pretty Patagonian mountains which made me feel so much more like I was finally in this incredibly remote part of the world. After about 2 hours or so we stopped for a break, casually up where I am standing taking the photo above, and I drank mate for the first time!

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Yum. It was actually really good and is also called Yerba.

After that, we were back on our way. Out of no where, the water was too high and two parts of the path were blocked off. Luckily, we were with very outdoor experienced people and they found a way to lead us through the woods. It was in no way a set path and we started going and turned around many times. Inside the forest was another river which we had to cross by crawling up a wet fallen tree branch! It was terrifying but one guy stood at the top with his hand out to help in which he said “Bienvenidos a Patagonia” as I grabbed on.

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The fallen tree behind him is what we climbed! and he (Ernesto) is who helped!

Somehow, the last 45 minutes or so were the hardest. I could see the lighthouse and it looked so close but the walk was never ending. The mountains became much clearer and the view was incredible. We did not pass anything or anyone until suddenly there were cows!

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They came from a farm near by apparently but of all animals that’s not what I was expecting haha.

As we neared the lighthouse the wind which they had warned us about before going started to pick up and the rain came with it. Getting there was amazing and it is a beautiful site! San Isidro is the first light house ever built in Chile and the southern most continental lighthouse in the world! Also, it cannot be reached by car.

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There is a hostel right near it (The southernmost continental hostel in the world) which I’m not sure how that works being closed off from the world, but they let us sit in an abandoned cabin room and eat our lunch. I brought a cheese sandwich, almonds and cookie dough protein bar (only ones I can find here) and it was pretty delicious.

It is so lucky that we somehow have an in with this group and could join the club because it was literally just a friends hanging out and hiking type of situation. The van cost about $9 each (2 hour drive) and from there we just happened to be among experts!

Anyways, the trek back was rough. Sitting to eat made me get really cold and the 30mph wind, rain, sleet and snow which all started as soon as we left the light house didn’t help. The walk back only took 2.5-3 hours rather than 4! We were all speed walking, didn’t stop once and I think the wind was helping to push us towards the endpoint. My feet have never felt that pain lol but it was an amazing experience. At the end once we got in the van we looked out the window and the dolphins were jumping! (Just like all of us were jumping for joy that we were finally sitting)

I hope to do these types of activities often and maybe now that I was welcomed to Patagonia I will 🙂

13 y Paro

Thirteen Weeks. HOW LOCO.

With 13 down, I now officially have 4.5 weeks in Punta Arenas and 7.5 total to go. Time flew.


I’m not going to lie, four weeks left here does not make me sad, it’s exciting because after that is three straight weeks of constant travel! Traveling is like a drug and the next four weeks are sort of a standstill, I’ve done mostly everything there is to do in Punta Arenas so exploring the rest of diverse landscaped country will be amazing. Yes, I will probably shed some tears  leaving my students and family but after this long I think I have experienced all there is in the capital of Magallanes/ Southern Patagonia.

October has been a whirlwind of life enhancing experiences. I was able to travel almost every weekend; spent 2 nights alone in Puerto Natales, marking my first solo hostel experience, trekked in Torres del Paine for 3 days (best weekend of my life) 🙂 and even left Magallanes and visited Los Lagos! I was on such a high and time came and went faster than I can even explain which resulted in a little crash, which is my current state. (Eager for the next adventure)


Life in Chile

It is very interesting to say the least. The copious amount of white bread and mayonnaise consumed here have not slowed down but the weather has drastically gotten better which makes everyday 100% more enjoyable. 12 weeks ago when I began teaching, I was sleeping in 2 pairs of pants, a long sleeve thermal, both a fleece and a big sweater, gloves, a hat and wool socks. I was then waking up in the dark, going to school in the dark and could see the sun rise from the classroom around 8:15 or so. I came home, wearing hiking boots on icy roads, the sun set and everything was cold. Now Punta Arenas has made a 360 and I sleep in just one pair of pants, a shirt, fleece and wool socks! I wake up to LIGHT and right now it is 8pm and the sun has yet to set. It is about 45-50 degrees and there is sun! SPRING has arrived. (hallelujah)

Yesterday I picnicked with my host family, with a view of beautiful Patagonian mountains and Fuerte Bulnes. Horses and cows came close to our set up so the family shoo-ed them away, funny how casual it was. It was so nice just to be sitting in the sun (the sun which is always 11+ UV due to the hole in the Ozone layer) and be enjoying the fresh air.


This week is Halloween! It does make me a little homesick but luckily I was invited today by a student to join her at a English speaking Halloween event in the American corner of University of Magallanes, maybe that will feel like home. What freaks me out the most is thinking how it is practically Novemeber!! It still really does feel like August 31st to me, but with Halloween happening I have the realization that no, time did not stop.

PARO (strike)

 
Something which I can’t  believe I have yet to write about, parosStrikes are so common here, the civil registry which is where passports and all ID cards are issued has been on strike now for 27 days! How is that possible. Luckily, I picked up my carnet right before the paro but just thinking of the idea of not being able to get a passport in your own country  is moderately terrifying.

Paros in general. No they are not a surprise. The semester before me the public schools were on strike for a few weeks and we received many new students because my school ended theirs earlier than others, according to my head teacher.  I have seen numerous government offices with paro signs taped on their doors or even blocking the traffic in front of my school holding up posters. Many employees act out like so in magallanes because the cost of living is very high due to isolation and importation yet they are being paid the same as all regions of the country. We were watching the news last night and it was showing both Antofagasta and Santiago, which are extremely far from here (one being in the Atacama desert), with crowds surrounding their civil registries in hopes that the strike would end. For a countey so long, it is very united in terms of paros. [Except that Magallanes is usually  left out of the picture, as we call ourselves the republic of Magallanes.]

“Although Magallanes is Chile’s largest province it is home to less than 1 percent of the population. Vast expanses of ice and steppe separate it from the rest of Chile and a thick slice of it is omitted from most maps.”Sara Wheeler

 At orientation they warned us that it was possible our schools would go on strike, I had no idea how possible that actually was.

Great example (not my picture)

  
HUMANS OF 2015

For some reason the thought of moving to Southern Patagonia, practically the last frontier, made me believe everything would be completely different.

It shocks me how many things are exactly as they are at home, and it actually makes me a little upset for society.

My students use their smartphones on snapchat, facebook and instagram constantly. One girl was blasting “I’m in love with the coco” today (lol) and they all say random lines by wiz khalifa to me often.

To think one day a person would write a letter hoping in a few month it could potentially reach the destination and now I can FaceTime my parents with no concern. Insane. In terms of convenience it is great, yet the addiction to wifi is sad and yes I am guilty.

I will write about the weekend in Los Lagos soon but that is a little update!


I made with this cut outs from local papers and magazines which I think gives light to a few interesting parts of my region! Fernando de Magallanes is the flying head.

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Torres Del Paine

“You know where I wanna be right now? Right here. Nowhere else. Not in the future, not in the past. This is what I worked for all my life (…) Just live for the moment.”

(180 ° South – YVON CHOUINARD)

 

Torres Del Paine.

Torres Del freaking Paine. I do not even know where to begin.

For the last few years the number one place on my bucket list has been “Patagonia”, with that being said I honestly knew little about it but had an image in my head of Torres del Paine. Leaving out the fact that it’s simply a region of the world consisting of southern Chile and Argentina.

Bucket Lists are funny things, they began to be so trendy in the last 7 years or so, though I feel like it is more common than not to write down all your dreams, throw them in a drawer and forget because the act of making a list is satisfying. I personally, am a big dreamer per say and think of the things I want to accomplish in life way too often. This is one that drove me to come all the way to Chile and teach English for four months. Torres del Paine is the sole reason I requested the South and seeing 180 south has made me become obsessed with my goal to go to Patagonia. It happened. It worked. I am living in Patagonia and I just spent my long weekend at Torres Del Paine. It is unreal. I do not believe it and even now looking at the pictures I am in shock. This was a weekend of many firsts, a weekend where I questioned if my legs could make it and a weekend of magical, spectacular, breathtaking moments that I hope I will remember forever.

Day One,

Signe and I took the 7:30 am bus from Puerto Natales into the Park. It is a 2 hour bus ride and my excitement was killing me. On the bus, we had a perfect view of the towers for at least 10 minutes and the road was winding in and out, up and down valleys and hills until we reached a small office. The first success was that we entered as Chileans! Yup, I am a Chilean. At least according to Torres Del Paine. I have a carnet, which is a Chilean ID card and with that I got the extremely reduced rate. Upon entering, we took a bus to the tower camping area and were off. Trek number one was about to commence.

Mirrador las Torres

The weather was amazing. Around 60 degress and the sun was shining, there was no wind and the park was not crowded. This is all so rare that I couldn’t believe it. It felt as if the world was calling us to Torres del Paine. The trek was TOUGH. And beautiful, so so incredibly beautiful.

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 We hiked uphill most of the time, through desert looking lands, forests, along cliffs with valleys containing streams and bright blue rivers and finally we climbed up a vertical mountain full of boulders until alas, 4 hours later, we made it. There is no way to describe the scene from mirrador las Torres and pictures don’t even come close to portraying it. The jagged ash grey towers rose out of the ground with snow along the center and meticulous strips of water going down the base into the bright blue water which was mostly ice covered. I was in awe and so relieved to have accomplished a trek which led to a moment of complete wonder. We sat on a rock and drank from the lake at the base because a lady told us it was the cleanest water in the park. It was absolutely delicious, ice cold and crystal clear. The best part was it was 4pm, not many people were around and we could just spend time gazing, relaxing, basking in the sun and eating dried fruits and nuts and even chocolate. Signe was smart and brought us both a mini wine bottle so we cheers-ed  to the hike and enjoyed wine with chocolate. Everything was right with the world and each person who made it to the top seemed at peace. We saw one man meditating, one guy with only boxers on ( who I had befriended earlier in the day on the bus so I was confused) and many people jaw dropped staring at the towers.

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The other crazy site was right as we were looking up a condor flew in circles above us! I have been wanting to see one ever since I was in Peru last year and finally the moment came at the utmost perfect time. Without a single cloud in the sky, after spending an hour with the towers, we decided to make our descent being that we wanted to finish in daylight. The trek down was very hard on my knees being that it was such a steep hike for 4 hours. What I love about hiking, and what makes it so different than other forms of exercise, is there is no option to stop and give up. I am a terrible runner simply because it’s too easy to let myself start walking or go home. We had to continue or it would be pitch black on a cliff with no railing, plus the park is filled with Pumas! (Which sadly we did not even see one.)

We arrived at our Refugio around 8:30 pm right as the sun was going down. Luckily when we were very close someone in a car stopped and drove us which was so needed. After hiking 8 hours on vigorous terrain you become a little delusional. No one was at the check in desk so we began to feast on everything. I showered before we even checked in and Signe began talking a Chilean and offering food. He turned out to be a blessing later.

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My feet were burning, apparently 2 months in my hiking boots was not enough! I took them off and got to realize the day was actually filled with blood sweat and maybe some tears of joy.

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We had to go outside to walk to another building to pay a tax, I was not happy because I was laying in bed while my body was throbbing but oh was I in for a treat. THE STARS. I cannot even come close to explaining but it was as if we were in a different world. The sky was pitch black and filled with thousands of stars which were actually twinkling! I now understand the song. There was a gold band of light and I couldn’t look down. The world is amazing. In that moment I understood the love for astronomy and space and everything beyond this world that so many people seem to feel. The end of the world. We were looking at space, at light, at a mysteriously spectacular site that I can’t even comprehend. So yeah getting out of bed was definitely worth it.

7:30 am

It was now Sunday morning and we were about to embark on day two. The sky was bright blue, not a cloud in site and we could see the tip of the towers as we walked to the bus stop. Because we were essentially still at the entrance area of the park there is a bus that takes you back to the ticket office which we needed to catch to then get transport to the catamaran at lago Pehoe to hike to glacier grey. We were sitting under the sun when the Chilean, Gabriel, who signe had offered food the night before said he would give us a ride.

Gabriel has been going to Torres for 30 years and seemed to live the most extreme life. He showed us his photo album while he drove, blasted ACDC, and pointed out that he was a guide to a diplomat’s son, was friends with the first person to free climb the towers who later died in a climbing accident and how he was in a band. He preceded to show us his secret  look out points in the park which we would have completely missed out on if it wasn’t for his generosity. We stopped at a mountain which houses many condors, walked next to guanaco bones 😦 (Pumas were to blame) and viewed valleys, streams, mountains, flower buds, the cuernos del Paine and everything in between. He drove us for an hour and a half, the last stop being a magnificent waterfall which flowed into Lago Pehoe with the most turquoise water and a rainbow forming in the mist. Was life real?

 

  

  

At 11:30 we said our goodbyes and were dropped at lago Pehoe ready to board the 12:00 catamaran. We sat down by the water eating dried fruit and talking about how perfect our excursion with Gabriel was.

The catamaran

My God it was gorgeous. We boated on the turquoise water with views of the cuernos del Paine and the beautiful snow capped mountain which were next to it. Many people on the catamaran were about to start the W and for the first time in a while I heard numerous American accents. It was 30 minutes long and we were dropped at a campsite which was the starting point for the hike to glacier grey!


We started our second day of hiking and the sun was just a little too strong. With sore legs, blistered ankles and a 4 hour trek ahead we began to loose steam fast. Signe said “it seems like we’re in Africa” during the first half hour because it really did. There was no water, no trees, the heat was crazy considering we were wearing winter clothing. We finally made it to a lookout of beautiful water with floating blue ice! Three French exchange students talked with us as we snacked and gained some energy. We had only gone 2.5 km! With 8 to go we started again, when finally a long while later we saw it, lago grey! The glacier was outstanding, larger than you could ever imagine, so blue and it slowly diminished back into snow filled mountains and finally into the sky. Wow. We kept walking and four hours after the start reached our Refugio. It was nice and in the middle of nowhere! We walked 15 minutes to mirrador grey and spent time taking in glacier grey, somehow no other hikers were around. You feel the beauty and solidarity of nature, a feeling in which I have not felt many times in life.

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 ( Me pre-fall )

Yeah fell on those jagged lookin rocks but it’s okay.

After this, we showered and drank a delicious Austral Yagán, which is their dark beer actually brewed in Punta Arenas.


The next morning, we woke up around 6:30 and began our last and final trek in Torres Del Paine. It was cloudy and there was a little bit of mist which was amazing. The park looks very eery with the clouds and being that it was so early we passed less hikers than all other days. It somehow only took us 3.5 hours to trek back to Lago Pehoe, and there we relaxed for 2 hours until it was time for the catamaran. I felt very accomplished and in peace with nature. Our final catamaran ride was so gorgeous and I was already feeling sad to leave.


  
In natales we rewarded ourselves with pizza and an Austral Torres del Paine! I wanted to wait to try it until actually going to Torres so that was exciting. The pizza was much more exciting.


 Torres Del Paine is in all ways spectacular. I have never been to a place where I am in such awe at all times and am so sad that the weekend is behind me.

Thank you Patagonia.


  
  
  

 

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DCIM100GOPRO

Patagonia

“Fear of the unknown is the greatest fear of all” -Yvon Chouinard

A weekend in the heart of Patagonia

On Wednesday night around midnight I received a call saying that now my Thursday classes were cancelled. Having had off last minute Wednesday and knowing I didn’t have class Friday this frustrated me. Finally I had a 5 day weekend. A weekend which could hold a trip to any place in the country if I had known in advance. I googled buses, flights, visas, everything. Anything that I could possibly grab hold of to take advantage of the 4 free days ahead. Finally, I went to sleep thinking I was out of luck. Thursday morning I woke up, got ready and was going to go to el centro to walk around and thought what am I doing. It was about 11:00 or so. Next thing I knew I booked one of the last available hostels online, packed the first outfit I saw  into my bookbag and headed to the bus terminal. Luckily there was a bus leaving for Puerto Natales in 30 minutes with room for me!

My hostel

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Wild. It was more than I could’ve ever asked for, especially being that I simply chose it because it was cheap, one of 3 options and had a nice photo (little to no reviews). I was greeted by the owner, a Finnish man, who was eating an ice cream cone and enjoying the unexpected beautiful weather. I expressed that I was hoping to see a glacier the next day and was considering going to el calafate even though it involved buying the overpriced visa. He told me his wife, a Chilean, was coming back soon and is the one of them who speaks Spanish so she will book something. (He was so eager to help, I hadn’t even asked for him to book it I was just saying why I was in puerto natales!) I waited by enjoying a strawberry ice cream cone outside on the porch feeling like it was summer. Next thing I knew, she arrived on the phone and asked me with or without lunch?? “$20,000 pesos for lunch” ..”uhh, no lunch!” …”okay, yes she wants the spot!”

Booked. I had no idea what tour I was doing and was confused at that point if it was for the Chilean glaciers or Argentina but I knew whatever it was it was way cheaper than I expected. Turns out it was the most amazing, worthwhile, Patagonian, breathtaking tour I have ever been on.

That night, I ate soup and a crepe made in the hostel (it is also a public restaurant) and enjoyed mulled wine while reading The house of spirits by Isabel Allende. Life was perfect. It was my first time staying alone in a hostel and also my first time staying in a mixed dorm. My room had 3 bunk beds and was filled with all foreign non English speakers. Brazilians, Frenchmen and a couple from Uruguay. Everyone was friendly and no one locked up their bags so it was a very trustworthy group, nice cameras being left out with no one even contemplating stealing. I took a long hot shower and went to bed.

[if you are ever in natales you should stay here! It is brand new so everything is clean, beautiful interior decorating and only $15 usd a night, including a great breakfast. I already want to go back!]

GLACIERS

This is going to be a series of pictures so to sum up the tour: I walked from my hostel to the water, boarded the boat, we took off at 8am and began to sail through the fjords of the channel of Last Hope! The sites were unreal and pictures do absolutely no justice. They served coffee, cookies a granola bar, pringles and later pisco sours with glacier ice! We could go outside to the deck area which I spent a lot of time on. We stopped to see a colony of interesting birds that look like penguins, sea lions and finally 2 glaciers!! Balmaceda and Serrano. For Serrano, we docked at parque nacional bernardo o higgins, a national park that can only be reached by boat or helicopter, and were able to hike for 20 minutes to the base. I can’t even describe the views and how in awe I was. I’ve never appreciated nature more than I did this day. Patagonia is heaven. The floating ice, the emerald water, the perfect reflection of the mountains in the water and even the blue of the glaciers are things that make me question my love for anything other than nature. The tour was a full day 8-5 and on the journey back I sat atop the boat in the sunshine just taking in the rugged landscape of snow capped mountains encompassing my view. During the tour we had a clear view of Torres Del Paine and the jagged mountains which lie in the park. You don’t see people or houses or anything, just the land.

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After the tour, I was fairly starving because I didn’t pay for the lunch (They all went to eat lamb at a farm so it didn’t sound appetizing haha) so I decided to try to brewery! Baguales, located in the Plaza of Puerto Natales is a micro-brew pub that according to the menu was the first one in Patagonia. Anyways, I was so excited to find out they served Mexican food. YES Mexican food!! I had been craving it since the moment I was dropped off at the airport in DC. At Baguales, I ate a delicious vegetable quesadilla and drank their “negra” brew. So good and so needed.

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After, I went back to the hostel and relaxed for the night, more mulled wine, my book, another crepe (oops) and people watching. It’s funny because I have never been someone to read a book alone in public and be content but Isabel Allende is a phenomenal Chilean writer and the mulled wine helped. Also, it was pretty much all couples minding their own business in the hostel so I didn’t have many options.

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The next morning (Saturday), I woke up with the intention of doing something worthwhile since I stayed an extra night. It was lucky because they had one space in Wild for Friday night which I booked after the glacier tour. Funny how the whole weekend fell perfectly into place with it being more last minute than any trip I’ve taken. Anyways, I ate coco puff like cereal, warmed bread with jam and cheese and drank coffee in the hostel. They offered to keep my bookbag while I left to hopefully do the Mirrador Cerro Dorotea hike. It was 8am and I figured perfect timing to get in an early hike. False. There were no taxis. For some reason nothing really opens before 9 in Magallanes.

I walked down to Kau which is located on the water because I remembered that they have drip coffee! Drank REAL coffee and looked out onto the scene, viewing the boats and snow-capped mountains.

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Ps. met this dog who was jumping one me but he was cute so it was okay!

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I was then planning to just go to the bus station because I see hadn’t seen taxis or really any life in Natales. After arriving to my hostel to get my bookbag I was energized by the extreme amounts of caffeine I consumed or by seeing backpackers walk by and decided, no I needed to go hike. Next, I found a taxi and made my way to Mirrador Cerro Dorotea!

Upon arrival, I was already feeling like I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into. It’s a farm outside of town with a little house and tons of sheep, cows, horses, chickens and dogs.

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I was introduced to the owner and she quickly gave me directions in Spanish on how to get to the mountain. I only understood “red” and just kept nodding. I made my way through the farm and then got to a fence which had a small amount of red paint on it. The fence lead to a pasture of cows and I stood there for a while trying to figure out if I should enter. An old farmer, about 5ft tall, very tiny in stature, a cross eye, a Dayton jr volleyball jacket came up and lead me through the cows.

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They were all mooing and jogging towards me, I was freaked out because some were bulls and it was not what I expected. Finally, we made it to near the edge of the mountains and he just pointed forward. I began to climb and was struggling A LOT. The ground is desert-like made of dirt and tiny rocks. It was the steepest hill I’ve ever tried to climb and was using my water bottle as a stake. After falling multiple times, being scared to death and holding on to small brown shrubs I saw that I wasn’t on the right path and there was the trail to my right leading diagonally up.

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I looked down and he was in the field watching me probably thinking I was insane. After about 20 minutes I made it to the walking trail and was so relieved. The hike was about 1.5 hours and so beautiful at the top. I passed one couple coming down as I went up but besides that it was only me. From the top you could see all of natales, the fact that there is nothing except for the town and the beautiful glaciated southern Patagonian mountains and fjords. It was so worth it. After getting down the lady offered me bread, cheese, cookies, coffee and an egg! It was great and I sat with two older Chilean men. One wearing a full on gaucho outfit. It was an experience I will never forget and I was happy to have successfully navigated my way through it in Spanish.

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I now feel like my introduction to Patagonia has truly commenced. The weekend revived me being that the last two weeks I have felt off. Next weekend I am going back to Natales and hiking Torres del Paine which after meeting many people on their way to the park I can’t wait. Patagonia is a place like no other, the land is rugged, vast and rules over the people. Many times, my boat tour has to turn around because of the weather but luckily, Pachamama was generous on Friday.

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 moment of silence because my water bottle did not make it back to Punta Arenas.

Primavera

It is finally Spring. Week 9.

I can’t even believe that I’ve been in Chile for 2 months. The weather is warming up and the sun is now up before I go to school! (wooooo)

The strange thing is it doesn’t feel like I’ve been gone all that long. I believe this is a common phenomenon, but I feel like time at home has stopped and it is still July 31st there, so it will be crazy going back to full-blown Christmas. This is the longest I’ve traveled yet there have been semesters in which I didn’t get to see my family or go home, so in a way that aspect is not hard. I miss them a lot but the last 4 years made me used to it.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind and I don’t even know where to start.

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Last weekend I went to Tierra Del Fuego to see the king penguins! It was so interesting because from the water here you can see a land mass which is Tierra Del Fuego so I’ve always wondered what it is actually like. There are only 7,000 or so inhabitants on the Chilean side (It’s half Chilean half Argentinean territory) and probably a 100 sheep to person ratio. We took a 2 hour ferry from Punta Arenas to Porvenir and then drove 2 hours to see Parque Pinguino Rey! It was so awesome because the “parque” consisted of two trailers and  two workers: a guide in a camo suit and someone taking our money.

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It looked like a scientist lab in the middle of nowhere which I guess it kind of is. The Penguins are in the wild but have taken up the land as a home away from Antarctica. As humans, we can’t get that close because they rope it off in order to keep the Penguins safe and not to scare them away. We saw some coming back from their daily fishing trip to the water waddling back to the group. They are beautiful and its the only place you can go see them other than somewhere on the Falkland Islands and Antarctica. During the drive we passed thousands of sheep, many guanco (so adorable, a llama like animal) and a few horses yet little to no people. The land is brown but with incredible natural landscape of valleys and hills. From one side you see that land and from the other the deep blue water with breathtaking mountains in the distance. From here we could see Isla Dawson which was used as a concentration camp for political prisoners after the coup under the rule of Pinochet. It is truly chilling to have this conversation: “Wow, look how stunning those mountains are!”,  “Yeah, that’s Isla Dawson, it was used as a prison camp.” The dictatorship is still so alive in aspects such as that; Kevin my brother said how I would see it in everyday life here and I didn’t believe him or really understand but it is true.

Recently, I went to take a picture of a colorful building in town and realized it was a site for human rights and I was standing in a monument dedicated to those who were taken from Magallanes and never seen again. I think coming from the USA I can’t actually grasp the fact that people are missing brothers, sisters, friends, parents because they “disappeared” but even in Santiago we saw many posting of faces and name marked “Where are they?”

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I asked my head teacher why she moved to Punta Arenas considering her family is a difficult drive through Argentina away. Her response, “My country had a dictator.” Her father did not agree with Pinochet’s ways and in turn she could not look for work in her town and had to move all the way to the bottom of the country. She told me of her struggle to visit family, plane tickets are expensive and the drive is over a day long; I understand but as I mentioned early I don’t believe I can ever fully comprehend it all. I am lucky to be an American.

On Sunday, I finally went to Fuerte Bulnes! It was a beautiful day so the view of the mountains was spectacular. Fortunately, a Chilean friend drove Signe, Susan and I so the 4 of us made stops and got to truly enjoy the day. One monument we passed, I had seen before but didn’t do what it was, turned out to be the vertical center of Chile! How crazy considering I am in the extreme South, the southern most city. They count Antarctic territory in the measurement so that is why.

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Fuerte Bulnes was the first settlement in the southern expansion of Chile and without it Punta Arenas would not exist.

A week ago was dieciocho, the national holiday similar to the 4th of July. My school had a big festival and I enjoyed empenadas, terremotos and cueca! The whole city was alive and Chilean culture was everywhere. All of the schools open up to the public with carnival games, typical food and prizes. I then went to Natales for a day which is a beautiful town on the outskirts of Torres Del Paine.  Almost everything was closed due to the holiday but it was nice to get away for a night. In my opinion it is much more beautiful than here because of the picturesque mountains though it is a lot smaller. Good news— I am hiking Torres next weekend!! Finally.

Puerto Natales:

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RANDOM

To me one of the funniest things is finding out what is a “comfort” to me. For example I went to the Chilean Walmart, Lider, and found “great value” chewy chocolate chip cookies which I think are nasty at home and wouldn’t get but I got so excited and bought them; I guess chocolate chip cookies remind me of the US, I don’t know. On mornings when I go to school at a different time than the family I am able to cook an egg with tomato and that brings me so much happiness. Yum. I think I miss cooking and choosing what to eat. I wouldn’t say that I’m home sick, it’s just nice running into things like those cookies that remind me of the U.S.

Spring has brought around a large crop of backpackers and Punta Arenas is finally coming alive. Street vendors are out and I feel less like a foreigner now that people are walking around with book bags the size of their bodies looking lost.

“peace out”

(phrase I taught my kids which turned into them making smoking motions at me in the hallways and saying peace in front of the other teachers….not what I was going for)

honest

I feel very weird about writing this.

There are many posts in my drafts folder, which I need to finish and publish about good positive experiences but this is more the reason a blog exists in my opinion.

Teaching is hard. Living in Chile is a big adjustment and no I still do not speak Spanish.

In many ways, this experience has been easy for me and very good, but looking back over my blog/ social media I realize it seems like I’m living this unreal amazing crazy life (maybe it doesn’t haha but I think in ways it does) when in reality, there are times when I feel so defeated it’s insane.

My favorite thing about my life in Chile has been teaching. There are moments when my kids won’t repeat after me, are extremely disrespectful and just yell about smoking weed until I can’t take it anymore. I’ve had classes that I ended early simply because no matter what I do they won’t pay attention and there have been times when I wanted to freak out but obviously that’s not an option. So yes I do love teaching, there are classes that I leave feeling so accomplished after but there are some that I think to myself “why am I even here.”

Spanish. It is entirely my fault and maybe that is why I am so frustrated with it, but it is difficult. The last two weeks I feel like I went back to the beginning because I stopped studying and have no idea why I did that to myself.

Punta Arenas is very isolated. Very isolated. The buses only go to Puerto Natales and far away places in Argentina. Being a US citizen just entering Argentina costs about $200 so I can’t afford it. There are times when I feel trapped and so confused why I wanted to go to the extreme south but on the contrary there are moments that make me realize how special it is.

I’m not writing this to complain, I love Chile and have seen beautiful sites, even King penguins over the weekend! I have had days where I think I never want to leave but also days when I have looked at plane tickets home.I just want to be honest because I looked back on a post and it freaked me out how great I was making it all sounds. Yes it is an amazing experience, I am so glad I came and would recommend but in no way is it just a huge fun trip 24/7.

The isolation causes loneliness, as does my lack of Spanish, as does the fact that this is the first time in my life that I frequently have hung out with just myself. I see the other volunteers often but some days I wake up, go to school, teach with no kids really understanding me, go to a café alone, come home, am unable to  speak with the family and go to sleep. It is not a good feeling. No, I am not truly lonely I just feel the “alone at the end of the world while isolated vibe many days.”

My health is going down the drain because white bread is the staple food here eaten for both breakfast and dinner, lunch sometimes being pasta. I  crave healthy food more than anything because my body actually needs it lol, yet constantly have been buying sweets because I’m hungry and they are everywhere. I love vegetables, and extremely love spinach yet only ice berg lettuce exits here. If you watch SpongeBob and remember when Patrick was vacuuming food with his mouth that is me when I see carrots, tomatoes or onions on our table.

Overall, things are good, it is finally nice out!!! It’s spring wooo! I have 2 big weekends coming up and the weather has really helped with everything. I’m promising to myself to work on spanish because it honestly just makes me feel stupid when I don’t understand. I will post about many cool/fun things that have happened over the last couple weeks but I think this was needed. Check back in a day or two for a good post!

L8r

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