Sunday, July 1, 2012

Skiing, Sandboarding, Solemnes, Sangria and (lack of) Sleep

Hello world! It's been a while since I've posted but I've been crazy busy with school and just life in general and pretty much any free time has resulted in my accidentally falling asleep on top of computer or in less convenient places ie the metro or in class. But last week I turned in my hardest final paper, gave a bunch of presentations and now only 3 finals (solemnes) stand between me and vacation. On Friday I will finally be done with my spring semester and to be honest, it's making be really sad. I still have an entire month left before I head home, but considering how fast these past 4 months have's weird. I'm looking forward to an amazing senior year back at AU, a great place to live (finally, yay!), awesome friends, some of whom I haven't seen in more than a year, and a bunch of new abroad friends to bring back to AU with me. I'm so lucky. But damn, the idea of leaving Chile is scary.

Claudia informed me the other day that the new chica will be arriving July 27. I come home from Peru July 28 and will be staying in Claudia's guest bedroom until my flight home (!!!) August 1. Basically, when I come home from Peru, some NEW GRINGA will be in MY ROOM. wah. It's sometimes weird to think that someone else will be thinking of Claudia as their mama chilena  as soon as next semester.

Anyway, what have I been up to the last few weeks? Well, my Aunt Lynn was here the weekend of June 15. One of her best friends, Ellen, lives here in Santiago and her husband owns the famous Portillo ski resort. Lynn arrived early Friday morning and I showed her around Providencia. Then Ellen came over and we had lunch prepared by Claudia. Empanadas (fried and baked!) and of course, some pisco sours. It was fun to have someone from home see my life here in Chile. Claudia loved meeting my aunt and told me she was absolutely precisosa. After our delicious lunch and some tea, we decided to ditch our original plan of heading up to Portillo that night because there was a snowstorm. We were hoping that in the morning, things would be clear enough to head up. For dinner we went to an Argentinean steakhouse and enjoyed a few of my favorite things: grilled provolone cheese, chorizo, wine, and of course steak. That night I went to bed at a record early time of 11 PM and slept like a baby--since Ellen's house has central heating in the area where the bedrooms are! After months of curling up beneath mountains of blankets, heat felt like such a treat!

Lynn, Me, and Claudia 
Lynn, Me, and Ellen

Saturday morning we awoke to a beautiful day--after the storm the Andes were clear and gorgeous and we had word from Ellen's husband Henry that although Portillo wasn't open for the ski season yet, we could go up. Portillo is about a 2 hour drive north of Santiago, almost to the Argentinean border. It lies on the road the trucks use to get from the port city of Valparaiso to Mendoza, Argentina and then on to Brasil so after a storm the road is backed up with trucks waiting to get through, but in our little car we skirted right around them, up the 32 curvas leading up to Portillo. It is absolutely gorgeous up there, just snow and mountains and a beautiful lake. We spent the next 24 hours relaxing, eating, drinking and telling stories. When we woke up the next morning we discovered it was snowing, and snowing hard and the road down the mountain was closed. Lynn had to be at the airport that night, so Henry helped us out and got us a giant plow truck to escort us down. Awesome! We spent the day in Santiago and then dropped Lynn off at airport for her overnight flight back to DC! While it was a whirlwind visit, it was definitely one of the highlights of my experience here!

Two days later I was back at the airport, but the this time headed to the San Pedro de Atacama desert, the driest desert in the world. This was our final trip arranged by the program and to be honest I wasn't really that excited. I was exhausted, had a ton of work to do, was missing out on some stuff going on in Santiago, and also, wasn't really sure why I would want to go to a desert. But, Atacama converted me. It is a completely different kind of beauty than anywhere I've ever seen. It's sort of reminiscent of the American Southwest but then the desert is backdropped by the snow covered Andes. It was a great week, packed full of activities: swimming in freezing cold, salty lagoon, visits to see flamingos, volcanic lakes, a valley that so closely resembles the surface of the moon that scientists to experiments there, and sandboarding down a giant sand dune! Here are some photo highlights!

Day 1: Laguna Cejar

Wine and cheese after our dip in the frigid water!

Day 2: Ojos de Salado de Atacama y Lagunas Altiplánicas Miscanti – Meñiques

AU Pride!

Day 3: Sandboarding and Valle de La Luna

Since heading home from Atacama, it's been kind of a whirlwind week, but a lot of fun too. The whole group feels better now that a lot of our big assignments are done and it's time to aprovechar (enjoy, take advantage of) the time we have left here. Megan and I are pretty much done planning our trip to the North and I'm getting pumped and also nervous for my Machu Picchu trek! This week some of my friends start to leave which is sad but it's our good-bye cocktail at the university, and the 4th of July!

1 comment:

  1. Now looking forward to your Blog on Peru!!! You have really kept up beautifully on photos and descriptions! Awesome. Love, Grandma Ritchie