¡EN TOMA! The Fight for a Quality Education and Another Semester in the Books

After my most recent trip I returned to school expecting everything to be just as it was when I had left. Much to my surprise, my first day back I discovered that the school was officially “en paro.” While before my departure to Brazil, I was aware that students were beginning to protest in an effort to express their desire for free education, I did not think that their protests would escalate to this level. Instead of filling the halls of Casa Central patiently waiting for classes to start, students congregated outside of the academic buildings refusing to attend their courses in an attempt to get their point across. In all honesty, the whole situation was somewhat comical. Even though the students were protesting against the education system, PUCV allowed them to use the courtyard in the primary education building to organize groups, paint and display banners, and vote as to whether or not to initiate “tomas” and overtake the academic school buildings.

The struggle for a quality and free education in Chile has existed ever since Pinochet made drastic changes to the education system during his dictatorship which lasted from 1973-1990. Before the military regimen of Pinochet, Chilean President Salvador Allende implemented a multitude of educational reforms aimed to both promote and better the educational opportunities for Chilean citizens of all ages. However, after Pinochet took over, the quality of education greatly diminished and has yet to see drastic improvement. This fact, coupled with high costs and low wages after graduation, has acted has a catalyst, promoting students across the country to protest for the standard of education that they deserve.

Since the students have been protesting, you never know what the academic day will bring. At one point, they overtook one of the academic buildings, piling chairs against the gates to prevent anyone from entering.

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Additionally, there have been a multitude of marches in the streets (which conveniently distract me as I try to complete assignments from my desk at work) and other forms of revolt. Just last night, my bus ride home (which is normally only 20 minutes) lasted 2 hours due to the fact that students had set up barricades in the middle of the street. You would think that the police would have a better handle on things, but thus far it seems like the students are running the show.

As a result of the recent uprisings, my Economics class was cancelled for the rest of the semester (devastating, I know). While it was awesome not to have to attend class for 5 weeks, in order to receive credit for the course, I have been diligently working on a 20 to 30 page paper that analyzes one of the infamous Chilean wineries. Riveting stuff… let me tell you.

In regard to my other academic courses, I just finished up the my semester at PUCV! WOOO HOOOO!!! I must admit, the last few weeks of class were bittersweet as I have grown very fond of my teachers and loved absorbing so much information with respect to the the Chilean culture and Spanish language. We ended our dance class with a celebration of Chile’s Independence Day. Even though the official day is not technically until the 18th of September, our teachers decided to celebrate early to give us a taste of the fun that we would be missing out on. We ate homemade empanadas (my teachers mom and dad made them right before our eyes), played traditional Chilean games, and drank wine and Chicha de Uva (a traditional Chilean drink which is essentially like hard apple cider, but made with grapes instead-can you say delicious!?!?!) at 9:00 in the morning-It was awesome! I can only imagine how much fun it would be to participate in the actual festivities.

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IMG_4177In addition to the Independence Day celebration, as we commenced the semester, my culture class had the opportunity to explore Cerro Polanco (one of the many hills in Valparaíso). Currently, Cerro Polanco is part of a graffiti project and teams of local artists are covering the walls of the neighborhood in vibrant explosions of color! I loved every minute of walking around the hills and taking pictures. Check out a few of my favorites…

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With all final papers completed (well almost completed) I have started to work full time at my internship. As I approach my final month in Chile and my fellow peers begin make their way back to the States, I am starting to get a little bit nervous about coming home. I cannot imagine what it is going to be like to step off the plane and be on American soil for the first time in 6 months. I have allowed myself to slip into a life of normalcy here and I have no doubt that I am going to miss the unique culture that I have come to love.

On a final note, I couldn’t finish this blog post without mentioning the fact that I had the chance to see two of my fellow classmates, Maggie and Josh, from Butler last week! The pair have taken on a 2 month trip across South America before they will reluctantly enter the working world, which we all inevitably try to put off as long as possible. As part of their journey, they stopped in Valpo for a few days and I had the chance to show them around Viña, giving them what seemed to be their first encounter with civilization in the last month. After a day of exploring my current stomping grounds, complete with a trip to Lime Fresh Mexican Grill and Starbucks, I ensured that they were well fed before they headed out to take on the next part of their journey. It was truly great to see them and I could not be happier that our adventures crossed paths.

Welp…that’s about all I have for now! Currently working on finishing up some final papers for PUCV and Butler, and pushing through the last two weeks of work.  After that, it is off to Buenos Aires! Don’t fret, I will be in touch before then. Missing everyone at home, but I know it won’t be long before I can reunite with you all!  Yikes!

Recounting Rio: Coconuts, Fútbol, Falafels, y Cristo Redentor

To start, I simply cannot begin to write this post without insisting that you listen to Barry Manilow’s renowned song, Copacabana. Inspired after a visit to Rio de Janeiro, Brasil (even though in actuality the song takes place at the Copacabana bar in NYC),this song is near and dear to my heart as the opening liner mentions that “her name was Lola and she was a showgirl.” You may be asking yourself how this has any relevance to my recent trip to Brasil.  I must admit, while the only thing the two have in common is that I was physically at the location from which the name of the song was derived, the more important similarity lies in the fact that the love of my life is my pug, whose name happens to be Lola, just like the showgirl.  Often, if you are lucky, you can catch my mother singing a hysterical rendition of the song to Lola (the pug).

There you have it, my very random and yet somewhat relevant introduction to my blog post about Brasil! Now on to the good stuff…

My trip for Brasil began last Wednesday. After taking a night bus to Santiago, I once again attempted to get a few hours of sleep on the cold, hard floor of an airport. Our flight left super early on Thursday morning, so I really did not have any other option. While the lack of sleep and early morning wake-up call are never any fun, watching the sunrise over Chile from the plane always seems to be worth the pain and agony.

Coco and Speedos

We safely landed in Brasil around 11:00 a.m. where, thankfully, a prearranged transport was waiting to take us to the hostel. We truly did not have an official agenda for our time in Rio, and it was nice to have the freedom to plan the days as we saw fit. After checking in on day one, we went to grab a bite to eat and headed to Copacabana beach. Despite the fact that it was a cloudy day, we enjoyed watching an intense game of beach soccer! Brasilians do not mess around when it comes to playing the sport, and the game was very entertaining.

The remainder of the evening we walked about the beach and enjoyed familiarizing ourselves with the area. I swear, every male on Copacabana beach struts around proudly in a speedo. It makes for a disturbing, yet comical scene… men these days. In addition to the massive amounts in men in speedos, everyone was drinking coconut water. The patterned sidewalk that lined the beach was abundant with vibrant yellow and red snack shacks that sold baskets of coconuts. When purchased, the vendor would simply split the top of the coconut open and stick a straw in it. I had never had the opportunity to try coconut water and, not surprisingly, I was mesmerized by the idea of drinking out of an actual coconut. Needless to say, I purchased one on Saturday when we returned to the beach. It truly is the little things in life…

After a late dinner, we socialized with the other hostel dwellers and made quite a few new friends; including Adam, from Manchester, England and Joao, a tattoo artist from São Paulo.  Adam taught us a new card game, which he called Shit Head, and we incessantly played it every night for the remainder of the trip.

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

As Friday brought on rain, and we couldn’t go to the beach, Adam, John, and I headed to downtown Rio to do a little exploring. We walked about the streets and enjoyed observing both the old architecture and newly constructed buildings. As to be expected with the upcoming events Rio is hosting, much of the city was under some much-needed construction.

After walking around aimlessly for what felt like an eternity in an attempt to find the Museu de Arte do Rio, we finally located it (we literally had to ask for directions 5 times, which proved to be rather difficult considering Brasilians speak Portuguese, not Spanish) and decided to take a look inside.

While I truly do appreciate art, the museum was jam packed – it was the place to be- and it was difficult to see all of the exhibits. There were some rather interesting pieces of art, including the one below (which I was not supposed to take a picture of… shhhh, don’t tell).

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Painted by Peter Saul and titled “White Boy Learns a Lesson,” we could not help but to gape at the picture and laugh hysterically. But hey, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. After viewing 4 floors of art and not seeing anything that really blew my socks off, we headed to the final floor and I was mesmerized. As always, they saved the best for last. The final exhibit was composed of art projects and photographs that portrayed the lives of those who live in the favelas (Brasilian shanty towns) of Brasil. The primary art display was an actual replica of a favela, made using a variety of different materials. It was incredible!

My Newfound Falafel and Fruit Infatuation

Nearly famished after our visit to the museum, we ate at a nearby Arabic restaurant and then headed back to the hostel. While in Brasil, I developed a newfound obsession with Middle Eastern food, which seemed to be a very popular cuisine in Brasil. In fact, my new favorite food is now a falafel. For those of you who do not know, a falafel is deep-fried ball or patty made from mashed chickpeas. Put them in a pita wrap and add some lettuce, tomato, onion, hummus, and tahini sauce and I can guarantee that your taste buds will be in heaven! We feasted on Middle Eastern cuisine quite a few times as we found an awesome restaurant between the hostel and the beach. I can assure you when I make it back to Brasil, I will be visiting Amir Restaurante again! In addition to falafels, I also fell in love with the natural fruit juices/smoothies that are sold on legitimately every street corner. Upon my arrival, I was informed that I must  try Acaí. The drink includes acaí berries and your choice of granola, honey, and/or banana. Once you select your ingredients, they blend them together (I’m sure a little sugar is added to the mix) and a refreshing purple slushy is produced. Acaí berries mixed with banana is the way to go in my opinion. If you ever find yourself in Brasil, you have to try one!

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Living it up in Lapa

There always seems to be a party in Brasil, so Friday night a group of us ventured out to the Lapa Street Party, which takes place every Friday night around the Arcos de Lapa. The area is filled with vendors selling local foods and alcoholic beverages. While almost everyone had Brasil’s national cocktail, the caipirinha (which is a disgustingly sweet drink consisting of cachaça (Brasilian style of rum made from sugarcane juice), lime, and sugar), in hand, I stuck to a mixture of vodka and fresh fruit. You can’t go wrong with mango, maracujá (passion fruit), and hard liquor! The atmosphere and energy surrounding the Lapa arches was incredible; musicians lined the streets and samba music filled the air while people danced about and enjoyed the vivacious beats of the drums. After mingling in the streets for a few hours, we were enticed into going to a nearby  club after someone offered us free admission. We danced the night away, not returning to the hostel until 5:30 a.m.

A Seemingly Uneventful Saturday

For some odd reason, I was wide-awake at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning (don’t ask my why) and was ready to take on the day. After killing some time and waiting for the others to get up, Adam and I purchased tickets to the Brasil vs. England soccer game the following day. We had been debating whether or not to purchase tickets, which we could only find through the hostel for a premium price, and finally came to the conclusion that since it was the FIRST GAME IN THE 2014 WORLD CUP STADIUM, we just had to go! Beyond excited after securing a ticket, we headed to the beach for a couple of hours! John and I had originally planned to make our way up to see Christ the Redeemer for sunset that afternoon, but we were unsure if we needed to buy tickets beforehand and John had decided to go Sunday while we were at the game. Me, being the high-strung worry wart that I am, panicked and thought that I was not going to have time to see the infamous statue (which is a MUST see while you are in Brasil) and irrationally left the beach and took a cab to the Trem de Corcovado (which is the tram that takes you to the apex of the Corcovado Mountain, where Cristo Redentor stands over Rio). When I arrived at the ticket counter around 4:00 p.m., I unfortunately discovered that tickets were sold out until 7:40 that night. Not wanting to wait and knowing that I would not be able to get a spectacular view of the city after dark, I jumped on a bus back to the hostel. Once I was connected to the Wi-Fi, I immediately purchased a ticket online to ensure that I would make it to see Cristo before we had to head to the airport on Monday afternoon. With all of that being said, for those of you who ever find yourselves in Rio at any point in your life, make sure to buy your ticket online BEFORE making the trek to Corcovado! Due to my nonsensical and unreasonable decision-making that afternoon, I was rather grumpy and frustrated on Saturday night and decided to lay low.

Sickly Soccer

Sunday morning I woke up with no appetite, a sore throw, body aches, and swollen lymph nodes. Just my luck! My temporary illness was not going to stop me from going to THE FIRST GAME IN THE 2014 WORLD CUP STADIUM, so I took some Advil and toughed it out. The game was absolutely incredible and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to go. The outside of Estádio do Maracanã looks a little bit like a concrete flying saucer orbiting through outer space. While the aerial view of the stadium is much more impressive than the ground view, I could not help but to feel a rush of energy as we approached the massive structure. Surrounded by a sea of Brasilians dressed in bright yellow, the intensity of the energy was apparent immediately. There is truly no greater sensation than feeling the excitement before a fútbol game, especially in Brasil. The most magical moment was walking up the concrete ramp into the area that housed the field. The circular complex is open at the top, allowing the natural sunlight to flow in, and is filled with very contemporary light blue and yellow chairs. Take a look for yourself…

Watching the game and cheering alongside over 75,000 Brasilians was awesome! At night, they stadium lit up with yellow and green lights, making it look even more spectacular than it did in the daylight.

I will say, while the complex is awesome, they have a bit of work to do before they host the World Cup. The bathrooms were leaking massive amounts of water from the ceilings, they ran out of hotdogs before the game started, and they could not keep up with the high demand for popcorn. Luckily they have a year to master everything…

Returning to Corcovado

Monday morning I was in a cab by 7:30 a.m. making my way back to Christ the Redeemer. Of course, it was cloudy and there was rain in the forecast. Thankfully, the rain held off and I was able to catch the first tram up the mountain and gape at the massive (it is after all considered to be the largest art deco statue in the world) statue in all of its glory. To give a comparison, I feel like Christ the Redeemer is Rio’s Statue of Liberty. In fact, both happen to be constructed by French sculptors. The panoramic views of the city from the top of the Corcovado Mountain were awesome. I was able to see the soccer stadium, Sugar Loaf Mountain, and much more.

After spending an hour with Cristo Redentor, I grabbed one last pita wrap from Amir and sadly said goodbye to Rio.

Academic Application and Thoughts on the Future of Rio

I will admit my first day in Rio left me unimpressed with the city. However, after spending more and more time there, I fell in love with it. I cannot wait to plan a return trip in order to spend more time on the beaches (which is the thing the do in Rio), including Copacabana and Ipanema, hike Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf Mountain), revisit Cristo Redentor on a sunny day, explore downtown Rio further, take a favela tour, and make a trip Manaus or Pantanal (regions located in the Amazon). The only real downsides to Rio are the cost and the language. Nothing was cheap and the prices rivaled with those I have had to put up with in Chile! Additionally, the majority of the population speaks Portuguese. While there are many similarities between Portuguese and Spanish, communication was not easy and I surprisingly found myself missing the ease of talking in Español. I must say, even though the language barrier was somewhat frustrating, due to the fact that it is so much easier to learn Portuguese after you have learned Spanish, I have a new desire and goal to master the language.

Beyond my amazing experiences in Rio, I also had the chance to witness the execution of one of the many sustainability projects that Rio is working on. Last semester I had the opportunity to complete a project in one of my business classes. The project exemplified different ways that businesses in Rio are contributing to the sustainability of the city. One of the projects our group discussed was the Bike Rio System. Essentially, as a result of partnership formed between Brasil’s Itaú Bank and SAMBA (Sistema de Bicicletas Públicas (Public Bike System)), bicycle stations have been strategically placed throughout the city and are available to rent through the use of daily or monthly passes. It was really neat to have the opportunity to view the implementation of this system during my time in Rio… you know one of those real life, real business experiences the Butler College of Business loves to talk about!

With the Bike Rio System being only one of many projects the city is working on, I can only hope that the city has time to prepare itself for the upcoming events it will be hosting (specifically the World Cup and the Olympics). They have A LOT (and I mean A LOT) to do in terms of constructing new infrastructure, cleaning up the streets, waste management, transportation control, and in general preparing for the mass influxes of people who will coming into the city. I suppose only time will tell and I remain anxious to visit Rio in the future just to see how much the city transforms!

The Month of May in a Nutshell

Ahhh hello to all! It has once again been far too long since I have had the opportunity to sit down and simply share my thoughts with you. I will tell you now, since Bolivia (which was full of awesome, terrifying, breathtaking, exciting, and mind-blowing adventures), nothing extraordinarily riveting has happened.

A Much-Needed Return to Normalcy

As soon as I returned from Bolivia on the the 6th, which feels like an eternity ago, I had no option but to jump feet first back into my daily routine: school, work, eat, sleep (exciting stuff, I know). I did finally find a gym to join that has an indoor pool! It’s nothing compared to the Butler HRC (which no gym, in my mind, will ever be able to replace), but it provides me with a place to swim (when I have the time), as well as allows me to socialize with others who share my love of the water.  One would think that because of their close proximity to the ocean, the porteños and viñamarinos (cool new words I learned with the first referring to the habitants of Valparaíso and the latter referring to the citizens of Viña del Mar), would be phenomenal swimmers; however, this does not seem to be the case. It is actually very comical, despite the fact that their varying levels of speed and proficiency make it nearly impossible to swim during the pool-time rush hour. Nevertheless, it’s a great community and I love being able to call the chlorine my perfume once again!

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It’s no Butler HRC, but it gets the job done!

Mother’s Day Surprises!

On the 12th my Chilean family celebrated Mother’s Day, as I am sure all of you did back at home. We drank wine and had a lovely lunch, consisiting of lasagna and salad. I gave my mom flowers and a piece of hand-made Chilean pottery, which she loved. She even got a little teary eyed after opening her gift and reading her card.  I must say the pottery seems like nothing compared to what my real mom had coming to her! After recieving flowers on Saturday, my wonderful mother woke up and had the following poem (written straight from the heart by yours truly) waiting for on the kitchen counter:

Hallmark better watch out!

Hallmark better watch out!

YES! IT IS TRUE! For her Mother’s Day gift, my mom recieved a return ticket to Chile!!!!! 63 days and counting! I truly feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to make both of my moms feel so special on this day; don’t know what I would do without them.

Academic Update

The following week brought on a full week of work and school. School is school, and as with the rest of the exchange students, I am ready for classes to be over. I have officially 5 weeks of the semester remaining and a whopping 29 classes left… not that I am counting or anything. In addition to my academic course load at Católica, I have started my internship class at Butler (super exciting, not).  Between working 20+ hours a week, attending school, and completing required assignments for BU, I am constantly occupied with some new task. I am happy to say that things are going well at my internship. Currently, I am  collaborating with the head of financial controls in order to complete a project with a goal of determining the allocation of administrative costs incurred by each of the company’s 5 subsidiaries. My internship opportunity is truly turning into a great learning experience, challenging me to learn about business disciplines (mainly accounting and finance) outside the realm of my primary major.

Birthday Fun!

After a relatively and uneventful mundane week, I was excited for the weekend. Due to the fact that we had the following Tuesday off of school (May 21st marks the day that Chile defeated Bolivia and Peru in the War of the Pacific, taking control of lucrative mining territory), the majority of students were traveling. For once, I took a much needed break and stayed at home. Coincidentally, the 18th marked both my host sister’s (Catalina) and biological sister’s (Macy) birthdays! As Cata had been in the hospital due to an illness, we celebrated her birthday on Sunday when she was well enough to return home. The majority of the family came in from Santiago, and although it took them some time to warm up the gringa (slang term meaning a white, English speaking female) in the household, we ended up having a great evening. Watching Cata open her gifts and seeing her so happy was priceless.

IMG_3743That Fireball Whiskey Whispers…

I must admit, as I approach the end of my 4th month abroad, I am a little homesick. I truly love Chile, but I often catch myself daydreaming about summer country concerts, tan lines, teaching swim lessons at the pool, driving down the back roads in Ralphie (my trusty Jeep Liberty) with the windows down, and drinking momma’s sweet tea!  Nothing will ever compare to a good ole’ summer in Indiana or Kentucky. Miss ya’ll back at home!!!!

There you have it; my month of May in a nutshell!  Leaving for Brazil in 6 days! WAHOOOO!!!

Just for fun, and because I’m obsessed…

Bolivia Round 2: La Paz

Without a doubt, La Paz is one of the coolest cities that I have ever been to. In fact, I simply love, love, love La Paz!

Located in west-central Bolivia, La Paz sits between 10,650 – 13,250 feet above sea level, making it THE world’s highest national capital. Luckily, unlike my last trip to Bolivia, I had absolutely no problems adjusting to the drastic change in altitude this time. The city is rich with a unique culture, diverse scenery, awesome night-life, inexpensive shopping, great food, and offers an infinite list of activities for travelers. Okay, the sales pitch is over, but really La Paz is la raja (Chilean slang meaning awesome, the bomb, etc.).

With less than two days in between my return from the majestic Iguazu falls and my departure to Bolivia, I was exhausted from the get go. John and I flew to Arica on Tuesday afternoon with hopes that there was going to be a night bus to La Paz; however, this was not the case. With the next bus to Bolivia leaving around 10:00am the next morning, we set up camp on the floor of a small room, which housed a single ATM machine, at the bus terminal. Let me just tell you…sleeping on a hard tile floor in unfamiliar territory does not make for a good nights sleep!

We woke up bright and early the next morning (if you even want to call it waking up, I hardly slept at all), bought our bus tickets, and departed by 10:30am. Having experience with lengthy bus rides prior to this trip, I thought that the so-called 8 hour expedition would be a breeze. However, once again, this was not the case. For the duration of the entire bus ride (which took longer than estimated) the oh-so- kind lady sitting in front of me had her seat completely reclined,  ungraciously taking up all of my leg room and preventing me from getting as comfortable as comfortable gets on a bus. After 10 hours of tossing and turning, listening to music, reading, and going through border crossings, we FINALLY arrived in La Paz around 8:30pm. I will admit, the scenery visible from the bus windows was absolutely beautiful. Throughout our travels we were able to see once again how spectacularly diverse the Bolivian terrain is. Additionally, pulling into La Paz after dark and seeing the entire city lit up was breathtaking!!!!

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After taking a cab to the Wild Rover hostel, we showered, ate, and hit the hay. The hostel was… interesting to say the least. The amenities were nice, despite the fact that the showers only had two temperatures-scalding and freezing- and the free breakfast only consisted of bread and butter (like really, where are the scrambled eggs, biscuits, gravy, and bacon y’all?). There was a bar inside the hostel and every night swarms of young travelers residing within the walls would take a nap and then go party the night away. Young, free-spirited travelers whom originate from various places around the world make for a very eclectic and intriguing group of people, to say the least. Admittedly, the hostel was not my cup of tea; however, it provided me with a warm bed to sleep, was clean, and was dirt cheap…this is all I can really ask for.

Our first full day in La Paz was spent exploring the city. The instant I set foot on the streets, I was captivated by its unique culture. The plazas full of Bolivian flags, brightly colored government buildings, monuments, and churches were amazing.

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While I enjoyed taking in my new cultural surroundings and noting differences in regard to architecture, transportation (the micros are 10 times cooler as they look like brightly colored school buses), food, etc., one of the most intriguing parts of the city were the Bolivian women that engulfed the streets.  In the midst of what would be considered a developed city, many of the women still dressed in traditional Bolivian clothing, including brightly colored skirts, hats, and sweaters. Additionally, the majority drape brightly colored cloths around their backs in order to carry items throughout the streets. It is actually quite comical and impressive how the Bolivian people pack goods. I noticed it from the time I was on the bus to La Paz. Many of the travelers had plastic,multi-purpose bags filled to the brim with who knows what. The same held true when I arrived to the city itself. The people lined the streets with massive, and I mean massive, durable bags full of goods. Many of them were vendors, who meticulously unpacked their items every morning, only to strategically re-pack unsold goods at the end of the night. It is unreal! I suppose consolidation is key when you have to walk the hills of La Paz everyday!

Many of the side streets were composed of cobblestone and were lined with vendors selling fruits, traditional Bolivian food, and products made from alpaca fur.  From blankets, to sweaters, to hats, to scarves, you name it, they have it. The best part? Everything is so cheap!!! I went on a bit of a shopping spree (I fully blame my talent on spending large sums of money on my mother), buying things for friends and family. I even had to buy an extra duffel bag in order to get everything back… whoops! Even though I could have shopped for days, I was not going to put John through the torture as he bought everything he wanted at the first market we encountered. Boys…Ughhh!!! Don’t worry, I managed to sneak out later in the week and spend more money!

As we explored the city, it became notable that the higher we went, the more magnificent the view of the city was. Wanting to take the absolute best picture possible, we climbed, and we climbed, and we climbed up the hills of La Paz. It was not easy, but, the pictures were definitely worth the trip.

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While exploring the city was a blast, by mid-afternoon we were ready to get our adrenaline pumping. Having done a bit of research through tripadvisor, we found that there was a place nearby to repel off the side of the building. We headed back to the center of the city to partake in the Urban Rush experience! Dressed up like Spider-Man (I was literally wearing a Spider-Man costume, no joke),  I repelled off the side of a hotel. It was great, although I wish the building would have been a little taller! Hehehe…

The next day (Friday) brought on an adventure all of its own! We woke up bright and early and headed out to bike “The World’s Most Dangerous Road” (officially named this by the Inter-American Development Bank in 1995). The road is formally referred to as “El Camino a Los Yungas,” or “The Death Road (Camino de la muerte),” by the locals. This was by far one of the coolest things that I have ever done. A van from Vertigo Biking picked us up around 8:00 am and we drove about an hour outside of the city before reaching our departure point. After suiting up and preparing our bikes, we were off! The vast majority of the ride was downhill, and in total included 64kms (40 miles) of riding and a descent from 4,700m/15,400 feet.

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The trip began flying down winding stretches of asphalt at La Cumbre, allowing us to “practice” handling our bikes. The views included beautiful mountain scenery and compared to the rough gravel that we road on for the majority of the trip, riding on the asphalt felt like gliding streamline through water before a swim. After riding for approximately an hour, we made our way to the more challenging part of the ride: a gravel road that legitimately runs along the side of a mountain. Those of you who know me, know what a reckless driver I am in the car. Well, the same holds true when I am on a bike! For some reason I just cannot grasp the concept of using brakes. Nonetheless, I had an absolute blast flying down the narrow mountain road, occasionally slowing down to pass a car or take a photo…and then there was that one time that I got a flat tire… only me! From rock overhangs, to waterfalls, to mountains, to lush jungle vegetation, the ride was incredible! I will say, it was a little spooky riding by the crosses of those who had passed away from accidents along the way…

We eventually made our way down a dirt road and ended our ride in Yolsoa, which sits 1,100m/3,600 feet above sea level. Expired of all energy, we took the van to a hotel in La Senda Verde where a quite delicious buffet lunch was served. They had plantains, so I was in heaven!

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We made it!

As if biking down “The Death Road” was not enough, our group drove back up the road as well. You see, a new (and much safer) road has been constructed; however, at the time that we wanted to leave, it was going to be closed for the hour because of something to do with a landside.  Being the impatient bunch that we were, we made the decision to take the van back up the path from which we descended (this is not common). Driving the road was much scarier than biking it and the majority of the car was slightly freaking out…John even had an escape plan if the van was to suddenly tumble over the edge of a cliff. Every time we rounded a turn our driver would blow his horn in an attempt to warn unforeseen, and unknown, oncoming traffic that we were coming around the bend! While I was undoubtedly the most calm and collected person in the car, I will admit that there is truly no better way to get your blood pumping than to look out the window of a moving vehicle and see nothing but vast, empty space… as if the tires had no road to cling to…

All in all, “The Death Road” experience was awesome, enough said.

The fun did not end after our biking adventure. The next morning we once again woke up bright and early, but this time to go paragliding over the Bolivian countryside. I found the experience to be rather relaxing, despite the fact that I ran straight into a cactus during takeoff (go figure).  Twenty full minutes of gliding over breathtaking views, taking in everything this world has to offer… it does not get much better than that! Take a look for yourself…

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After paragliding, we made it back to the city with plenty of time to do some more shopping and eat Mexican for dinner, a perfect ending to our last night in La Paz. WOOOO!!!

We took the 6:00am bus back to Arica on Sunday, where we checked into a hostel, relaxed a bit, and went to dinner and the local casino.

Our flight was not scheduled to leave until 5:30pm the next day, and we desperately wanted to change to an earlier flight in order to get back to Viña at a more reasonable hour. At the casino, John attempted to win enough money to cover the cost of the ticket change, but after being up 65,000 pesos (about $135), he lost it all.  No need to worry, he was still even when we left, we just had to pay to change our plane tickets… I am going to have to teach that boy when to walk away… Ha!

La Paz is by far one of my favorite places that I have been to thus far. In our initial travel plans, we were going to make a trip to Lake Titicaca; however, we loved La Paz so much that we decided to stay put (this only gives me a reason to come back!). I will no doubt be returning to visit the city again in the future, in addition to making trips to Lake Titicaca, Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, and Sucre.  So blessed to have the opportunity to immerse myself in the unique culture of so many different areas!

Water, Water Everywhere!

Unbelievable. Breathtaking. Magnificent. Natural, God given beauty.

Those are just a few of the words that I would use to describe my most recent trip to the mesmerizing (forgot that one) Iguazu Falls in Argentina. As the falls are truly indescribable and it is not possible to merely transcribe their beauty through words, this post will be filled with my favorite pictures from the trip and not as much of my rambling… lucky for you!

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After a taking a bus to Santiago, a plane to Buenos Aires, and yet another plane we (John and I) finally arrived in Puerto Iguazu around 9:00 AM Friday morning. You see, John and I were on a mission to get our Brazilian visa as we already have plane tickets booked to Rio de Janeiro for the end of this month. After reading a fellow travelers article, which I recommend to anyone trying to obtain their Brazilian visa while in Puerto Iguazu, we were banking on arriving at the consulate as soon as we landed, handing in the necessary paperwork, and receiving our visas. After a few complications (which included running around the town in search of a printer and converting our American $ to Argentinean pesos) we had all of the necessary documents and we had our 10 year Brazilian visas within 2 hours! 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics here I come!!!!!!!!!!

Exhausted from our travels, we went back to the hostel to wait for our friend Rebecca to arrive. We lounged a bit and then made the short walk to the “triple frontera,” where you are able to see Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay all at the same time.  In the photos below, I am standing in Argentina taking the picture, the land mass to the left is Paraguay, and the land mass to the right is Brazil. Pretty cool stuff….

The next day we woke up early, ate breakfast and headed to the cataratas (cataracts)! We were there for around 7 hours and saw all but one of the falls. Green vegetation, tropical flowers,blue skies, rushing water, rainbows, and sunshine filled our day. I can’t say it enough… everything was seriously indescribably beautiful. Take a look for yourself…

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During our day we had the opportunity to take a 20 minute boat ride, which literally took you so close to the waterfalls that there was water spraying at you from every angle. Being the water bug that I am, I was in heaven flying around in a boat, getting drenched by THE one and only Iguazu Falls. I was brilliant enough to wear a white t-shirt that day (hahaha), so once we returned to mainland (soaked from head to toe), I pretty much had a wet t-shirt contest with myself! Ha! Nonetheless, the boat ride was without a doubt my favorite part of the day!

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After our boat ride we explored the park a bit more…

and took a train to the “Garganta del Diablo,” which is legitimately the most massive waterfall I have ever seen.

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As if waterfalls and rainbows were not enough, the park was full of the most beautiful butterflies. It truly is incredible, and mind-boggling when you think about it, how unique and exquisite each pair of a butterflies wings are. It was as if each intricate design had been hand painted on each delicate wing. Unreal. Truly, natural, God given beauty.

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It is beyond clear that everything witnessed and experienced throughout our day was AMAZING! However, there was just one thing that I did not like about Iguazu Falls… THE TOURISTS. I know that this is somewhat ironic as most would consider me to be a tourist myself (I prefer to refer to myself as a traveler!), but there were people everywhere. Most of these people, who came from all around the world, had absolutely no qualms about pushing you out of the way in order to capture pictures of loved ones in front of the falls. It was ridiculous. To boot, the park had a Disney World theme park kind of feel. With restaraunts and gift shops strategically placed along the man-made concrete path ways, I have no doubt that Iguazu could one day be acquired by Disney and developed into one to the most epic theme parks in the world. Roller coasters towering over waterfalls, a grandiose version of Splash Mountain, a night-time firework show over the falls, Mickey Mouse’s voice blaring throughout the park, and of course the creation of the new Iguazu Falls princess, Izzy. Ha! This became a running joke throughout our day and we had some  fun pretending to be “imagineers,” dreaming up the most magical of ideas!

Other than dealing with the mass amounts of people, the only other seemingly annoying creature in the park was this little guy…

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Known as the coati, the animal is native to the region and the ones in the park are clearly accustomed to all the tourists.  They had absolutely no reservations about following people around and begging for food like dogs in the street. John even witnessed one leech on to a lady’s backpack! Hahaha! All earthlings and creatures aside, it was a great day. We were wiped and decided ordered pizza (thank god for pizza delivery) and enjoy each other’s company for the remainder of the evening.

Saturday morning, we took our time getting ready and then headed to Güiráoga, a small wild animal refuge. The refuge takes in hurt animals found throughout the area as well as wild animals that people have had as pets and need to surrender. If possible, they release the animals back into the wild when they are ready, or simply breed them and release their offspring. Being the animal lover that I am, I had a blast learning about all of the animals native to the region. We saw a multitude animals including various types birds (eagles, toucans, wild turkey, macaw, owls etc.), turtles, coati, capybara, and best of all, monkeys! The coolest monkey we encountered did not belong to the refuge, and was actually living in the wild. He swung right down from the trees and climbed along the railing beside us. It was awesome!

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The other monkey we encountered, whom was being held in captivity, was not as pleasant as our friend pictured above. At one point in time, he actually reached his hand through the cage and grabbed my camera. Holding on for dear life, I yanked it away from him as quickly as I could. The camera still takes pictures, but it seems to be making some strange noises. I am just praying that it gets me through my next trip! Here is a picture of the little you know what….  :)

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After the animal refuge, it was back to the hostel to chill until our flight that night. A 9 hour delay at the Buenos Aires airport made for a fun night of attempting to catch some shut eye on cold tile floors… not. We arrived back in Viña safe and sound Monday morning, just in time for me to go to class! WOO!

I REALLY hope you are able to appreciate the beauty of the falls through all of the photos, and if you get the chance, visit them for yourself! The pictures do not do them justice!

I’m headed to La Paz, Bolivia tonight! Much more to come next week!

Chao for now.

Just a few bonus pictures… :)

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Buenos Aires from the plane

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This picture could not depict us more perfectly… able to charge our iPhones on the plane! Ohhhh yeahhh

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Hammock naps are the best. I don’t even think I need a bed anymore…

Reunited and It Feels So Good

IMG_3300Yet another week (almost 2) has flown by in Viña. This one seemed to blow by even faster as I was fortunate enough to spend it with my Mom and Dad! Words cannot express how great it was to share a small portion of my experience with them. Not to mention, nothing feels better than some good ole’ loving from your mommy and daddy.

On Saturday, April 13th I anxiously and impatiently waited as my parents took a cab from the SCL airport to Viña del Mar. I must admit their arrival was rather speedy (I think they made it to Viña before Grammy and Lauren even made it through customs-Hahaha! Just messing with you two). As expected, they were exhausted from the dreadfully uncomfortable 10 hour plane ride from Dallas to SCL. After many hugs, we napped. Yes, we napped on their first day in Viña and it was glorious! Laying in between my parents in the king size hotel bed, in CHILE…it does not get much better than that! After laying around and resting we walked around the streets of Viña, and went to eat fish at Tierro del Fuego. The food was great and we watched the sunset over the ocean from our table! Icecream after dinner topped off our first night :)

The next morning, I ensured that we were out the door at a relatively decent hour. We headed to the Valparaíso bus station to try and buy tickets to Pomaire, a local artisan town an hour oustide of Santiago. However, upon our arrival we discovered that in order to travel to Pomaire by bus, it is necessary to depart from Santiago. Having a back up plan, we simply spent the entire day exploring the historic city of Valparaíso (no need to frett, we made it to Pomaire later on that the week). In all honesty, the change of plans was for the better. Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day in Valparaíso. The sun was shining and we walked through the streets, making our way to the infamous shipping port. Sunday is a GREAT day to explore Valparaiso as all of the vendors are out and about selling a multitude of things (literally, you could find anything your heart desires). As we made our way to the port, we stopped in Plaza Victoria and shopped at the Feria de Libereros and Antigüedades. The feria was in full swing and mom and I were in hog heaven shopping for antiques! I am not sure Dad can say they same, but he was along for the ride (lets be honest, he did not have any other choice). After making a few purchases, we continued our trek around the city, making sure to visit both Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepción. Riding the famous Acensores, shopping for local goods, looking at graffiti, and eating my favorite pizza at Allegretto made for a great day! My mom had an obsession with all of the old doors throughout the city and insisted that I photograph ALL of them. I must admit, the photos turned out to be really cool. Take a look at the highlights from our day in the photos below!

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The rest of the week was very chill and each day was filled with different activities. Unfortunately, after our sunny Sunday in Valparaíso, the weather was terrible throughout the remainder of the week. Legit- clouds and colder temperatures accompanied us wherever we went. But this of course did not hold us back from having fun! I want to be able to remember everything we did, so I am going to give a brief rundown of what we did each day. I promise I will make it short and sweet :)

On Monday, I was fortunate enough to have my one and only class cancelled! I took the rents to eat at my favorite local restaurant, Don Monolo and then we headed back to Viña to do some shopping on the boardwalk. That night, my parents took John, Rebecca, and I out for a Mexican. We had a great time and I am so glad that my parents got to meet my best study abroad friends! Ha!

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Tuesday mom and dad were on their own! I, unfortunately, had other obligations (class and work) ALL DAY. They survived the day and we met up with John for dinner after I got off work. To all those looking for a quaint and delicious restaurant in Viña, you should definitely head to La Cuisine. The chef and owner, Patricio, is the nicest guy ever and the food was to die for! I had Merluza (a native Chilean fish) in a seafood sauce with grilled veggies.  I will no doubt be going back.

Wednesday, one of my classes was cancelled again! WOO HOO!! Mom and I drug Dad around the mall for a few hours and then we headed to have linner (you know, the meal that occurs during the post-lunch, but pre-dinner interval… yeah probably the most important meal of the day) with my host family. Despite the fact that my parents speak virtually no Spanish, and my host mom speaks absolutely no English, I must say that lunch went rather smoothly. My host sister, Coni, and I were able to do all of the translating and I felt so blessed both of families in the same place at the same time!

Thursday we headed to Concón to eat at my favorite empanada restaurant, Las Deliciosas. However, much to my dismay they were closed. After asking a local couple where the SECOND best empanadas in the area were, we headed to Todos Empanadas. I will admit, the empanadas tasted basically as delicious as the ones from Las Deliciosas…BUT it is the principle of the matter. We ate the SECOND best empanadas in Concón… I guess that means you all will have to come back! HA! After feasting we grabbed a bus back to Viña. The bus ride from Concón  to Viña is one of my favorite things to show visitors. The bus meanders along a narrow costal road starting in Concón (obviously) and takes riders through Reñaca. The ocean views are truly mesmerizing and often you can see sea lions swimming about the in ocean. Once we returned to the hotel, mom and I headed up to my apartment in order to unpack the suitcase of clothes, food, and other goodies that she brought from the states. After unpacking, we then had to repack all of the clothes that I no longer need during my remaining 3 months. It is a good thing they brought an extra suitcase because even after sending her back with a mound of clothes, I still do not know if I will be able to make it back to America with all my crap. Exhausted from our day, we simply met John for dinner at the hotel restaurant.

Friday we left to for Santiago! I was super excited to show my parents another part of this awesome country. We checked in the the Marriott Hotel, which I would recommend to anyone staying in the area. Even though I could have curled up in the beyond comfortable bed and napped for hours, there was not time to waste as we had plans to reattempt our trip to Pomaire. We headed to Estación Central and purchased bus tickets to Melipilla because there were no more direct buses to Pomaire that day. I thought I had our travel plans all figured out… once we arrived in Melipilla, we could take a short and inexpensive cab ride to Pomaire. Easy, right? Well, the bus attendant knew that we really wanted to visit Pomaire and had the driver stop literally on the side of the road near the small artisan town. While this was an extremely thoughtful gesture, we were dumped in what felt like the  middle of nowhere with no taxis in site. Luckily, having great travel karma (knock on wood) a Chilean couple we encountered offered to give us a ride into town.

Pomaire is infamous for its pottery made from greda, or natural clay, and giant empanadas! The town is tiny and mainly consists of small shops, each of which contain pottery. I am telling you, there was pottery for days. Mom and I went nuts buying small dishes and figurines. It was such a unique experience and I am thankful we had the opportunity to go!

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Before we knew it, it was Saturday and my parents had to return to the US. Fortunately, their flight did not depart until late that night so we got to spend another day exploring Santiago! Mom and I did more shopping in Bellavista and then we ventured out to Barrio Yungay in order to find a restaurant that I had read about online. I loved having the opportunity to explore a new area of Santiago. Barrio Yungay is one of the older neighborhoods located in Santiago. The neighbor is composed of old homes and buildings that are full of character and encompasses a unique and rich culture. Due to the fact that I did not know the exact location of our destination, Boulevard Lavaud, it took some searching before we finally arrived. I must say both the experience and the food were well worth the wait! The restaurant is full of antiques, 90% of which are for sale! Each of our meals were delicious, and the dessert was even better.

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After lunch, it was time to head back to the hotel to collect the luggage and make our way to the airport. Saying goodbye was beyond difficult, but I would not trade my time with my parents in Viña for anything. I am so blessed that they had the opportunity to come visit me all the way in Chile and I miss them so much already. I love you two more than anything and thank you for everything! Can’t wait to see you again in just 3 months!!

School, Work, Sleep and Birthday Fun!

Hola to all! Time is continuing to fly by here in Viña dell Mar and although nothing particularly noteworthy or exciting has happened since my most recent trip, I thought it would be nice to catch everyone up on my daily routine (as mundane as it may be), the details of my internship, and most importantly, how I celebrated my 22nd birthday in Chile!

WARNING: The contents of this post would be considered to some, extremely boring. If you have absolutely no inerest in the strucutre of the limited liability corporation that I am working for, I advise you to scroll to the latter portion of the post where you can induldge in reading about the much more exciting and interesting parts of my life.

In addition to taking classes, I have officially started working at my internship 5 days a week! Despite the fact that I am a marketing major,  I am working in the working capital department at a logistics company called Empresas Taylor.  I have to admit, at this point in time I am a bit overwhelmed. I am still trying to grasp the overall organizational structure of the company. Essentially, Empresas Taylor is a holding company that is located in Chile, Peru, and Ecuador. The overall mission of The Taylor Group of Companies “is to develop specific solutions for client’s logistic requirements and at the same time optimizing the trade, transport and the other services between the West Coast of South America and the rest of the world.”(Empresas Taylor, 2013).   The company specializes in three different business sectors, including, maritime (ship agency and towage), logistics (freight forwarding and cargo transport), and brokerage (bunker brokerage and trading) divisions.  Without going into too much detail, each business division is composed of different companies, or brands. For example, the maritime division consists of the Ian and Taylor brand, while the logistics division is associated with the TransMartay and TSMP Logistics brands. The majority of the “brands” function as partnerships and all belong to Inversiones y Servicios Taylor (InverTay), which is a limited liability coporation.  I work for Invertay in the finance department (more specifically the working capital department, as I mentioned above) and complete tasks associated with the identification and control of payment to suppliers.

I sincerely apologize for going off on a tangent about the corporate structure of The Taylor Group of Companies. However, it is the best way I know how to describe my internship. I hope that the information I summarized is accurate… it has been difficult to understand the logistics of the company, but I am learning!

To be completely honest, the internship is off to a slow start. While I am actively researching about the company in order to acquire more information in regard to its functions, organization and strucutre, financial condition, etc.; I would like to be more actively engaged on the job. I am hoping that as time passes I will be given a lengthier list of responsbilites. I will say, as much as I enjoy working with and learning about a business area that is different than my primary major, I am now confident that marketing is in fact the right field for me.  I thrive on the hands on work, constant communcation with others, and implementation of my creative skills. If you are now crying from boredom, you can´t say I didn´t warn you to skip ahead! :)

Between class and school I virtually have no life during the weekdays. Working for 8 hours on Friday is the ABSOLUTE worst, but I am pushing through it! In the coming weeks I am taking off a considerable amount of time (don´t worry COB, I will still successfuly complete my 300 required hours) becaue my parents will be visiting (yes, I am beyond excited) and I have a couple of trips planned! Additioanlly, due to the fact that I am constantly occupied,  the time seesm to be flying by even faster than before.  It is hard to believe that I only have approximately three and a half months left….

Other than going to school, going to work, and sleeping when I get the chance, not much else has been going on besides the fact that I got to celebrate my 22nd birthday in Chile! Yeah, how many people can say that!?!?!?! My special day was off to a great start from the get go. At midnight (Chilean time) on the dot I received birthday wishes from my closest friends and family members. Much to my surprise, I also had a 15 minute video waiting for me to watch on my Facebook wall. One of my best friends, Elaina (with some assitance from my one of my other best friends, Lauren), had filmed a series of birthday wishes from my family, friends, co-workers, professors, kids I babysit, etc. All of the birthday wishes were compiled into an EPIC video, which truly made my birthday beyond amazing. If you have not seen the video, you should check it out!

I can honestly say that I have watched the video at least 15 times, and cried every time I watched it. It was just that good. I am so blessed to have such wonderfully people in my life. Elaina you out did yourself!!!

The night of my birthday my friends John and Rebecca came over and had dinner with my Chilean family. We had homemade pizza, cake, and a variety of alcoholic beverages. The food was great and the company was even better. We sat and conversed (in Spanish of course) for over 3 hours. Everyone enjoyed themselves and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity spend my birthday with them! It is definitely one that I will never forget.

While the aforementioned epic video and simply spending the day with family and friends was enough to suffice as a birthday gift, my Chilean family, John, and Rebecca all had a little something for me. My family bought me a Chile souvenir book so that I will always be able to remember the beautuful places that I traveled to. Rebecca got me a ton of Reese´s and packages of “5” gum (each of which I have an addiction to), a minature Chilean flag, and a post card from her trip to Torres del Paine.  John bought me a bottle of Tanqueray (my liquour of choice) and burnt me a disc of the 641 songs on his “Favorites” playlist. For those of you who don’t know, when John and I travel together we use a headphone splitter so that we can both listen to his iPod. I would constantly  talk about how obsessed I am with his music and attempt to write down every song that I liked (which was virtually impossible becasue I literally liked all of them and there were over 600). That being said, it was truly the perfect gift! As if this was not enough, John and Rebecca handmade  coupons for a free drink of my choice at Starbuck´s  (I am addicted to Tazo green tea), a free lunch at our favorite restaurant Don Monolo, a trip to the beach, and a promised to trip to go hike La Campana in Olmue, Chile.

I was fortunate enough to have yet another birthday celebration on Friday. My co-workers and I went out to lunch in order to celebrate mine, along with my boss´s birthdays. We went to a quaint restaurant in Valparaiso and drank mini pisco sours and ate mini empanadas, soup, salad, and birthday dessert.  Then, after a long and painful 8-hour work day,Tomas, Rebecca, John and I all went out for sushi. :)

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Although I could not ask for a better two days of celebration, my BEST gift arrived today. YES, my parents are currently in Viña del Mar. Words cannot express my excitement.

Can’t wait until I can tell you all about their experiences here in my next post!!!!

Until next time!

Chilling in Chiloé

Ahoy to all! Just a few short days ago I returned from a relaxing weekend in Chiloé, Chile. Literally, without the slightest concept of time or care in the world, we chilled in Castro, Chiloé, Chile  for three days. Let me tell you now, chilling in Chiloé is an activity that I would recommend to anyone interested in traveling to Chile! (Yes, I was trying my hardest to use as many words as I could that began with the letter “C.”)

My adventure commenced last Thursday, with what was supposed to be a 15 hour bus ride to Puerto Montt. Due to traffic delays, our bus arrived nearly 4 hours behind schedule (wahhh, wahhh, wahhh). The best part is… WE STILL WERE NOT THERE YET! After waiting 2 hours in Puerto Montt, we finally boarded our 3 and 1/2 hour bus ride to Castro. Nearly famished upon our arrival (poor us) we stopped at local restaurant and inhaled what I would consider to be the best salmon that I have ever eaten. One could argue that it was the best salmon that my taste buds have ever had the pleasure to enjoy due to my starving state of mind; however, I like to think that because the small island is known for its delicious fish, it really and truly was the BEST salmon EVER.  Not to mention, we went to the exact same restaurant for dinner the following night, where I happened to order the exact same thing, and it was just as good! Anywho… enough about the food! Immediately after dinner we went to check in to our hostel, Palafito Sur.

Palafito Sur, Hostel

Palafito Sur, Hostel

The hostel was GREAT! It was clean, had hot showers, and had so much character! I would highly recommend it to anyone staying on the island. Being our first night there, we mingled with the other hostel dwellers and formulated a game plan for the next day.

The next morning we woke up planning on taking a bus to the National Park; however, those plans quickly changed (for the better) when a Hispanic couple whom we met the night before offered to chauffeur us around in their rental car for the day! It was great to have the ability to drive around in a car because we had the opportunity to stop and take pictures whenever we wanted! On the way to our first destination, we stopped to take pictures of some of Chiloé’s unique sites, including houses on stilts, a multitude of churches (which are official national monuments and heritage of humanity sites), and lakes.

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Our first official stop was the National Park, which I loved as the scenery was much different than what I have seen throughout my time in Chile. We then took a ferry to the small island of Isla Lemu and walked a remote nature trail! Everything was so picturesque and it was great to once again have a day to take in the much too often overlooked beauty of our planet.

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The next morning was Easter Sunday and I was blessed to have the opportunity to attend one of Chiloé’s most famous churches, Iglesia San Francisco de Castro. Both the church and the service were absolutely beautiful, and it is truly an experience that I will never forget!

After church, John and I decided to island hope and ventured to Dalcahue, Curaco de Vélez, and Achao. Literally, everything was closed and deserted due to the fact that it was Easter Sunday. Nevertheless, we had a blast exploring the small towns!

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Our unforgettable Easter Sunday ended in the kitchen where we (believe it or not) prepared a home cooked Easter dinner!

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Before we knew it, it was Monday morning and sadly, we had to say good bye to Chiloé. Luckily the trip home was much less painful and I arrived in Viña just in time for class on Tuesday morning! All in all, our lazy weekend is one that I will never forget. I cannot wait until I have the opportunity to chill in Chiloé again :)

On a side note….

For those of you who do not already know, myself along with 7 other Butler University students recently completed an interdisciplinary independent study in which we wrote, illustrated, published, and marketed a children’s book (He Huffed and He Puffed But…) about asthma. The book is a fractured fairy tale that takes a new spin on an age-old story. It is a tale about asthma through the eyes of the Big Bad Wolf, also known as Tim Burwulf. Tim is a young pup with a taste for three little pigs. However, when he tries to blow their houses down, he can’t! Each house he encounters acts as a trigger for his asthma. After visiting the doctor and pharmacist, Tim learns all about the symptoms and treatments of asthma that aid him in regaining his “huff and puff.”

I am proud to finally announce that the books are in and are up for sale via the following link: https://www.formstack.com/forms/butler-asthma_book

tim

¡VIVA CHILE! Fútbol at its Finest!

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¡VIVA CHILE!………..

Was one of the many chants that flooded Chile’s soccer stadium just a few days ago. Chile took on Uruguay’s national soccer team in Santiago on Tuesday night, and I had the honor of being there to witness the important win! The experience was much different than attending an American sports event as the food at the stadium was literally non-existent. When I arrived, I was ready to indulge on nachos and soft pretzels. However, much to my dismay, the only food offered was ham sandwiches and Coke. Ha! All food aside, the soccer fans in Chile are crazy! Despite the fact that I do not know much about soccer and was confused for most of the game, the atmosphere made the experience incredible. Each time Chile scored the stadium erupted into a roar of cheering and everyone hugged and kissed their neighbors. I must admit, some of the chants were very inappropriate, but no one seemed to care! The majority of the chants, which I will not share with you as I know I have a few young readers, were directed at the Uruguayan soccer player, Suarez. Chilean soccer fans strongly dislike the fútbol star and were not afraid to express it!

For all of you soccer fans who would like a play by play of the game, check out my friend John’s travel blog: Gone With The Guys. He gives a full recap of all of the exciting moments and explains why exactly this game was so important. Like I said, I did not know what was going on for 95% of the time, but I sure had a great time cheering for Chile! :)

I truly had a blast at the game and will definitely try to go back when Chile takes on Bolivia in June! That’s all I have for now. Enjoy the pictures, and I will have a post next week about my trip to Castro!

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A Much Needed Lazy Weekend

It is evident from my last post that I have been going non-stop! I am thrilled to inform you that this weekend I was able to catch up on some much needed rest and relaxation. As lazy as you may think I am for saying this, I literally did nothing all weekend. IT WAS GREAT! Friday was declared a beach day and I was able to go to my favorite local fish joint for lunch, Saturday, my friend John and I spent all day laying around watching NCAA games (the Butler game was beyond depressing, but I am still proud to call myself a Bulldog forever!), and today I spent time catching up with friends and family and attempted to study (note the emphasis on attempted). I can now confidently say that I am well rested and ready to tackle the challenges that this week brings.

During my hours spent staring into space this weekend, I was able to do a bit of reflecting. The personal time was nice as I have hardly had time to catch up with thoughts. Due to the fact that most of my recent posts have informed you about the places I have been and the things I have done, throughout this post you will get a a snippet of the things that have been running through my mind.

To start off I am going to talk a bit about my class schedule, as I haven’t talked much about it! I am currently enrolled in a Spanish grammar class, a conversation and culture class, a dance class, and an economics class. All of my classes, except for the economics class, only have other exchange students in them. I absolutely love these classes as I am learning a wealth of information in them. In my advanced grammar class we focus on discussing why we are using certain tenses instead of merely applying grammar rules. The class is very interesting and I am glad to finally have the opportunity to grasp more in-depth grammar concepts.

My favorite courses are conversation and culture and dance. My conversation and culture class is very hands on and we often leave the classroom and walk about the city. All of the historical information about Valparaíso included in my last post was knowledge that I learned in this course. It is awesome to have a professor who knows so much about the city and can teach us about the extensive history of Chile in addition to allowing us to practice our oral and writing skills. My dance class may be one of the most fun courses that I have ever taken. In the course we are learning how to dance traditional Chilean dances. Thus far we have learned the Huayno (a dance from northern Chile) and the Cueca (the national dance of Chile). Dances that we are going to learn in the future include the Cacharpalla, the Morenada, the Diablada, the Caporales, the Sau-Sau, the Tamuré, the Aparima, the Ranchera, the Cielito, Salsa, merengue, and Afro-Perú.I have two male teachers who are absolutely hysterical and can move their hips better than anyone I have ever seen!

While I am enjoying all of my Spanish courses and am learning A LOT, my economics course is proving to be very difficult. Unlike the courses I described above, my economics course has other Chilean students in it. My professor is originally form Germany and speaks a slur of Spanish with a thick German accent. Needless to say, I cannot understand a word that he says! At this point, I am praying that I will eventually pick up on his rambling and learn about Chile and its insertion into the global economy. Riveting stuff… let me tell you… :)

In addition to taking classes,  I am in the process of setting up a business internship with a Navy company in Valpo. Thus far the process has been highly frustrating and difficult. Everyone seems to be on vacation all the time! I am hoping to get things ironed out by the end of this week. Even though working out the details has not been fun, I am very excited to have the opportunity to implement my business and Spanish skills in the same environment, I would love nothing more than to one day acquire a job that incorporates both my marketing and Spanish degrees, therefore this internship will be a great opportunity.

Aside from class, I spend most of my time dreaming about traveling. Studying abroad has officially given me the travel bug. All I want to do is travel the world and see everything it has to offer. I have started a list of all of the places I would like to travel (which is virtually everywhere) and hope to one day have the opportunity to take a world tour. It is funny to me how much my abroad experience has changed my outlook on life. Before my trip I was highly invested in and preoccupied with the brands of the clothing I wore and what my friends were doing. Now, I would be happy with a backpack, a pair of shoes, a pair of hiking pants, a white Hane’s v-neck, my passport, and enough money to get by. A traveling companion would be nice to have too! There is just so much to see and do, and I want to enjoy it all while I have the ability to do so.

While I cannot pick up and travel the world right at this moment, as I understand the importance of a college education, I have big travel plans while I am in Chile! In addition to traveling back Bolivia (La Paz), this past weekend my friend John and I booked trips to Buenos Aires, Argentina, Iguazu Falls, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! Literally counting down the days to each one! This weekend, John and I will be traveling to the charming Castro, Chile. Castro is the third oldest city in the country and is known for is beautiful scenery, great fish, and kayaking. It should be a fairly laid back weekend and I am glad to have the opportunity to get to know Chile a little better. Next week I will have plenty of pictures to show you from the trip!

That’s about all I have for you!  Tomorrow I am going to the Chile vs. Uruguay soccer game in Santiago. Once again, I can’t wait! I desperately need to begin studying for my grammar quiz on Wednesday due to the fact that I will not get back to Viña until very late tomorrow night. I have recently come to the conclusion that studying abroad is nearly impossible, but I always seem to find the discipline and the time to do so.

Chau for now!

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