Whelp, I am in Chile, and fortunately have internet access and so will be regularly updating my livejournal. The plane ride was hell. I got to the airport at 11:45, got on a plane to Miami at 3:30, and then got on a plane to Santiago at 11:30. We arrived at 9:30 the next morning (Chile time, which is 3 hrs. ahead of central). So that suckeddddd.
The first day has been an interesting mixture. Santiago is AMAZING and GORGEOUS. After showering, we went out to a cute little bohemian crafty place for lunch and I ordered fish- which I still just plain do not like, which might mean I’m screwed for the next 5 days because Chile is huge on fish. Alas. Then we came back to the hotel and took it easy a bit, and then went off for a big group welcome dinner. The restaurant was high on a mountain with a great view of the city of Santiago, which is in a valley in the Andes. The city is HUGE and BEAUTIFUL. It’s very interesting though, because it’s completely segregated by class, so far as I can tell- the poor people live on one side of the valley, and then there’s a small mountain thing, and the rich and business districts are on the other side. Hum. Before eating, we went even further up the mountain to see a shrine to the Virgin, and it was AMAZING. The shrine was huge and at the top of a huge mountain, and they had peaceful music playing and flowers and it was just perfect. The ride up to the Virgin and restaurant was great, too- we took ski-lift like things (that were enclosed) so we had an amazing view.
Dinner was absurd. It was at a restaurant called Camino Real. There were 6 courses and wine. The other groups there were a party for some anit-nuclear Nobel Prize winner, and another party for the Interior Minister- at which the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, was at. We didn’t see her but there was secret service EVERYWHERE. Weird! And super cool! I did start to get a bit nervous over dinner, which was rough, but makes sense since I was so tired and everything was new. I feel quite a bit better now, so that's good. I am going to have a great time on this trip. :-D
I did, however, decide today not to go white water rafting in the Andes. This is because I am going horseback riding the Andes, something I’m already completely terrified of. White water rafting could be fun, of course, but I think I’ll have plenty to do with the free time I’ll have instead. Plus Lisa is scared of large bodies of water so she didn’t want to do it- and so far I really like the people on this trip a LOT but I don’t know them well enough to entrust my life to them. :-D I don’t know if this is the right decision- the tattoo that I got would tell me to go- but, y’know, I’m already *here* and I’m going to do a lot, so I feel like it’s ok. I don’t know.
In other news, I have been speaking Spanish and also understanding spoken Spanish! GLORY.
Peace out, Lizzy
An amazing day! We woke up early, which was very very difficult even though I got eight hours of sleep. We got to take a bus tour of Santiago. Our tour guide, Moricio, was amazing- and we’ll get to see him again on Saturday. He was hysterical and also adorable. I didn’t get a chance to interview him for my project, though, even though I wanted to.
First, we went to a hill in the city called Santa Lucia. It’s amazing, and it’s a public park. When you walk up it’s all a garden and it seems very very European. On top on the hill is a building called Castillo Hidalgo, which used to be a jail where the Mapuches, the native people of Chile, were kept. Today it is a building which can be rented out for parties. It’s GORGEOUS. On top of this hill is where Pedro de Valdivia, the conqueror of Chile, founded the city of Santiago.
We saw a lot of other things and Moricio told us a story about how the famous wine of Chile, Casilleno de Diablo, got its name: the workers would steal wine at night, so the owner came out late and started making scary noises which they thought was the devil, so they stopped stealing.
We drove past La Moneda palace, where we’re going tomorrow, and just all throughout the city. It’s gorgeous. It’s very colorful and lively and it’s hard to describe, but I have a lot of pictures so far.
We also went to Pablo Neruda’s home. I can’t say enough about it, and we’re going to his other home on, I believe, Saturday. He built this home for his lover, Matilde. He called her La Chascona because she had wild hair, and so the house is named for her. It has three distinct parts- one is built lower, and looks exactly like a boat (Neruda had an love-obsession and fear of the sea), one is built on higher ground like a lighthouse, and the other is even higher and has an amazing view of the city and the Andes. (Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to see too much of the Andes due to smog). Neruda’s house feels incredibly homey, even though it is a museum, now. He had a great sense of humor too- his salt and pepper shakers were called “Morphine” and “Marajuana” so his guests, be they friends or politicians, had to ask “Pass the Morphine”, etc. :-D He had a picture of a woman he didn’t like in his reading room, so that when his attention started to wander he would look around the room, see the picture, and decide to go back to reading. Also, he has a lot of ship memorabilia like desks and figureheads. There used to be a river that went past the house that gave it even more a feeling of the sea, but unfortunately that isn’t there anymore. The part of the house that is built like a boat is the dining room, and it’s really long and does resemble a boat. Most of the floors were purposefully creaky and uneven, and the roof slanted to one side. Anyway, it was beautiful and I can understand how he wrote such amazing poetry, with an environment like that. I can’t wait to see Isla Negra!
A word about Santiago: It’s great. It is built in a valley between the Andes and the sea. It’s huge and sprawling, and 40% of Chile’s population lives here. It’s a very Latin American city, I think, in that it’s colorful and vibrant and very alive, with graffiti everywhere that has political slogans and “te quieros”. So I really love it. One interesting thing about Santiago is that right now it’s having major transportation problems- they just changed the bus system from basically you could ask a bus to take you anywhere to set routes. However, much like in the states, the poor people have been screwed because there aren’t enough buses for them, and everyone is complaining, and the metro system is overloaded. It’s pretty bad for the government.
After the morning, Lisa and I went on an adventure. We walked around the area around our hotel and found an ATM, went to a grocery store to buy some snacks and stuff, and then wondered around for awhile looking for band-aids for my blisters. We finally figured out how to say band-aid in Spanish and found them, so that was cool.
Tonight was AMAZING. Lisa, Maggie, Mirelle and I went town to Baquedano, a part of the city that is fun and “bohemian” and very gorgeous. We walked around for a bit and shopped around, and I bought the most amazing dress for about $80, which was a bargain, I think. Another store had a shirt in it that had a threadless design glued on- I kid you not. Random! Then we had just about the best dinner of our lives. We went to a place called, after the movie, “Como Agua Para Chocolate”. I had a chicken dish, but I tried all of my friends- Lisa had noodles, Mirelle had shark, and Maggie had steak that you dipped in chocolate. We also had a bottle of wine to split between us, and a shrimp appetizer and dessert, and we sat there for 3 hours and chatted and ate and it was so so nice and relaxing. The food was so ridiculously good, and the atmosphere of the street was a weird mixture of Latin American and European. It was colorful and so pretty and so beautiful. The weather is amazing. There were a bunch of stray dogs that came up to the table looking for a handout, and I wanted to feed them very badly but I didn’t because they wouldn’t have left. L There were also some homeless guys looking for money or to sell something, but I guess that’s everywhere. After dinner we walked around a bit more and went to a market where I bought a pan-pipe, and then made our way back to the hotel. It was a wonderful wonderful night.
ALSO I GOT AN A- IN SPANISH! HAH!
I have been speaking even more Spanish, and making sense, and really understanding, so that’s great.
I will upload my pictures soon- they’re pretty great and it’ll give you guys a good idea of the city.