Friday, July 24, 2015

One time I went to Chiloé- an archipelago right off the coast of Chile

With all the trips I have taken from Chile, I've found that there were two types: The kind where you go to a place knowing that you will be doing A, seeing B, and eating C. You have plans, tours and restaurants in mind and typically these trips are to the more toursity areas of the world. The second kind of trip is the kind where you go with the bare minimum about the town- you know how to get there, that you have a plane ticket/bus ticket, a hostal reservation and a suitcase in hand. 
Maybe you wrote down the names of the Plazas in town, a museum or two and a pretty view you should check out. The truth is there probably wasn't TOO much to do in these towns, but nevertheless they were enjoyable and full of unexpected events and unforseeable delights. This is basically how my trips to La Serena, Puerto Varas, Montevideo and now Chiloé went. Like I said they were great- but one of the biggest reasons that I went was to get out of Santiago and to enjoy some of the varying landscape Chile has to offer. I mean we've got the desert in the north, beaches and mountains running along both borders and the beautiful, lush but cold southern region. 
Chiloé falls under the cold but enchanting category. Like I said before, it is made up of an archipelago of many islands (some big and inhabited, some small and essentially just wildlife and forrest). 
My friend Hannah and I decided that one of our last weekends in Chile we should visit the hyped about Chiloé to see the Palafitos (houses on stilts on the waterfront of the islands)
eat some good seafood, and enjoy the beauty of southern Chile. And we did! 

One day we went to a market of handicrafts (because doesn't every south American city have on- and I ALWAYS buy way too much), 
we visited many churches (the area is famous for its abundance of ancient wooden churches)

another day we hopped on a bus that then hopped on a ferry that we were about 80% certain would take us to an island we had googled the night before. It did indeed take us to Lemuy Island, but we soon found out that in low season this island is virtually uninhabited (but still beautiful!) and inhospitable (only one restaurant was open- the lady who ran it served as the hostess, waiter and chef- and the food was kinda awful...but we survived(; ). 
Luckily the trip redeemed itself through the vistas from the bus rides and the heladeria that was on the street corner in the main plaza. I told Hannah that I would have been happy just hopping on a bus each day to wherever it was going and just looking out the window because no matter where you were- it was lovely- and there wasn't much else to do anyways! haha
We enjoyed many coffee breaks (I have now decided that this is the best way to travel- get coffee and a dessert at around 3pm in the afternoon), 
I enjoyed ice cream every single day (per usual) and we got our aforementioned pics with the palafitos. One night we watched the Copa America game with the locals in a nice little bar (Chile won- duh!) and the last day we got to go horsebackriding (in the rain- bummer)

 in Chiloé's national park. It was only like 40 USD (upside) but I do wish we had gotten to go during high season when the flauna was in bloom and maybe it was a little warmer (downside). 
The horses were great (tired- but responsive and did their job) and Hannah had a ball (she had never really been horsebackriding and was dying to go). 
Even though we seemed to get the gringo treatment at some restaurants- they would tell us that they only had certain things available and then we would see them deliver it to another table- this actually happened twice!- we found two gems- one had delicious pizza and the other had tasty sammies on homemade bread. Unfortunately my leftovers from the pizza place somehow got thrown away...even though we were the only guests in the hotel- but my main man/hotel worker felt so bad that we reimbursed me for the lost food..so I just went a bought myself a delicious sammie instead. 
So as you can see from my random assortment of anecdotes, it was a great trip- and even though it's been a while- I couldn't leave it without a re-cap

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Confessions

There are some things I haven't told you. Some things you probably don't want and don't need to know. Because typically ignorance is bliss. But in this case I'm being selfish and making this my public journal, and a way to remember my experiences for a long time. So if you are over the age of 70 or have had a previous experience with anxiety about my safety in Chile, skip to the sappy part about me leaving Chile....or just know that I survived so all the things I did in the past were a-okay. 
Confession- once I got in a cab that didn't have a meter
I got in that cab with my drunk friend who insisted that he would pay once we realized there was no meter and that we should probably find another cab. But no- he insisted it would be fine and that he would pay. When we arrive at our destination he realizes he has no money- and therefore I pay for the 10 dollar taxi (in retrospect this would have been cheap for how long the drive was- but you have to take into account what about to say to counter that point...). I paid with a 10.000 bill (20 bucks) and he gave me back a 5.000. All was fine- I wasn't kidnapped, robbed of my cell phone and credit cards or anything like that. 
BUT, the next day when I went to pay for my bus ticket, the lady looks at me with a raised eyebrow and tells me that the 5.000 I am trying to use is fake. counterfeit. not accepted. 
She GIVES ME BACK the counterfeit money (I still have it- but I am really not sure why she was going to let that one stay in circulation..) and I am thoroughly embarrassed and angry that the cab driver essentially robbed me of ten extra dollars and that my friend owed me big time. 
Confession- I never told you that once when I was riding a bus and really had to pee (what else is new) so I used their bathroom; which turned out to lack any lighting, and therefore I peed in the pitch black darkness in what I prayed was the toilet (and that the lid was not closed) and threw my toilet paper out the open window- oops. 
Confession- I have been to this heladería five times in the past three weeks. They know my name. I have convinced my favorite lady who works there to break the rules and let me order three flavors instead of the two that all other patrons must finally decide upon. I am quite the charmer eh?
Confession- almost every single time I plugged in my computer charger to the outlet it would spark...oops
Confession- one of the things I will most in Chile is the liquor to soft drink ratio here in Chile....let's just say its more than 1:1
Confession- Actually I will probably miss the price you can find for a pretty damn good bottle of red wine. 5 dollars!? Please somebody find me this steal in the states...
Confession- On the subject of alcohol...I have come home slightly drunk before only to be interrogated (this is an exaggeration- she was merely making small talk- but when you are tipsy, questions in spanish are hard) by Mama and I just played it cool. Another time she came down to the kitchen at 2am when I had just gotten back from a party and was making myself a bowl 
Confession- I haven't cried yet. I've been holding it in. I'll probably get an aneurism or something because I've heard it's bad for your mental health to hold back the tears. But when Mama comes in and asks if she can help me pack, or when I'm swiping my metro card and the person behind me is in a hurry and I get hit by a wave of emotion or when I order my final starbucks coffee and realize that I will never come back to this campus again- these moments are just not ideal for getting weepy. I can't cry because it will probably turn into an ordeal and I just don't like being stared at more than I already am. 
Confession- When Danielle finally gets here I will probably cry. a lot. 

so I just realized I never posted this...I didn't cry when she came, but I did have a meltdown a little later in the game; but its all good now.
xoxo

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Vamos chilenos

Before I start my combined post of all of my Copa America memories...here are some of my favorite chilean chants:

"Chi-Chi-Chi, le-le-le, VIVA CHILE!"

"Vamos, vamos chilenos, esta noche tenemos que ganar" // "Let's go, let's go chilenos, tonight we have to win!"

"yo soy chileno, es un sentimiento, no puedo para" // 
"I am chilean, it's a sentiment, and I can't stop"

So you already heard about the first round game with Chile-Ecuador where I went to a random bar with my chilean friends and stormed the plaza for the true Chilean experience. I watched game two from Mama's bed with Camila and Mama while Mama hid her face behind a pillow because she was SO NERVOUS that she couldn't even watch haha. Another game I watch at a viewing party at the university with my friend Emily- because yes, the university sponsors activities that involve chanting, getting rowdy, drinking and watching the futbol game on a projected screen(; But one of the best games I saw was in the stadium right here in my little community of Nuñoa! (Luckily the stadium was within walking distance because if there is one thing I have learned about watching the Copa America games...it's that you CANNOT get a taxi, bus, or any form of transport back to your house afterwards so you better either 1. walk as far as you can until you get tired and pray that the bus will eventually come (this happened once), 2. wait for a taxi for about an hour (also happened of course) or you plant yourself close enough to home that you can walk off the victory). 
So Hannah and I got dropped off at the Estadio Nacional at around 5:30 under the impression that we would be hanging out with her host fam until the game started because they also had two tickets, but in true gringo fashion apparently we had misunderstood those apparent plans because we were dropped at the curb and Ciao Ciao for us. At first we thought that we could kill time by sipping a pre-game beer but alas, Chileans actually enforce the no alcohol at soccer games rule EVEN OUTSIDE of the stadium. There were no bars within like 5 blocks and the only restaurant we found couldn't serve us alcohol (even though they had it) so close to the game.
Instead of fueling our inner chilean spirit with booze, we spent the next 3 hours exploring the section of the stadium we had seats for (they only let you into your section and all the sections are disconnected- including the concessions and stuff so you can't walk around very far) and then planting ourselves in some of the best seats in the section...because in typical Chilean fashion- most people didn't arrive til about 7ish.



In the meantime we took selfies, scouted out our food options (coke, hotdogs and hamburgers- and this is when I argue with Mama when she tries to tell me that there is more fast food and unhealthy food in the US...mmmhmm). By the time the game started everyone was PUMPED sans alcohol. That's right peeps alcohol is not the key to having fun. They sang the national anthem- a flag went over our heads for that one, because apparently since there is no flag pole in the stadium they just cover one section of the stands with the flag
There it is! Right over our heads it went and the Chileans screamed their anthem from the top of their lungs. Much louder than in the states and EVERYONE sings. 
They gave us these green cards to hold up during the Bolivian national anthem because in the past people in the stands would boo during the opposing team's anthem. This actually worked quite well! Another thing they apparently do to keep the tensions to a minimum is not showing the replays. I did not like this at all because then if you missed something you were just sol. Additionally they didn't have a score board or timer which was just weird...





They game went by so quick and by the end we had scored five goals while Bolivia finished with a big fat zero. I guess we picked a good game(: Afterwards we walked a ways to a restaurant that serves phenomenal pizza (muy expensive but worth it) that is just 5 blocks short from my house. We started the post-game feast with one pizza thinking that it would be enough for the two of us. I mean it was 12"...
But after finishing a bottle of wine (hey- a bottle is way cheaper than ordering one glass a piece and then realizing you want just a teensy bit more..) we realized that instead of dessert we would be ordering another pizza please. The first one had chicken, mushrooms and a ton of onions while the second was like ham and peppers or something mouth watering delicious. We closed up that shop after they delivered our second pizza, we finished the bottle and got the heck out so that we could sleep and they could clean up(; Keepin' classy here in Santi
So part two of this post is about the most recent- MOST EPIC Chilean game. The semi-finals took place while I was in Chiloé so I'll leave my recap of that game for another post. Meanwhile the final game in which Chile won the Copa America took place last Saturday on July 4th. We played Argentina and let me just start off by prefacing with the fact that Argentina and Chile have some slight rivalries going on (but honestly- ever Latin American country seems to have some beef against every other country in this continent). Another thing you should know is that Argentina is freaking good. Their player "Messi" is known worldwide as being like the best player ever and I will admit he is pretty amazing. 
So when this game started at 5pm in the afternoon, I'm sitting there in this room with a bunch of my friends sitting in these chairs facing a projector screen holding my huge ass cup of beer thinking, man I hope we win but I really just don't know if it will happen. That was me doubting Chile- please reprimand me for that one when I get back because man was I wrong. 
The beer bottle was like 500mL i believe- so way more beer than I have ever drank in my life- but it was free with admission
So after we went into overtime, played for 2 hours straight (commercials are not a thing during soccer games), and then proceeded to win (if you want a detailed recap or a video of Alexis Sanchez (aka sexy Chilean player who I am in love with along with all chilean girls...) and his winning penalty kick and then his victory run around the field without his shirt...I actually highly recommend google searching that one <3) I stormed the streets with the rest of Chile. I kid you not. Those bar doors busted open and everyone spilled out into the streets and headed for Plaza Italia. All the streets were filled with honking cars, flags streaming past and people sticking their heads out the windows yelling VIVA CHILE.
Here are some of my friend's pics- because I didn't want to lose my phone so I didn't bring it

That one is from the newspaper- but I was there and it was real(:
We sang some chants, jumped up and down, threw confetti, took pictures, tried not to get robbed, ran away from the tear gas and enjoyed the show. Did you read that right- i said TEAR GAS. That was part two of the night. Part one was drink your beer, lose your voice, chant your heart out and cover your eyes while Chile executes their penalty kicks. Then came the screaming, jumping up and down and more chanting. After searching high and low for an open restaurant (only the crazies would be crazy enough to let us/ the mob of Chile in) we finally found a place that was open. But apparently that was just our first hurdle because after I tried to order about 4 things on the menu, none of them were available. The best was when the waitress told me that I couldn't have my salmon (she came back after I ordered) because the filets of salmon were too frozen. Come on lady, where is your dignity lol- you should have just said that I needed to order something else. 
Part two started once I paid for my eight dollar ice cream, sixteen dollar mojito (on top of the outrageous price it had like zero alcohol) and we fled a bar before they could charge us a cover for the live show that was about to start. Penniless and ready to dance my two friends and I started walking towards a club. We walked the wrong direction. Next thing ya know there are kids (maybe in their twenties, but with their maturity level I have no shame in calling them children...) pulling those stakes with the nice little municipal ads on them out of the ground and throwing them into the street. Glass bottles are shattering and the police are there on the scene with riot gear- I'm talking shields, helmets and battons. For some reason these kids just get even more riled up when the police arrive (not sure why they were even called to the scene because everything was fine and dandy until then) and they are calling for reinforcements. Obviously at this point we are walking the opposite direction and as we pass about 30 police cars, vans and tanks (okay that last one might be a lie but hey they were speeding by so you never know!- i might have missed it) with flashing lights sirens and apparently TEAR GAS. We try to escape the coughing, crying and burning of our throats in try in every direction but it appears that people are coming from all directions towards us with their faces or shirts over their mouth and noses. Joy. the carabineros have apparently spread that poison as if it they were Hansel and Gretl marking their passage. We decide to just book it in the direction along the main road that will eventually lead us to a main area that probably has some clubs. At this point we passed through the "let's just go home" phase to the "aw screw it, it's not like we will be able to get a cab anyways" phase and thus we found ourselves about a mile down the road at a club that once again robbed us that night with their cover of 10 bucks and their coat check fee of 2 dollah. At this point I am relying on my friend to pay for an Uber (google it friends) on her phone because I am straight out of the 40 dollars I had budgeted for the night. We danced, celebrated and finally went to sleep knowing that this great country WON THE COPA AMERICA for the first time ever. and on top of that we deserved it. Viva Alexis(:

xoxo