So much has happened here in South America in the past month it is actually unbelievable. With my program I travelled to the 4th region of Chile. Here is the dessert, beaches (like all of Chile), an island of penguins, the birthplace of Gabriel Mistral (a famous Chilean educator, poet, and feminist), kilometers upon kilometers of grapes to make the famous alcohol, Pisco, and some of the clearest skies in all of Chile, among a lot more things. By bus, it took about 6 hours to makes it the region from Santiago. This excursion was a lot different from the last because we travelled by bikes a lot. And I mean a lot. One bike ride involved riding literally through the dessert for about 40 kilometers, a few kilometers of that being straight uphill. We also got to go on a boat to two islands close to the shore where we saw dolphins (first time in my life not in a zoo), sea lions and the cutest penguins I have ever seen. My favorite part of the trip was definitely the penguins and dolphins I saw! It was also really cool to see a real dessert and be able to bike through it, even though I complained through it about half of the time.
After the excursion I embarked on a five-day journey with my boyfriend, Max to the ancient Inca ruins of Peru. We decided to do the trip as cost-effectively as possible so we flew from Santiago to Arica, the northern-most city in Chile instead of flying straight in to Cusco (about 250 dollars cheaper!). From there we crossed the border in to the southern-most city in Peru, Tacna. From Tacna to Cusco is about 17 hours in a bus, my least favorite part of our journey. However, the views from the bus were incredible as the terrain is very distinct and changes along the way. We crossed the Andes and realized why Peruvian busses have such a bad reputation. While sleeping I would wake up every time the driver stepped on the brakes, so like every half hour minimum. However, we finally made it to the tourist city (and my favorite city in Peru), Cusco at about 6 in the morning. It was a ghost town and a little boring so after about an hour we heard a man yelling, offering rides to Ollantaytambo, a little pueblo close to Aguas Calientes, the closest pueblo to Machu Picchu. So, in the spirit of travel we went with him and arrived in about 2 hours after another really scenic drive. From there we had to take a really expensive train to Aguas Calientes, but it is the only way to get there except for an Incan trail that you can do by foot in a few days. The next day we went to Machu Picchu! Machu Picchu is not something that can really be described in words, but if you are ever in South America I would say put Machu Picchu on the top of your list of places to visit. It is a very humbling place and source of inspiration for many artists (something I learned in one of my classes!). It is really just incredible and something you have to see for yourself. Not to mention, the food in Peru is incredibly cheap along with the transportation and very friendly people. I would love to visit Cusco again as well, it is a beautiful city
Now my first semester is coming to an end. I found an apartment to live in with my boyfriend right downtown in one of my favorite neighborhoods. I have never lived with a boyfriend before, but I am using this study abroad experience to really just let myself be free and enjoy every experience without worrying too much, because I really don’t do enough of that at home. I also am looking for babysitting jobs and teaching English opportunities so I can have money in the summer for beach trips and eventually a trip to Argentina, my next big adventure.
It’s impossible to sum up my first semester here with words, but much easier to think back to all the experiences I have had. From climbing a hill in the middle of the city to view Santiago in its entirety and awing at its grandeur my first week here to being able to navigate the city entirely by myself using bus and metro while listening in on other people’s conversations in Spanish, this semester has been life changing to say the least. I am really going to miss all my friends who are going back to the U.S., but I also think it will be great for me to have to some time without people from my country here with me, to really, fully immerse myself in the culture.
I can only hope that this summer and next semester can be as great as this semester has been.