I am beginning to feel like my entire semester studying abroad is actually just one super long vacation. In the past few weeks, I have literally been traveling more days than I have actually been in Santiago. In fact, right now I am on a bus with the other American CIEE students headed to La Serena, an area of the ‘Chico Norte’ of Chile, aka the region just before the desert starts. But for now, I am going to tell you about another awesome trip I went on: Pichilemu, the world capitol of surfing!
So we had a long weekend last week (not shocking, we seem to have them at least once a month), and since we didn’t have class on Friday or Monday, my friends Payton, Caroline, and I left for a 4-day beach adventure! I am definitely getting spoiled living in Chile- not only do I live in a place surrounded by every type of beautiful geography you can imagine, but I also actually have enough free time this semester to go explore a little bit of everywhere! Ok, maybe not everywhere, but still. How many people ever get the opportunity to travel around a country with beaches, desert, mountains, glaciers, lakes, and so much more?
Pichilemu is your stereotypical surfing town. 100%. Literally the sole existence of the town is surfing. Pichilemu pretty much consists of the beach, surf shops, empanada stores, hostals for the tourists, and one lone supermarket. Everyone in Pichilemu is either a surfer, a surf instructor, or someone who wants to learn surfing. Or a stray dog. There are lots of those too.
Pichilemu is not an insanely popular surf town for no reason. People literally come from around the world to surf in Pichilmeu because it is known to have some of the best waves on the planet for advanced surfing. My thoughts on the place beforehand were as follows: huge beach + giant waves to learn how to surf + watching some of the world’s best surfers = fantastic weekend! Turns out I was right about the awesome weekend and the giant beach, but the surfing aspects, not so much…
What?!?! I went to the surfing capitol of the world and didn’t learn how to surf? Yes, unfortunately that would be correct. Turns out that the one weekend we decided to go to Pichilemu was literally the one weekend of the last year or two where the waves were super tiny and not good for surfing. So instead of showing off my non-existent surfing skills, the majority of the weekend was spent lounging around on the beach, listening to Glee music, eating empanadas and 60 cent ice cream cones, and just relaxing, which honestly was why we came to Pichilemu in the first place. We did do a little exploring around the city and beach, where we found La Casa de las Empanadas, the best empanada store I have been to yet in Chile: giant and absolutely delicious empanadas for $2! Although the downfall is that the store is so popular you literally have to wait an hour to get your one empanada….
We spent a long time exploring the beach, because it goes on for miles in both directions from Pichilemu. In one direction, we found a group of scuba divers and a creepy cave where someone was making a fire. In the other direction was Punto de Lobos, which everyone told us was really awesome and definitely worth the 2 hour walk. It ended up being pretty much just another beach that looked almost the same as the beach 5 minutes from our hostal, but at least we got some excersice I suppose!
Speaking of our hostel, our lodging situation for the trip was definitely a new experience for me. The only other hostel I had stayed in was in Valdivia, and that one was so nice it was pretty much a hotel. This time we literally chose the cheapest hostel in Pichilemu, so it was a little more of an adventure. For one thing, when we arrived at the street, we seriously walked past the old fence with the address we were looking for 5 times because we were convinced that it could not possibly be the hostel. There was no sign or anything, just an old fence with the number 134 (the address) spray painted on it. But surprise, surprise, it was indeed the place we were looking for! In the end, the place actually ended up turning out super well, even if it wasn’t quite as ‘nice’ as we had expected. All the people we stayed with were very unique characters, so it made for a fun weekend together. We had a big barbeque at the hostel one night, went to a different barbeque of one of my Chilean friends who happened to be in Pichilemu another night, and the rest of the evenings, we all pretty much just hung out and cooked in the hostel. I am even practicing my cooking skills before I go back to Madison and need to cook for myself in my apartment: Payton and Caroline taught me how to make stir-fry!
Oh yes, I forgot to mention my newfound fame. Caroline, Payton, and I were casually walking along the beach one afternoon when a woman came up to us. We thought she wanted to ask us directions or something, but nope. She wanted to ask us if her husband could take a picture with the three of us because he had never seen girls who were all so tall with blond hair! Now what exactly is the appropriate response to that question?
Well, anyways, we took the picture, for better or for worse. I felt like a mix between a celebrity and a zoo animal, I didn’t know if I should be flattered they wanted to take a picture or insulted that they thought I was some type of foreign alien! Only in Chie, I tell you….