Shari Summers: Chile Diary

April 4, 2006

Jounral #2
These past four weeks I have visited some pretty amazing places starting with a trip with the whole Stanford program to Puerto Montt and Frutillar. There was a huge music festival going on at the time and we were lucky enough to have tickets. We left on Friday morning nice and early, and at the airport happened to meet a Chilean soccer team (Ajax Italiano...I believe that's the correct name) so started talking with one of the players about Chilean soccer and where I could go to watch games. But I wasn't able to attend the match because it was during one of our concerts. So we arrived at our hotel in Puerto Montt, which was absolutely gorgeous. It was right across the street from the ocean and there were a bunch of artsy crafts shops nearby. But the highlight of the trip was definitely the two concerts we went to. It was all classical music in a glass auditorium overlooking the water. I have never seen such blue water in my life so needless to say, not as crazy as my most recent adventures, but definitely a gorgeous place to visit. Plus, it was known for marmalade and chocolate!! So of course, that got me really excited! Anything with chocolate! ;)

The following weekend my friends and I decided to stay in Santiago since we'd been traveling all the other weekends. The weather was nice and hot, and we were able to go out and experience la vida noctura. The music (reggaeton) in the discotecas is so much fun to dance to and people go crazy in the clubs. I also went to a Chilean soccer match which was really cool to see.

So here's where things kind of got a little crazy. I next went to Mendoza which is near the border in Argentina. My friends and I were supposed to leave very early Friday morning but we still went out Thursday night. I figured I would just wake up super early, pack up my things, and then sleep on the 6 hour bus ride. I woke up the next morning to my phone and Kathryn asking where I was. I had slept through my alarm, was already late meeting her, and hadn't packed my bag (of course!!). So I frantically threw everything in my backpack and ran out of the house hoping we would make the bus in time. Luckily we got there when the bus arrived so got on and went to sleep. So the drive to Mendoza is right through the Andes, up and down the mountains. About 3 ½ hours into the drive, in the blazing heat, our bus breaks down. We had to wait in the middle of the mountains with no food and water (I feel like this is a repetitive thing) for another bus from Santiago. Once it finally came and we FINALLY arrived in Mendoza after 10 HOURS!!!, we were so excited to get to our hostel. But, since we had arrived late, the hostel owner gladly informed us that our beds had been given away and there was no other space. So we ended up walking up and down the streets until we finally found a hostel with room for us. We had to share, but I guess that was better than nothing. Other than that crazy day, we went shopping and wine tasting and picnicking in the most beautiful park! I think it was about 28 miles around and had lakes, hotels, restaurants, shows, etc. I really wanted to paraglide, hydrospeed, and ride horses but I guess jumping off mountains and doing the other fun activities will have to wait for the end of the quarter, when I hopefully will go back.

Lastly, which might be my favorite trip thus far, was Buenos Aires. We went there for the most recent four day weekend. The first day we went on a tour of the city to all the sights and famous little streets and villages. It was pretty sweet! Then we ate at an amazing restaurant. The food, especially the steak and meat in Buenos Aires, is unbelievable. Not to mention they also have the most delectable gelato from Fredo which is a famous gelateria. I would return just to eat at all the restaurants and gelaterias. The next day we spent shopping. There is a ton of shopping and all of it is super cheap. That night we went out to the clubs as well which played a lot of techno music which was awesome. The next two days were definitely my favorite though. On Sunday we went to a soccer match between Boca Juniors and San Lorenzo. The crowd there was amazing!! It is so much different than soccer games in the United States. You could look across the stadium and see all yellow, white, and blue; everyone was jumping up and down yelling songs and waving their flags or their arms. This lasted for the whole match! San Lorenzo ended up winning 2-1 and the goals were awesome! It was definitely one of my favorite things I've done all quarter. Then, the next day, we shopped again during the day and went to a tango show that night. Kathryn and I dressed up and went to a gorgeous theatre. The show lasted 3 hours and was absolutely incredible. I don't think I've ever seen dancers and entertainers like this. If anyone goes to Buenos Aires, aside from seeing a soccer match, I highly recommend seeing a nice tango show. I am still in awe!!

But that's about it for now. I still have Viña del Mar, San Pedro de Atacama, and Peru in the next three weeks so super stoked for those. Other than that classes are good and I am having an amazing time! !Ciao! ;)

Jounrnal #3
This past weekend I visited the San Pedro Atacama Desert with Kathryn and Anita. This is the driest desert in the world and also has the clearest skies in the world. I was super excited for the trip!

We left early Friday morning and arrived at our hotel early in the afternoon. We headed straight over to the tourism office and signed up for five different tours so that our weekend was completely booked. Later that afternoon was our first tour to the Valle de la Luna. We first climbed through a cave that was covered in salt rocks. We then headed over to the Valley of Death named this because nothing lives there. The views were absolutely stellar. We ended with a climb up a sand dune and we stayed there until sunset. It was gorgeous! That night, after eating a delicious dinner, we walked around town and then headed back to our hotel to call it a night.

The next morning we woke up early to visit the lagunas. I don't think I've ever seen such blue water. We also visited some cute little towns along the way, learned about the history of the town, and saw lamas. Kathryn, Anita, and I ended up trying a lama empanada; very Chilean!! We also saw some volcanoes. After returning from the tour and eating dinner, we went to see the stars with a professional retired astronomer. I don't think I've ever seen so many stars before. The astronomer had a laser light so that outside he could pinpoint a star in the sky with his laser. Needless to say, I definitely learned a ton. Now I want to take up astronomy! But it definitely lived up to its reputation as being the clearest sky in the world.

The last day, and probably my favorite of the trip, we woke up at 3 in the morning (didn't sleep very much!) and headed over to the geysers. When we arrived, despite the fact that we were FREEZING!! the geysers were amazing. There were tons all over the place shooting up hot water. Afterwards, we changed into our bathing suits and went to the terma near by with nice, hot water. On the way back from the trip, we stopped numerous places along the way to see the different kinds of animals and plants that lived there. After returning, relaxing by the pool and laying on hammocks for about an hour, we left for our last tour to the salt water lakes. We drove straight into the desert for about 45 minutes. I saw nothing within sight and then suddenly three huge sparkling blue salt water lakes appeared. The density of each one was about 85% so we could jump in and float without swimming at all. It was awesome! After staying there for a couple hours, we headed back to our hotel and left early the next morning for our plane ride home.

This has definitely been one of my favorite trips thus far! Chile has been an amazing experience. I can't wait for Peru this next weekend!

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