Chile has treated me really, really well so far. I met Marcel, a Chilean woman in a hostel in New Zealand and she immediately got in contact with her friends Marcelo and Maria Elena in Santiago. They proceeded to pick me up from the airport (though my flight was over two hours late), take Federika, the girl I made friends with on the plane to her hostel, offer their house to us both and then proceeded to be the most gracious hosts ever. It was fantastic! The next day they took us all around Santiago because it was Saturday and they didn't have to work. We went to Cerro San Cristobal and Cerro Santa Lucia, two small mountains made into parks rising from the sprawling city. We visited the market downtown and they treated us to a delicious lunch of mariscos, or seafood (see mustache picture below).
During the weekend there was a festival happening involving an enormous puppet of a little girl trying to find her even more enormous puppet of an uncle by walking all around Santiago (I don't know how she couldn't find him, he's 11 METERS tall, but she kept going to sleep in parks and stuff so it took four days). We got to see the uncle puppet at a distance when he was wearing an antique looking scuba diving suit...I'm not sure why because the newscasters speak really quickly and I usually don't get much.
The next day we all went to Valparaiso and Vina del Mar with Daniela, Pablo and their baby son Vicente. So adorable. We saw the pier, walked through the beautiful colorful houses, took a teleferico or small train car up a hill, saw grafiti and ate a delectable seafood lunch again, overlooking the water this time. It was spectacular! We then proceeded to the beach, which was even more packed than the Jersey Shore and had a quick dip in the huge, pounding waves. I just got all the sand out of my ears a few days ago. Federika and I were finally allowed to pay for something and we treated everyone to ice cream. Marcelo was a champion and drove us the 2 hours back to Santiago even though we were all so tired and they had to get up and work the next morning.
It was so so fun, we had a blast and the next week was pretty tranquilo, but it turned out that I decided to take the GRE test for grad school and the only places in South America that offer it so I took a few days of free internet and a super sweet apartment to study all the algebra and antonyms I could and took it! Now I'm free free free to travel around and finish my grad school apps...alright.
So my time in Santiago was incredible despite being in a huge city and having to study thanks to Marcelo and Maria Elena's super kindness and generosity. It makes me want to just open my home to others traveling, and they are sure to be welcomed with open arms when they come to Colorado some day!
Marcelo and Maria
Federika, Maria and I
Modern art museum
The giant uncle scuba man
One of my favorite mustache pictures yet
The streets of Valparaiso
Chile, donde estas?
Marcelo holding little Vicente
Chorrillanas: huge pile of fries topped with eggs, onions and meat. Chilean healthfood