I don't think I should ever try and be my own travel agent again. Getting to Santiago was quite the journey. Because in previous trips I have been frustrated by having to return to the same city and the end of the trip to fly home. So this time I had this bright idea to book a return trip to/from Lima, and then get myself to Santiago after. Well the gong show occurred a little something like this.... Flight from Castlegar > Vancouver> LA (1 night=$$)> Lima (2 nights=sunburn, excitement to return)> Santiago. It took like 3 days!LOL
I have been in Santiago for 2 weeks now with a College here, IDMA, I have had 2 weeks of spanish (the first was a review of everything I already knew...so I didn't progress as I could have) and a few trips out of the city with the Eco tourism class. The city is really bustling, i believe there is 6 million living here, BC has 4 million! The day never seems to end. We have spent these 2 weeks with a host family and they wake really early and don't go to bed until the wee hours of the morning, even
the 12 year old son. Meal times are different too, they have 4 meals and their lunch is the biggest meal of the day (like our dinner), the last meal is at like 9pm. I just can't seem to get on this schedule, I would likely be up to 1am too if I was eating a meal so late at night. The family is so wonderful, the grandma is so sweet and will not let us do anything...she cooks, cleans, does our laundry and changes our sheets. It was weird at first but now I think I'll really miss it😊
As for the program with IDMA, it has been a bit of a mess. I don't know how much planning was done before we got here as they are not clear on what we are doing. We did get to go to Los Andes which was beautiful, a little surreal though. The mountains are so steep and rocky and dry. We though we were going to hike and get a view of the range but to our surprise this did not happen. We did some mountaineering exercises like knot tying, rappelling, climbing, zip-lining, and this thing where you climb
straight up a rope with these 2 little devices. It was really fun but oh how Carolyn and I yearned for a peek of the peaks. That was a 3 day 2 night trip and we were camped (with a big ass spider in our tent the second day!)50m above a little town which was odd to us as well. The group of students we went with were super sweet. The way they all got along reminded me of my RFW class... but our class would have had to summit something, and would have not had it any other way (I miss you guys). On the last night we had a BBQ (coal fire w/grate) with lots of yummy meat and wine. The wine here is so good and cheep. You can get a big bottle for 3 bucks!! (Ali you would love it😉
The other excursion, we got back yesterday, was to this National Park La Campana. It was like something out of Jurassic Park! So beautiful, filled with these Palm trees endemic to Chile that produce a fruit that is like a very mini coconut, taste and appearance. Amongst the palms, big Cacti and other native and
endemic species and hundreds of birds. On the negative, free ranging cattle and wild dogs roam the park which is painfully overgrazed, seems as though the surviving shrubs all have large spines or cause allergic reactions. I came to the realization on this trip that after being in school and learning about sustainability, protected areas and threats to them, I may not be able to just enjoy and be inspired by these areas as I have been before. When I see the eroding trails, contaminated water, and overgrazed land I can't help but imagine the future of these places... on their way to unrepairable degradation. I guess it doesn't help that my Applied Research Project is investigating how well the parks are protecting biodiversity. Back to the park, Carolyn, Tim and Christian were all on this trip and we did 2 hike while there. It was so nice to get out hiking!
Other than that it's been spanish classes, a lot of walking and delicious food!! Got together with Pastor (a guy who came to Canada last year from IDMA), what a guy. We went to African dance lessons with him, he plays in the band, and it was
sooo fun. I think I will sign up when I get home. Seeing him was really nice and I think I will stay a few days at his place when I come back to Santiago. Oh and I caught a lady trying to get into my bag while walking down the street, the SC! But I caught her and only because Christian and I were pretending to steal from each other and I knew what it felt like. She would have found a whole lot of nothing anyways... but that was a first for me. Today for Mother's Day we made the family breakfast... pancakes with real maple syrup from Canada, eggs, and a fruit salad. It was really nice to do something for them, they have been so helpful and sweet.
Tomorrow morning we go to Fray Jorge Park for 2 weeks (they think, bit who knows), and then I believe we will be going to visit a bunch of different parks. So I will likely do my next blog a month from now.
ciao for now!
P.S.- don't mind the spelling and grammar errors please😊
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