Santiago Livin! ¡Sipo!

Dear Friends, I am in Santiago, Chile! Woohooo I have finally made it to my destination. I have so many things to tell you…about the trip, about Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay. So many stories and so little written ya. So please expect soon a few back up posts as I have been a terrible scribe. But while I am here I shall tell you a bit about my journey thus far in Chile. First things first: School. I am enrolled in la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile as a Political Science major. Classes just started two weeks ago, can you imagine! We’ve been having our seminar class during this time as well as traveling so the time has been well spent. I am enrolled in 3 classes there plus a Spanish class (more on that later). A Comparative Vision of Human Rights, Astronomy, and Anthropology of South America. The Católica and Syracuse University have an

Let me explain

Not everyone gets why I’m so excited and why, no matter what, I’m not going to be disappointed with this experience. 

Some people have asked me “why are you so excited?” in a laughing, loving manner, when I am squealing about something as banal as books. Some people try to gently warn me that this might not be everything that I’ve hoped for and dreamed about. 

But see, it already is.

Growing up liking British media was a means of escapism. I wanted to explore the world and get to know new cultures, and by investing myself in a culture I was initially fascinated by and then grew to love, I was sort of exploring the world from my home. 

So no matter what happens - I don’t get to see every sight or meet every person or go to every county - the simple fact that I am in the place that, in a way, I have been studying for the greater part of my life, is just enough for me.

I am someone that is very affected by environments and stimuli, and just learning how to make my way around London is going to be the greatest thing that study abroad is going to teach me.
Finally its Finals Time

I MADE IT!!!!! It is finally finals week at La Católica and everyone is frantically studying (mixed with trying to watch all the Mundial matches) and finishing up final projects. Its great to finally be at the end of what felt like a never ending semester. From January in Cuenca to now in Santiago, I cannot believe how much we have learned. In the up coming weeks (read until July 11th) I hope to be able to explore a bit more. During the semester I was constrained by studies and internships but now I’M ALMOST FREE!!! I plan to visit all the barrios I missed during our walking tours (due to class time conflicts ). I can’t wait!!!!!

Parque Nacional Cajas (Cajas National Park)

This well-preserved national park is only a quick hour’s ride from Cuenca. The winding roads along the way offer magnificent views of the park as well as several towns and villages. Atop Cajas’ rolling green hills and picturesque mountains you’ll find gorgeous lakes and rivers throughout. For the adventure lovers and hikers out there, Cajas is a must-see if you’re in the area and have the time.

Amazing vista point that I somehow climbed while wearing sandals. 

Arguably* our most tiring trip yet, the hike to our campsite and the trek with our camping gear was not the the meek. The thin knee high rubber boots we had to wear offered very little support for the sometimes slippery steps we had to take along the hike. 

In the jungle… the mighty jungle…..

Starting off in the marsh we hiked our way to the jungle part of our hike. That is where we ate lunch. With little bugs everywhere, I am actually surprised how I was able to stomach my lunch- I guess it helps when you’re really hungry and there is a big ripe mango in your backpack. Not much longer we reached the campsite passing by small rapids and waterfalls I couldn’t help but adore. 

Kelly and Evan wading in the water. 

And why am I not supposed to go chasing waterfalls?

The sun was out and shining bright and it was time to make camp. I’d like to consider myself an outdoorsy kinda gal but the closest to the wilderness I’ve ever been  was my 4 day sleep away Mormon camp my aunt somehow managed to convince me to go to. Yes, you read that correctly. I spent 4 days the Arizonian mountains listening to my latter day amigos. 

As usual with cozy fires, good conversation and vibes filled the night. A defining moment for the group as we reflected and shared our reasons for choosing South America. It a cheesy kind of way, I saw my peers in a more friendly manner. I dawned on me that I was going to go through something amazing these next few months and these 13 other people were going to be right there with me. This group and I would share experiences that I’ll remember till I’m old and senile AND that thought alone kinda wigged me out. 

The view from our campsite wasn’t too shabby.

This group of individuals shared a common interest and together were are sharing a truly genuine experiences that has most of us feeling vulnerable and excited. 

Bird’s eye of the campsite. 

Cajas National Park was beautiful- as are all the other national parks around the world- but what makes this trip stand out was the ability for a group of 14 somewhat strangers to let down their guard and share a night of honest communication. 

Can’t remember when 6am looked this good.

Everyone’s going home and I’m just pluggin along

University in Chile (and some other countries in Latin America too -like Ecuador) starts in March. Yep you read that right, March. Now when I first arrived to Chile I thought this was the greatest present ever! Not only had I only taken one class in a month I was getting to travel around South America and I wasn’t even going to miss class. How awesome is that? While my friends back home and abroad were crying about classes and homework I was chillin in the sun. Well now all that has come back to bite me in my butt (my gloriously relaxed butt that is). A significant portion of my friends have graduated and are moving on to the next stages of their lives. People are starting to post first-day internship photos…travel photos…wedding photos…when did Life keep moving and why wasn’t I informed beforehand?! Granted I’m mostly kidding. I am beyond ecstatic that my friends are finding their way out into the world and are making the best of their lives and uber expensive educations. But part of me (read 99.9%) wishes I could be there with them…that I would get to be a part of their big moments. Studying abroad has so many advantages and has given me more opportunities than I expected. But I didn’t expect to feel so removed from life back in the States. Sure, part of its my fault: not taking the time to Skype or send an email (I mean its not like the time difference is that great…there’s actually no time difference at this point between Santiago and the East Coast) but there’s also an electronic divide…I physically cannot be there. Not in the photos…not eating the food…or in the May warmth.

So what does all of this mean? It means I’m just now preparing for finals and final projects (which to be honest have completely sunk up on me) and still trying to keep my eye on the end game: end of the semester freedom!
Dear Taylor

Hello love, So far my trip and experiences have been pretty awesome. I landed in Quito almost two weeks ago to the date and since then we have traveled to Otavalo, Cuenca, and the ruins of Ingapirca. I know I have been terrible in keeping up to date with my blogging but I swear it will be worth it (there will be a sneak peak at the bottom of this entry!). Anyway, about my trip thus far: Ecuador is beautiful. Not that I expected it to not be beautiful…I am just always astounded at the natural beauty you can find in so many places. Also Cuenca is a much more historic looking city than I was expecting. I’m not sure what exactly I expected out of Cuenca but it was definitely not the historic splendor that is this city. I will post pictures to this blog soon, for now there are some on my Traveling Tumblr Blog if you would like to see a few photos now. I am

Closing time. . .

During my freshman year of college, I was the habitual visitor of college dorm dinning halls. “Luckily”, my dorm was one which had it’s own dinning hall attached and I didn’t have to commute to eat my meals in the frigid Syracuse winter. Now where am I going with this post? Well, in our dinning halls they play music. I’m not quite sure why but it’s enjoyable. At the end of dinner hours Sadler Hall would close out with a particular 90s grunge jam by Semisonic- Closing Time. 

As my epic time in South America comes to a close, I can’t help but play that song most associated with the most ‘sober’ social part of my college day freshman year. 

Closing time

One last call for alcohol so finish your whiskey or beer

Closing time

You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here

Six months is very long time and six months ago I would have never imagined what my time spent in South America would be like. Last semester I was in denial for quite some time. SOUTH AMERICA. jeeze. it’s not really a popular location for study abroad- at least that’s how it is up at Cuse. Everyone goes to London or Madrid or Florence: all wonderful places don’t get me wrong but those are all places I can see when I’m old and retired. 

Today I leave a city and people that I have grown to love. Today I leave Chile a different person. I am more wise than I was 6 months ago. I have learned valuable lessons here that I will keep for the rest of my life. I have met a caliber of amazing people that I may never encounter again. I have seen beautiful sights. I have struggled. I have achieved. I am proud of myself but I am also very grateful to the support systems I’ve had while I’ve been abroad these last 6 months. 

My directors, Mauricio and Paula are two of the most beautiful souls I will ever meet in my life. Mi familia Chilean has opened their home and hearts to me. My fellow gringos who struggled along side me this semester have helped me make some incredible memories. 

And last but not least, The City of Santiago. I leave Chile with a piece of my heart in the capital surrounded by towering mountains. 

Closing time

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end


Evan Lang’s third installment! Bolivian Salt Flats. disfrutan no mas!

That time I jumped into a page from National Geographic:

I don’t know if it was the deliciously-crisp-cold glacier water or the constant 360 degree picturesque views but I swear I had “Blue skidoo'ed" right into a photo essay of National Geographic. 

 Yes, I am well aware this post comes with great delay and procrastination but in my defense this post was very difficult to type. It was difficult for various reasons: the main reason being that I was not really ready to accept the fact that my adventure in Patagonia had come and gone. 

My group consisted of myself, Caroline, Kelly, Grace (Carol’s sister), Mike, Ryan and Evan. We were a solid group of 7. It is safe to say we all had no clue what we were going to do in Patagonia. Luckily, we started our venture at one the most welcoming coziest of hostels- Erratic Rock.

The Apperts, Kelly, & I (pre-departure)

There we were given a very helpful (possibly life saving) overview of the do’s and don’t in Torres Del Paine. At the meeting we were able to get expert advice to plan out our route of the "W”. Now, the “W” is a famous route of Torres Del Paine that is usually done is 4-5 days but because of flight dates we only had 3 days to hike this route (excluding some sights along the way). Nonetheless, streamlined or not, the trip was amazing. 

simple map of the W 

So Torres Del Paine is a portion of Patagonia on the southern tip of Chile- named after the naturally formed “Towers” (Torres) that are located on the western edge of the National Park. 

yeah, we were pretty down south there…… unbelievable, right?

Day 1 in the park was very eventful…. to put it nicely. We set up tent and the happy 7 set out on our first trek without our sacks. Our destination was a view point facing Glacier Grey. During our hike it began to rain. Then it started to pour. And then came the frigid cold winds. But that didn’t break our stride or our spirits. After a few hours of trekking we decided that it was time to head back in hopes of reaching camp before dark. Well, I reached camped but it wasn’t before dark. On the hike back there was a torrential downpour. With the sun down and rain relentlessly falling, I found my way back by the grace of an angel. Really. At times, I was talking alongside (and sometimes in) a river that pointed towards camp. Not a spot on my body was dry by the time I reached camp. I had achieved the same affect as jumping into a pool fully clothed. What a great start. That night it continued to pour and I have to admit that spirits were a tad low. What the hell did we get ourselves into?! 

Day 2: After a traumatic first hike the second day took some time to get used to. Walking with the fear of an impending rain storm like day one, our hike kept a striding pace. Lugging my wet clothes in a bag on mysids, I caught the strong end of a branch and was yanked back ultimately leading to me falling down a small slope. That was fun. In time we reached a lake. a beautiful lake indeed. I think that was my favorite hike of the trip. Hiking along the shore was very very relaxing. 

The water from that lake is the best water I’ve ever had.

That night we witness one of the most starry skies I will probably ever see. The sky was clear and filled with twinkling specks. Catching sight of falling stars effortlessly left one short on words. I wish I had a photo to show you but sadly I don’t. You just have to use your imagination on this one. 

Day 3: Definitely one of the more difficult of hikes we had that week. Steep uphills and even steeper downhills absolutely killed my knees. Definitely worse than that time I spent 2 hours trying to raise my PR in high jump. My left knee felt like it was ready to fall off my leg. That was a bit gruesome. I apologize. 

oh, did I mention having to walk in snow. 

This post is getting lengthy but it’s just about to wrap up. so stay with me just a bit. 

It’s a strange feeling staring back after the long hike out of the park. 

Torres Del Paine, Patagonia is a destination trip of a life time but she’s not for the faint of heart. Those days spent hiking were painful pero vale la pena… it was worth the pain. Patty was difficult to leave both physically and emotionally, but if there’s one thing I can asure myself- it’s that (as a famous California governor once said) I’LL BE BACK.


Adventure lovers paradise.

As a part of my program, my group and I were taken on a mini vacation to Pucón, Chile. [We took an overnight bus (10 hour ride) to our location despite wishes of flying there instead.] The resort we stayed at was really nice to which we were treated to very filling (FREE) meals.

The southern Chilean town of Pucón is moderate in size that just screams N A T U R E ­­– surrounded by mountains and sitting on a lake whose shore is made of black sand. This town is known mostly as ideal location of adventure tourism and hundreds of people flock to the town during the warmer seasons to enjoy its bounty. With that said, there is one point of interest that rises above the rest as a true favorite amongst all Pucón visitors: Volcán Villarica.

This very much active volcano dominates the southern view of the region and is absolutely stunning as well as intimidating. 

Climbing (or subir-ing) Volcán Villarica attracts hundreds of adrenaline junkies far and wide. For example, Kelly & Caroline attempted the feat during out trip [however due to the unfavorable winter weather they were unable to reach the summit and peer inside the crater]. Pucón is a cozy ski town featuring log cabins, stone buildings, craft markets, local dives, and a string of tourism agencies.

The volcano was easily visible at all times that weekend. 

Although, the guys and I did not take a stab at subir-ing the volcano, we did however go “hydospeeding”. What’s hydrospeeding you say? Well, basically float face first down the rapids of Rio Llucura or Trancura on a boogie board.

a very misleading photo of the river

We were outfitted in wet suits, helmets, booties, and flippers and given these boogie board-esque flotation devices.  We jumped in the water, grabbed our boards, and floated down the river towards the rapids (class III) - although it was freeeeeeeezing (being only 60 degrees out of the water, you can imagine our hands and feet went numb pretty quickly), the thrill of going through the rapids made the whole thing totally worthwhile.  Everyone had their fair share of flips, 360 spins, duck dives, and I definitely swallowed a LOT of that river.

I don’t know what was the most difficult part swimming with flippers or avoiding busting a knee cap on a rock.

Sadly, I developed a cold and on our last day I had to stay in bed (actually I sat outside because the warmness from outside made me feel a little better).

Our days in Pucón were spent taking advantage of the outdoors and our nights in Pucón were spent enjoying the company of each other and taking advantage of a little alcohol… 

okay okay… it was more than a little. 

All in all it was a fun último viaje as an entire group.  

enjoy this awkward family group photo! Chao!