Current Location: 36,000 ft in the air, USA
I think these past few days might be some of the craziest yet! I’m just traveling all over the place!
Last I had posted, we were on our last day in Chillan. For that last night, we had a farewell party at the house of Florencia, the in country woman from Oregon State that organized all the homestays and trips. The party was so much fun! We had some delicious food (though lacking a bit in the vegetarian options), good music to dance to, and took TONS of pictures! I learned how to do some Chilean dancing, which was super fun – Sebastian was a great teacher! It was the perfect way to end the time in Chillan, and we returned to our house around 3. Unfortunately, the next morning my bus was leaving at 8 AM! Not much time for sleep.
After a late night of packing and maybe 2-3 ours of sleep, I woke up to catch a cab at 7 AM to the bus station. I had really wanted to see my host family one last time, but they were still asleep and I didn’t want to wake them up. They were so sweet though, so I left them a little note. I also bought a vase and Julie got some flowers, so we were able to show them how much we appreciated everything. Surprisingly, all 3 of us on the 8 AM bus (myself, Leah, and Kyle) made it on time – after the late night I wouldn’t have been surprised if one of us accidentally slept in! We have quite the journey ahead of us – we had a 5-hour bus ride to Santiago, and we were then catching a 2 hour bus to Valparaiso. If the buses weren’t so nice it would have been far more of an obnoxious trip, but when you have buses with movies and air conditioning and comfy seats, its not too bad. We arrived in Valparaiso around 4 PM and grabbed a cab to an area that we had heard was pretty good. We had no hostel booked, which is something unusual for me – I usually book my trips fairly carefully! We went to one hotel first but it was full – luckily there was another one nearby that the woman knew and she called over and there were beds for us.
Valparaiso was such an amazing city. It is built right on the coast of Chile. The area is very hilly, and the whole town is built on the slope. The architecture was so cute – there were all sorts of colors everywhere. There was also a ton of graffiti, but it was very nice graffiti – almost like art. It was all over the town, but things weren’t overlapping or trashy looking It gave the town a very cool feel. The first day we just wandered around – we went down by the water and walked around the hills stopping at cute little boutiques. I was able to do a bit more of my shopping for people, which was a good thing. We finally got hungry and after much searching (and a run in with the worst street performers/clowns I have EVER seen), we chose a little restaurant. We were apparently there very early because it was almost empty when we arrived, but by the time our food arrived, there was a live singer and tons of people singing along and clapping. It was such a fun atmosphere. After the night before, we were all really tired, and called it night around midnight. The net morning we got up bright and early so we could go and see the poet Pablo Nerulo’s house. The house was really cool – there were beautiful views from the windows. By entering we got a sort of walkie-talkie that gave an explanation of the whole house, room by room. He was really into ship things, so all over the walls were maps and other things. It was so fascinating to see everything.
However, all good things must come to an end, and that included my trip to Chile. After only one night in Valparaiso, Leah and I had to head back to Santiago to catch our flights back to the states. I really want to return to Chile again – I’ve only begun to scratch the surface on this amazing country, and there are so many things I still want to do! We caught a bus back to the city and then a transfer to the airport. After some interesting problems with check in not being open I finally got through. However, through all the waiting I met some really cool people, including a few older couples returning from a cruise and a returned Peace Corps volunteer from the Dominican Republic. Talk about small world! After a few hours in the airport, I boarded my plane and it was back to the USA. All flights went fine and I arrived back in NYC Monday morning safe and sound and ready for classes on Tuesday to start.
The first few days back in class have been good. Instead of taking a really light load this semester, I’ve decided that my senior spring will include me doing two classes that I want to do rather than need to do or have to do. That means I’m dropping my minor one class short of finishing. I know it seems stupid, but I’d rather love my last semester than get a single sentence on my diploma for something I’ll be miserable in. The two classes that I am so excited to take are Comprehensive Beginning Spanish and African Dance. Comprehensive Beginning Spanish covers two college semesters of Spanish in one semester, or over 2 years of high school Spanish. Since I have such a strong background in Spanish, having taken 3 years of it, I thought this was the best class for me. I can improved my conjugations and grammar as well as expand my vocab. My Peace Corps placement is also contigent on me finishing this class with a C or higher. I am happy though, because having this skill gives me a better chance of getting to do what I want to do in the Peace Corps. I love the flexibility and I have also loved the language for a long time. Even though I will have the most homework in this class, I know it really won’t seem like work because I am so excited to learn. African Dance is something that I have thought was so much fun, but have never had an opportunity to take. It is such a lively dance and it makes me so happy. And what a work out! Taking this class twice a week is going to help me get in good shape! On top of these two classes, I have my Environmental Engineering classes (Hazardous Waste Management, Data Analysis, Water Management, and Groundwater) and my senior design project. I’ve been to three of the four classes so far, and I think I am going to like most of my classes.
Yesterday was also an exciting day – it was my 22nd birthday! I had a really great day thanks to my amazing friends. I had class all day, so I couldn’t sleep in. My girls made it a great night though. They cooked me a delicious diner, bought me a ridiculous hat and balloons, got me a cake, and miscellaneous presents. After that, we all went out to senior night and Campo. I should wear a birthday hat out more often – I didn’t have to pay for a thing all night! I am so lucky to have such amazing friends – On top of this I had many texts and over 70 facebook posts or messages. A special shout out to the lovely Meg Brodeur, who gave me a lovely blog happy birthday wish!
Now as I write this post from 36,000 feet (though technically will be posting it from New Orleans after landing), I am heading to New Orleans for the weekend with my senior design group. We are meeting with many different professors and engineers in the area to better understand how wetlands work and about traditional hurricane protection systems. We were very lucky and received a grant from the Earth Institute for this trip. It should be a busy few days, but I hope to at least have some time to explore the city. It’s actually my first ever visit! It should be a great time, and I can’t wait to tell you all about what I get to do while there.
Well that’s probably one of the longest blog posts I’ve written, and it’s probably fairly boring to most of you, so sorry! I just started writing, and next thing I knew, I was at 2.5 pages! Don’t worry though, after this weekend my life will be getting much more dull, so expect more spaced and boring blog posts! LOVE