Tag Archives: Chile

Fiestas Patrias

Please forgive that this post is a day late. Oops.

September 18th always brings two words to mind: Fiestas Patrias, the Chilean holiday. Now, this wasn’t always the case. Growing up, I really didn’t know anything about Chile. I think I dressed up like a “typical” Chilean for some school culture project in fourth grade… or wait. I’m pretty sure I was a gaucho from Argentina, not Chile, but I’m not sure (a little help, Mom? Bonus points if you have pictures of awkward Jessica with those awesome huge glasses and buck teeth). I even pronounced Chile like the comfort-food soup chili. Ah, the shame.

Thankfully this all turned around while I was in college and decided to study abroad and eventually chose to go to Vina del Mar in Chile. For any college students out there: please please please consider studying abroad. I know I’m not alone when I say that studying abroad was the best experience from my college career (apart from meeting my husband, of course). I learned how to get around a new country all on my own while speaking Spanish filled with “cachai”, “poh”, and “bakan.” I was able to see a different part of the world and be part of a beautiful culture. I made my faith my own and found a wonderful church to go to for my five months in Chile. I learned how to do a long distance relationship with Chip. I made some truly wonderful friends with other students in my program. These friendships run deep and I am so thankful for them. I had one friend surprise me for my 21st birthday my senior year at Trinity and had a couple of super awesome girls come to our wedding three years ago.

I was lucky to study abroad in Chile during Fiestas Patrias, which meant several days off from school. My friend Caitlin and I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to travel to the Atacama Desert in the northern area of Chile, the driest non-polar desert in the world. After looking at travel options, we decided to take a 24-hour bus ride instead of fork over a little extra money for a flight. That’s right, 24 hours. Thankfully we had some movies on our bus (with no audio, but were accompanied by our own commentary) to watch and some wonderful 90s sing alongs to keep us entertained (a favorite was I’ll Stand By You). We were meeting a couple of other friends up in the Atacama Desert and had a great time exploring the driest desert in the world.

Naively excited for our 24 hour bus rides

Naively excited for our 24 hour bus rides

Traveling light? Maybe.

Traveling light? Maybe.

This seemed like an adequate amount of space at first

This seemed like an adequate amount of space at first

A little tired the next morning on the bus... I totally forgot about my old red glasses.

A little tired the next morning on the bus… I totally forgot about my old red glasses.

Soooo ready to be done with the bus

Soooo ready to be done with the bus

In San Pedro de Atacama for Fiestas Patrias

In San Pedro de Atacama for Fiestas Patrias

San Pedro de Atacamas

San Pedro de Atacamas

San Pedro de Atacamas

San Pedro de Atacamas

Freezing our bums off at El Tatio Geysers

Freezing our bums off at El Tatio Geysers

El Tatio

El Tatio

Leaving El Tatio

Leaving El Tatio

On the tour later in the afternoon

On the tour later in the afternoon

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna. The landscape was so stunning.

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna. The landscape was so stunning.

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna

Part of the tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna

Further north in Iquique, Caitlin and I went paragliding. I'll spare you the pictures where we look a little less confident...

Further north in Iquique, Caitlin and I went paragliding. I’ll spare you the pictures where we look a little less confident…

Paragliding in Iquique

Paragliding in Iquique

And now prepare for more Chile photos because now I’ve become plenty nostalgic on this wonderful and at times challenging semester abroad. Here are a couple of other more luxurious blog posts on Chile that I’ve loved reading from Lesley Murphy and Ker & Downey. Please let me know if/where you studied abroad or if you’ve ever visited Chile before! Viva Chile!

Part of our orientation in Olmue

Part of our orientation in Olmue

Exploring neighboring city Valparaiso

Exploring neighboring city Valparaiso

Exploring neighboring city Valparaiso

Exploring neighboring city Valparaiso

Exploring neighboring city Valparaiso

Exploring neighboring city Valparaiso

Out in the bay of Valparaiso

Out in the bay of Valparaiso

My dog friend at the botanical gardens in Vina del Mar

My dog friend at the botanical gardens in Vina del Mar

Taxi ride after arriving in Cajon del Maipo

Taxi ride after arriving in Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo... CBuck and I always ate well together

Cajon del Maipo… CBuck and I always ate well together

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

One of the highlights to my semester abroad was when my mom came to visit and we traveled to Peru together

One of the highlights to my semester abroad was when my mom came to visit and we traveled to Peru together

The ruins of Ollantaytambo

The ruins of Ollantaytambo

Machu PIcchu with mom

Machu PIcchu with mom

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

I loved the llamas of Machu PIcchu

I loved the llamas of Machu PIcchu

Machu Picchu, day two

Machu Picchu, day two

Machu Picchu, day two

Machu Picchu, day two

Celebrating my 20th birthday

Celebrating my 20th birthday

The entire COPA Program

The entire COPA Program

Our great Spanish class with Jorge

Our great Spanish class with Jorge

With Elsie's fabulous host mom, Angelica

With Elsie’s fabulous host mom, Angelica

End of the semester with Katie and Caitlin

End of the semester with Katie and Caitlin

End of the semester with Vivi, Claudio, Katie, Pame, and Caitlin

End of the semester with Vivi, Claudio, Katie, Pame, and Caitlin

Love these girls

Love these girls

My fellow gringos at Union Church

My fellow gringos at Union Church

With our Chilean friends at Union Church

With our Chilean friends at Union Church

With Pastor Richard at Union Church

With Pastor Richard at Union Church

At the end of the semester, Katie and I traveled south together

At the end of the semester, Katie and I traveled south together

Getting cold in Puyehue

Getting cold in Puyehue

In Puyehue

In Puyehue

Reading outside our cabin in Puyehue

Reading outside our cabin in Puyehue

Puyehue

Puyehue

Ziplining in Puyehue

Ziplining in Puyehue

Another stray dog friend in Pucon

Another stray dog friend in Pucon

River rafting in Pucon

River rafting in Pucon

It got a little intense... we all ended up outside of the raft (except for the guide)

It got a little intense… we all ended up outside of the raft (except for the guide)

Being lifted back into the raft

Being lifted back into the raft

Post rafting experience with a nice ankle injury

Post rafting experience with a nice ankle injury

Caitlin and I in the Dallas airport after our flight from Chile

Caitlin and I in the Dallas airport after our flight from Chile

With Kam and Caitlin at our wedding. Kam caught the bouquet!

With Kam and Caitlin at our wedding. Kam caught the bouquet!

Remembering Chile in the Spring

I spent the fall semester of my college junior year studying abroad in Chile. It was by far one of my best college memories and will always be something I look back at fondly. When I got to Vina del Mar, Chile in June of 2007, it was the middle of their winter. And whoa, brother was it cold… as in my host home didn’t have central heating (most homes in central to north Chile don’t). I remember taking a little alarm clock that also told the temperature and seeing it read 42 degrees one morning. I slept in leggings, sweatpants, two pairs of socks, a tshirt, two hoodies and occasionally a beanie and gloves on the really cold nights below my five different blankets. I wore tights under my jeans every day for probably the first three to four months I was in Chile (except for the week we spent traveling in northern Chile in the driest desert in the world). I enjoyed my time in Chile and loved it even more once their spring started. Long walks to my bus stop or to friends’ host homes were much more enjoyable once I was no longer wearing three layers of clothing.

Today was one of those days that reminded me of Chile in the spring. I was walking back from the gym during my lunch break and had an instant moment of deja vu. I couldn’t stop thinking about all the time spent walking around the streets of Vina del Mar with some of the girls in my COPA program. When I think about the warmer Chilean weather, I immediately think of two memories:

1. Interviewing random Chileans with the one and only Caitlin Buck. Our final project for our program’s Spanish class was to make a video about a part of the culture that we found most interesting or had the biggest impact on us and CBuck and I chose to focus on our favorite Chilean food – the empanada. Which means we had an excuse to try empanadas from a bunch of different restaurants and ask random people which kind was their favorite. Her host mom even taught us how to make them from scratch! (Caitlin, I still have this video and the outtakes never fail to crack me up). Anyway, we filmed this video towards the end of the semester in November, so the weather while walking around the plazas and finding people who didn’t think two gringas asking questions was weird was perfect.

Empanadas with Caitlin in the Atacama Desert

Empanadas with Caitlin in the Atacama Desert

2. Our last ice cream outing at Bravisimo with the rest of the COPA program. I went to Bravisimo a shameful amount of times while in Chile and love the picture below from our last time there.

Such good friends that we unintentionally matched

Such good friends that we unintentionally matched

It’s not very likely that I’ll ever go back to Chile, but I sure do love reminiscing on my five-ish months there back in 2007.