Saturday, May 30, 2009

Jam-packed Two Weeks...Can You Handle It?

I'm going to start with two Saturdays ago. In the afternoon, my water polo team and I had a scrimmage amongst ourselves, and then we had a cook-out at the pool. It was great because I was able to talk to Enrique for awhile. He's a really cool guy. After the cook-out, the guys on the team asked me to play soccer with them, and so I did. It was a blast. Some of the guys were really good. Sunday, I went to church with my family and then afterwards, we went to a bakery called "Laura's Sweets." My mom bought pieces of almond cake, orange cake, and coffee cake. I can't even describe how incredible they were...I was in heaven. Monday, we had an easy practice because Thursday and Friday are holidays. Thursday is the anniversary of the day that Chile won it's first and only naval was against Peru. Tuesday, I went to my social work and the kids asked me to play soccer with them. Even though, I had to stay at the foundation much longer than usual, I did play with them. These kids were even better than the guys on my wopo team. I think there's something in the water down here...hopefully I get infected with it so I can have some talent with soccer. Wednesday morning, I met up with Cathleen to plan our weekend trip to northern Chile and to print out our plane tickets. Afterwards, I wrote my journal entry for my social work, and met up with Greg, Laura, and Arturo for lunch. We ate at a Peruvian restaurant. It was so good because Peruvians use a lot of spice, and Chileans don' it was a great change. At water polo practice that night, the guys taught me ways to insult people in spanish even though I'll probably never use them. I talked a lot with our goalkeeper who's really cool. That night, I stayed up until 3am packing my stuff for my trip. At 6am my transfer to the airport picked me up. At a Dunkin' Donuts in the airport, I got an awesome donut and great mint chocolate hot chocolate. Unfortunately, in the plane I kept having that kind of dream where you fall of a cliff. The guy sitting next to me must have thought I was weird because I would jump in my chair every two minutes. From the airport in Antofagasta, Aerospace bused us to the bus terminal. We had some time to spare, so went to a book fair, where I bought "La Niebla." Then we met up with Cathleen's friend, Samantha. She's teaching english in Antofagasta. Then we took our bus to Iquique and arrived there a little before 7pm. We stayed at Backpackers' hostel and it was a little weird. In the same stall as the toilets...was the shower. Anyways, we met up with Tony, Rob, Ken, Caitlin, and Anna. Cathleen and I went to an overrated cafe for dinner, and then we walked past a carnival that had the ride I was on with Matt in Ocean City years ago. My mom has a recording of it, but I don't know where it is. After dinner, we met up with the other group and hit the casino. So of course at first, I lose $20, but then I reluctantly tried my luck again, but this time at the roullette table. It paid off because I won back the money I lost plus a little extra. The worker of the table told me to play the numbers 5 and 17 because they were hitting all night. So I did, and I won three times on the number 17. The next day, Friday, we had breakfast with Cathleen's German friends, Stefi and Hanis. Cathleen and I then took I tour of certain parts of Iquique with our guide Felipe. First, we went to a run-down mineral producing factory where I collected nails, rocks, and seeds for my collection. Then we went to Homberstone, the run-down town of the factory. It had a really cool metal pool. Then we saw the geogliphs carved in the sides of mountains. For lunch we ate at Don Williams, and chatted with a family from Santiago. Then, we visited two churches that had statues that freaked me out because they were a little too real. Before the tour ended, we were able to get pictures with huge statues of dinosaurs. On the way back to the hostel, the bus driver was crankin' out some '90s mtv hits. I felt like I was back in the states. At night, we went to the duty-free mall called zofri. So I figured out that there is no word for cologne in spanish, it's perfume. So spanish-speaking men were male-scented perfume. We had MickyDee's for dinner. That night, we took a bus to Calama. At two in the morning we had to have our luggage checked for drugs...I think they could have waited until the morning. It was freezing cold in Calama. We met up again witht the other group and got a bus to San Pedro de Atacama. At 9am we arrived. No tour agencies were open, so we went straight to our hostel called "Mama Tierra." San Pedro is what I thought Chile would be like before I arrived in Chile. There's only dirt roads, houses made of adobe, and just a really calm atmosphere. At a feria, I bought a really nice hand-crafted chess set for $10. When I tried to take out money for an atm, I discovered they didn't accept visa. Well that put a stop to my shopping for souveniers for family and friends unfortunately. First, we booked three tours with Atacama Connection and then ate at Todo Natural. I had an incredible ham and cheese pancake. Then, we made reservations for the star-gazing tour. Kevin, Julia, Greg, and the other group went sandboarding in the afternoon, while Cathleen and I went to the Salar de Atacama. First we stopped to look at a tree...I'm still trying to figure out why. Then when we went to see a church, I was kissed by a llama named Macarena. She wouldn't take no for an answer...haha. Then we watched the sunset surrounded by beautiful mountains and dozens of flamingos. Our guide was german and her name was Claudia. Side note: Mama Tierra had an awesome Colombian hammock. The next day, Sunday, we woke up at 3:30am for a tour and our bus was 30 minutes late. That morning it was -20 degrees Celsius. It took two hours to get to the Tatio Geysers. Victor was the name of our guide. Midway through the tour, I got altitude sickness. I got very dizzy and nearly collapsed. Victor gave me some oxygen, and I was back to normal. Then, I decided to get in the thermal there, which felt so nice. Afterwards, we ate llama in the town of Machuco. In the afternoon, we went sandboarding in Death Valley which was really cool, and we watched the sunset in the Moon Valley. I talked a lot to our new guide and was able to learn a lot from him about the surrounding area. At night, we ate at Paso por Chez Michel for really cheap and then we met up with Kevin and Julia for the stargazing tour. It was really cool. I was able to see the cross, the scorpion, the centaur, the jewel box, star clusters, the sombrero galaxy and Saturn. One thing I learned was that with the technology we have know, it would take us thousands of years to fly to the stars. Since they are so far away, we actually see the stars of years past. Then, Monday we took a bus to Antofagasta and almost missed our flight to Santiago. Before I got on the plane, I had the most incredible completo...hotdog with tomatoe, mayo, and chile. On the plane I played Peek-a-Boo with one year-old Lucas. He was so cute. The rest of this week I studied my butt off for my modern philosophy test that was Wednesday and my state test that was Thursday. Yesterday, I went to Isla Negra which is on of Pablo Neruda's houses. It's so beautiful right on the water. My favorite room was the one filled with seashells from all over the world. Pablo is buried there in his backyard. For lunch, I had ate salmon with shrimp sauce. It was really good. During lunch, I talk to two exchange students from Mexico, Christy and Cynthia. There were very nice and I was able to hold a conversation with them pretty easily in spanish. After lunch, we went to see the biggest pool in the world. It is shared by 5 separate hotels. Literally it's the size of at least a dozen football fields. And now, I'm just trying to recover from the last two crazy weeks.

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1 comment:

  1. I thought I could but, indeed, I could not handle it. Sorry, buddy.