Monday, January 31, 2011

Part 2 of the Wallis Kid's Adventure

Cerro San Cristobal - Santiago


Top of Valpariso at poet Pablo Neruda's house

On Wednesday morning luckily we had no troubles with our bus or getting there. I think we really lucked out with my random choosing of seats because we were on the second level of our bus in the two front seats with a panoramic view in front of us... it was amazing! About 7 hours later we came to a stop by the beach, so we got off... then after walking around, being confused my the map not matching up, and besides the fact that the painted on street signs didn't have all the street names on them... I realized we had gotten off one stop earlier than needed, in Coquimbo! I don't think my brother was to impressed but I thought it was funny, and hey, we got to see another town right! Easily enough we got onto a micro only costing us $2 and then a 15 minute ride to La Serena. This time the map made sense and we were able to make it to our hostel. We were in another part of the hostel a street away from the main part so we went over at night to converse and meet people. Luckily there were 2 Swiss girls who could speak english with my brother along with an Argentinian and Chileans. We ended up going out to a disco for the night... got home around 5 am.

On our way to La Serena

After 2 hours of sleep Matt and I got up at 7 am for our tour to Isla Dama. We got to see penguins, dolphins, sea lions and beautiful aqua waters at the island. It surely felt like a long day and I was able to take a quick 2 hour nap before getting up again. This time when we went over to the main hostel the Swiss girls were gone and now there was a young couple from Sweden, again they spoke english. Again the group of us went out to a disco by the beach and danced until they closed at 4 am, then headed into the casino where I bumped into two exchange students!

Isla Dama

On Friday we finally had the opportunity to sleep which was nice. We went out to lunch with our group and finally ate some very fresh seafood! Unfortunately every day had been overcast so we never really made it onto the beach or in the water along with being busy the whole time. At night we went on an observatory tour and it was amazing - as soon as we got out of the van way up high in the mountains and looked-up, I think I went into shock, the sky was so clear and the stars we sooooo bright! It was a little disappointing that they didn't give us an english tour like we had asked but looking through the telescopes or just with your bare-eyes the stars were amazing! After the tour we decided to stay in for the night. We just talked until 4 am when we had to say goodbye to our friends that we had met in the hostel.

Saturday morning I roll over, look at my phone and it says 10:18 am... our bus back to Santiago leaves at 10:30 am!! Quickly out of bed and thankful we packed the night before we were out the door and running - I felt like I was in the amazing race! Got to the terminal just time time to find out our bus was late... 45 minutes later it finally arrived, what luck we've had with buses! The last day and a half was spent in Santiago, just hanging out, relaxing, and buying a few last minute things to send back home so my suitcases might be lighter when I get back!

It was great to have my brother come and visit, although I think it did more for him than for me which I'm really happy for! It felt so weird being with him because for him it was just a vacation and for me this is my life. One thing is for sure, I'm so excited to travel by myself now! I'm already starting to get ideas of where to go, and I love the idea of hostels and meeting great and interesting people, then making plans and just going! Also knowing that I can plan a trip all by myself, without parents, and in a foreign language, being able to make mistakes and fix them makes me feel so independent.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Part 1 of the Wallis Kid Adventure

My brother arrived the Chile last Friday and its really been weird but also really awesome having him here. I feel like I´m the tour guide, constantly having to decide what to do... well I guess I have lived here for 5 months! Anyways we started off our first couple days in Santiago, just trying to ease him into a foreign country and a HOT climate. On Friday after a lunch we headed up to Cerro San Cristobal (its such a short walk from my house now), and then we walked around a bit, visited Patio Bellavista and we walked down Pio Nono. On Saturday I planned a walking tour. We started at metro station Los Heroes and walked out way down the red metro line. Stopping at all the touristy or important things to see, we also went to the top of Cerro Santa Lucia during the middle of the day. We then headed to my Tio and Tia´s house for an asado - my brother loved the churipan and pebre (who doesn´t!?) On Sunday we had a relaxing day, woke-up late, went for a walk around and visited la Vega and the fish market, had lunch then headed out Parque Arauco. It didn´t feel right showing him this huge Americanized mall... I mean, it´s just a mall! We ended up seeing a movie, with subtitles for his sake! Once we got home we had to get packed up for our early morning bus ride.

On Monday we travelled to Viña del Mar. We surely started the day off right, cold showers (must have run out of gas), and then a rush to find the correct bus terminal which I didn´t know existed until 20 minutes before our bus! But we made it, made it to Viña and thankfully it cleared up and was sunny! After finding our hostel we walked around Viña, saw the girant flower clock (still don´t know why its so cool), then went to the beach. Went out to dinner at an Arabian resturant... not the resturants forte, but we had a good night out and reliving all these old childhood 90´s and early 2000´s music that was being played!

Today we went to Valpariso to go and explore. I myself haven't seen very much of this city so it was nice to be able to walk, and walk, and walk! We first went on a little boat tour around the bay, I translated for Matt since the guide was speaking in Spanish, and even saw a US Marine submarine. We then got Matt his first empanada which was special in its own right. After lunch we decided to go and find the Pablo Nerudo house on the top of one of the hills. In Valpariso they have all these elevators that can bring you to the top of the hill... this one wasn't working. So we climbed our way up the never-ending staircase up the side of the hill. After getting a little lost/confused we finally made our way to the famous poets house. It was such an amazing house with 5 floors and such interesting things. We then headed back down the hill and jumped on a micro back to Viña.

We´re just staying in at the hostel tonight hoping to get decent sleep before our bus to La Serena tomorrow morning!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

5 months

Today marks 5 months that I've been in Chile. 153 days in a new country, new culture and living a new life. It's also about half-way through my exchange (depending on if I return in June or July), and I still don't really know how to feel about it.

The time has passed by so quickly in my exchange, and I feel like I've experienced so much, the good and the bad parts of life. Honestly this time last year I would have never expected my life to be like this, and feeling the way that I am now.

I guess I've kind of fallen into a slump right now. I mean realizing that half of my year is over I can't help but look back and think of the "what ifs" and if I've wasted some of my limited time here. Who knows when I'll be able to return again, if I'll be able to visit the exchange students, see my host-family again, classmates..? I know it's bad to think about the "what ifs" in life but when you have a lot of time to think like I do, sometimes you think to much. I also feel like my world is a little upside down right now, just a million emotions and feelings hitting me all at once, but I'm learning that sometimes I just have to let go and learn from things. Ok, so I know that's a little broad but I'm not going to spill my entire life over the world wide web.

Anyways my life is going on here. I have such a great host-family and it's summer right now! I also think that traveling will help a bit as well, for when my brother comes in 3 days!

Can you imagine.. 2 Wallis kids in Chile!

Monday, January 10, 2011


So I think it's about time I share the soundtrack of my exchange... well at least for the first half! Here are a few songs that have defined my exchange/have been overplayed to the max that I love them/are in my "Año de Intercambio" iPod playlist!

Danza Kuduro - Don Omar
I don't how may times I have heard this song (especially New Years eve... I think that was a record!)

Arriba la vida - Croni-K

La Despedida - Daddy Yankee

Disco Pogo - Frauenarzt & Manny Marc
You might notice that this song isn't even in Spanish, but German! Yeah we have a lot of German exchange students, and this song is so catchy!

Lalala Mundial - Baby Rasta & Gringo

Descontrol - Daddy Yankee

Bartender - Alexis & Fido

Cuando Cuando Es - J King y Maximan

Mi Niña Bonita - Chino y Nacho

Si No Le Contesto - Plan B

So there's just a little sampling of what I've been hearing for the last 5 months - thankfully not many of who are are reading this can speak spanish... because reggaeton music doesn't always have the nicest or most polite lyrics!

I also bought an acoustic guitar today, so I can hopefully spend some of my free time learning how to play, although more mellow music than reggaeton! Two of my worst skills: learning languages and music - might as well conquer both in the same year!

My brother is coming to visit in 11 days!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Chau 2010, Bienvenida 2011

Feliz año nuevo!

One more year gone and past, usually I don't feel much or think to much after New Years but spending one in a foreign country really made me think this year. Last year at New Years I was in the shock mode still of receiving my exchange and was in a wanderlust of "where do I want to go?" or "Where will they send me? What will my life me like?" Well now I'm living it!

For New Years I was with my new family and we headed out to the beach to an uncle's house. They live at this beach called Las Cruces, a really cute beach town and had a spectacular view of the Pacific and a short walk to the beach. Once we arrived I met the whole family, well at least my host-Mama's side. Honestly I feel so happy and excited to have so much family now, it feels like I could have been back home with my parents family and our extended family of friends and kids. I also have quite a few cousins now, little boys, and it feels so normal playing video games or chasing after them. The family was so welcoming to me, although my spanish is much more limited than the last exchange student they had, they were still interested in talking with me. After hanging around for a while we had an asado and dinner around 10 pm. By the time it was midnight we were all outside listening to the radio doing the countdown, I was equipped with my Chile-New Years hat, confetti gun, and noise maker ready for midnight! FELIZ AÑO!!

Once it was midnight everyone went around giving every person a big hug, a kiss, and a "feliz año" salude. Then they served a traditional drink after - champagne with pineapple ice cream and we watched the fireworks far away while the dancing was just getting started! That's right, we were one of those families that has the music blasting and dance the night away! There were some good dance moves, along with some "simon-says" dancing... oh it was funny!

Some New Years traditions:
  • wearing yellow underwear for good luck (they would sell these on the street as well)
  • eating 12 grapes after midnight (one for every month - I said mine in Spanish first, then English... extra luck in both languages!)

After not getting to much sleep along with the fact I slept in the same room as a tiny baby I headed down to the beach with my little cousins and watched them try to get into the water. Then after lunch I headed out with my host-brother, Uncle, and one cousin to the "secret point." It was such a surreal feeling - driving with all the windows down, listening to "The real Slim Shady" on repeat, surfboards on top of the car on January 1st. We met-up on the road with some of my uncle's friends who directed us to the "secret point." We drove through this community of huge houses, it seemed a little like rich California to me. We ended up at this private beach in our regular vehicles with surfboards while the citizens of the neighborhood had their personal 4-wheelers for the whole family, designer sunglasses, and Mercedes cars that got stuck in the sand - I think we crashed the beach! We then walked for a 1/2 hour to get to our "secret point." While my uncle and cousin were getting their surf stuff on I decided I was going swimming... my host brother didn't believe I was going to do it. First time ever swimming in the Pacific was on New Years day, in Chile... how many can say that. But not only did I go once, but twice... in Canada we do polar-bear dips, a little bit of cold ocean water isn't that bad! After my second swim I decided to try surfing. Never being taught what to do I just went for it, and I sure made a fool out of myself. I never did stand up, but I had some good body surfs, and I also obtained some battle scars on my knees! It was truly such a relaxing and chill day to say the least, such a cool way to spend the first day of the new year. Finally getting home around 10:30 pm, I took a needed shower since I was freezing, had some once, then a few of us headed down to the arcade by the beach for a while.

I have to say honestly I really enjoyed my New Years a lot more than Christmas. Maybe it's because Christmas is more of a family thing. But I didn't even mind the fact that I couldn't go out and party with my friends here for New Years. Being with my new family and the whole family was really fun and it reminded me of New Years past with the "gang" of family-friends and all the kids (who happened to be boys) back home when I was younger.

I think I've also finally come to the conclusion that I'm in Chile, living my life here, on exchange, this is real. It hit me on New Years eve day when we were driving and I was just looking out at the landscape, listening to reggeaton, driving with my Chilean family - I'm really here. It was also reinforced when I was sitting on the beach New Years day, being able to spend half of 2011 in Chile... how amazing is that!