My Chilean Adventure: Touch Down Day One

So if you’ve previously read my ‘Chilean Adventure’ blog posts you’ll be up to speed with the goings on of my latest travel exploits, if you haven’t I suggest you go read them, I won’t be recapping, far too much more to divulge.

Sunday proved a delightful first full day in Chile, we went for a walk along the beach and dipped our toes in the Pacific, had cocktails and watched another sunset. This was the first moment we all came together as a group, three members of the trip flew out on the Saturday so we were joined by them in the evening. The beach has proven a popular spot where we can all talk and relax, get to know one another, and practice our Spanish.

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The Pacific

Another bonding technique of ours was to go for happy hour cocktails; and boy do they free pour in Chile. Back home a single is 25ml, here I reckon it’s half the glass! After a daiquiri and mojito we were all very merry.

Heading back lack to our host family, Yana and I settled in nicely to a family meal of tachos (they were more like fajitas) the food was lovely and soon some Chilean wine was flowing and we tried the local aperitif, Pisco. Again the spirit filled half the glass and after one I said Buenos Noches and headed off to bed.

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Viña del mar

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Viña del Mar

Monday morning, early Monday morning, brought University. Our host accompanied us on the petrifying bus journey to Valparaiso; the buses here don’t adhere to normal bus rules, they’re super small and speed, nor corners, matter.

Looking up at the university though I realised, I’m basically going to school in Hogwarts. The architecture is spectacular. The building s were built in 1933 but at a glance you would assume they’ve stood astride the hill for centuries.

After taking a walking tour of the grounds we finally made our way towards classes. The rooms were freezing, the heat of the sun doesn’t penetrate the walls built for hot summer weather. As we all bundled up, scarves now being used as blankets and jumpers being wrapped warmer we began with our culture teacher; Felipe.

Now as he strode about the class, waving his pen as though it were a sword added to the fact he has a goatee and a fringe that does the whole Loreal flick he was quickly labelled the fifth musketeer. Soon though the faces of the class changed from smiles to confusion, frowns growing, and the what’s app group exploding with various quips about the tangents our musketeer was going off on.

While the class ended with confusion, we were met with sun and the sea as we walked out of the campus towards the buses. While day one of Spanish may have been confusing, Valpariaso proved to be a beautiful city. Our host took us up a funicular where we could see across the port town towards Viña del Mar. The frigid air only added to the tranquility of the evening and I could have stood on the hillside gazebo for hours watching the city move and breath.

Valpariaso by night

Valpariaso by night

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Chilean Adventure: Time to Travel

The day arrived, actually let me rephrase myself, the days have arrived. Leaving my lovely apartment in London, home, I set off on my adventure to South America. I begin with a smile, a suitcase and my backpack, this smile may disappear in about five hours.

Meeting up with a few others that are heading off to Heathrow we sit and nervously wait for the tube to chug along as we conjure up images of Chile within our minds. I wring my hands, and check, double check, and triple check that I have my passport and my pesos. I’m unsure whether I’ve remembered to pack my toothbrush but who cares I’ve just checked in, wandered through security and am ready to depart for stop one;

Oh how I love airports, I’m always there early and I sit in my seat and watch. I watch everyone, I conjure lasts and futures for them. I decide where people are traveling and why, and I lose myself to my imagination until the moment I sit aboard a Boeing. Once this moment arrives the shakes begin. I’m a nervous flyer, one of the downfalls of my brain. I’m usually thankful for the ability to conjure great images for me to write, now though, now I wish I couldn’t even think. As the flight rumbles and moves I try to not let the tears fall. I am not a flyer, it is unatural to be so high above the ground and I all I can see is this piece of metal hurtling towards the ground, or perhaps the ocean.

After we touched down in Amsterdam, the short but horrifically turbulent flight made me question hopping on the next 18 hour flight down to Buenos Aries and across to Santiago. After a few hours in the airport though and a pep talk from a few members of the group I manned up and waltzed onto the plane, sitting down and immediately watching The Longest Ride (a nice Nicholas Sparks film would get my mind off of the  flight). Once the film finished the travel tablets kicked in and I was out for the rest of the flight, well the majority of it until my bum got too numb and I needed another movie kick (Ratatouille this time).

As we drew close to our final destination the Andes appeared and they took my breath away. From the sky the view was beyond beautiful, perfect and peaceful.

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This was one of the best welcomes to Chile. Having landed and headed through the airport into the new unknown I was met with crisp autumnal air. Immediately I smiled. Having made it through the 30 hours travel, the three plane journeys, and immigration. I was met with air and sky as clear and clean as my home in Scotland. This was a delightful change to the smog of London.

Traveling another couple of hours we made it to our host family. Luckily I’m sharing a room and host with Yana, a Bulgarian girl fro, University who’s direct and spunky personality immediately made me feel at ease and calmed the nerves of our arrival. Speaking no more Spanish than Hola I feared the welcome and realised soon they may grow tired of my single word, however, the family are lovely and Yana helps as she too is learning from scratch (even if she is picking it up super quickly).

To end our first day on Chilean soil we wandered five minutes to the beach where we stumbled onto the Pacific. Our arduous journey was rewarded with yet another view meant not for words, hence why I can only describe the views in pictures.

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My Chilean Adventure….. Pre departure

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I suppose that the best place to start would be the beginning, while this may be unoriginal it fits in quite nicely as a way of easing you into my many tales of Chile, and the adventures of the amigos.

My Univeristy, Greenwich, sent out an email roughly a month ago saying that ‘any interested in studying an intensive Spanish programme in Chile were to fill out the application form and sign up.’ Sat at home in Southampton, visiting my family and having a moments respite from the big smoke, I thought should I? Could I? Is this the right type of trip for me?

The truth is, as many of you who follow me on Twitter or Insagram know, I’m a traveler. My blood sings for adventure and the discovery of far away cultures, cuisines, and accents that don’t scream Britain. So the thought of South America, Latin, Hispanic, and so completely new to me made me rush to download the application, fill out all the forms and write a 500 word essay as to how I thought the trip would benfit me.

While my first thought was adventure this question asked me to think about the language, Spanish, and why did I want to spend twelve days learning it intensively. This led me to a quote by Nelson Mandela; “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

Before I left High School, in my final year before university, my English teacher told me this and it wasn’t until this moment that I thought ‘I haven’t actually done anything with this piece of advice’. So thus my essay explained how I wanted to begin basic Spanish to have a foundation of throwing away ignorance and bringing forth knowledge, allowing me to speak to the hearts of those from the new cultures I seek and the adventurous travels I hike.

Having succeeded with this stage and my impulsive application I found myself sitting opposite two others who grilled me with questions as to why I wished to be on the trip and what made an applicant they should be interested in. It’s safe to say my answers secured me a place on the trip as an hour later I was told that within a month I would be saying hasta luego London and buenos dias Santiago!