My Chilean Adventure: A Few Days of the Week

As I’m falling further behind in my updates I’ve decided I’m going to put a few days into the one post…

Classes continue and we’re being to speak slightly more confidently, however, there’s a long way to go. The day is long but broken up into sections with a lovely long break of lunch where we all get together and practice…or in my case become more frustrated that I can’t seem to understand everything instantly. But hey ho you don’t want to listen to Spanish classes you want to hear about the city, the buildings, the colour, and the various escapades we’ve gotten up too.

Over the next two days we were welcomed with walking tours of Valparaiso. These were our first chances to explore the city as a group and we were a bundle of energy (surprisingly after our long day of brain jumbling Spanish). Catching yet another terrifying bus, which was a feat with all twenty something of us….we basically took up the entire bus.

The First Walk:

Our first tour took us up a steep furnicular, and I mean steep! As someone scared of heights my stomach clenched looking up this incline. But once at the top the views of the city were completely worth it. Colour surrounded us, with the Pacific ahead and hill filled with colour behind us. The sun was shining, reflecting off of our surrounding and put smiles on our faces. There is an almost Caribbean feel to the houses and small enclosed streets. I somewhat expect to hear music pouring from open doors.

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Valparaiso is known for its street art, and we were in for a treat walking through its open air museum. As we turn around each corner we’re blown away by more and more.

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The scale of everything is enormous, not small tacky graffiti but large calling cards for artists. The art seems to have meaning, there are tales within it, the strokes and spray. I could’ve woven so many tales from the portraits on the houses. Many dislike the use of graffiti, this is s common feeling throughout the world, but here it brings life to a city that would otherwise look very delapidated.

As the tour comminuted to wind down the hillside; to my small legs it felt like a mountain, we made our way to Valpos port. Here we boarded a questionable looking boat to view the city from the Pacific.

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The boat trip lasted around forty minutes and silence hit the group (which is a rarity for us). We all became engrossed in the sights of the sun setting behind us, casting a hazy light over the city. Watching the fading sun tuck Valpo into bed, the lights would flicker into life shielding the city from eternal darkness.

It wouldn’t be a night in Chile without our trip to the beach, however, this evening brought a new edition to our monotonous evening tradition. We managed to gain three four legged companions (dogs). Chile is known for its stray dogs. In South American countries and many others throughout the world dogs and pets aren’t views as members of the family as they in others, therefore families tend to tire or get bored of their pets that either don’t make a good guard dog or they’re simply not interested anymore. As a massive dog lover I can’t help but want to take every single dog home and love them, it’s as though they know this here and we seem to find some following the three of us home. As wen continued on out thirty minute journey from the beach to our home stay, we gained another two. Saying goodbye to our new fluffy friends was hard but we managed it…only to be followed by even more the following day.

Walking Tour Two:

Our second tour took us to the Pablos Neruda’s house, a noble prize winning poet. His house overlooked the whole bay of Valporaiso, and the museum had been left to represent how it would have looked whilst he lived there. Unfortunately we couldn’t take any photos within the house but believe me when I say the views were amazing, and I would’ve killed to have lived within the walls of his house.

As the house was set upon yet another of Valpos many hills we wandered back down to view more brilliant art and colour.

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The stairways are one of my favourite parts of the city. I’ve hit a point of disappointment when the stairs don’t tell a story or radiate colour beneath my feet. Through these tours, whether with a guide or silently speculating the walls surrounding you it is clear that Valporaiso is a city with many tales to tell.

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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

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!