Last Stop: Peru

After two and a half months shooting around Chile from the very top to the very bottom, it was time to say our good byes and take one last trip before heading back to the lovely United States of America.  Not gonna lie, at this point I was all for hopping on a plane headed straight for the U.S. instead of taking this little pit stop in Peru.  But, I am quite glad that I decided to stick with the plan and head to Peru.  This trip was so much fun!  We all got one final chance to hang out, laugh and just have fun together before we had to go our separate ways for the summer.

Our first stop in Peru was Ollantaytambo.  Quick little pronunciation guide: Oh-yawn-tie-Tom-bow…I think.  This is a really cool, kind of small town where I got my first taste of Alpaca.  Not quite as good as a llama kabob, but still pretty darn tasty.  We went on a couple tours while we were there one to see the terraces in the town and another that explored the old streets and buildings of the natives.

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Some of the people keep guinea pigs in their house where they raise them to eat.  Did I eat guinea pig?  Yes.  Did I like it?  Not even a little bit.  Would I eat it again? Certainly not.  Do I regret eating it?  Smidge bit.  But, I guess I can say that I ate it…yay.

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We were promised throughout the whole trip that Peru would be the place to do all of our shopping.  Throughout the entire trip, we would see something that we absolutely loved and “needed” to have, but have to convince ourselves to wait until Peru.  Ollantaytambo did no disappoint.  Because, why wouldn’t you want to buy a blanket made from Alpaca fur or a bag made from Alpaca or a sweater made from Alpaca or a necklace to hold your water bottle?  The options were endless.  And, boy oh boy, did I take advantage of all of my options.

After a couple of days, we had to bid goodbye to Ollantaytambo.  So, we woke up super early one morning so that we could catch a train to Aguas Calientes…the city right next door to the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.  The train ride was a ton of fun.  We drove through small towns in Peru and were able to see ruins, mountains and tons of animals.  It was an awesome train ride made ten times better by the unique view.

We arrived in Aguas Calientes and immediately hopped on a bus to drive up to Machu Picchu.  Unfortunately, it was raining and cold.  Not ideal conditions to go stare at some ruins, but it is Machu Picchu, so you gotta be excited.  Clouds were everywhere and we had a view of the ruins surrounded by clouds.  It was gorgeous.  Not quite what you picture when you think of Machu Picchu and not quite the same view that you see in all the pictures, but still incredible.

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Day 2 in Aguas Calientes sent us back to Machu Picchu this time to visit the Sun Gate and the Incan bridge.  Our second day was much nicer and even let us see the ruins with a little bit of sunshine.  We hiked all the way to the Sun Gate first which is a spot that offers the first view of Machu Picchu for people that have been hiking the Inca Trail.  It was really cool to hike all the way out there and, on the rare occasion that the clouds cleared, you got an awesome view of Machu Picchu.

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The next day, we hopped back on the train and headed toward Cusco.  I fully believe that the main purpose of our trip to Cusco was to make sure that we all had no money and overweight bags on our way home.  We spent two of our three days there shopping around in the markets and just exploring the town.  On our last night there, a group of us went to go see some cultural dancing.  The dancing consisted of bright costumes, strange hats and very high pitched girls.  It was really cool…really strange, but really cool.

After Cusco, we had one last place to go, the Amazon.  I was really not looking forward to this adventure.  I did not see how hanging out in a rain forest full of snakes, spiders and bot flies would be a good idea.  Fun fact, bot flies are little bugs and when they bite you, they leave a little worm like creature inside of your body.  If you are in the mood to be completely grossed out, just go to YouTube, type in bot flies and wait for some life-changingly disgusting videos.  Thankfully, all of us escaped the Amazon bot fly free.

After we got off our plane in the Amazon, we had to get in a boat and ride 30 minutes down the river to get to our hotel.  The place we stayed was incredible.  We were paired off and each pair got their own cabin.  The cabin was completely open to the outside with just a screen between the inside and the forest.  This meant that every morning, bright and early, we would get to hear birds chirping and monkeys howling.  The cabin only had two lights above the sink and the rest was completely dark at night.  The hotel staff would light lanterns for us each night so that we could at least have some source of light while we were getting ready.

Our days in the Amazon were booked solid.  The first day there, we woke up at 5 and when on a 2 mile long hike through deep mud so that we could eventually reach a lake and get the chance to see some  different animals.  We were completely exhausted after the hike, but we had another right afterwards where we hiked through the trees to see different monkeys.  Right after that we played soccer and then right after that we hopped on a boat and searched for caiman on a night tour.

The next day, we woke up at six for a tour of the hanging bridges.  Afterwards, we went fishing for piranha.  We were unsuccessful and covered in mud, but it was a ton of fun.

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That night, we went on another night hike in which we looked for snakes and more caiman.  We found caiman, we didn’t find snakes.  I’m still undecided if the our inability to spot snakes was a good thing or a bad thing.

The next day we had to leave the Amazon and say goodbye to all of the amazing times that we had had together in South America.  I loved every second our trip and I am so glad that I decided to go when I did.  The group that I had was amazing and even more fun and encouraging than I ever could have hoped for.  Without a doubt, the best group of people possible.

Now, a quick highlight reel of how awesome we are and how awesome our semester was.

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Flight Count: 15

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The Wildlife of Quilpué

On one of our free days, we decided that we wanted to get away from Viña and explore in another city.  So, we googled cities nearby and set our sites on Quilpué.  As you probably could have guessed by the title, we went to the zoo.  I have never been a fan of zoos.  Not gonna lie, I just don’t see the thrill in staring at animals through a fence.  I guess it can be cool, but it is far from my favorite past time.  But, here I was, on my free day choosing to go to a zoo.  It is remarkable what you will agree to do when you don’t want to be stuck inside all day doing homework.

So, with complete optimism for a day full of animal viewing, we hopped on the metro and headed toward Quilpué.  One of my favorite parts about taking a long trip on the metro is that musicians come and perform during the ride.  You can here anything from rapping to Spanish pop to English country.  Some of these musicians are amazing, some might need to consider finding a new hobby.  But, they are all typically very entertaining to listen to.  When we finally pulled into Quilpué, the next task was to locate the zoo.  So, like we have ever so often in Chile, we asked a few different people for directions.  When we finally got headed in the right direction…hopefully….we picked up our pace so we could hurry up and see some sleeping animals.  Woooo.  We questioned whether or not we were going the right way quite a few times, especially since it seemed that a big part of our journey was taking place through a neighborhood.  However, despite our doubt, we pressed onward.

After an hour of walking…maybe ten minutes, I’m not really sure, it felt like a long time though…we saw the signs for the zoo.  We bought our tickets and walked in.  I was pleasantly surprised by how exciting the zoo was.  The first animals that we saw were guinea pigs.  I must say, I never thought that I would see the day when guinea pigs were a hit exhibit in the zoo.  But, they were, so I became immediately excited for all the adventure that was soon to come.  The next animals we came across were monkeys.  Which is much more normal for a zoo, in my opinion.

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These monkeys were insane.  They were swinging on vines.  Climbing up to the ceiling.  Trying to escape through the fence.  And, playing on toys that are typically meant for two year old humans, not monkeys.  But, they were actually really entertaining to watch because you could see that they were loving life.

The rest of the zoo continued on like every other zoo.  We went from cage to cage and stared at animals.  Most of the animals were sleeping.  Occasionally, we got excited when we got to see an animal stretch.  But, the weird thing about this zoo was that you could get incredibly close to all of the animals.  There was either one or two chain link fences between us and each of the animals.  Some of these fences had rather larger holes in them which made it possible for us to touch monkeys or even take dramatic pictures to make it seem like a tiger was going to eat us.  Which, was probably quite possible.

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All in all, the zoo was a pretty fun experience.  Not saying that I want to go every weekend, but it was fun for a day.  I think the peak of the day was probably after the zoo.  We were all exhausted and starving by then and couldn’t think of much else other than food.  Unfortunately, it was Chilean break time, so nearly every restaurant was closed or only offering drinks.  We finally came across a restaurant that had food, so we sat down immediately.  As you have heard in my previous posts, I have an unhealthy love of empanadas.  And, this restaurant had empanadas.  Probably the best empanadas I have ever eaten.  Which is saying something, because I like to consider myself an empanada connoisseur.

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Quilpué is a pretty solid place, and I definitely plan on going back.  Not necessarily for the zoo, but definitely for them empanadas.

Si Mudaré a Chile…

Si mudaré a Chile, mi vida sería completamente diferente.  Mi vida en los estados unidos es una vida que solo puede ser en los estados unidos.  Estoy muy acostumbrada a un país en que puede hablar en inglés, puede tener una segunda coca gratis en un restaurante y puede ir al baño sin pagar dinero.  Cada parte de mi vida sería diferente si mudaré a Chile.

Si vivo en Chile, mi trabajo podía ser muy diferente.  Trabajos que están en los Estados Unidos no existir en Chile.  Yo tengo un plan por mi vida después de graduación en los Estados Unidos, sino si mudaré a Chile este plan no es posible.  Si mudaré a Chile, necesito crear un plan completamente diferente.  Necesito crear un plan nuevo por mi trabajo, pero también por la ubicación en que viviré.

Chile tiene muchos tipos de ciudades diferentes.  Mi vida en una ciudad puede ser muy diferente de mi vida en una ciudad cien kilómetros lejos.  Estoy seguro que mi vida puede ser muy diferente si mudaré a Chile, pero no puedo saber en qué maneras.

Una vida en Chile puede tener muchas ventajas como la abilidad de hablar solo en español, la comida en Chile es el mejor comida que he tenido en todo mi vida y la naturaleza es muy bella.  Pero, tambien hay desventajas, Chile hay muchos perros que son muy irritantes y el costo de la vida es muy caro.

Si mudaré a Chile, cada parte de mi vida puede consistir de una observación cultural.  Podré ver como los chilenos viven, como trabaja en los negocios diferentes y muchos aspectos de la vida que no puedo ver durante este semestre.  Dos palabras nuevas que ha aprendido durante este blog son futurista que significa “futuristic” y mudar para “to move”.

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Actividades Interesantes Cerca de Viña

Mi tiempo en Viña es lleno de actividades diferentes cada día.  Nosotros queremos hacer algo interesante cada día.  Y, hasta este tiempo hemos hecho esto.  Durante cada actividad, podemos descubrir mucho sobre la cultura de Viña.  Cuando estamos decido que vamos a hacer cada día, necesitamos decidir dónde queremos ir.  Unos lugares interesantes son Valparaíso, Con Con y Quilpué.

Los días en Valparaíso son interesantes cada vez.  Podemos ver grafiti en las paredes y en los escalares.  Mucho de la grafiti incluye imágenes o citas que son importantes para la gente.  Los edificios en Valparaíso son muy únicos.  Cada edificio es un color interesante características distintas.  Pienso que la cosa que es más popular en Valparaíso es los perros.  Siempre puede ver a menos de diez perros cada minuto cuando está en Valparaíso.  El tiempo que nosotros pasamos en Valparaíso está siempre lleno de actividades interesantes.

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 Con Con también es un lugar cerca de Viña que es muy interesante.  Solo fui a Con Con un vez durante mi tiempo en Viña, pero era una día muy interesante.  Fuimos a dunas de arena para jugar y hacer sandboarding.  Desafortunadamente, no pudimos hacerlo.  Pero, podíamos tener un buen tiempo en Con Con.  Las dunas de arena son muy divertidas para carreras y fotografías.

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El último lugar que quiero describir es Quilpué.  Fuimos al Quilpué un día porque estábamos aburridos y pensábamos que Quilpué puede ser un lugar interesante.  Cuando estábamos en Quilpué, visitamos un zoológico.  El zoológico es, probablemente, el zoológico más interesante que he visitado en mi vida.  Puede estar muy cerca de las animales y cada animal era interesante y tiene nombres que describen sus personalidades perfectamente.

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Viña es una ciudad muy diferente de muchas ciudades en los estados unidos.  Puede ver en Valparaíso con la grafiti de las citas que los chilenos tienen un gran agradecimiento para su cultura.  Durante estas experiencias aprendí dos palabras nuevas, duna de arena es la palabra para “sand dune” y grafiti es muy similar de la palabra de graffiti en inglés.

El más seco, La Atacama

Nuestro próximo viaje era el viaje al desierto Atacama en el norte de Chile.  El pueblo de la Atacama es muy interesante y diferente de los otros lugares que hemos visitado en el pasado.  Un evento de la Atacama que me gusta mucha era cuando unas de nosotras hicimos sandboarding.  Cuando estaba decidiendo si quería ir en este viaje, uno de las actividades que era más interesante para mí era sandboarding.  Yo fui muy emocionada por esta experiencia.

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En la mañana de la actividad, nuestra guía nos llevó a las dunas de arena para empezar nuestra aventura.  Nos dieron botas, tablones, cascos y cera para limpiar nuestros tablones cada vez.  Después de una lesión breve, empezamos la actividad de hacer sandboarding.  Pero, primero, tenía que caminar a la cofa de la duna.  No era muy fácil.  De hecho, era muy difícil.

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Cuando finalmente finalizamos nuestro camino, podemos empezar.   Al principio, era muy nerviosa porque no sabía cómo parar.  También, no sabía cómo moderar mí velocidad.  Pero, finalmente fui.  Y, no era muy difícil.  Por supuesto, cada una de nosotras se cayó.  Pero, era una experiencia muy emocionada y me gusta mucho.  La actividad de sandboarding es una actividad que quiero hacer mucho más en el futuro.

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Una observación de la cultura de la Atacama es que cada edificio y cada casa están hechos de barro. La gente en el desierto no tenía mucha madera para usar en sus edificios y por eso, tienen que usar barro.  Dos palabras nuevas para mí son tablón que significa “board” y casco que significa “helmet”.

El Mejor Lugar, La Isla de Pascua

Fuimos a la Isla de Pascua y era mi viaje favorito de este semestre.  Estábamos en la isla por cinco días y durante esos días, hicimos muchas actividades divertidas.  Pero, mi actividad favorita era cuando hicimos submarinismo.  Era un poco nerviosa antes de lo hice, sino al mismo tiempo era muy emocionada.  Las personas que trabajan en el lugar de submarinismo nos dieron leotardos, goles, aletas y tanques de oxígeno.

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Después de recibimos nuestro equipamiento, subimos en un barco y fuimos a la ubicación que es mejor para submarinismo.  Lauren, Lizzie y yo éramos las únicas personas en el barco y Lauren era la primera persona que hizo submarinismo.  Cuando ella estaba baja del agua, Lizzie y yo nadamos.  Cuando vi debajo de mí, pude ver muchos peces y mucho coral.  Era fantástico.  Unos minutos después, yo empecé mi tiempo de submarinismo.  Podía ver muchos tipos diferentes de peces.  Podía ver peces amarillos, verdes, negros, blancos y morados.  También, por un poco tiempo, podía alimentar unos peces.  Mi guía me dio algas y los peces comieron algas de mi mano.  Pasé cerca de treinta minutos en el mar y era unos de los mejores minutos de mi viaje.

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Algo cultural que descubrí en la Isla de Pascua es que la vida es muy tranquila.  La gente de la isla no tiene muchas preocupaciones.  La vida en la isla no es fácil pero creo que sus creencias están una razón para su tranquilidad.  Ahora, entiendo dos palabras más a causa de mi tiempo en la Isla de Pascua.  La palabra submarinismo significa “scuba diving” y la palabra aletas significa “flippers”.

 

El Incendio en Valparaíso

Unos días en el pasado, un gran incendio destruyó unas partes de la ciudad.  Cuando estábamos en Valparaíso el día del fuego, pudimos ver el humo en el aire.  No sabemos que el pequeño humo que hemos visto va a resultar en un gran incendio que destruyó muchas casas y afectó muchas familias.  Era un evento terrible que nadie anticipaba.  El humo se aumentó y llenó el cielo con un color negro.

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Nosotros no sabemos cómo era posible que nuestra ciudad fuera un parte de un desastre tan horrible.  Y, cada uno de nosotros quisimos ayudar en cada manera que era posible.  Desafortunadamente, esto no era una tarea fácil.  La gente de Valparaíso tenía muchos voluntarios y no quería más, especialmente más que no son gente de Chile.

Al fin, recibimos una oportunidad.  Todos de nosotros coleccionaban peluches, juguetes, chaquetas, pelotas y mantas.  Fuimos al Valparaíso pocos días después para dar nuestras cosas a la gente.  Podemos ver toda la destrucción y era muy horrible.  Muchas personas estaban viviendo en tiendas de campaña.  Muchas personas estaban reconstruyendo sus casas.  Muchas personas estaban ayudando sus vecinos y sus amigos.  Era difícil ver la destrucción del incendio en Valparaíso, pero estoy muy animado que puedo ayudar la gente.

Una diferencia con la cultura que puedo ver era la unidad de la gente, sino, no solo la unidad, también la exclusividad de la gente.  La gente no quería la ayuda de personas que no eran parte de Valparaíso, pero cada persona en Valparaíso quiso ayudar.  Descubrí dos palabras nuevas durante esta experiencia.  La palabra para “tent” que es tienda de campaña y la palabra para “blanket” que manta.

 

Un Día Fantastico en Santiago

Nuestro tiempo en Santiago era lleno de aventura.  Fuimos a dos museos, un catedral y un zoológico.  Empezábamos nuestro día con una visita a un museo de historia.  No me gusta museos mucho, pero este era un poco interesante.  Incluye aspectos diferentes de la historia de la gente antes de su descubrimiento por Colón.  Sin embargo, creo que el parte de este museo que era mi favorito era el tiempo que unas de nosotras podíamos hablar con niñas de una escuela en Santiago.  Las niñas eran muy interesantes en nuestras vidas y en la cultura de los Estados Unidos.  Era muy divertido hablar con ellas.

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Después de este museo, fuimos a un museo de arte.  Toda la arte era de las indígenas de Chile.  Podemos ver quipu, ropa y muñecas de la gente.  Me gusta este museo más que el otro porque podía descubrir mucho sobre la mente de las indígenas.  No era muy interesante pero me gusta la historia.

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El lugar que sigue era el catedral.  Los catedrales siempre están bellos y el catedral en Santiago no era una excepción.  Tenía muchas pinturas, ventanas con muchos colores y cruces.  No estoy de acuerdo con las ideas de los católicos pero sus catedrales son muy fantásticas.

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Santiago es un lugar muy interesante y lleno de historia.  Quiero visitar Santiago mucho cunado estaba en Chile.

 

La Belleza de La Sebastiana

Unos días en el pasado, fuimos al La Sebastiana que era la casa de Pablo Neruda.  Pablo Neruda era un gran poeta que describe la vida en Chile y la belleza de la naturaleza.  La casa de Neruda está en Valparaíso.  Sin embargo, Neruda tenía dos más casas en Chile circa de Santiago.  Pero, creo que su casa en Valparaíso es la casa más elegante y hermosa.

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El interior de la casa de Neruda es muy interesante.  Durante su vida, Neruda coleccionaba muchas cosas extrañas para decorar su casa.  En su sala, hay caballos de oro, aves rosas, manos metálicas, pinturas de reyes y obras de arte que también son instrumentos de música.  Cada cosa en su casa tiene una historia interesante y es significativo para él.

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El parte de la casa que es mi favorito es la vista.  En cada cuarto de su casa, Neruda tenía una gran ventana para ver la belleza de Valparaíso.  Unas ventanas conceden una vista del mar y otras ventanas conceden una vista de la colina de Valparaíso.  Puede ver la belleza en la imagen anterior con la ave rosa.

Una observación de la cultura que podía ver en La Sebastiana es el estilo de decorar una casa y, más, el deseo que tienen muchos de los chilenos para siempre tener una bella vista de su ciudad.  Los chilenos tienen un agradecimiento para sus ciudades que es más del agradecimiento que tiene los estadounidenses.   Descubrí dos palabras nuevas cuando estaba en la casa.  Una palabra era chimenea que es la palabra para un lugar en una casa que tiene un fuego.  Otra palabra que descubrí era la palabra para caballos que rodean, la palabra es los caballitos.

Frozen in the Desert

For our next field trip, we headed to the Atacama Desert.  I’m not going to lie to you, my expectations weren’t to high for the desert.  It just doesn’t sound very exciting.  When you think of deserts you think of hot and dry.  The Atacama desert is at a very high altitude, at some points up to 14,000 feet, so we were told that breathing would be difficult.  Another strike against the desert.  We were told that one morning we would leave at 04:30 and be in temperatures far below freezing.  Two more strikes.  However, the Atacama turned out to be one of the coolest places that I’ve ever visited.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s no Easter Island, but it is incredible. Like we have in places past, we arrived at the Atacama after the sunset.  This is probably one of the coolest things about this trip because we always wake up with a surprise as to how beautiful our surroundings will be.  The Atacama was no disappointment.  We were surrounded by huge mountains as far as the eye could see. Our first full day there began with a trip to see the salt flats.  The place we went was completely covered in salt.  The ground had a layer of salt over it.  The rocks were made up of salt and the pond were very salty.  So, naturally, I decided to eat a lot of salt rocks and lick the ground as much as possible.  According to our guide, it can be harmful to eat too much of the salt.  However, I’m still doing fine so I guess the six pounds of salt that I consumed that day weren’t too damaging to my health.

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At some points, I severely questioned the amount of salt that I was putting into my body because it started to taste real nasty.  But, it was quite addictive.  Once you lick the ground once, you gotta lick it at least ten more times.

After the salt flats, we had a chance to grab a quick lunch and then we all left to go blokarting.  This is awesome.  We were taken to probably the only place within 100 miles that was completely flat and free of mountains. And that is when the fun began.

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As you can see, a blokart is basically a three wheeled go-kart minus the motor and plus a sail.  Apparently when the wind is really strong, you can get to going upwards of 75 mph.  The first time I did it, Elise and I went in a kart together and it was AWESOME.  I was in charge of the steering and Elise was in charge of the sail.  The tighter you pull the sail, the faster you go.  So, Elise had the sail pulled as tight as possible the entire time.  At some points we were taking turns on one wheel and at other times we were causing dirt to fly in the air behind us.  It was going perfectly until we realized that it was time to stop.  I didn’t know how to stop.  We came charging back to the group going super fast and I had no control over what was happening.  I was completely convinced that we were going to crash into each and every one of them.  So, I started turning the steering wheel as sharp as possible in every direction.  We eventually skidded to a stop in very nice fashion which made me look way more impressive than I actually am.

The next morning we had a free day so a group of us decided that we wanted to go sand boarding.  This is so much fun.  We were given a helmet, snow boots and a snow board.  We were then plagued with the task of having to get ourselves and our boards up a huge sand dune while wearing boots that completely restricted ankle function.  Once we got to the top, we waxed our boards and lined up to go down the hill.  I was a little terrified.  I had absolutely no idea how to go down without face planting.  After finally getting the courage to go, I realized that it was possible to make it all the way down the hill without falling on my face, and it was super bueno. Ten times more fun than blokarting, which is saying something because as I mentioned before, blokarting is AWESOME.  At some points, it was a struggle to unattach myself from the board and at some points I would fall while standing still and at some points I would hop up and down and not be able to move, but once I got going I did not want to stop.

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After an awesome morning, we left to go on a tour of some untouched sand dunes.  They were real pretty.  The sand was perfectly smooth and they were absolutely huge.  If you fell, there was no way that you were going to make it back up, so we had some fun with that.

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After that, we hopped back on a bus so that we could see the sunset.  By this point, we were all incredibly hungry, but also running real low on cash due to the large amounts of unnecessary shopping that had repeatedly taken place.  But, when we arrived to the spot there were huge tables laid out for us covered in fruits and cheeses and empanadas.  And, boy oh boy was it good.  I might have been more excited about the food than I was about watching the sunset, but the sunset was still absolutely beautiful.

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We had an early curfew that night because the next day we had to be ready to leave by 04:30.  This is too insanely early for a normal person to even consider waking up, but it would seem that we are not normal.  We were told the day before that it would be in the low teens so we needed to dress warmly.  The probably with visiting the driest place on earth is that there is very little humidity.  There is nothing colder than a dry 13 degrees.  I have never been so cold in my life.  I had on basically all the clothes that I had packed for this semester and was still unable to warm up.  We spent the time looking at geysers.  8% of all of the world’s geysers are located here, so I guess it’s pretty cool, but the only thing I could think about was how cold and miserable I was.

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It was so cold that at one point Sydney got splashed by boiling water and it instantly froze in her hair.  If you ask me, that is way too cold to even consider being outside.  Simply awful.

After the unbearable cold of the geysers, we hopped into the bus and went to a small town where we ate some llama.  I was a little nervous about it at first, but it is probably the best thing that I have ever eaten.  We ate them in kabob form with onions.  We watched as the man put them together and then grilled them right in front of us.  They were super fresh and hot when we ate them and I am pretty sure that I will never eat anything again that tastes that good.

That night, we emerged back into the cold to go on a star tour.  We went to a place that was completely dark and had a perfect view of the stars.  At first, we listened as our guide described all of the different constellations that were visible from where we were standing.  It is strange because all of the stars that we usually see at home are located completely different in Chile and we can see ten times more stars than I have ever seen before.  The second part of the tour gave us the chance to look through super expensive telescopes and get up close views of the different stars and of different planets.  I even got an up close view of Saturn which was absolutely remarkable.

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The next day, we went on a tour of Rainbow Valley.  This place was surrounded by mountains of all different colors.  There was one that we came across that was completely green.  We were served lunch in the middle of all the mountains which was completely awesome.  After lunch was over, 4 of us decided that we wanted to go explore before we had to leave.  We started walking around exploring all the different mountains.  We ended up getting to a spot that was completely surrounded by mountains.  We weren’t able to hear anything anything anywhere around us because the mountains blocked every bit of sound.  We came across one clay mountain that was huge and I decided that it would be a ton of fun to climb.  We all began to climb up, which may not have been the best of ideas because it was impossible to tell which parts of the clay were sturdy and which parts would break away in your hand.  We had a few close calls and I was pretty certain that Alex was going to die at one point.  But, we made it and it was ton of fun and the view from the top was pretty cool.

That same day, we went on a tour of petroglyphs around the area.  Petroglyphs are just drawings carved into the stone.  A lot of them were of people or llamas and some were of random things that I could not decipher.

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I’m about 94% sure that the petroglyph behind me is not the same thing that is on my shirt, but it is the closest that we could find, so I’m going to go with it.

After those tours, it was time for us to leave the Atacama.  I always hate leaving the places that we visit because who knows if I will ever get the chance to go back there again.

2 new words: Saturn = Saturno and frozen = congelado; cultural observation: There are many places in the Atacama, such as the sand dunes, that have remained untouched for many years.   This shows the huge appreciation that the people of the Atacama have for their lands.

Flight Count: 10