Tourist for a Week and other happenings

I can’t believe it’s already August. Between a visit from a friend, work projects beginning and my birthday, the entire month totally flew by. Thankfully I took photographic evidence of all the fun stuff.

My friend’s visit had a rocky start as she missed her flight from Bogota, Columbia to Santiago, Chile due to a four-hour long stay on the tarmac in Newark. Though the little detour (it was actually a big detour, she ended up having to go to Panama City, Panama after Columbia to get to me earlier) was obviously not the optimal start to the trip, she hit the ground running and requested to get out on the town as soon as she landed. What a trooper. We ended up heading to one of my favorite bars, The Clinic, in downtown Santiago, to start the wine drinking that would continue throughout her visit. After touring a bit of Santiago the following day we headed back to my home in Valparaiso (on the coast about an hour and a half away) to relax and catch up. The next day we (me, hubs and my friend) piled in the jeep and drove on out to Ritoque, a beautiful little beach town north of us on the coast. Neither of us had been there but their sand dunes are famous and we found a small tourism company that gave guided horseback tours on the beach. Score.

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We were each set up with a horse and without more than one minute of instruction (here are the reins, hold them and kick the horse if you want to go faster,) we were off. I imagine in the U.S. we would have had more rules and regulations to follow but thankfully (scarily) we were let loose to figure it out on our own. I think my horse knew I had no idea what I was doing when as soon as we got to the beach and he started sprinting I almost fell off due to the fact that I was trying to take a cute picture of myself riding a horse on my iPhone. Thankfully I recovered and after that I kept a hand on the reins for the rest of the ride. After about four hours of riding clutching onto my horse for dear life our guide Matias led us all to one of the famous seafood restaurants in nearby Con Con for some seafood empanadas. Pretty spectacular end to our day.

The next day was the 4th of July and was spent eating some very American pulled pork sandwiches and other assorted meat products with friends of ours on Cerro Polanco in Valparaiso. My friend (a vegan) was such a good sport.

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A bit worse for wear but still outrageously happy to be spending time with each other (cheesy but true), the three of us again set out on the road, this time to spend a few days in Cajon de Maipo (Maipo Canyon) in the Andes. I had booked us a cabin at a nature sanctuary called Cascada de las Animas whose claim to fame was that Samatha Brown (who I openly dislike) had recently stayed there. Their newly constructed ‘Lodge Suites’ were expensive but less rustic than the normal cabins you find in the area and they promised to have vegan fare for my friend at the restaurant on the grounds. I rarely say this here about lodging (or anything for that matter) but the place totally exceeded our expectations. The whole place looked like ‘Whoville’ from a Dr. Seuss book – a little cheesy but well executed none the less. The restaurant was beautiful (and tasty!) and we got to go hiking and zip lining too. It turned out to be exactly the relaxing, nature-y trip we all wanted.

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By the time my friend’s 6 days in Chile were up, we were all exhausted and about five pounds heavier, not wanting to say goodbye just yet. Having friends here is such a breath of fresh air. Sometimes I feel like I’m surrounded by foreign strangers (which I am, really) so it’s nice to be around a friend who has known you for a long time (and knows all the crazy things you did in college) and still likes you. I wish it were easier for everyone to come visit.

The rest of July went quickly. My largest project of the year started successfully and then we celebrated my birthday in style for three straight days, going out with friends in Santiago and here in Valparaiso. I even abandoned my vegetarianism for a night to eat blood sausage and chunchules (you don’t want to know what they are) all for the sake of the cultural experience. Can’t say I regret eating them but I do regret the cheap bath tub gin that accompanied them.

On to August and another year older!

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