Tuesday, February 3, 2009


The entire month has passed and I didnt even written a thing- I apologize. Once the Christmas and New Years rush settled and my gym subscription expired... I became bored. Quickly. For few weeks in January I can honestly say I did not do very much at all... and once my boredom accumulated to hours spent on Google Earth each day, I decided something had to be done. With one free weekend I went to Chillan to visit the exchange students (Emil from Denmark, Jennie from Boston, and Tyler and Kasey from Arizona). I spent two tonights with Emil and on the first morning I woke up with tooth paste in my hair- a friendly prank played by his little sister? Well, not so friendly since it took a while to remove it all. Besides the toothpaste incident, it was good to catch up with them and I got the chance to see a neighboring city. Before I left, Emil, Tyler, and I made the pact to climb the Volcan Antuco before the end of the month. So I returned to Los Angeles with a few dates marked on the calendar.
Its summer now... and everyone suffers from this scorching and dry weather. Thankfully before Christmas my family decided to put in a pool in the little back patio space. And so a lot of time is spent dipping in and out of the pool. Also with summer brings the fruit. I have never ever eaten fruit as I have here. They buy strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries in crates of 3 or 4 kilos for less than you could buy a handful at the Village Market. Not to mention it is all absolutely delicious. I've been making smoothies daily now playing with new recipes each time.
On the 17 of Jan. we celebrated my host fathers 50th birthday and my host mother planned a big surprise party. She had a caterer come in as well as a DJ - it was a big deal. When the day finally arrived Ricardo was called for a "work meeting" in Chillan with an old client and friend. They were to arrive at around 10:00 since guests were told to be at the house by 9:30. 10:oo turned to 11:00 and 11:00 to 11:30 and it was nearly midnight before they showed up. Jokes were made that the two long time friends probably went out for a drink.... but the surprise was still genuine and everyone had a great time. I played the song Wagon Wheel for everyone after dinner.

The following week brought Antuco! I was looking very much forward to getting out in the mountains and I knew it would be a great time with friends. Initially, I had the idea for ascending the nearly 10,00ft volcano ourselves. My plan was as follows: take a bus to Albanico, a tiny pueblo 15km from the National Park de la Laguna del Laja, walk the remaining distance to the park, camp the night (I was determined I could muster a tent), and wake at around 5am to start ascending. I didn't even take into account how we'd get back. So, it became clear we needed a little help. We got a recommendation for a guide that would lead us during a night ascent with head lamps getting to the top for see the sunrise. Wow. That sounded too great to us all, so we tracked down this Victor and had him take us. There was no moon out that night and the stars were amazing. We'd walk for roughly an hour then stop for a break to just took at the sky- victor napped during our breaks.... he seemed to be a bit tired. We got up to about 2, 500m when my friend Tyler clumsily dropped his headlamp while trying to pass it to the guide. This presented a problem are moreover Victor had informed us he'd lost the route. Trusting our guide we decided to descend a bit and wait frigidly for the sun to rise so we didn't have to rely on the lamps. The sunrise was gorgeous, yet we were short from the top. In the end we decided to make our way down... the volcano defeated us.... nevertheless it was quite the adventure and we came a way with some amazing sights.
After staying up all night we had to re-adjust to a regular sleep schedule, but quickly because our friend Emily had invited us to go the the city Valdivia for a Bierfestival. The end January turned out to be a very exciting ... Kunstmann - a small artisan brewery holds an annual bierfest in the German colonized city of Valdivia. Friday and Saturday night we enjoyed a show of German music and dancing and of course a few glasses of the fine Kunstmann Bier- which is German means "Art man". During the day Saturday we took a ferry over to Corral and visit an old Spanish Fort. Emil and I went exploring in this awesome looking cave where we both stepped in what we hoped was only dog poop...fortunately we were close to the sea and could clean it off... The last week in January was nonstop. From nearly the top of Volcan Antuco to the shore of Valdivia and the Bierfest. And now I am sitting in the NOLS office in Coyhaique, Chile- a hidden city in northern Patagonia where the view of the pampas fields are endless...