A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: kneedrager

Vina del Mar, Chile and my spring break : )

sunny 21 °C

My bad for not spending more time writing about my different endeavors : ) But later is better than never. The professors at UI never saw it that way, but that’s cool ; ) I have been good about uploading pictures though.

I haven’t been up to a whole lot recently. Last week I did make it over to Viña del Mar again. This time we saw the touristy part of the city. It wasn’t a shocking difference, but different none the lass. You know how some people really clean their house when people come over (even I do it!), well on the touristy side of town was really clean and nice. Oh yeah, there were a ton of gypsies trying to get some money from you. They were trying to sell stuff or just begging. The worst part, there were a few little kids begging. Little kids!! They looked healthy enough and when I told them “No” they quickly walked away.

I did have the best empanada for lunch though! OMG it was so good!! It was shrimp and guacamole with some cheese. I’m seriously thinking about taking a bus trip back though. The empanada was only ~$3. Hella cheap for a bite of heaven ; )

I don’t have many plans for this coming weekend, but in a a week and a half I’m looking forward to spring break. I am traveling with 2 other students in the study abroad group, Sophie and Will. A couple other kids might join us, but they don’t know yet. We will actually leave on an overnight bus to Puerto Montt followed by another bus to Puerto Varas and spend the night there at a hostal named Casa Margouya. The 27th is a day I’m looking forward to. Canyoning!! It should be a blast. They take you up a mountain in a helicopter and ride a stream down the side. A ~10 hr day for $75, pretty good deal in the eyes of this gymp. On Feb 25th we take a bus to Puerto Montt, fly to Punta Arenas, and finally bus to Puert Natales and stay at a hostal. Then on the 1st of March we get ready for the start of a 5 day backpacking trip in a big “W” pattern. The 5th we finish the hike and take a bus to Calafate, Argentina and spend the night at a hostal named I Keu Ken. On May 7th we catamaran around some glaciers and stay at a hastal. The 8th of May we fly to Buenos Aires and go to la Bomba and stay at another hostal. Actually we stay in the area until the 10th. After that we can decide if we want to go back to Santiago or go to Rosario, Cordoba. I’m leaning for the later ; )Not sure what it is, but there is something called ‘sensation white’ in Santiago that is supposed to be fun. Regardless this trip will beyond fun!! Thanks to everyone wishing me well on this excursion, this is turning into the time of my life!! : )

Posted by kneedrager 19:26 Archived in Chile Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

El Zoológico/The Zoo

can you read spanish ; )

sunny 32 °C

El vigésimo tercero de enero de 2010 (tratando de hablar en términos de Chile!) Me fui al zoológico, fue muy divertido. Vi los cinco tigres blancos de bengala que tenía la intención de ver. De cinco pies de distancia se ven lo suficientemente sano. Pero yo ni siquiera sé lo que debe buscar : D El resto del zoológico fue estrecho para bien. Con excepción de una ciudad que tiene una población de aproximadamente 16,8 millones de personas, que puede suceder. Aparte de eso, no hay nada nuevo. Tengo un examen en español el martes. Vamos a ver cómo va. Algo que está loco, yo soy la única persona que he hablado que está aquí por otras razones además de un grado. Todavía lo estoy no se queja. Vamos a ver cómo lo hago en mi prueba.

Con los tigres del camino, las montañas están al lado. María, mi mamá anfitrión dijo que es muy caro. Pequeña excursión a fin de que no podría pasar ; ) Voy a publicar una versión en Inglés por debajo de este : o

On 23/1/10 (trying to speak on Chilean terms!) I went to the zoo, it was fun. I saw the five white bengal tigers that I was intending to see. From five feet away they look healthy enough. But I don’t even know what I should look for : D The rest of the zoo was cramped for space though. Except with a town that has a population of ~16.8 million people, that can happen. Other than that, there is nothing new. I have a test in Spanish on Tuesday. We’ll see how it goes. Something that’s crazy, I am the only person that I have talked to who is here for other reasons besides for a degree. I still am NOT complaining. We’ll see how I do on my test.

With the tigers out of the way, the mountains are next. Maria, my host Mom says that the trip is very expensive. So that little excursion might not happen ; )

Posted by kneedrager 11:54 Archived in Chile Tagged animal Comments (0)

Viña del Mar

semi-overcast 16 °C

This weekend was the elections here in Chile. If a citizen registers in Chile, they HAVE to vote, or they get to pay a big fine. Not sure of the amount, but it is supposed to be large. This thinking kind of gave me and a group of students, the ‘bright’ idea to travel to Viña del Mar. Well one of the reasons I attend college is because I don’t know even close to everything in this world. The thought that the beach would be semi-deserted was way off. If this weekend wasn’t packed, I wouldn’t want to even see it jam packed. As a little kid, I have been to the beaches in California. But I never paid attention to anything like the number of people. When I was a sophomore in hs, I traveled to Florida and again, never paid attention to the population density of the beaches.

And just so people know, I DO post pictures. I don’t know if there is a better way to do it though *shrug* Look on the columns of the ‘Travelerspoint’ page as my blog opens. Look for just two little pictures on the right side of the page. Double click one and it will forward you to a list of the pictures. You can double click on one again to see them larger. I take the majority of my pictures with no zoom so they should be fairly good quality.

Traveling on a bus to Viña del Mar was not a big deal. I scheduled the bus with a few other kids and we rode together. Another group of students had traveled there the day before. Viña del Mar is a pretty big small town on the side of the ocean (if that makes sense). Small yet normal in regards to the amnesties they provide. And just like Santiago, they have a rampant over population of dogs *shrug* When at the host families house I use my Ipod to help me fall asleep because the noise at night is defining. Piano/classical is the type of music I listen to drift into the realm of dreams. It is a habit I’ll probably continue for a number of years in the states.

When a group of us were starting the planning of this trip a week ago, Robin sent out a fb link to the hostel she found. I clicked the link and filled out my credit card information. The form already had the general information, such as the dates filled in. All I chose was which porch I was going to sleep in. I got a confirmation page in my email a few minutes later.

Friday, January the fifteenth rolls around and after class we had lunch and made a trip to the bus station. Someone had the bright idea of walking instead of taking the metro. I’m pretty sure Robin had the bright idea ; ) The stations are NOT close. It took me almost 3 hours to walk between four stations the previous night. I’ll tell that delightful story the next chance I have to type it : ) We finally get to the bus terminal and we bought our tickets. They were a little over 3 mil, about $6 for the trip. Not bad : ) The busses were really comfortable. Even my gigantor long legs to fit and they didn’t hit the back of the front seat. That is until the person in front decides to recline the seat. But it was cool. I did the same thing and read my book.

I read quite a bit into a book called “Where Men Win Glory” by Jon Krakauer. Jon wrote books such as “Into the Wild” and “Under the Banner of Heave” and the first one was a good book. I will probably buy “Under the Banner of Heaven” someday to read ; )”‘Where Men Win Glory” is about the life of Pat Tillman and his death in Afghanistan. In my opinion the story is so sad because he was killed by fratricide, friendly fire. Mammalogy is coming in handy again, ‘frater’ is Latin for brother and ‘cide’ means to kill. Thanks David ; ) The bullets that ended Pat’s life were three .223 rounds fires from reportedly a SAW gun, the bullets covered a three inch pattern. The SAW is a M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. To fire a submachine gun where the bullet holes covered a three inch pattern, that fact would extremely impressive. Especially when you learn that the shots were apparently from ~200 yards away. It’s too bad that a man of his caliber was taken by his own comrades in the unit of Rangers. Some people theorize that a group of snipers were with the unit at the time, a similar group thinks the shots came from as close as 3 m away. The book is really easy to read and as close to the truth as possible when you realize how much the Army did to cover up details about Pat Tillman’s death.

After about an hour on the bus we arrived to Viña del Mar. After even more walking we get to the hostel and I was being nice let everyone else go first. It was finally my turn and the receptionist couldn’t find my reservation. I look up my email and give her the number. Welll she calls in another guy to figure out what’s up because she can’t find my reservation. They finally figure it out. The reservation is for next week. Oh well, there goes my $2.10 deposit : ) Then I don’t have a place to stay, so I’m think thing the beach would be really comfortable and just really cold. Being an ocean, it blows cold air all day and well into the night. I was hungry so we all decide to walk to a restaurant/bar and get something to eat. I wolf my sandwich down at my usual pace and get a kick out of people eating as they talk. Luke had gotten there a few hours ahead of us. Earlier in the week, he asked me if I wanted to share a hostel with him. I had already reserved the first one and I had told him so. Now the tables were turned because I needed a place to stay. He was kind enough to accommodate me and let me crash in the bed.

We went out Friday night and it was fun. The bars don’t close until 4 am in the morning. It was hard to stay awake that long ; ) But I made it. Then I walk outside and I don’t know how I will get ahold of Luke, because I don’t have a cell phone. Some of the other guys in the group with me were telling me “Luke is staying in the same hostel and we’ll let you in.” I refused to believe them and we literally walked less than 15ft down the side walk to the front door. I was like “OMG, I can’t believe I didn’t recognize the place” and then I walked up to the room where Luke was. I quietly knocked on the door and after some mumblings on the other side, Luke opened the door. I quickly fell asleep once in bed, it being 4:15 in the morning.

The next day, I walked to the bus station to buy a return ticket. I spaced it when we arrived on Friday. After walking back towards the hostel I ran into a couple of girls from the group. We meandered down to the beach and found the other girls who came previously. It was amazing to find them so easily. The reason, they were the white’s bodies on the beach ; ) I took a few steps into the water. It was so flipping cold!! Because of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) the global coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon, the temperature is really cold this time of year. I quickly dove in and returned to the beach. I then had a friend put some sun screen on my back and I smeared some on my chest. Then I did the whole sun bathing thing.

I’m a bright crimson color now. Ask Larry, he talked with me using Skype on Sunday. Apparently I missed a large portion of my chest and you can clearly see which portions of my back had sun screen because that part id a nice golden color : ) I don’t remember burning this easily when I was younger. Must be because I’m so OLD now ; ) New conspiracy theorist say it’s because of the green house gases that gas engines produce. I laugh at that fact because I’m willing to bet they all still drive a gas engine. Versus walking or even using diesel fuel which is produced at a rate of three gallons of diesel to one gallon of gas and the diesel has zero emissions. Mind you that is a byproduct and requires no additional manufacturing, but that’s another subject : ) That day happened to be Williams birthday so a group of us went out. There were about 11 of us. It started on the beach. I had eaten previously at another restaurant. The group had eaten sushi yet they had to wait something like 3 hours for the food. Everyone was raving about how good the food was, a girl let me have some after she ate her fill. In all honesty I didn’t think it was that good *shrug* but I didn’t have to pay for it and then wait three hours! ; ) The night was fun though : )

I walked to the bus station two hours ahead of time. I did get lost and walked up a hill. I ended up asking two guys “Donde esta el bus stacion?” They rambled back in Spanish some directions and then signaled for me to stay put. I was tempted to walk away after a few minutes but I was patient. After what felt like 20 minutes a bus finally rolled around the corner, they stopped the driver and signaled for me to get on. I went to the back of the bus and a girl asked me if I spoke English. She actually spoke English very well. I told her I did and she then talked with me for a little bit and she told me when to get off. I was less than a block from the station. On that note, I am going to try and start speaking the language and English, referred to as Spanglish : ) The intent being after 4 months I should be able to understand, write and hablamos en español. We’ll see how short the blog entries start and continue to grow. That’s my intention on the los dieceocho de enero : D I wish people in America were as nice as the people here in Chile are, but we can’t have it all : )

Posted by kneedrager 17:31 Archived in Chile Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

first day of class : )

sunny 31 °C

I spent the last few days just learning the neighborhood and such areas. Snafu is a perfect acronym for the trip, before and after less than a week into this adventure. If snafu is not familiar to you, just Wikipedia, or even Google it ; ) Both will define the term accurately ( : Those two tools are fairly accurate for just about any college student arsenal. Everyone can be a genius while on-line ; ) This weekend flew by like they always seem to. I didn’t accomplish a whole lot, besides knocking a few chapters out of the book I’m reading.

Today I started my first official day of class. The class is taught entirely in español. It was definitely a challenge. I did ok. I took Spanish in high school, which was like over 10 years ago!! And my memory hasn’t gotten ANY better ; ) But I will keep at it and we’ll see where I end up. All I can do is try, right?

After class I walked around with Robin and Evan, two kids in the USAC program with me. It was cool. We all fit the tourist profile really well. Cameras in hand, clicking pictures every few moments : ) You could probably spot us like water in the desert. Towards the end of the little excursion we met a guy who was warning us about pick pocketers. I have a little story, actually two : ) Maria, my host Mom was picked this weekend. She lost her ID and her bip card from her purse. Elections are this weekend and it took Maria waiting 4 hours to get through the lone this afternoon, and she might still not get it in time : )The bip card is what is used to travel on the subway system in Santiago, called the metro. I have never ridden on any kind of underground rail system before. It’s pretty cool. Not sure of the numbers who ride every day, but at around ~.60 per ride/every two hours, and a population of 4.7 million. If everyone rode enough to be billed twice in one day, that’s over 560 million per day!! I know that never happens per say, with all the different situations, different routes of transportation, etc., but that number is still crazy. At least for a guy like me from Idaho, where the state population just reached 1.5 million : )

Back to my second story : ) I think someone got into my backpack this morning. The metro was pretty packed at 9, during the trip I felt the usual movement in a tightly packed subway car. After a few stops the car emptied. I noticed a little girl with I assume, her Mom. She was staring at me with these big, wide eyes. She was constantly looking like she didn’t know what to think. I thought it was kind of odd, but I kept going on my way. After I got to school I took my pack off and noticed the middle pocket wide open. I purposefully do not carry anything in my pack, nothing that can’t be replaced anyway. Let me restate that, things that can be replaced cheaply : )I’m pretty sure there was nothing there, apparently someone needed it more than I did. Is what’s really insane, right now is S. American’s summer holiday. School starts back up, in March. I can see myself wanting to leave like Speedy Gonzales. Arriba, arriba . . . . arriba : o lol

Posted by kneedrager 18:41 Archived in Chile Tagged educational Comments (2)

day of learning THE route : )

sunny 28 °C

I didn't do a whole lot today. I learned the route from home to school and the return trip later in the afternoon : ) We'll see how I do on Monday. For today, the class of 'level one' just walked through downtown and had lunch in the central mall.

After class, my 'Mom' came to help me find my way home. As a side note, it is very common to call your host family according to the family names, such as Dad and Mom : ) I don't always understand them, but my host Mom is always telling me "They thought you, were really cute!" It's funny because I am NOT that good looking. I'm pretty sure it's just the height I have. I tower over every single person I see on the street. I am used to being tall, but down here in Chile, the tallest guy I have seen barley comes to my shoulder. It's nice because even when it was crowded and people were packed around each other, the crowd parts like the Red Sea : ) I have experienced the same thing in the states but down here I seem to notice it even more ; )

The weather is awesome!! A constant eighty degrees. According to wikipedia, the elevation of Santiago is 1,700 ft above the sea. That's a thousand feet lower than Boise and like I said, according to wikipedia : ) Another thing I enjoy is the lack of insects. I mean the occasional bee will fly around, but my window and door are open all day and the only thing I have to worry about is the dog leaving a surprise. So I do leave the door barley closed when I'm not here, with the window wide open all day/night : )

The food is good, just different to me. The fridge they do have is just a little cooler than the ambient temperature. The milk is warm, but that's fine because I can drink a gallon a day without much effort. Here in Chile they use the liquid milk in a box, I have seen it in the 'tree hugger' section of the grocery store in the US. The family has a small fridge, I believe because of the power cost and usage. I do my part and just use my computer to charge the battery and leave it unplugged until a warning message comes on. The same is true with my toothbrush. I'm proud to say that is very similar to my routine at home in the states, so it's not a huge change : )

With the weekend tomorrow, I will try and buy just a few more clothes ; ) I brought down two pairs of shorts and three shirts. I can't wear them, ALL the time. My intention was to bring just a few items of clothing and enough boxers for a week. I'm fine with underwear, I just need shirts. But this learning excursion is to be started on a budget and that's how it will be done : ) I somehow managed to bring three pairs of pants though, not sure if it was late at night when I originally packed *shrug*

The whole population functions very late into the night. A girl we met on the first day, told us how she stayed out until four in the morning. It's the same with all of them. I went to bed last night around one am and got up at seven. Maria, the host Mom couldn't believe I got up that early : )

Off to eat another dinner, we'll see if today is different. Yesterday was the same as the day before : ) NOT complaining though ; )

Posted by kneedrager 13:59 Archived in Chile Tagged educational Comments (6)

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