Monday, May 30, 2011

Very busy weekend in Chile. It's impossible to sufficiently explore an entire city as large as Santiago in only three days, but we sure did try.

There was a protest downtown on Saturday, and apparently that does not mean what it means in a place like Denver. Potential for violence is higher, so we avoided el centro and instead drove around a very Westwood-y type section of the city [I know, I suck for comparing a city like Santiago to Westwood, but it's the only comparison I know to make].

We drove toward the mountains to a little artesian fair where we bought some Chilean sweets and ate them while exploring the different booths.

We made wishes in the wishing well and watched these ridiculous birds for awhile.

And on the drive home, the sunset was magnificent. The entire sky turned orange. It made the sky feel gigantic. Everything was on fire.

I wasn't quite sure what was supposed to happen Saturday night. Dani told me we were going to some party with his family and their friends and that the party had something to do with Cuba, dinner, a show, and dancing. Well turns out that's exactly what it was. We drove about half an hour outside of the city to someone's house/entertainment area in the campo. The food and drinks were all Cuban. Mojito, some sort of delicious pasta, and a traditional Cuban dish called ropa vieja. It was all fantastic. And this coming from someone who is ridiculously picky, especially when it comes to meat.

After dinner there was a show with singing, dancing, and a lot of costume changes. All of that was followed by dancing till 3:30am. It was a pretty good night aside from it being completely freezing cold the whole time because most buildings and houses in/near Santiago don't seem to have heaters even though it gets down to 30 degrees at night in the winter. I felt like a little kid when I fell asleep in the back seat of the car while Dani's mom drove us home.

Got very little sleep that night as we had to wake up fairly early to drive up to Viña del Mar for the day. On the drive out of Santiago, we passed the presidential building and what Dani's mom told me is the largest flag in Latin America. Santiago is also currently building the largest building in Latin America.

Viña is a pretty big city just to the north of the even bigger city of Valparaíso. I was shocked by the size of these places, as I was expecting quaint beach towns. Instead, I found miles of hills covered with colorful little houses, followed by a long stretch of coast filled with high rise apartment buildings. We only had a day on the coast, so Dani and I drove around for a long time doing the quick sightseeing tour by car, occasionally parking at overlooks. It filled my heart up to see the ocean, even though it made me desperately miss Los Angeles.

I liked Viña del Mar far more than Valparaíso. Valparaíso was more colorful but very dirty, filled with graffiti, trash, and partially destroyed buildings, and appeared kind of dangerous.

Before the driving tour though, we went to the cemetery in Viña to place flowers on the grave of Dani's grandfather. It really bothers me to be so close to so many above ground dead bodies, but I still found the cemetery beautiful. It overlooks all of Viña and is filled with color.

There was a beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean at the end of the day, but my camera battery died right as we parked the car to walk to the beach. So I had to resort to my iPhone.

We spent the rest of the evening after sunset wandering the artisan fair on the beach in Viña, eating chocolate covered strawberries off a stick and trying to stay warm.

I arrived back in Buenos Aires today and was happily greeted by Lucas and Carmen, followed by my roommates when they returned from school. Buenos Aires feels like home in so many ways. And even though Chile was wonderful, my heart belongs to Buenos Aires [at least when I'm in South America].