Hole in the OzoneSantiago, Spring 2011

Oh I want to get away

I want to fly away

Yeah yeah yeah

-Lenny Kravitz

Although I have only been here for three weeks now, it feels like I have packed in so much since arriving in Santiago. Last weekend, I took a trip to Mendoza, Argentina with 5 other IES students. We took a bus through the beautiful South American Andes, which stretch along the border of Argentina and Chile. We couldn’t understand why nobody knew the time of the bus ride (we got ranges from 5 to 9 hours) but soon understood. The bus—for reasons still unknown to us—randomly pulled over for long periods of time, or would wait patiently for oncoming traffic around steep corners. Once we got to Mendoza, we bunked in a hostel where a majority of the people staying there were either American or European. We met some great characters and had some interesting conversations—we had arrived the day of the earthquake/tsunami in Japan and it was a humbling experience to be watching the events unfold in the company of people from all over the world. Mendoza is an incredible city, filled with so much to do (and also filled with a good number of tourists)! Because we were only there for 3 nights, we had to decide how to spend our days from the plethora of activities that were recommended to us. We decided on two main activities: paragliding (inspiration for my opening Lenny Kravitz lyrics) and a biking tour of the “bodegas” (wineries). They were both great decisions! We all felt a little nauseous after landing from the paragliding, but the flight gave us a beautiful view of the city and it was a lot of fun sailing through the air with my pilot singing his original tunes most of the way down. The biking tour, although a little colder than we were expecting, was a great mix of beautiful vineyard scenery and tasty samples of wine, olive oil, chocolate, dulce de leche, liquors, and jam. I would recommend to anyone visiting Argentina or Chile that you take a few days to travel to this charming city that has so much to offer. After returning to Santiago, our first full week of classes began (as my friends in America and Europe were taking their midterms). It wasn’t actually even a full week of classes for me, since two of my five classes don’t start until next week. My spanish-taught classes have only been un poco challenging, but I am really enjoying them and have some excellent and entertaining professors. After a stressful first week of classes (okay, not exactly stressful) some of us decided to go to the beach for the day on Saturday. We headed to Vina del Mar, a 1.5 hour bus ride from Santiago, and had the perfect beach day. Perfect, that is, until the bus ride home when we all realized that the fact that there is a hole in the ozone layer over Chile is really not good for our pale complexions. Even with the layering of sunscreen, we still all got burned. I’m now getting excited for it to cool down a bit here, as autumn officially begins this week. Enjoy the photos and happy (or sad?) March Madness to all! [gallery link="file" orderby="ID"]
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