It's been a few weeks since my last post (no, I have not dropped off the face of the earth), and I've been on more adventures! I finished my schoolwork and exams about two weeks earlier than the end of the semester in order to be able to travel, and let's just say that I needed a vacation... school in another country and another language is pretty mentally trying. So I traveled northward in Chile, farther than I've ever been thus far --- La Serena, a coastal town about six hours north of Santiago.
|Waiting at the bus station in |
Santiago with Kristin,
Hayley, and Emily
|Me with the La Serena sign|
On Tuesday we signed up for a tour of la Valle de Elqui, an area that produces a lot of wine and pisco, and also for an evening at a makeshift observatory because the actual observatories were on strike --- a common occurrence in Chile. Then the four of us explored the city a little.
|The Courts of Justice, the Archdiocese, |
and the Cathedral
|Red at night, sailor's delight|
|Kristin, Emily, and me in the papaya forest|
Wednesday we started off bright and early with our tour of the Valle de Elqui, or the Elqui Valley. First we went to a papaya plantation and learned about the growth and production of papaya products, and we also learned a little bit about the chirimoya, which wasn't in season during the time of our visit, unfortunately. We got to try some papaya products, though, which were really good. I'd never had real papaya before my semester in Chile, and I've discovered that it's a pretty delicious fruit.
Next, we once again entered the Precordillera and proceeded to Tranque Puclaro, an artificial lake created by a dam in the Elqui River. We walked along the dam so that we could see on both sides of the dam --- one side to the dry, populated part of the valley, the other side the lake nestled between the mountains. The area was utterly gorgeous; I just couldn't get enough of the rich blue-green color of the water against the deep hue of the mountains and the sparkle on the lake.
|On the dam|
|Church in Vicuña|
After venturing further into the mountains, we had the opportunity to stop and take photos. It was incredible to see the lush green of the grape plants stretched out alone the imposing gray of the mountains, and I was thankful for a lovely day to enjoy the sunshine and beauty of Chile that surrounded me.
|Me with the huge |
barrels of pisco
|Nothing like being in an underground |
Our guide told us about the history of the owners and showed us the underground quarters where the original owner kept his wine. Let's just say that he had a dark sense of humor --- he shaped the wine storage areas in the walls like crypts and had skeletons painted all over the walls, as well as statues of Roman and Greek goddesses of wine. Also, we got a few samples of pisco, wine, and, my favorite, pisco sour.
When night fell, our guide pointed out several constellations and let us look through the telescope at various star formations, all the while teaching us about the southern hemisphere's sky, which is different from that of the north. We learned the history of several constellations and how to find the southern axis, because there is no South Star, as opposed to the famous North Star. It was awesome to see so many stars above me in that remote area, and I loved learning about how certain formations got their names; I can even point out a couple of constellations in the southern sky now!
|Lighthouse along the beach|
It was really great for me to take this mini-vacation, especially after the intense school stresses of the previous week. Now I look forward to my last big adventure of my semester abroad: I'm leaving for Peru on Thanksgiving Day, and Argentina after that! Stay tuned for posts about my adventures in these countries!
Thanks so much for reading! Sending my love from Chile!
|In front of Tranque Puclaro|
|Kristin and me|
|So many yummy papaya products!|
|The dry side of the dam|
|Me on the dam|