Monday, January 31, 2011

Siblings Trip

This is way too long so I just did it quick and easy.  There is a little bit too detail in some places and one or two places it is a little confusing, but I got it all down and that is what matters.  Soon enough though I’ll have another one about a bunch of other random stuff that has been going on.  Enjoy!

So I started out my trip going to Chillan for the weekend with Kathrine and Donner to visit Jana.  Jana’s host mom wanted to get to know me a little since Jana and I were going to be travelling a bunch together, so I headed up for the weekend.  There’s not too much to say about the weekend, just hung out around the house, went into town for a little, and went to one of their family friend’s houses.
 I took a bus from Chillan to Concepcion and got picked up by my parents.  We had a few hours to kill before my brother came, so like normal Chileans, we went to the mall.  We wandered around for a while and my brother and I ended up bowling for a while.  And for not playing in a long long time, I did erally well, scoring my highest score ever, 186.  We stopped off at my aunt’s house in Concepcion and dropped my brother off to ride with them to Cauquenes, which was where we were off to next.  Finally is was pick up my brother, after a few months of waiting, I was finally going to see him.
As we drove over I was reading my book and my mom looked back and asked, “How come you aren’t more excited for your brother?  You’re just reading!”  I told her I was ready to see my brother, and I would in a few minutes, nothing to get worked up over when we were almost there.
Once we got to the airport we went straight to the arrivals door and went in, looking for my brother.  After about 20 minutes of searching the airport I decided to look outside.  And there he was, sitting, listening to music at the departures door.  He had walked out the opposite door as we had walked in.  We got everything into the car and were off to Cauquenes with my brother.
Immediately the offers began.  “Do you want a sandwich, something to drink?  Anything?  How about an ice cream?  Water?  Nothing? Are you sure?”  And that was how most of the car ride was and how much of the next few days with my family was for my brother, not that it isn’t like that for me a lot of the time too. 
Once we got to the camp, the eating began.  First, crab, then friend fish, followed by different things here and there, and then the New Years meal.  Chicken, Potatoes, carrot dishes, corn, and so much more.  And then of course dessert, cake.   And of course, my brother hadn’t been feeling good from the flight, and none of this helped.  Dinner was over and we were all sitting around, waiting for the new year and all of the sudden my cousins and host brother wanted to go into the center to see the fireworks.  As we were driving in with my Aunt Vero, who Seth took a quick liking to because she helped him around so much, the fireworks were going off in the distance.  By the time we got into town there were 10 more minutes left.  In the center of the town there was a big celebration with live music, games, and a little carnival.  We ended up meeting Jesseye from Germany and Cassandra from SC and hung out for a while with them and Jesseye’s family.  It turned out that they were going to a club for the night and asked us if we wanted to go.  My brother, being sort of sick and tired from the trip opted out and I said yes.  So, a little while later after visiting my Uncle’s family in Cauquenes, and meeting up with my cousin and second cousin, who spoke English because she was living in Toronto and was just visiting her family for a few weeks, I went to the club and danced all night till 5:30. My second aunt picked my cousins and I up and dropped me off at some random house to sleep.  I didn’t know it, but it was my grandparents town house and I was sleeping in my uncle’s bed, but at the time I was extremely confused.  I was alone in someone’s house,  sleeping in an obviously previously slept in bed. 
I woke up two and a half hours later than I meant to, at 11:30 and got up and tried getting a hold of my family.  No one picked up and I eventually got my Aunt who had slept in town and was going back to the camp later.  A half hour later my other aunt called and asked where I was because they were coming into town to go to their house.  They picked me up and we went over to the house that had been destroyed in the earthquake last year.  The ceilings had all fallen down, tiles on the wall fell off, there were cracks in the wall, and broken windows everywhere.  It was trashed, better than some, but definitely worse than most.  We stayed a bit and then went back to the camp before going back into town to catch a bus to the beach to meet the girls from the night before.
We hung out at the beach for the day playing Frisbee, talking, digging a big whole, and relaxing after a long night before.  We went back to the camp and ate tons more the whole night.  Seth and I looked through the bag of stuff he brought be and then went to bed.
The next day we went into town to my Aunt and Uncle’s house and my grandparent’s house, where I slept, and then went to the beach again.  My Aunt, Uncle, and their kids, plus my brother and I went and ate lunch in a restraint looking out over the beach and ocean and then went to swim.  The water was freezing and I only jumped in while my brother just sat in the sun.   My cousins and I ended up deciding to play soccer and 3 other guys, two in their 20’s and one in his 30’s wanted to play too.  So, me, and my two cousins, 9 and 13, ended up beating them 2 to 1.  So, we went back and ate and slept, like usual. 
The next day we tried to catch a bus to Castro on Chiloe, the biggest island of Chile, but there was only one seat left.  So we went back to LA to try and catch one there, but there weren’t any there either.  So we decided to spend the day in LA and go the next night.  We got back to the house and Seth and I watched a West Wing and went to bed.  The next day we hung out, watching more West Wing and packing for the trip, and later we went out with Kathrine to show Seth things around the town.  
That night we went to the station and the chaos began.  We asked the first bus, they said it was the next.  So on the next bus we got on and sat down.  Two people came on with the same ticket and we got off.  We asked the next bus and they said it was the one before.  So something had gone wrong with the tickets and we weren’t waiting another day.  So we got on the bus and sat on the floor and stood for the first 5 hours of the night ride.  Not so much fun, the bathroom stunk and it was pretty dirty.  Finally with 3 hours left two seats opened up and we got to sit down.  We got to Puerto Montt in the morning and caught a bust to Castro. 
We just wandered around Castro and looked at the Palafitos, houses built on stilts right on the water.  The town was great, small shops everywhere, an old wood church, and a great town center.  Our hostel was in a good spot, right above the docks, which gave us a good view of the port.   We went to a restraint that was suggested by The Lonely Planet, Sacho’s and got a pretty traditional dish of the island.  It was a seafood dish, with clams, mussels, sausage, and onions.  We got one serving for the both of us and it was by far enough.   I ended up eating most of Seth’s since he didn’t like the mussels much and that was the majority of the dish.  The next day we got up and walked to the other side of the bay which was about an hour and a half.   One the way over, most of the bay was dry and none of the Palafitos had water touching their stilts.  Once we got to the other side we sat down, ate some lunch, and played Frisbee.  One the way back, another hour and a half, we looked out at the bay and it was full of water.  All the Palafitos had water almost half way up their stilts and all the boats were afloat.   Part of the way back we stopped in a store to look for some of the island’s traditional drinks.  We found a creamy liquor that the store owner let us try.  We wanted to take some with us, but it had to be refrigerated, so we were out of luck.  It was time to leave Castro and head back to the mainland to Puerto Varas.
Puerto Varas is a pretty decent sized town that acts as a base for all sorts of outdoors activities.  It is right on a lake and has a perfect view of a volcano and a large mountain.  Seth and I ended up eating some stuff we bought at the grocery store outside on the pier watching the sunset over the volcano.  It was a great night just sitting and talking and we ended up staying out till 12 or 12:30 just wandering around and talking about this and that.  The next day we just wandered the city some more and got some good views of the city and the volcano and mountain.  Then we caught a bus to a neighboring town, Fruitillar.  It is a really small town with not much, but we had heard it was a really pretty place.  It turned out to be really boring.  We went down to the beach and played some Frisbee, which is when I broke my toe.  I was running for a fast throw from Seth and didn’t see some sacs of sand and smashed my toe off of them.  It was just my pinky toe, but it was sticking out at a pretty strange angle and I thought I might just have dislocated it, but I wasn’t sure.  I ended up just yanking it back into place and putting in the water to stop the swelling, but it made the rest of the trip a pain.  And it still isn’t better almost a month later.  It is still really swollen, it just doesn’t hurt anymore, though I might just be used the pain, I don’t know.  Once I rest more and stop moving around for a while it might get better.
Anyways, we went back into Fruitillar to catch a bus to Valdivia to meet Jana and her sister, Mateja.  We ended up waiting at the bus stop on the highway for an extra hour and a half.  All the bus problems were strange considering I had never had problems before, but lateness is normal for all Chileans.  Side note, I might be becoming the most patient person in the world, or I am getting really good at ignoring anger because Chileans are the tardiest people in the world.  For instance, I left for Cauquenes the other day two and a half hours later, and when we left from Cauquenes with my brother to go to the bus station we were two hours late.  Another time I got to a party four hours late.  Time just isn’t important.  But, we did get the bus and did get seats, we just arrived really late to Valdivia.  Once we got there we went outside of the city with Jana and Mateja to the Kuntsmann Brewery.   We tasted all the beers and ended up getting a column and dinner.  After that it was back to the city and out for the night.  We went and hung out at a bar and played uno at a booth.  Mainly we just talked for the rest of the night.   We got back to the hostel and talked some more until Seth and Mateja went to bed.  Jana and I stayed up just talking about our exchanges and how they were going and then went to bed too.
The next day Seth and I decided to go to some islands outside of Valdivia and Jana and Mateja wanted to go to Pucon early in the morning.  They missed the first bus and hung out for a while as we got ready and then went to the islands.  Seth and I asked them to buy us tickets and put them at the desk for us, they had to buy some for pretty early and called us when they were buying them.  We were on a ferry that went between the island and had to go back right away, so we only got about a half hour on the islands while we waited for the next ferry.   We caught the bus just on time and had no problems with the bus, just people on the bus.  There were two guys behind us blasting Reggatone dance music for half the trip.  Seth was asleep for most of it, but I got to hear every song from the clubs, which would be great, in a club, but not on a bus when I am trying to sleep.
We got to Pucon, the main outdoors city and biggest tourist spot in the heart of the season in the south just for that reason.  We met up with the girls and wandered around for a while until 8 when we had booked a ride out to some thermal pools.  There were 6 different pools of different temperatures.  We were there until 12 and then went back to the hostel.  The girls got dropped off at their hostel and we went back, hung out for a bit and went to bed.
Next day we went out to some waterfalls in the woods and a few pools that we weren’t allowed to swim in.  From there we went to a small town pretty close with a beach.  We walked down away from the beach to a secluded spot and sat around in the sun and swam a bit. 
That night Seth and I had a bus at 11:30, so we decided to scope out where our station was and what we needed to do.  We were told where the station was and so we went to find it.  We found the station we were told to go to, but it wasn’t the right one.  So we went back, got our tickets and went back the station and asked where we needed to go.  We eventually found the station for our bus, which was really close the girl’s hostel.  So we waited for them and went into town.  At Christmas I had been in Pucon with my family and talked to a vendor who made and sold shoes.  I had asked her to make me some shoes since they didn’t have my size.  So I called the woman and went to their house where they made them.  There was just a man there, the guy who made the shoes, and he said that the shoes were an extra twenty-six bucks that they were originally.  I told him no and eventually got him down ten, but that still only made the shoes forty.  Too much for a pair of leather shoes as cool as they would have been to have.  So we left and went to the beach.  Seth and I played some Frisbee while the girls looked for some trails they wanted to hike the next day without us.  As Seth and I were playing Frisbee, right beside us, two models and two guys with cameras started setting up for a shoot.  So, we didn’t leave and ended up playing Frisbee as they had their photo shoot and a small crowd formed on the other side of us.  I like to think that the crowd was watching us and taking pictures of us playing Frisbee, not of the models.   Eventually it got dark and we headed into the town again and met one of Kathrine’s cousins who lived in Pucon and went to a bar until we had to leave.  And luckily we had an awesome hostel with a really cool owner who let us keep our bags at the hostel until we needed them, and let us hang out all day at the hostel too.  So we got our bags and went to the station and were off to LA again.  My dad ended up picking us up at 3:30 even though I had asked just to send a taxi for us.  The next day we went to the station early so that we could get tickets to Pichilemu, a surf town southwest of Santiago.  There were two tickets for that night, but we needed four because the girls were coming in that night or the next day, we weren’t sure which.  It was all kind of crazy.  But we went to find more and couldn’t find any more for that night.  Seth and I decided we would go that night and they could come the next day, but by the time we went to buy them they were sold.  So we got two for the next day and reserved two more to buy if the girls wanted them. 
The whole problem now was that Kathrine’s parents wanted to meet Mateja, who knows why, but they wanted a whole day with her.  Mateja didn’t know them, hadn’t know their son who lived at their house in the US, and we were all trying to get to Pichilemu.  The felt terrible, but they could only get to LA for an hour before we left for Pichilemu.  So they ended up buying the tickets with us, considering there were no other tickets that day and we had a hostel booked.   But that all meant that Seth and I were stuck in LA another day.   We did the same thing.  Hung out, watched West Wing, packed my bag I was sending back with him to the US that my mom was going to take to Santiago when she went later that week.  And then later in the night we went to Kathrine’s and ate some food, and my brother met her parents.  And of couse, Kathrine’s mom told me is was my fault that they weren’t going to get to know Mateja, jokingly, but seriously.  My parents picked us up from their house and we just went to sleep.  The next day we waited for the bus.  We went to the station and Jana called me, they went to the wrong station, luckily though it was just next door and they made it to the bus.  Our tickets were all split up, but we asked around and switched some seats so we were all sitting near each other.  We got the San Fernando, a city that we had to stop at to take another bus to Pichilemu.   The whole trip ended up taking a lot longer than we thought, 9 hours in total.  We got the the hostel pretty late, around 9 and were picked up by the wife of the owner.  She let us stop at a small store and get some food and whatnot before going to the hostel. 
This hostel was awesome.  It was a surf hostel, with amazing beds, which we really needed after the trip there and the last few days, a great location, 3 or 4 minutes walking distance to the beach, and just a great build.  Really big windows, a pretty square look, but really interesting, and a lot of wood with a patio on the side with a grill and pool.  But, once we got there that first night we walked down to the beach and hung out down there just talking.  Then back to sleep.  The next day we went into the main part of town and wandered around until Seth and I decided we would go surfing in the main surf spot, a twenty minute walk on the beach from our hostel.  The girls stayed in town a little longer and bought some food for dinner for later.  They ended up meeting us at the beach after Seth and I had surf lessons.  We stayed out for a while, just paddling and trying to catch waves, which we both caught.  But overall, for me, surfing isn’t my thing.  Too much waiting for a wave that you probably won’t catch and if you do, probably won’t stand up on.  If I could go surfing a lot more, maybe I would, but for how much I will go in my life, there isn’t much of a point since I will never be very good.  But, I ended up going the next day too. 
After surfing that day, we went back to the hostel and had a cookout on the grill.  I manned the grill while they got the other stuff ready, a few salads, and watermelon.  This of course meant that I was outside grilling by myself, sausages and vegetables.  And the biggest part of grilling is the socializing, but I was alone.  They eventually came out when I was done cooking, with salads that could have only taken 5 ot 6 minutes to make, but whatever, we had a great dinner and a fun time.  Not much else happened that night since we were so tired from surfing and Seth and I ended up teaching Mateja and Jana Euchre so we could play throughout the rest of the trip.  They caught on pretty fast, but they needed more practice, which they got later on throughout the rest of the trip.  As I said, the next day was more surfing and then we left for first, Santiago for a day, and then Valparaiso and Vina Del Mar, two neighboring cities on the coast.
In Santiago we met one of Mateja’s friends who was going back to the US after 6 months of studying abroad the next day and went out on the town with her.  First we got something to eat after dropping our stuff off at our hostel and then went to the disco and bar strip of Santiago.  We went to a disco for an hour or so when my brother decided to go back.  We stayed out later and when we left the disco we met some guys who were going to another party in Santiago.  So we went with them.  The party was in a garage in who knows what part of Santiago, within walking distance of our hostel, but pretty far.  They said that no foreigners ever came to this venue and we were really lucky.  So eventually that ended too and Mateja got a number from one of the guys so that we could call them when we came back.  So at 7 in the morning we got back to the hostel and slept for 2 hours.  Then it was to Valparaiso and Vina del Mar.
Vina del Mar is the nicer more political side of the city with all the tourists who are there for beaches and nice houses.  Valparaiso is southern city with a port, which isn’t big enough for the city but has nowhere to expand.  Valparaiso was voted the country’s city with the most culture, or something along those lines and has great houses everywhere, amazing views since it is on a pretty big hill and great places to eat and visit.  Along with ascensores, I forget the word in English, but they are just carts that go up and down the hills on tracks. 
We ended up staying in Valparaiso most of the time with just a small trip to Vina del Mar.  At our hostel, which took a bit of searching to find we met an American couple and wandered around the city, did a short boat tour and looked for a seafood restaurant that we couldn’t find with them for the day ending up at a grocery store buying food for the night.  We made burritos with the couple, which was a great idea.  It was the best meal we had on our trip.  Then that night we went out and wandered around some more and went to a pretty cool restaurant/bar and had a drink.  And they gave us some cooked marijuana seeds too eat.  They had cooked them which got rid of the THC, but none of us had seen it before and they were actually really good and lasted a long time for how little there was.  But after that it was back to the hostel.
The following day we went and saw Pablo Neruda’s house in Valparaiso.  Pablo Neruda was a famous poet/politician in Chile who collected all sorts of stuff and put it in his houses, which he had one in Valparaiso, one in Santiago, and one more on an island off the coast near Santiago.  All the stuff inside was really interesting and the house itself was beautiful.  He had a bunch of his friends who were artists do different things all over the house such as paintings and stone and tile works all over.  There were free electronic tours which gave a lot of interesting information about the house and about Neruda.  After the house we wandered around some more, went to Vina del Mar and went to a park.  After the day was over we went out and ate at a small restaurant and went back to the hostel for a wine mixer that the owners put on.  After the mixer, all of us, and all the other people staying at the hostel went out to a huge discotech for the night.  The disco had 7 levels with different music in each one.  We stayed until pretty late until Jana and I were pretty tired and decided to go back.  We started walking and she said that she knew a shorter way back to the hostel.  I wasn’t so sure, but she seemed like she was positive even though I knew a sure way back.  So off we went.  But, we only got so far till we got lost.  We spent an hour and a half wandering through the city asking people where we were and how to get back.  It was a ton of walking and kind of sucked, but it was fun just wandering and talking, plus we got some amazing view of the city during the night with all the lights on.  We ended up getting back at the same time as everyone else was coming back too and got teased pretty well about getting lost.  Then it was to bed.
In the morning we got up and ate breakfast and went out to a lagoon outside of the city and spent the day on the beach.  When we came back we went back to the hostel and then to the bus station to Santiago.
In Santiago I had arranged to go and stay at my Aunt’s house the next night which meant I had to go get the keys for the house since no one would be there.  It was a 40 minute trip out by myself while the other three went to the hostel we were staying at that night.  I dropped off my bag, got the keys and came back in.  I almost couldn’t come back in because it was so late and the metro was about to close, but I made it.  It was a terrible trip in and out to the house and was ready to shoot someone by the time I got back in.  Once I finally got back though we ate a bit, played some euchre and went out again for the night.  Seth stayed in since he was so tired from the last few days, but Jana Mateja and I knew it was the last night we would have out on the town and had to go out.  So, we called the guys from before and met up with them.  They were having a small party at their friend’s apartment which ended up being in a high rise apartment building and or course, they had the apartment that opened up onto the roof of the other half of the building which meant we could climb over the railing and hang out there too.  It was an amazing view of the city with some really cool guys.   They were all skateboarders and the owner of the apartment wrote for a Chilean skateboarding magazine.  So after a while there we went out to eat at their favorite hotdog/hamburger joint.  It was delicious and completely worth staying out even later for.  But after that they took us back to our hostel for a little bit of sleep before we explored Santiago the next day. 
So, when we got up, it was straight out to explore.  First we went to Plaza De Armas, the main plaza and looked around at what there was to see like the giant Catholic church and the first post office in Chile and a few other things and then we went to a museum in the center.   And finally to San Cristobal which has an acsensor that goes up to Santa Lucia, a statue that looks out onto the city with a small church.  All in all, we walked way too much and were all ready to drop over by the time we went back to my aunts.  We got some food and made dinner and then just hung out in the house.
We all rested pretty well and Seth and Mateja were ready for their trips home.  But first we went to the giant open air market in Santiago so Seth and Mateja could by some stuff for people at home.  Then we took Jana to the bus station to go home.  Seth and I went on  wild goose chase for my bag that my mom dropped off at the bus station and went from bus station to bus station looking for it and eventually found it.  Then after Mateja said goodbye to Jana, the three of us went back to the house where my Aunt was going to pick us up and take them to the air port.  Seth and I packed all the stuff for the trip home and Mateja packed her bag too.  Then we just waited to take them to the airport.
Saying goodbye sucked.  I just want to crawl into the bag and go back with them.  As great as it was to have them there, it was almost impossible to say goodbye.  In the end, I had an amazing time with them and was happy for the break from my exchange.  Travelling with them couldn’t have been better.  Jana and Mateja were amazing travelling companions and made the trip just that much better.   And I am still happy that I got to see so much of the country, because I know that I wouldn’t have gotten to see so much otherwise.  Travelling with Seth is always great, but this was just so much better than usual because  I hadn’t seen him or anyone in such a long time.  I wish he could come back again and we could go to the north, but I know we will travel together again and I am looking forward to that

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