Spidey Edition

I officially have one month left in this paradise. It is extremely bittersweet, especially since I registered for classes back home. I have fallen completely in love with this country, and now I wish I could stay for another semester, but the memories I have made, and will make will always be with me, and on my blog.

I can’t believe I left everyone hanging for a month, so I’m sorry about that! But at the end of October, I got the once in a lifetime opportunity to fly a plane! I even did a barrel roll… Just kidding.

Captain of this flight- Matias!

Captain of this flight- Matias!

Don’t worry, I would hardly consider it flying, since I just got to turn once. Even just that bit was such an adrenaline rush. Later my dad told me the exact type of plane that it was: Pipler PA-28-181 Archer II. He also has time in that plane as well. Like father, like daughter. We flew down the coast down to Algorrobo which is home to the largest pool in the world.


People were sailing… in the pool!

We turned around here and headed back to Viña just as the sun was about to set. It was so gorgeous seeing Viña from a different perspective.


Then, the next week, because I had to have something bad happen again, I saw a tarantula. Ok, it’s not ‘bad’ but it was the size of my hand. Then this last weekend I saw ANOTHER while hiking. I said to Juliana, “I think it’s a sign that I’ve seen two tarantulas in less than two weeks—” Just as I finish this sentence we see another baby tarantula. Just my luck! For the record, baby tarantulas aren’t very baby in size.

The one on the left was while walking home from school

The one on the left was while walking home from school

So this last weekend I went to Pucon with ISA, my program. We left Thursday night at 9pm, and I was ready to go with my cookies and juice boxes (literally). Twelve hours later, we arrived at the cabañas where we would be staying for the weekend. We got to cook in these cabañas and I can’t explain how happy that made me. For our adventures that day, I made a sandwich with bacon, eggs, turkey, cheese, avocado, tomato, and blue cheese dressing. Anna bought a chicken. A whole chicken. In other words, we weren’t complaining.

Once we took our cat naps we went on an excursion where we had bread and tea in a Mapuche hut, swam in the hot springs, and visited waterfalls.

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Waterfall and a Rainbow as the cherry on top

Waterfall and a Rainbow as the cherry on top

Then at the end of the day we we went to this gringo restaurant called Latitude 39.  It’s famous for serving the things that travelers from the US miss most, like waffles, ranch, and smoothies (separately of course). I ended up going to this place twice and eating waffles with my hands. THAT is how much I missed waffles.

The next day we went ziplining in the forests with the backdrop of the volcano. You could say my life isn’t real.


Over the river and through the woods


To the volcano we go










Another spidey incident happened during zip lining, that I forgot to mention. I paved the way among the group and that also meant walking through numerous spider webs. As I was making for people to reach the stand the guide and I were on, I decided it would be a great idea to sit down. Little did I know, this quarter-sized green spider was crawling up my leg. As I let out this blood-curdling scream, the guide jumps into action, thinking that I am falling off the ledge. Meanwhile, Anna is having a mild heart attack. I may have PTSD now, with all of these spider situations but, I believe I will pull through. Later that night, a bunch of the girls got chocolate and wine to kick back on the beach and watch the sunset. Being basic was so bliss that night.

There is ACTUALLY no filter

There is ACTUALLY no filter

I would like to say I slept like a baby after all of these wonderful events, but unfortunately there was a long and drawn out sawing noise that went on the entire night, and I couldn’t help but think we were going to be living proof (or corpses) in a chainsaw massacre, since we were, in fact, in the woods.

The last day we woke up early and took a bus to the Parque Nacional Huerquehue. The hike takes 5 and a half hours to get up to the lakes and back, but Juliana and I wanted to make it back on an earlier bus to shop for souvenirs in the town. So we made it to the first lake with 5 minutes to spare. It took us just over 3 hours for the hike. Needless to say, I could hardly walk the next two days because my entire lower body was swollen. But, you tell me if it was worth it:

Our view near the top with the volcano in the background

Our view near the top with the volcano in the background

That is a lake with the sky's reflection

That is a lake with the sky’s reflection









I can’t believe I have to leave this gorgeous country in two weeks.


I’m a Professional Surfer

Welp, I FINALLY have my computer, and am typing this articles from a keyboard and not a small iPhone screen. It is such a wonderful feeling! These last two weeks have been horrible and wonderful at the same time. I was diagnosed with strep then had to return to the hospital twice to finally receive the correct diagnosis, which is thrush AND strep. I practically had ulcers lining my esophagus and mouth. I couldn’t eat, drink, or leave my bed for a week. It was not pretty. I finally made it out into the daylight when my parents arrived in Chile. I think my body wanted to get better while they were here because it meant I could eat good food like seafood, sushi, and ceviche! All in all, I only have about one week’s worth of information to blog about because it’s hard to write about things when you haven’t left your bed for a week! The weekend arrived, and my parents and I were planning on going to Mendoza, but the rental car agency had different plans in mind. We weren’t allowed to cross the border into Argentina because it would appear as though we were “stealing the car.” Don’t fret, we decided to take a day trip to Casablanca instead. We visited two vineyards there.

IMG_0840The first was Casas del Bosque, where we got to taste five different wines. Here, white wine was more prevalent. The following is the view from the vineyard. There were vineyards as far as I could see.


The next vineyard was an organic and biodynamic vineyard called Emiliana. We got to taste wines and pair them with chocolate and cheese. After this, we sat out on the balcony overlooking the vineyard because I’m pretty sure at this point we were all a little tipsy. It was perfect timing too, because the sky started to clear up as well.


The following day we took a trip up the coast to Horcon, one of the first little surfing towns in Chile. There they have the “Puente de los Deseos” which means Bridge of Wishes/Desires. You write a wish on a ribbon and then tie it to the bridge.



Once my parents left, I started preparing for the following weekend which was a surf trip with other exchange students to Maitencillo. There I was finally able to try surfing for the first time, and to my surprise, I was not too bad (for a beginner, obviously). I got up at least 6 times! The water was absolutely gorgeous. I swear I saw 10 ft into the water. Later we had an asado, and spent time relaxing, and enjoying the 80˚F weather.

Now I am laying in bed with a horrible sunburn, just waiting for the wonderful things next weekend will bring!

My Body Hates Me

After this weekend, and last week, my organs are slowly going to shut down one by one after their fair share of fat, grease, sugar, and a little bit of alcohol. But don’t be fooled. I didn’t make it off so easy. I just found out that I have strep today that traveled to my mouth. I found out after going to the emergency room since my tongue and gums were so swollen that I couldn’t talk. Don’t worry though, a penicillin shot in the bum makes it all go away. Not really, but it helped a little with the swelling.

If you didn’t know, Chile’s independence is officially celebrated on the 18th and 19th of September. But, in reality, it is celebrated from the 14th-21st. Everything is closed on those two days. It’s hard to find an open restaurant or store, unless it’s a vendor in their Fondas, which are the equivalent of a state fair with stands everywhere with food vendors, games, and double the amount of alcohol vendors. Of course, there is also the area to dance their traditional dance, la cueca, on bits of straw, covered by a forest type setting. It truly is a once in a lifetime experience.

Above is the Fonda in maitencillo that we went to.

I noticed that during this week there was so much pride shown all over the city. Empanadas and anticuchos (skewers) were all over the streets, traditional dresses were being sold by street vendors, and there were flags EVERYWHERE, including in the back window of a collectivo, which doesn’t seem the least bit safe.


An Anticucho and a Terremoto

I only wish that in the US people demonstrated this kind of patriotism. Sometimes, we do, but the 4th of July isn’t the only day we should celebrate.

The men above are said to be from Easter Island!

Last but not least, what would my blog be without a sunset photo? This one was taken in Maitencillo!


I hope everyone is enjoying my blog. It’s rather inconsistent at the moment, but hold on one more week, and I will be able to post from a laptop, and not my phone!

My Brain Told Me To Be Australian

So my trip to the Atacama started with a 2am alarm and a bus ride to the airport at 3 for a flight at 7, followed by another bus ride upon arrival into Calama. I went with students from Bryant. No one in the group checked a bag and I was worried about my liquid portions, but security was such a joke. They didn’t even look at the screen when my bag went through the scanner. It kind of made me worried, but I’ve learned that in Chile, you just have to ignore some things.
The airport was incredibly small and the surrounding area reminded me of lake Powell. There was nothing for miles and miles but dirt, sand, the occasional llama. Once we got to San Pedro de Atacama, we settled into our hostel before our first excursion.

Not the prettiest sight to see, but it worked out once you got over the fact that the sheets were bloodstained…

Our first stop was camino de las salinas. This was the salt rocks. They took on different shapes and sizes, and in a particular area, you could hear the crack from them moving due to temperature changes.

Who would have thought that sand and some rocks could be such a breathtaking view?

The next place we got to see was valley of the moon. Following that, it was valley of the dead.

The above isn’t valley of the dead but I thought this picture showed the title better. The other (see below) doesn’t quite scream valley of the dead.

Later that night we got to go on a star tour, and through the telescope I was able to take a photo of the moon.

The next day we had a late start at 430 am! When you think of the desert, you think of excruciating heat, but that is not the case when the sun isn’t up. I wore 3 jackets and a pair of leggings, but I wish I had worn 2 pairs. The bus ride to the Geisers del Tatio wasn’t warm either. I found myself nuzzled into my friend Des upon arrival. I also found first on the inside window of the bus. Then I realized we actually had to get out of the bus. It may have been cold but it was so incredible.

After the frigid morning, we got to go to the hot springs. Because I actually got in the 100 degree water, I only have a picture of the hot stream leading up to it (which my friend accidentally stepped in and acquired blisters from the heat), and from a distance.



The next excursion of the day was sand boarding on this monstrous hill.

It is nothing like snowboarding, but it was such a fun experience. We got to meet people from Denmark, Israel, France, and more. All of the languages probably threw my brain off because at one point my body instinctively started to talk in an Australian accent. I couldn’t help it, but my new friends understood my confusion.

The next day we left, but before that, we managed to fit in a little horseback riding in the dunes, along with a little sunburn.

The ride back to the airport was full of sleepyheads, but I think it meant that we had a fun-packed weekend.


Goodbye High Maintenance

I have officially gained 10 pounds while here. I’m just hoping it’s muscle but who am I kidding?

I know that it has been a while since a post but I feel as though I have been incredibly busy! I booked a trip to Brazil, AND the atacama desert. I leave in about four hours for the desert. I have no hair dryer, straightener, or makeup packed. This should be very interesting. Last Saturday Anna and I went to a Chilean BBQ with some friends here. It was on the beach and it was beyond gorgeous. BBQs here are much different and as things finish cooking, they are brought around to the mingling people there to take pieces until it’s gone. Then they move on to the next meat or fish. It was so wonderful, and watching the sun go down was jaw dropping. On the beach, with new friends, and crashing waves in the background, make for an incredible sunset.

Like promised, I went to another cupcake place and I am not kidding when I say you need to come to chile just for these cupcakes. I had a cookies and cream cupcake and it actually melted in my mouth.

Just a short post this time, but I’m sure there will be much more after my trip this weekend!

Death by Kitchen Cups

If I were to die while down here in chile, I would expect it to be by a micro or other form of transportation, not by kitchen glasses or fruit. But, if people could predict their death the world would be pretty overpopulated. I was very close to getting nailed by oranges and having glasses shatter over me when the earthquake hit on Saturday.

I told Anna that I was going out to run some errands. I was heading towards the register down the fruit and home essentials aisle when the ground started to shake. It didn’t really occur to me that this was an earthquake and that I needed to run out of the store. So, my first thought was, ‘I wonder if I should checkout still?’ Then the glasses on the shelves started falling off shelves and shattering right next to me, and I think that was when my feet decided it would be best to move rather than waiting for my brain to tell them that. As I quickly made my way out of the store I wished there was a camera in front of me to capture the glasses falling and breaking behind me as I got closer to the door. Intense music would have been playing and people would have been on the edges of their seats wondering if I made it or not. Well, by the time I got outside it stopped shaking and people were frantic. Parts of buildings were on the streets and some people that it was the right time to admire the cracks that had appeared. I, on the other hand, quickly ran home and sprinted to Anna’s room for a quick embrace to find that my entire body was trembling. It all was quite the adrenaline rush!

When we sat downstairs with the other residents Flaco, the cat, comes in from outside extremely irritated that we hadn’t let him in sooner. He then proceeds to sit in my lap and meow. He was scared too, I suppose.

While waiting for more news, we heard the word tsunami in conversation. For a second my heart actually stopped. The language barrier couldn’t have been any more inconvenient. Thankfully, it was just that there WOULDN’T be a tsunami, but you don’t throw that word around after an earthquake with foreign students in the room that don’t know what you’re saying.

Power was out for a few hours and there were two after shocks. We ate a cold dinner by candlelight that night with music from a battery operated radio. It was quite romantic.

You should know that coffee here is not real. I don’t know what they do, but there is zero caffeine. I have had coffee three times while I’ve been here and once was at Starbucks. The last two were consecutive days because I missed caffeine that much. Anna and I went to a cupcake place today and I had a chocolate cupcake with caramel and chocolate frosting, and you can bet that I will be going there weekly.

Last funny story for the day: Flaco, the cat, always gets what he wants because if he doesn’t he will meow until you get him what he wants. Flaco and I have a connection. I found him outside my window, yes, my window one night. It was a sweet gesture. One thing we don’t quite see eye to eye on is when he is being lovey with me, he thinks it’s nice to surprise me at the table by resting his paws on my back or on my thigh and releasing his claws into my skin. Other than that, I think that cats are starting to grow on me. Especially when they are cute like this:

Cute catsLastly, another sunset, but I was too late so a post sunset shot.



Laryngitis. Any other curveballs?

When we were in orientation, we were told that Chileans LOVE salt. We were told that at one point, so many people were dying from high cholesterol that a law was made making it illegal to have salt shakers on the tables at restaurants. I now, know why. I saw a woman order a foamy drink at dinner time and then continued to shake salt into her drink for a solid ten seconds. Trying to withhold my gagging sounds, I watched her proceed to drink this concoction as if everything were normal. I hope she survived. I left shortly after.
As if getting robbed wasn’t enough excitement in the first month of my visit, I also managed to catch laryngitis. I am now handcuffed to my bed and forbidden to speak. This should be interesting. Not speaking… Yeah right. Ask Daniel how well that works.
In the last post, I mentioned how I see fat dogs everywhere. Well, I live with a fat cat, and I saw a fat sea lion (more like a whale). Not only do the people love to eat here, but the animals do too!

Yes, that big hunky thing on the left is a sea lion. (Feel free to peruse google images of male sea lions. It is quite entertaining.)

I managed to forget about this picture when adjusting to life down here in Chile! This was taken at the graffiti museum.
But since I am sick, I have decided to call it an early night (11pm)! Go figure! Buenas noches!

My Hair Was Green Once

It has been an exceptionally average week here in Viña. Nothing too exciting happened, but that’s also a lie because I am living in Chile for four months, so my life is anything BUT average. One of my classes was cancelled, so I only had three classes last week. It was perfect timing because I got to spend some time basking in the sun, even though it’s winter. I got to catch up on some sleep, but on Wednesday, the bar that I live next to gets pretty wild and I either have to join the party or sleep with a pillow over my head.
I found this amazing pizza place and I had a pizza with bacon, steak, and onions. I will probably cry the next time I have it, that’s how good it was. I also was able to try the infamous and deadly Terremotos. This word alone needs a warning label. A terremoto is a pitcher of red wine, pisco, lemon juice, egg white, and sugar, topped with pineapple ice cream. It is a hangover in a cup, and I don’t advise them for anyone, but I had to try it. I also got to try Chile’s famous Pisco sour at what is called a Picada. A picada is like a ma and pop place that has Chilean culture written all over it. Once again, handle with care. Pisco is a wine and brandy in one, and if you don’t like it here, you are, simply put, weird. Add some lemon juice and you have a horrible cocktail! When my friend and I left the picada we were on 8 Norte, and let me tell you, you will see some funny things on the corners over there…
I don’t think that I will ever get used to seeing so many stray dogs on the streets. Being a dog lover, it takes all of my power to not go get doggy kisses from them. (This is highly frowned upon and not advised since all of the strays have fleas) The plus side, though, is that Anna and I always have an escort home.

One of the many fat dogs on the streets.

When walking to school one day I noticed this sign that I hadn’t seen before:

I’m sure you can understand my immediate panic and bewilderment to why this was ok. I mean, who thinks “It will be ok as long as we warn the citizens there is a bomb here.”? Once I got wifi and stopped hyperventilating, I translated it, and it simply means “pump area”. Crisis averted!
I have realized that I am meant to live here. My love for Hollister is shared by several Chileans. After receiving several comments on my obsession with Hollister after working there (shoutout to Lindzle and Big Red) I put those clothes in my past. But here, I can embrace who I truly am and bring those suckers back out.
Lastly, when I was in Costa Rica, my hair turned green from all the chlorine. ACTUALLY GREEN. I have a very serious fear that will happen here. I thought it would be appropriate to share with you a current problem, and this is what I came up with, go figure.
PS. For those that are curious, I did not ACTUALLY change my name. Why would I pay money to change my name when Nicole is already my middle name? I don’t know if this feeling to change my name has always been at heart or not, but when I am here, it feels right, and why shouldn’t I get to decide what people call me? I suppose I will see if I like it. Why not? Who knows what is next in this journey abroad?!

And another sunset picture, because why not?


My Debut in a Horror Film

Well, I jinxed myself in the last post. Unfortunately I have now accomplished 3 of the 4 things that happen to tourists in Chile. I have gained over 10 pounds due to the loaf of bread I eat every day along with the deadly mantequilla cookies and completos. I have gotten sick and overdosed on Vitamin C. Lastly, (don’t worry, I didn’t fall in love) I got robbed.
Anna and I were eating empanadas on Thursday at a restaurant downtown near the beach talking about how content and blissfully happy we were. I was coming from school so I had my backpack, and set it against the wall just inches away from me, but a lady, who I think was a gypsy, managed to sneak off with it in a hurry. I managed to go from perfectly happy with not a worry on my mind to full on panic in about thirty seconds. My laptop, tennis shoes, workout clothes, and beats headphones were the main things in my backpack. Fortunately, I have travel insurance, so my laptop is covered. We went to the police station and no one spoke English except another resident that came in to report a crime. I’ve never been so thankful for a stranger to say hello in English. I managed to not get too down because I am unharmed and so is Anna. It is crazy how material items can turn your life upside down for a few days. Now I just fear that people can look at me and magically steal something without touching me. Better to be prepared for anything though!
In an effort to boost my spirits, Anna and I went to ConCon on Friday. It’s one twenty minute bus ride to but we managed to take a bus that went to the middle of this forest. For a brief moment I thought we were going to be stars in a documentary horror movie. I had the strange feeling Jeepers Creepers was going to swoop down and pick us up. But, I’m writing this blog post, so no horror stories this time.
Saturday was an exciting day as well. Anna and I went to a navy ball with friends of our host brother who attends the naval academy. It was so magnificent and entertaining. Officers were on the dance floor later than I was, and I left at 430… AM! By the time I got to bed it was 530 and I contemplated staying up to watch the sunrise. The sleep was much needed since it’s normal to stay up til the early hours of the morning here.
I suppose I should mention I started classes but there is nothing entertaining to tell. Campus is gorgeous and in between classes I make it a point to look out over the city and think about how lucky I am to be here.

This life I’m living will never get old.


Don’t Trust Cute Old Ladies

I’m writing this article in two pairs of leggings, two pairs of socks, a sweater, a sweatshirt, and a winter jacket, and wondering why I didn’t bring gloves or a hat. Never have I wanted in floor heating as much as I do now. The fact that I am writing this entry right now is true dedication to this blog and to my readers. So, you’re welcome. In case you didn’t know, it is winter here right now, and the weathermen say it is supposed to be 60˚, but that is a lie, or maybe I’m just so cold because I’m in a cement house with no insulation. It makes me think how much we take for granted in the US.

Something we are missing in the US, though, are Completos. Completos are hot dogs with avocado, tomatoes, and chilean mayonnaise (different than in the US). Simply put they are a gift from God.


I have finally started classes! One of my professors doesn’t beat around the bush, and has already told us while we are abroad, one of the following is going to happen to us:

1. Get sick

2. Gain weight

3. Fall in love

4. Get robbed

I have quickly made my way through the first two, but I am hoping to avoid the last two.

I was on my way to class one day, when I passed this cute, little old lady. I just kept walking and as I passed her she was whispering and let out a whistle or two, and all of a sudden these pigeons start swarming around my head, and I was briefly scared my eyes were going to get attacked by beaks and pigeon toes. On my return walk from school  I was stopped at this stoplight and a pigeon poop drops right in front of me! I know it’s good luck and all to have bird poop land on you, but it’s not on my top ten list of things to try. Overall, I have come to the conclusion that I very much dislike pigeons.