one month in

I actually cannot believe it, but today marks one month since I set off on this journey. This month has been full of exciting new sights and new people, and has been nothing like what I expected!

Let me begin by telling you a little about my city, Arica. It is the northernmost city in Chile, only 18 km south of the boarder with Perú. It is a desert town and to tell you the truth it look like everything is under construction. That hasn’t stopped me, however, from finding beauty hidden around every corner. The city’s most recognized landmark is “El Morro” which is a gigantic cliff that juts up next to the Pacific. Hiking to the top to see the sunset over the Pacific has been one of my favorite memories so far! 

Another of my favorite memories was an accidental 20 mile bike ride I went on with my host dad. We casually cruised through town and down to the coast. There we rode sandwiched between the desert cliffs and the Pacific Ocean, the scenery was breathtaking! Finally we got to the end of the road, but we just took our bikes through the barricade and walked along a dirt path that lead us to ancient caves that the indigenous people inhabited. You can still see the layers of straw they packed into the earth!

Finally, most recently there was our trip to Tacna, Perú. As we all prepared to leave our host families told us all about how they go commonly because everything is so much cheaper. It was a quick ride both ways, about half an hour to the boarder and another half an hour into the city. I was blown away by how beautiful and green the city was since it wasn’t far from Arica. While in Tacna we visited various health centers, planted trees with the youth eco-club, and helped medical students in a campaign to raise awareness about HIV & AIDS. The campaign was my favorite part because we got to conduct rapid HIV tests and explain transmission of the disease. I was really surprised by how open so many of the students were to getting tested by their peers right there on there own campus.

Until next time, que te vaya bien!

SG

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Travel is the only thing you buy which makes you richer.

This has been my favorite quote and somewhat of a guiding light on these first few days of my adventure in Arica.

“My adventure in Arica” I still cannot believe I am here!

So let’s go back a few days to Saturday. It was my last night in Charleston, and so my mom made a delicious dinner of oven fried chicken, mac-n-cheese, and corn on the cob! My closest family and friends came over to celebrate and see me off, which meant so much to me! Halfway through dinner I went into actual panic mode when I realized that all of my much needed belongings were still scattered all over my room, and the only thing in my suitcase was tennis shoes and a pair of socks. Needless to say, it was quite a long night, and even when I did lay down I couldn’t stop thinking about all the things I still had to do!

Saying goodbye to Daniel was just as hard as a expected, and my big wave goodbye to my parents brought tears to my eyes, but luckily I know that this trip will be full of “experiencias inolvidables”… and it will be over before I know it.

All of that being said and done, I met up with Elizabeth in the Atlanta airport, and the real journey began. Our friend Axel, Elizabeth’s host brother from January 2012, met us just as we were hit by the wave of taxi drivers and chauffeurs in the bustling Santiago airport. From the airport we took a taxi, or two- since the first one broke down, to the center of town. In true “gringa” fashion, we settled at a starbucks for a few hours and caught up with Axel while we waited to check into our hostal. That night we went out for sushi and drinks with Alana and Axel, however since it was a Monday we didn’t really get to experience the typical Chilean night life.

This blog post is getting long and I hope you haven’t all tuned out, but ill leave you hanging as to life in Arica- but I will give you a picture to keep you curious!

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