E-mail From Chile and
Well, I have spent the past 1(+) month in Chile but spending a lot of time criss-crossing
back and forth to and from Argentina.

I was silly enough before I got out here to think that these two countries were virtually the
same. Ahhh, my ignorance.

Since I have already put you guys through hearing about the first half of my time in Chile, I
will tell you all about what I have been up to since. When everyday is a new adventure, of
course I have stuff to share with all of you.

It is hard to fully appreciate the 'highs' of a place if you don't encounter a few 'lows', don't
you think? Well, I would have the opportunity to experience things on both sides.
Hmmm… Should I start with the 'lows' or 'highs'? It's probably best to go out on a high-
note so I will start with the lows…

Chilean Lows:

•        Even though it is considered a 'crime' to take some of nature aware with you when
leaving Easter Island, I did it anyway. And it wasn't by choice. It was merely because a sea
urchin decided to make its way into my heel while I was diving. That night my next-door
neighbor (who was a surfer) got out her medical kit and got most of it out. But there was a
piece that was lodged too far in. Now I have what appears to be a little black dot on my heel.

•        Coming face-to-face with a Santiago sidewalk during a busy lunch hour when I tried to
save my little ipod from getting into the wrong hands. In the end, the thief won and I
watched him run off while I was face-down on the ground. All I could think was 'What the
heck just happened?!?' (I can't say the actual words I was
actually thinking as the kids I
used to babysit are on this distribution list). Anyway, the guy is going to realize that karma
is a you-know-what when he discovers that he now has full access to Barbra Streisand and
show-tunes from my favorite musicals (for those of you worried about my musical tastes,
that stuff doesn't fill my
entire ipod). Realistically, I know he wiped out all of the music
probably minutes after getting his grubby hands on it. But I can at least live in my little
dream world where my ipod decides to not update any of the music.   

•        Being without any music. The logical thing would be to buy a new ipod. But the
motherboard on my computer is broken and, therefore, can't recognize any new hardware.
I have gotten to the point on bus rides where I sing 'The wheels on the bus go round and
round…" in my head. Sadly, that's not enough to tune out snoring and hacking coughs.

•        I lost my previous 3 hats. I bought one in Santiago that I loved. Like the forgetful idiot
that I tend to be, I forgot this on the bus that dropped me off in Salta. Doh! Is someone
telling me that I shouldn't wear a hat?

•        When I was in Valparaiso, I was reminded how people in the U.S. know of the word.
Simple: college basketball. Then I thought of the fact that it was the month of March. Then
I put two and two together and went into withdrawal-mode of the (then) upcoming March
Madness. To make up for this absence, I emailed my friend at home and asked if he was
hosting a pool this year. He was. I don't have one clue about college basketball this year but
I filled it out. (I should point out another low was having University of Arizona be a #8
seed. Ouch!)

•        Having a guy disturb 'mi dia tranquilo' while I was sitting in the main square in
Mendoza. I was reading and just enjoying life. Then he sat down. He kept trying to talk to
me. I kept trying to brush him off. I told him I didn't understand his Spanish and then
shook my head when he asked "Speak English?" This was going back and forth for a little
while. I was pointing to my book letting him know that I was reading. Finally I just decided
to stand up and walk a few steps away. At that point he let out a "(bleep)ing (bleep)." I can
handle comments like that (though I don't necessarily enjoy them). But the poor older
English couple sitting at the bench next to me who had to hear such language. They said
"Oh, my!" I turned to them and kind of just chuckled. They told me that they were 'going to
try to save me' because they could tell he was irritating me. After chatting with the couple
for about 15 minutes, the good news was that I could go back to having my relaxing day
once he stomped off.


•        Paola. She gets her own 'shout out'. She is the Santiago woman who went out of her
way for over 30 minutes to find me a police station to file a report after she saw what
happened with my ipod (keep in mind at least ten oh-so-sweet Santiago people ran up to
me to express their disgust at what happened). Mind you she didn't speak any English but
managed to find me a police officer that did. I did not really see the need in doing the report
but she insisted.

•        Easter Island – Maybe I was just a little clueless to not realize that I was going to be
experiencing Polynesia while out in Chile. I knew Easter Island (i.e. Rapa Nui, Isla de
Pascua) was an island out in the middle of nowhere; I just didn't realize that I was going to
be on a Polynesian holiday. In fact there was nothing 'Chilean' about this place…except for
that they speak Spanish. And they eat empanadas.

•        Salta. I always love stumbling upon places where it is 'love at first sight'. That was the
case here. Because of all of the Spanish colonial architecture, I felt like I was dropped off in
Santa Barbara, CA. What an unexpected treat!

•        The hills of Valparaiso – another unexpected surprise! What an incredible area filled
with color and character.

•        The city of Santiago. Yes, I know many people think of this as 'just another big city'.
But those sentiments clearly come from people who aren't 'city' people. This city-girl was
very impressed by Santiago! It probably helped that my buddies 'Nacho' (who is from
Santiago) and Vanya from my Lakes Crossing trip gave me a number of neighborhoods and
places to check out.

•        On my 16-hour bus ride from Mendoza to Salta, the bus had a game of Bus Bingo. It
was solely in Spanish and I was the sole English-speaker on the bus. Well, this gave me a
good chance to brush up on my numbers. I got a line across! I raised my arm and came up
to the front of the bus. Turned out I didn't do a good job of understanding that the game
was getting
two lines. Shoot! But I started looking at the numbers. The down-side was that
my Spanish needs some work as I missed many numbers that were called. The up-side was
that once I crossed those off on my paper, I was a winner after all! Quite an
accomplishment for a gringette! My prize was a bottle of vino tinto (i.e. red wine).

•        Soaking in the thermal waters at Thermas Cacheuta which is nestled right into the
Andes. Hard to think of a way to have a more relaxing day between the number of different-
temperature thermal baths, the do-it-yourself mud treatments, the hydro-massage, the
sauna, the hotel pool and being able to walk to and from all of these places in a robe.
Ahhh…. Definite 'tranquilo' day.

•        How easy getting my Brazil visa was! After my experience at the different Russian
consulates, I was sure I was going to experience something similar with this one. Nope! It
was almost
too easy…not that I am complaining about that.

A few little stats about my last month:

Number of hours on a bus: 120+
Number of times I have crossed an Argentinean/Chilean border: 7
People I ran into from my Antarctica trip: 8

From here I make my way into Bolivia to the salt flats. I am now in the oh-so-lovable city of
San Pedro de Atacama. I made some quick friends and we will all be going out to Bolivia
together. Good times to come, I already know it!

Ciao, all!