Thursday, March 31, 2011

Of Valdivia;

Here is a map of some of the places I've been in Valdivia. I've been here for almost a week now, but there is still a lot to see. I've been out to the coast to see the big old fort, I've walked around central Valdivia plenty, I've explored around campus, and many other places. Now my next thing is to go down to the Island of Chiloe. The first program excursion starts tomorrow. We are taking a boat for about 12 hours or so south to stay on the island for two nights.


Of Chilean hazing; of mechones;

Last week when I was in Vina del Mar one of the first things I noticed were people covered in paint with torn clothes. Eventually I came across a group of them who were asking for money. I eventually figured out that they were freshmen at the local university and going through their first week of hazing. There were covered with paint what was probably some rotten seafood. Each of them also had a fresh chicken's foot around their necks. You could see (and smell) people just like them all over the city asking for money.

From Chile W2 Haze

In Valdivia the same thing was going on. I learned that it is a big tradition of hazing for university students. The freshmen have bits of their hair cut off, are smeared with anything around, sprinkled with flour, clothes torn, and paraded around campus. Then they have to ask for money in the city to buy their things back from the upperclassmen. Then all the money goes to a big party at the end of all the hazing.

My history class was interrupted several times today with the yells of students chanting pelo (hair) as freshmen were leaving their class.

As they left their classroom there were marked with sharpies and a bit of paint.

Then there were all roped together through holes cut in their pants.

The worst came after they were brought outside. There were smeared with mustard, sprayed with sodas, coated with glue. I saw some people getting mayo squeezed right into their ears. Other people had bottles of unknown brown liquid. I can only guess that it has been sitting around for most of the year waiting for this day.

Then they were led around campus on their rope to different places where they would get coated or locks of hair cut off. Around campus you can find locks of hair on the ground from the hazing. These students are know as mechones (locks of hair) because of this first year tradition.

Even with all of the happening to them, a lot managed to keep smiling. I think they all know that it happens every year and next year they get to dirty up some freshmen. That and when this is all over they will be getting drunk. You would never see this tradition in the states. Now probably all schools have rules about hazing like this. And it isn't just one day. This has been going on all week. This is just my first time seeing the freshmen being dirtied. I've been seeing them all around town asking for money.

Of the Chilean Doggie;

From Chile W1

One thing that is big in Chile are hotdogs. You can find them everywhere and loaded up with just about everything. I went to the chain restaurant Doggies and had the ranch hotdog the other day. It was loaded up with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and I think there was some mayo in there. Very good. And also my first hotdog in Chile. Other dogs were covered in guacamole and mayo. I hope to make it through all 8 types of dogs here before I leave.

From Chile W1

Monday, March 28, 2011

Of Valdivia; of los ríos;

Today was my 3rd day in Valdivia and it also marks one week of me being in Chile. I've traveled a number of miles, met a number of people, and seen a great number of sights. I'm farther south than I've ever been before. Just about at 40 degrees South Lat. To get here I crossed a sea, tropics, and the equator. But, now that I'm down here I'm ready to stay for a while.

Today Valdivia was all sun. Perfect Blue skies and blue waters. I've taken a lot of photos in the last few days here with my film camera and my digital. Past students of the program who are here for a second semester recommended taking lots of photos while everything is still a marvel and strange to you. I think I've been doing good with that. Here are a few quick photos of Valdivia and the waters around it.

This is the river from the University this morning. It is looking across at the industrial part of Valdivia. Lots of drydocks and rusty boats on the shore. The city would be to the right. Click for the big copy. It is worth it. I made a long panorama of about 6 photos.

Yesterday I took the bus to the coast (more on that another day) and saw there two boats coming back into Valdivia probably with lots of fish. 
Perfect sunny day. This is from Isla Teja (the university island) looking across at central Valdivia. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Of the nightlife of Viña del Mar

I'm in Valdivia now, but I still have more to post about my time in Vina.

I was busy for most of my time in Vina. Going out to do stuff during the day and being out till late at night didn't leave me enough time to post about everything I wanted.

From Chile D4

One big difference with Chilean culture is that people party till late. Very late. Most people don't go to the discotech or bar till a good bit after midnight. Then the places usually close at about 5:00am. I found myself making full use out of my midday siesta in order to keep up with the sleep I needed.

I went to one bar/disco several times during my stay. The place was just two blocks from the hostel so I couldn't pass it up. Everyone from the hostel would end up in Cafe Journal.

Cafe Journal   From Chile D4

Before heading to Cafe Journal I had margaritas with buddies from the hostel and the biggest fajitas meal I've ever eaten. From Chile D4

One of the nights I felt like taking it easy and going to bed early. It didn't happen. The hostel turned into a party. Visitors from Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, England, and Australia all ended up lounging in the hostel common room. I worked my way through conversations in Spanish with them and we all had a great time swapping stories of our travels.

From Chile D4
It was probably just how it was the middle ages where travels and traders like Marco Polo passed through towns. Lots of people, stories, languages, and of course beer.

One of the most popular beers in Chile is Escudo. I learned from the naval museum in Valpo that it actually means shield. Here I am with the 1200 peso bottle of it. I'm red-faced mainly from the sunburn I got earlier that day, but I'm sure the beer didn't make it any less red.
From Chile D4

I never ended up going to the club "El Huevo" in Valpo which has six different dance floors. Every floor plays a different type of music for people to dance to. If I go back to Valpo I'll have to visit. Cafe Journal played a lot of popular dance songs and one night it was American rock classics. I spent a good bit of the night dancing with the Chileanas .

Friday, March 25, 2011

Of Museo Maritimo Nacional; of Cerro Alegre; of Vaplaraiso;

On Wednesday I went to Valparaiso for the day. The city is just south of Vina del Mar and is one of the main attractions in Chile. It is an old city with many winding streets, buildings all over the steep hills, and a lot of urban art.

Here it is for the artillery hill above the harbor.   From Chile D3

Since it is a big tourist city there is also a lot of petty crime. It isn't one of the safest places. Everyone in the hostel was telling me to just watch my back and don't flash my camera around too much. I also went with my program buddy Max so I wasn't walking the small back alleys alone.

On top of Artillery Hill is the Naval Museum   From Chile D3
It was an easy metro ride to get into Valpo and then Max and I headed up to the Museum.

From Chile D3

It was all about Chile's naval heroes. Lots of boat models, firearms, swords, and things recovered from ships. There were about two rooms dedicated to the forts and battle of Valdivia (the city where I am now). Valdivia had the third largest fort system in the Americas back in its day.

Exhibit about the 33 Chilean miners      From Chile D3

From Chile D3

The museum was huge. So many rooms all filled with the history Chileans are so proud of. After getting through the museum it was time to find some lunch. And since we were in Valpo it had to be seafood.

I forgot to take a photo of my salmon, but here is the soup they gave us at the restaurant.    From Chile D3

We ran into two girls Max knew for a hostel in Santiago. They were both traveling Chile and joined us for a drink.   From Chile D3

Then we went up to Cerro Alegre which was filled with lots of art shops and streets decorated with amazing graffiti.

From Chile D3

From Chile D3

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Of Valpo;


I'm heading off to Valdivia tonight. I have a lot more photos to post up but I've been busy. Went to Valparaiso yesterday. It is an amazing town. Art all over and lots of small streets winding up the steep hills.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Of the beaches of Viña;

I slept in till about noon today after partying it up with others from the hostel till about 5:00 last night. Today the plan was to go to the beach. I went with two other guys from the hostel. We took our time walking around Vina trying to find the best beach.

Hostel buddies Max and Harry

On the way we saw skim boarders on an small beach. They were a lot of fun to watch. The seawall created a second sideways wave which they would use to surf around the beach.

We made our way along the beach to a nice place to swim and relax. After warming up for a bit on the beach it was time to go into the water. The waves were huge and the water wasn't that cold. It was still cold enough that after a bit of time you start to chill down.

And some of the street dogs would pass through now and then looking for a cool place to sleep or someone friendly enough to feed them.

We spent a good bit of time at the beach. It was a lot of fun playing in the surf and being out in the sun. My white Seattle skin now has some red color to it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Of the flight; of Obama

 After lots of flying I'm finally in Chile! I think it ended up at 20 hours of flying and airport time. But now the worst is over. Now I'm in Vina del Mar at the Che Lagarto Hostel and ready to rest.

But first I visited Santiago, the capital of Chile. I got in just after sunrise and couldn't even see the city. It is because it is all flat. All I could see were some distant hills obscured by smog and morning haze. Then it all easy getting through immigration and customs. I could finally feel relieved after seeing by bag roll by on the conveyor belt.

I hoped on a bus and went to the main bus center to meet up with Max who is also part of the Valdivia program. Since I got out of the airport so fast I had some time to explore. I went to check out Parque Quinta Normal. Since it was so early (Chileans like to sleep in) it was pretty much empty so I took the time to adjust all of my bags.

I saw this cool building, but it was closed so I couldn't find out what it was.

Obama also entered Chile today. My schedule is not going to meet up with his since I'm in Vina now. Chileans don't like him much. They had some anti-Obama rallies the other day and I have seen some posters and graffiti about him telling him to leave.

Just so everyone knows I'm loving Chile. It is nice and hot. I'm taking it easy today since I've done so much traveling, but tomorrow I'll be getting down to the beach.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Of the start;

I'm sitting at seatac now and ready to head off. A few hours and I'll be in Atlanta. In a lot longer I'll be in Santiago. I'm ready for this.I've had 7 Spanish classes and no I get to use them. Time to see the south. And I mean Chile, Atlanta. I'll post pics when I get out my laptop and if Atlanta has free wifi. Right now I'm just waiting to start my travels. How did those first explorers feel waiting for their ship to sail off to a new land? I'm sure they didn't have KEXP streaming, but I'll go for it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Of the preparation;

In Just about two days I will be here! Viña del Mar, Chile.

But until then I still have a lot of packing to do.  I have already been surfing around Google Earth and around internet travel guides and I have found hundreds of places I want to visit. I know I'll at least see some. The country is so big there there are sure to be things I'll miss and other things I'll just stumble upon.

This post is a few about the things I want to see on my travels.