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Gap Year Abroad

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High Five

And the low ones as well (to keep it real).


This is an easy one. I can not emphasize enough how much I have LOVED living next to the ocean. Having never lived on any body of water really, I was not aware of what I was missing. Until now. In addition to going surfing and kayaking and swimming and boating and all those other water fun activities, I also get a priceless view every time I leave my house. I love it when the water sparkles in the bright sun. I love it when the sun’s last setting rays change everything into warm colors. And I even love the cloudy days when I can’t tell where the sky separates from the ocean. Always beautiful. Captura de pantalla 2013-12-18 a la(s) 12.12.36 PM

I do not like looking at the garbage piles in the streets of Valparaiso. Despite the fact that the city a World Heritage Sight because it’s so special, and there are trash cans all over the place, and there’s a public trash service, there are enormous piles of garbage all over the place. It’s disgusting and sad. I also don’t like sick street dogs, mangled street dogs, starving street dogs, deformed street dogs, or dead street dogs and I hate seeing them chase cars in the street (it always looks like they're going to get hit), attacking (and sometimes killing) eachother or cats, and being threatening towards people.   IMG_1491Note: Not all the garbage piles are bagged so "nicely," nor are they piled quite as well, but this photo serves as an idea at least. 


The best smell hands down is outside of any Panaderia, especially right after they’ve just finished baking bread (it never smells quite as good inside). Luckily for me, there is no shortage of Panaderias or bread or this heavenly smell, and sometimes when I’m walking home, I’ll stop and just enjoy.   IMG_2125This street corner is really close to my house. There's the OK Market and the Cruz Verde that you find everywhere, as well as the delicious smelling Panaderia. 

Dying mariscos. There are certain places along the beach where it just reeks to the point where I choke if I inhale too deeply. One of my chilean friends said the smell comes from the mariscos that are left behind by the fishermen, rotting in the sun. I have no idea if that’s true or not or if it’s a combination of smells, but whatever it is, it’s horrible.


I love the feeling of laying in hot sand or crawling into my warm bed after a long day (or into my host mom’s bed with my cup of tea and a book), but I think my favorite touch is petting our kittens. Living with cats and dogs is something that is new for me, and I’ve come to really enjoy it when one of the kittens or Blancito (the big, white cat) jumps up into my lap while I’m working on homework or this blog or whatever else. The tiny furballs that arrived about a month ago have grown into quite the playful and curious (and occasionally destructive) bunch, and their fur is incredibly silky. Last night, two of the kittens slept in my bed throughout the night for the first time; this place really is my home. IMG_2154

The worst touch is probably any sort of physical contact with anything in the bathroom of certain bars or clubs. The level of bathroom dirtiness isn’t even on the same scale of anything that I’ve seen in the United States, and I’ve learned to avoid even entering particular bar bathrooms at all costs. 


This is a hard one because certain foods are better than others depending on the company, the temperature, the time of day, the location, etc and foods vary immensely depending on who cooked them. However, my favorite savors here are sopaipillas, choripan, pebre, homemade bread, arroz con leche and ice cream. Below is a photo of pebre which is a hugely popular salsa like food which is put on rice, choripan, sopaipillas, meat, bread, and pretty much anything else. It's made of tomatoes, onions, cilantro, aji sauce, olive oil and a little salt, and it's delicious! (it's also probably the spiciest Chilean food even though it's normally not spicy at allllllll.)IMG_1547

Although I am not really a fan of saltwater, a big bowl of unfrozen lentil mush that has been left out all day is less appealing. Let me explain. Lentils are hugely popular here (like eat on at least a once a week basis), and because Dana and I always ate lunch at her house on Mondays, and her family is really superstitious (more so than the average Chilean family), and once upon a time somebody started the idea that eating lentils on Monday is good luck, between her house and my house, I’ve eaten more than my fair share of lentils. Plus, although there are hundreds of recipes with lentils (I checked), we always eat them in the same form-a soupish mix of lentils, a little rice, a little squash and on the rare occasion a little meat). And, if you freeze and then thaw lentils, they become even more oddly textured and lose whatever flavor they had to start, making lunch a little too similar to cardboard. I think lentils and I will take a short break... On the left is gormet lentils (the same mix with a bit more rice, some cheese on top and a beautiful side salad. On the what the lentil dish normally looks like.)  Captura de pantalla 2013-12-19 a la(s) 12.04.22 PM


Honestly, my favorite sound is probably the sound of the waves, but since I’ve already expressed my love for the mar, I’ll talk about my second favorite sound here: live music. I hear live music every single day, and I love it. In addition to all the concerts (if somebody good is coming to Chile, they either come to my city or Santiago which is a short bus ride away..), there are people in the micros or the metro who sing, play guitar or another instrument, or rap every day. And usually they’re talented too. My personal favorite is a woman who sings Violeta Parra songs while somebody else plays the guitar; her voice is amazing, and I like the folkloric feel (Violeta Parra is an important Chilean-listen to one of her songs here:)


Sometimes voice overs are painful to listen to, and I’m not particularly a fan of the Simpsons’ voices in Spanish (an unfortunate situation because my host sister really enjoys them), but the worst sound here is this cat call. There’s of course the typical whistling, which I’m not a fan of by any means, but it alone doesn’t bother me all that much. However, some guys will make an almost clicking, almost ‘phhschh’ noise that I’ve only ever heard when my host family is, well, calling their cats to come in for the night. It’s hugely disrespectful and just plain creepy (especially at night or when you’re walking by yourself). Old guys (and even young ones too sometimes) whispering their snide little comments, cars honking, and just the looks in general, not going to miss any of those either.  



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