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Gap Year Abroad

14 posts categorized "Madeleine Meredith"



Santiago De Chile

As I mentioned previously, Hayley, Mel and I went to Santiago this weekend. We left Friday morning, and had a great time. A basic summary of our trip-


After a two hour bus ride, we arrived in Santiago and took the metro to get to our hostel. We checked in, had lunch there, and relaxed before heading out and walking around and seeing some of Santiago for ourselves. One of the more interesting things we found was a bridge where couples had attached locks to the sides of the bridge and painted little notes to each other on the sides of the bridge- some of the inscriptions were so old that they had started to fade! After that, we ended up finding an amazing artisan fair, with lots of local and home-grown organic products. For our dinner, Hayley found a stand that was selling whole-wheat vegan empañadas filled with cheese and sautéed vegetables- it was a great take on the typical Chilean empañadas and absolutely delicious.



We began the day by eating breakfast at our hostel, and then took the metro to Parque Los Dominicos. There, we picked up our 5K Las Mujeres Corremos race registration packets and some delicious raisins at a farmers market before heading back to the hostel. We then went to Fantasilandia, which is a large amusement park. It was definitely an interesting experience (as I’ve never been taller than an entire crowd before, that’s a new one) but it was worth it when we got to ride some awesome rollercoasters. After that, we headed back to the hostel to meet Hayley’s cousin, Mark. He works at the US Embassy in Santiago and although he had never met Hayley before, it was wonderful to meet his wife and 3 month old baby, Matthew. They were extremely polite and we had a great dinner in a restaurant off of Calle Bellavista with them. We were tuckered out and jumped into bed as soon as we got back to our hostel.


We woke up early to get ready for the race, and then took a colectivo (local black and yellow taxi) to Parque Los Dominicos. We had a great time doing Zumba as a warm up for the race, and running it as well. Hayley actually finished 25th out of  3,500 people which is absolutely amazing! Mel and I finished closer to 300th place.. but who's counting?! After the race, we enjoyed free bananas and oranges and a cooldown stretch. It was a great experience overall, and I'm sure we'll be signing up for more 5Ks and races in the future.



Spotted- Flowers!

One of the best things about the recent rains in Chile have been the amazing flowers.. it seems that every corner you turn, you'll see more! My favorite are the purple wisteria vines that climb up the houses, they're absolutely gorgeous. Viña Del Mar is overflowing with flowers, and it couldn't be prettier.




Mil Tambores


Yesterday, some good friends and I went to the Mil Tambores parade which occurs only in Valparaíso, Chile. Mil Tambores means a thousand drums, and the drum lines could be heard all the way in Viña Del Mar!

The slogan for the event was "para recuperarlo todo" which translates to "to reclaim everything.” The idea was that, for the whole day, civilians, la gente, would have control over the streets to do what they like. While Pinoche was in power, festivals/carnivals and parades weren't allowed on the streets so this festival is very important to show the voice of the citizens now. Additionally, an important part of Mil Tambores is the groups who dress up satirically to demonstrate the political greed and corruption that once took place in Chile. 

The festival continues for 3 days, which include “cuerpos pintados,” in which many people get professionally body painted, groups of dancers, and drummers. The multi-cultural influences of Valpo were even easier to see, as many of the groups were dressed in traditional Mexican, Brazilian and a variety of other Latin American countries’ typical costumes.







Hayley (left) and I (right) with a Brazilian style parrot on stilts!

Mil Tambores Masks- la calavera is supposed to represent the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

The GAP group learning Mil Tambores dances with Alejandro! Picture credit-Hannah


Living in Viña and Valparaíso- 3 month mark

Although it doesn’t feel like we’ve been here nearly as long, yesterday, October 2nd, was the 2 month mark since the arrival of the CIEE Chile/Spain gap group. It seems like just yesterday that we all met for the first time, so I guess time must really fly when you’re having fun! Since this is my first blog post, I’d like to start by showing you around a bit…  


This is the ship harbor at Valparaíso... all the boats and houses are this brightly colored.

Although these guys are usually called "lobos marinos," in Chile we call them "leones marinos" instead.

Valparaíso/Viña Del Mar at night. It's very easy to get from one place to another due to the inexpensive micro bus system. It costs about a dollar each way for a lengthy ride.. much cheaper than the US.


Getting to know Chile for myself these past few months has been amazing, and I'm eagerly anticipating exploring even more. The biggest adjustment I've had to make since coming has been getting used to the chilliness.. luckily we're going into Spring so the weather is improving greatly... and the spanish! However, mine is improving rapidly and I'm able to understand much better than when we first arrived. 

Chao for now,


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