A Chile Fall

Last week I went to Chile for Spring break.  It was a sister/cousin girl trip to visit my cousin Carissa while she still lives there.  Not to mention it helped me knock off 2 times from my 30 x 30 list (cross the equator and travel with my sisters).  All in all, the week was a smashing success.  I wasn’t so sure when we started this dream how it would turn out.  And I felt a lot of the responsibility being the oldest, the only fluent Spanish speaker, and the planner of the trip.  But where I fail, Christ abounds.  And somehow all the details worked together to remind me again, what an incredible gift it is to travel.

Now, chances are, you know every little about Chile.  You may know it’s in South America.  Win!  But what I don’t think you know is that if there is anything you want to experience while traveling- you can experience it in Chile.  Don’t worry- you will soon see what I mean.

Great Things about Chile:

  1. Alex and Carissa.  They live there.  They hosted us.  And Alex let Carissa traipse around the country with us for a few days, while being 5 months pregnant.  They are fantastic, brave, loving people.  And I’m so lucky to call them family. 
  2. The spectrum of views.  Chile actually has a law against restraining people from enjoying its natural beauty.  Which means we got to hike through someone’s hill side to chase a sunset and stop along the side of the road to capture a river.  And no one stopped us, even when we had to climb barbed wire fences! 
    Now, this law is not without its merit.  Chile is a beautiful country.  Chile is 2,653 miles long.  That’s roughly 800 miles longer than the US is wide.  With the ocean to the West and the Andes Mountains to the East, the length of the country faces a variety of climate shifts as it crosses each longitudinal marker.  In planning the trip it was my goal to see the spectrum of Chile’s infamous geography.  So, we started in the South and moved our way North.  Here’s a summary in panoramas.
    {Coyhaique, Chile, in the Patagonia region}

    {Hilltop view in the capital, Santiago}

    {Hillside view in Valparaiso, a coastal city made up of 45 hills}

    {The colorful Valparaiso streets} 
    {Another Valparaiso view.  We loved our day trip here!}
    {Salt flats in the desert of San Pedro de Atacama, the driest desert in the world.}
  3. The culture.  It’s an interesting combination of ‘cold-climate’ culture and Spanish culture.  It includes kissing your friends on the cheek and squeezing by strangers on the train.  The Spanish is a delicious flavor of sloppy pronunciation and unique vocabulary that was just close enough to Honduran Spanish to keep me mostly in the loop.  And the country, as far as I can tell, is safe to travel.  As a leader of a group of girls, I was concerned about safety.  I was intentional about not being out after dark unless I felt safe in the neighborhood, which turned out to be almost everywhere we went.  Which was a good thing because the sun set at 7 there.
  4. The varietous weather.  As Chile is on the other side of the world (hemisphere wise) it is currently fall in Chile.  However, the farther North you go, the warmer it gets.  Makes it awfully tricky to pack when you anticipate snow capped mountains and desert flats in the same one week span.  To give a picture:
    {Guess the weather today: but ask a local.}

    {What about here?}
  5. The food.  To be fair, it’s not ALL the best in the world.  But they do literally have the best ice cream (it’s rated in the top 25 in the world).  And, I really enjoyed that shrimp empanada I had!  {See, even Carissa approved!}
  6. The dogs.  In Chile, stray dogs abound.  But unlike anywhere I’ve been in the world thus far, stray dogs are cared for.  Fed.  Petted.  Enjoyed.  And they followed you everywhere. 

So, that’s what I loved about Chile.  Now it’s time for some trip highlights.

  1. {Drinking tea in the Andes after a steep hike to chase the sunset on our first night.}
  2. {Our last night of blitz, golf, and parting conversation.}
  3. {Gasping at views as we drove.}
  4. {The sunrise through our floor to ceiling apartment wall of windows to wake us.}
  5. {Crossing the equator. Here we are  when the flight map showed we were there.}
     
  6. {Traveling with these all-stars.  They didn’t get mad when I accidentally booked a tour for the wrong day and daily told me how much they liked my planning.  Travel isn’t just what you see, it’s who you see it with.  And these gems, they made that 13 hour flight worth it!}

Things I would do differently next time:

  1. Stay longer.  Short trips mean you miss things, like experiences or sleep, or both.  I think we crammed a lot of things into our week in Chile, so I have no regrets about what we missed out on, as I don’t think we would have had time for anything else.  But what we didn’t get much of was sleep.  You can tell sometimes in these pictures by the looks on our faces and our post taxi nap hair.

What I would do next time:

  1. All of it.  Again and again. I mean, what’s not to love?
                             

“Travel. As much as you can. As far as you can. As long as you can.  Life’s not meant to be lived in one place.”

“The purpose of this glorious life is not simply to endure it, but to sour, stumble and flourish as you learn to fall in love with existence.  We were born to live my dear, not be merely exist.” – Becca Lee

New York. I love you. And I hate you.

When I first arrived, I walked slowly, looking up.  Eyes darting.  I soaked it in.  And began to feel the magic.  Began to connect my visuals to the things I’ve only heard of and tried to slow my brain down, tried to picture a scenario where this was all normal.

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And before it know it, it was.  New York sucked me in.  I walked faster, talked faster, looked down instead of up.  My routine pushed me past the tourists and musicians on the street and there was a moment of time when it all froze, in perfect harmony, and my purpose aligned with this New Yorkness.  And suddenly, New York became me, and I it.  My vocabulary changed. Life expectations, favorite past times.  They all changed.  And I was eternally effected.  And in love.  I signed at the skyline, a wisp of a smile as I realized I recognized it as home. And I felt the pull… as tiny ants march in a row.. and I cued up.. to join the march of the New Yorker.  Savoring each moment, each pizza and bagel. Each walk through the village and night on the town.  Each cell screaming- in all the crazy world- in all the crazy places- can it be?!? It’s the greatest city in the world- and yet- somehow I fit.

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And then time passed again.  Winter came to the city.  My routine changed.  and I felt New York sucking me under.  The commute changed from naps and entertainment to the dull ache of wasted minutes in time.  And strangers, once so beautiful, now carried with them odors  and personalities that rammed into my personal space.  And I realized that there was very little romantic about getting screamed at by strangers or having peoples’ bodies and belongings pressing my skin as I balanced on a moving train.  And I wondered if I could ever love New York again the way I once did.

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But now.  It’s spring.  And I feel that Manhattan energy steeping out to my borough, pulling me in.  Calling me to match the stride.  And suddenly there’s hope again.  I do love New York!  Even with all it’s energy extremes.  And I will not let winter subway commutes take that from me.

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Because no matter what, New York will always be where I first became me.

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The Great Winter Escape

In the fashion of every good single young woman, I travel when I get weeks off from work.  If you don’t, you really aren’t doing it right. My opinion, of course.

This year for midwinter break I took a straight up vacation.  None of that typical adventure/culture stuff I pick.  (Don’t worry, that will come for me during my Spring break.)

Midwinter break could NOT have arrived at a better time, when it was freezing in New York and NOT in my final destination, which was Florida.

My flight was at 9 am from Newark, which meant I had to leave my house at 5:45 am.  Pathetic. Wish I wasn’t too stingy to call a cab sometimes.

That said.  I caught all the trains at just the right time to still have time to pick up bagels at Penn Station, although I did not have time to get them with cream cheese. Oh. And did I mention, it was 5* that morning.  Sigh. So. Many layers to wear.

Newark was surprisingly full I thought.  Also, of note, the convayor belt for the luggage wasn’t working.  I left my bag in this pile and took this picture to document it’s last sighting.  It’s the blue one in front.

This was the security line before the security line.  They were so busy I was put on the prechecked security line and didn’t even have to take off my shoes.  Handy.  But a wee bit inconsistent.

Following this I did some airport hustling as my plane was boarding by the time I got through the lines… and then waited an hour and a half to take off because our plane was awaiting luggage that couldn’t be found due to the luggage mess inside.  You guessed it, we departed without it and mine was of the lucky 1/3 to arrive the following day via a personal delivery guy.  Hooray for staying with friends!  The only thing I ended up buying was contact solution.

When I landed I was greeted with happy hugs and Florida orange juice and spent the evening at the state fair.  Some of our group thought it was odd to have a fair day in February.  It made perfect sense to me though, I had obviously tele-ported to summer.

Me and Malachi.  My favorite one year old!

The first 3 days of my vacation I practiced being a stay at home mom with my friends from high school.  He works from home and she cares for her 14 month old while expecting baby number 2 (which has since been born- eeee! 🙂 ).  So.  Our days fell into a pleasant routine of a late breakfast and playing in the living room between naps, during which mommy and I petted the dog and sat out on the covered porch.  P.S.  Gideon is my favorite dog.  But this is what happens when I try to take selfies with him.  You’d think he’d be more cooperative, I only spent hours petting him.

A dog and his ball.

An evening walk with the fam bam. My how we have changed since 8th grade! 🙂

This pleasantness lasted until Wednesday, at which point my parents and their friends arrived from Indiana and picked me up on their way from the airport my grandpa’s house in Sarasota.  We spent Thursday at the beach before picking up my sisters at the airport that night.  Obvious win.

Friday we went to Orlando to hang out in Disney Springs and see Cirque du Soleil.  Which was so fun to watch with my sisters!

Dad and Dan, with toys from their ‘era.’

Our Orlando group, sisters, parents, and aunt and uncle (aka family friends).

Saturday we went shopping, ate food, and played put-put.  I thought for sure I was winning for a while there.. not so.

Sunday – Briana’s boyfriend was picked up from the airport to join in on the fun. Here’s my dad and my grandpa playing shuffle board before we walked the beach.  Florida does not disappoint.

They are so funny… errr… goofy.

That time at the beach when my feet looked 100 years old.

We were very serious about documenting the sunset… errr.. ourselves.

These kids.  Acting like our whole walk was about getting cute pictures of them from every angle. Obviously, we fell for it.

Monday morning was perfect.  Beach side breakfast and one last beachy walk before heading home.  It was hard for me to leave knowing my family would still be in Florida for the week, enjoying the sunshine.  To make it worse, I left knowing this one would be getting engaged on the beach that week without me there to watch.  Sometimes being a grown up and going to work means you miss out on the best moments. Sigh.

And then I came home.  Uneventfully, with all my luggage, a kiss of sunshine on my skin, and pleasant sense of accomplishment of having filled my midwinter break to its max.

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Apricity

 

I’ll just say it now.  Winter is my LEAST favorite season. I don’t even have to shovel sidewalks or scrape my car and I still feel this way.  Mostly because it’s too cold and the snow gets too sloshy and I hate the constant reapplication of tights.  Layers really aren’t my thing.

That said. There have been many bright moments in this blight that is ‘winter.’

  1. This winter in New York has actually been mild.  Perhaps my favorite.  I didn’t even wear a coat to the airport on Christmas Eve!  And we got our first snow yesterday.  The very first real snow.  It ended up being 26 inches or something. Which was just enough to keep me trapped in my house in PJs for 2 days.  Actually not a bad way to handle snow I think.  Also.  Horray for 2 less months of snow than I’m accustomed to.
  2. Life has a way of filling up with good things.  Like random selfies with this favorite of mine.
  3. I finally got to visit the NY transit museum. It’s in an old train station- how cool is that??
  4. My kiddos told funny stories, drew funny pictures, and actually listened for the first week after break.  So fantastic.  Now, here’s a picture of a car: 
  5. And then my life took an unplanned detour- with a spontaneous trip to Indiana to catch a ride to Iowa to attend my great grandfather’s funeral. I got a seat to myself.Was greeted by RVs in the airport.  (So… unique.) Went old school waiting on trains.Caught up with cousins and planned exciting trips.  (Obviously- I’m the most excited of us all.) And then it was Iowa.  I haven’t been in 5 years.  Since this one got married. That also means it’s been 5 years since I’ve been all together with this clan.  (The last time I saw some of these people, they were kids!)And then there was the part where I had to say goodbye to my last great grandparent.  My grandpa actually asked me to speak at the funeral because “you’re a writer.”  Well, I’m glad HE thinks so but I wasn’t so sure.  I mean.  How could I be the one to speak for everyone there?!?  So I decided not to speak for them and instead, speak for me.  And in that process, I realized that I am really going to miss this older man we called grandpa.  I have so many sweet and savored memories surrounding my memories of him.  Mostly of trips to Iowa as children.  Not to mention the resounding impact he made in the person I am just from simply living his life humbly and raising his daughter, who raised her daughter, who raised me.  Now here’s a picture of said great grandpa, on a bike.  Too cool. 

And that has been my winter thus far.

Apricity: (n) The warmth of the sun in winter.