I’m in Chile! Post 1: Cities
Ok, so I’m in Chile! I’ve actually been here for about three weeks, but I wanted to settle in before I wrote this post. By now I’ve met my group, completed orientation, moved in with my host family, and had a week of classes. Covering all of that in one blog post is nearly impossible. As I have procrastinated writing this first post I have realized that in general, covering everything about life here in blog posts is an insane task.
So, I won’t even try. Don’t worry (not that anyone was worried), I will still be posting here regularly and updating you on life in Chile as an American and as a member of the IFSA-Butler program. But I had an idea: I think each post will focus on one or two themes in particular: food, family, language, travel, etc. I’ve only been here for 3 weeks and I can already think of 100 more themes, so I know that I will have to limit myself.
This post, being the first, will set the scene by focusing on the cities I’m living in.
This program, and thus my life for the next 5 months takes place in the twin cities of Viña del Mar and Valparaíso, Chile. They are located in the central valley of Chile, about an hour and a half west of the capital Santiago, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. It is currently winter here, but in this temperate area that means 50s and 60s.
A quick rundown of the two cities (with photos!!):
Viña del Mar is where I live. The city is known for its gardens and stands out to me for its safety and walkability. I love that there are so many flowers and trees, and it seems I can’t walk far without happening on a new park! It is built on a grid, which has been amazing for me, since I am used to the chaos and randomness that is Boston.
But without a doubt, what makes Viña shine is its coast. Living on the water is just indescribably beautiful and calming. Beaches are my favorite things in the world, and walking down the boardwalk and dipping my toes into the chilly pacific those first few days made me feel sure I was in the right place for me. The boardwalk is a wonderful, long strip with vendors, lots of activities for all ages, pelicans and sea lions, and most of all a beautiful place to view a west coast sunset every night.
Valparaiso is Viña’s twin city, and feels more urban and “gritty”. The bulk of Valpo takes place on its steep hills, where thousands of tiny, bright colored houses crowd together with artistic and creative graffiti. The hills, or cerros in Spanish, are exciting (and tiring) to explore and yield impressive views. Valpo has a lot of cultural attractions, as well as being one of chile’s biggest ports and the base for most of my classes.
When I took a tour of Valpo last week, I had the opportunity to visit one of Pablo Neruda’s houses, called La Sebastiana. I loved seeing the eccentric collections and beautiful art the poet gathered in his house. I have a goal of seeing all three of Neruda’s houses (the others are in Santiago and on the island Isla Negra). It also highlighted some of the most beautiful views of the city I have seen yet.
So that’s all for this first post. I have been having an amazing time so far. The group of Americans is great, my Chilean host family is so sweet, and obviously the location has given me a multitude of things to discover. Already, I am glad I made the decision to come here and cannot wait for what lies ahead!