Sunday, November 23, 2008

al tiro

Two posts ago, out of many sweet comments that I received, I got an inquiry about studying abroad. Sorry to take so long to answer Abbey!
When I signed up to study abroad in Ecuador and Chile I knew that it would be a "once in a lifetime experience" I knew that it was monumental enough to "change me" and yet I still had no clue what I was getting myself into. I've met so many people, young and old, from all parts of the globe, that decided to drop everything and go backpacking across the South American continent to "find themself" or another type of personal discovery of the sort... and although it's certainly not as dramatic as it sounds, nor as apparent when you're going through the evolutionary process... I certainly agree that being more or less alone in a foreign country challenges a person in ways that nothing else and no one else can. I cannot even count how many times I've been scared and home sick but the point is that I survived it and am able to look back over everything with a huge smile and satisfaction. I have very little time left before I go home for winter break and there is a large part of me that doesn't want to leave. Oh my gosh, I was so nervous before I came, I can't even tell you! I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to acquire the language, I was nervous that I wouldn't make any friendly connections, I was nervous that I wouldn't get along with my host family, and most of all, I was nervous that being away from the people I cared about, the boyfriend, my best friends, my family, the people that make my world would lose interest and basically forget about me. Crazy, huh? And yet I went through with it, I had to, for myself. I did it, all of it, and all those things I feared never came true. I wouldn't take back these past six months for anything! I completely become familiar with and immersed myself into 2 other cultures, both so beautiful and special, and along the way got to know myself that much better. I truly know that I am willing and capable to do more than I ever thought possible. I may have been this strong all along but I doubt I would've been able to convince myself of it otherwise. Does it still sound cheesy? Yes, of course, but it is also very, very true. I promise :). By the way, even just having the chance to see and visit all the amazing places I have in the past 6 months, seriously, does life get any better?! So, as for your final question, would I recommend studying abroad? Definitely. Without a second thought. Time and time again.
I have to apologize, I still do not have the food pictures from San Pedro, however, I do have a few highlights in the mean time. Last post I shared a picture of Salar de Tara, which was even more breathtaking than any photo could ever display. Seriously, one of the most gorgeous places on earth. As for now, above you will see my traveling companion, Genevieve, and our introductory desert Pisco Sours. We deserved it ;). At that same restaurant we ate lunch, I ordered a large salad with spinach, tomato, avocado, onions, and carrots, and it was positively divine, as was all the food that we ate from there on out!Early one of the mornings, we woke up to visit the geysers. Oh my gosh, so incredible... and freezing! As you can see, I was very bundled up!
Then we took numerous hikes through Cajón del Diablo (Devil Canyon) and Valle de la Muerte (Death Valley), neither of which were scary or threatening of the least, I can assure you :). Great pictures though!
And, finally, in the evening of one of the nights we went to Valle de la Luna, Moon Valley, (with the crystalized salt it mimics the surface of the moon.) What a beautiful, beautiful sunset it was.
When we got back we were a scary combination of starving and exhausted ;) so we opted to go back to the hostel and pick up some things along the way. A tomato, basil, and cheese empanada alongside a fresh cucumber definitely hit the spot and then we were off to bed!
Last but certainly not least is a lovely picture of one of the many salads I've been eating the past few days at home. It's been hot, very hot, and most of the time a light, refreshing ensalada is all that everyone is craving. Lucky me, all the fresh, season vegetables are yum, yum, yum!
Now I'd like to mention the title :) al tiro, a Chilean term that is the equivalent to immediately, although immediately in the sense of Latin American time, which could in reality, translate to now, or, later, for us, haha. I mention this because there may very well be a change of plans concerning my return to the U.S. I just may go back sooner than I thought. I'm finished 2 finals (thank you for the luck, by the way!) and have 2 papers and a presentation to do before Monday. Then, I'm flying south to the darling Chilean island of Chiloe for my very last excursion, and afterwards was going to be in Santiago for 8 full days before leaving. I am dreading saying goodbye to my host family, I love them and am going to miss them so much, but the truth is, none of my very good friends are going to be around during this week and a day after my Chiloe trip and I'll have nothing left to do. Thus! After speaking with my mom earlier, we've decided there's no reason I shouldn't come home earlier, rather than just wait around for so long. And as a result, I only have 12 days left here, I'll be home sweet home on December 4th. I'm coming home al tiro. I wonder what the boyfriend is going to say...

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