Giving Thanks for Travel, Friends, and New Experiences

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone back home, of course this holiday is not celebrated in Chile, but I wanted to take this day to reflect on some of my journeys the past few weeks and my thoughts about my final weeks abroad. Since my last post I have traveled to San Pedro in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, I have finished all of my classes, and my best friend from home came to visit me.

The Atacama Desert is the driest desert in the world and one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. On our first day, we rented bikes and biked through a valley called “Valle De La Muerte.” We found it to be quite difficult biking through sand, but we managed and it was completely worth it. At one point, we sat completely silent and it was one of the quietest most peaceful moments I had ever experienced. It was a great time to take in all the beauty we were surrounded with. The next few days were spent touring salt flats, lagoons, geysers, hot springs, and our final adventure through “Valle De La Luna.” This was an extraordinary landscape unlike anything I have ever seen. “Luna” means moon, which is what these surfaces resembled. Before taking this trip, I thought of the desert as a dry hot place with nothing but sand hills, but this place was far from that.

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On November 21st,  I turned in my very last paper of the semester and more importantly, my best friend Emily and her Dad, Jim, arrived in Chile. Their very first moments in Chile involved Emily’s phone suddenly disappearing. I was really sad to hear this, as I didn’t want their first impressions of Chile to be negative. Emy was a trooper and continued to enjoy her trip here, and I showed them around Valparaiso and Viña, exploring Cerro Alegre, the famous Port of Valparaiso, the beautiful sand dunes in Concon, and a wonderful beach in Reñaca. A few days into their stay, I received a surprising message from a random Chilean man asking if I had a friend who lost their phone, long story short their negative first impression of Chile became a positive one and soon enough Emily’s Iphone was back in her hands. We spend the last couple days traveling around the capital city of Santiago. We took a beautiful tour through the Andes Mountains up to a ski resort called “Valle de Nevado.” The sights were unbelievable and our time together was unforgettable. I am so thankful to have had them visit me in Chile, and it was a trip I will remember forever.

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My time in Chile is quickly coming to an end, and my emotions are all over the place. Words cannot describe how grateful and happy I am to have had this experience abroad. I have learned so much about myself, as well as adapting to another culture and language. I have met incredible people and have made unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime. I will be very sad to leave in a few short weeks but I still have one of the best adventures ahead, as I travel to the end of the world, the famous national park of Torres Del Paine, PATAGONIA tonight.  As I write this post reflecting on my time here, I also cannot help but think about the immense happiness that I feel when thinking about returning home and seeing my family and friends. Chile, you have treated me so well, but Minnesota, I cannot wait to see you soon.

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