Monday, December 14, 2009

There and back again

The day I've been both looking forward to and dreading finally arrived: my return date. So many emotions crammed into one day. Opposition in all things, right? I'm just glad I got to say all my goodbyes and enjoy one last day in the Chilean sun with friends y familia.

'Twas my last Sunday as the Agua Santa Ward Pianista. This is also the ONLY picture I have with the entire family. Entonces, esta foto es tan precioso.

Fun in the sun with my ham hermanita Dania. Que tierna!

Las tres amigas para siempre.

Waiting in the Santiago Airport to leave Chile. It was a good time to reflect and think on my experience. At this point I wasn't too excited to leave.

I have a proclamation for the world: Air Canada is the best airline! It's by far my fav, largely because of the personal TVs. These TVs include FREE music, movies and TV. They help the ten hour flight go by much faster.

It was such a blessing to be on the same flight to Toronto, Canada with a fellow UVM student, Lauren. We got to sit next to each other and we watched "UP." The movie was perfect closer to our time in South America as well as a great pep talk for our next big adventures. But regardless of future adventures or no, ten hours on a plane gets pretty long (left: before; right: after)

But of course, the layover and 14 hours on a plane were definitely worth it in the end. My wonderful dad picked me up at DIA and I must say, it feels good to be back.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

So it begins: the goodbyes

Mi familia Chilena held a last Noche de Hogar tonight that included all my favorite things to do with the fam; singing, spiritual lesson, and games. Oh my, more than anything I KNOW I will miss Noche de Hogar. A lot. Tonight mi familia presented me with going away/Christmas presents. I got a heart-shaped Chile pin and a Chile apron that I'll most certainly wear every time I make pan.

Jaja, I love this candid shot. I also loved it when mi papa said, "okay, picture with my daughters." :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I love mi familia Chilena. In this particular post I want to feature Miss Giselle. She is such a sweetheart. Seriously, imagine a strange, awkward foreign student coming to live at your house. She takes over your room (I didn't know), and she is a bit of a bathroom hog (I'm working on it!). But all this doesn't even seem to phase her. With all the goodness in her heart Giselle still loves me and takes the time to have meaningful conversations with me. But if there is any one quality I've noticed from Giselle it is patience. She is patient like you wouldn't believe. It's not easy to explain something to me, but she never get frustrated or annoyed. Three cheers for Giselle!

Hermanas para simpre

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Brush with fame

A couple months ago I was walking through downtown Vina with Giselle. We saw a huge group of people gathered and camera flashes going off. Of course we had to investigate. I saw people taking turns getting pictures with a man and a woman in the middle. Giselle told me that the man ran for the Chilean Senate the last term, and his daughter-in-law was a famous TV Anchor. I handed Giselle my camera and asked her to take my picture with the pair since I didn't want to pay for the Polaroid print.

So here I am jumping up and down not only being an ugly American, but an obnoxious one at that. After this picture a man running the operation kindly pushed me forward to be with the celebrities...

...I learned a couple things after this picture was taken. One: the Polorid was free. I didn't have to tell everyone to look over towards Giselle taking the picture. Two: the man in the red jacket wasn't just being annoying, HE's the famous one, not they guy in the blue. JA! Too funny!

One more thought: Chileans are positively shameless in their political advertising! Elections for both the Senate and new President are this Sunday, the 13th (the same day I leave). I need to get some better photos, but this will do for now.

Mira! Look at all those signs! Who honestly wants to see their face that big every three feet?

Not only are the signs huge and everywhere, but they're also cheesy-lame like you wouldn't believe. These would not fly in the States.

Remember my photo with the former Senator-candidate Lavin? Well it turns out he's back this year, and someone told him that the jacket over the shoulder (which he has in all his pics) was a crowd-pleaser. Mentiroso!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

La Campana

I distinctly remember the first time I really perked up at church. I believe it was my second Sunday in my ward and I was in an interview with the Ward's First Counselor, Esteban Gonzalez. He asked me if I liked hiking. He might as well have asked me if I liked hard-blue skies or chocolate. YES. In fact, I love hiking. He told me that he would organize a group to climb el cerro (hill) La Campana at the end of the year. I told him to count me in. And so, the hike I've been looking forward to my entire time in Chile finally happened today.

Here's a couple things I learned about La Campana. It's called a hill, but I must tell you that that beast is not a hill, it's a mountain. Also, hikes can be hard! Multiple people told me multiple times that La Campana was a difficult, all day hike. Strangely enough I would get more and more excited when they told me these things. That thrill left me about 15 minutes into the hike. Yao! It was HARD! Really hard, straight up the entire 4 hours...but I loved it. As Megan O'Brian would say, "it hurt so good."

Our group of six met up at 6:30 this morning (6:50 Latin Time) to take a Micro a La Campana. Pictured above: yo, la Giselle, y el Esteban.

My first time wearing Chacos on a real hike. I can't remember the last time my feet and legs have been so dirty. They Chileans thought I was crazy, and I had to give up trying to explain how cool the shoes are when I started to get some hot spots (which of course I didn't mention because I wanted them think Chacos are flawless).

Por fin, la cima (summit)!

Sights from the top. Check out the snow-covered mountains in the background.

The crew (left to right): Niko, Esteban, Kevin, Yerko, y la Giselle

La Campana. We went all the way to the top. WHO-RAH!

Finished the day with completos (Chilean hot dog with all the good stuff). Have I mentioned lately how much I love my life?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Splits with the Sisters

Yesterday I finally worked out a time I could go on Splits with the Sister Missionaries. One of the Sisters was sick and I went out with her companion so she could get some rest. May I please explain why this is so cool? We set it all up via phone conversations (meaning I can talk on the phone in Spanish), I figured out which Micro to take to get to a town I'd never heard of (Quintero, about an hour away), and then I did as Sister Missionaries do for almost five hours. If that's not progress from four months ago I don't know what is. Okay, well, don't think my Spanish is bomb, but it was fun to help out and get a taste of the Missionary work in Chile.

Mi nueva amiga, Hermana Rivera de Honduras

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's go time

I used to think the crosswalk "go" lights **honest to goodness I've forgotten what they're called** looked really funny. I would just laugh inside every time I saw them. Now for the life of me I can't think of anything strange about them. Time does something to ya.

Hobbiton Habbitations

I have a bit of a fetish with the doors and vibrant colored houses in Vina. When I first arrived here I was constantly reminded of "The Hobbit" because so many of the doors have a knob right in the middle. But ye be warned: the knob does not actually turn and open the door; it's purely there for show. Take a look at some of my favs (doors and houses).

Monday, November 30, 2009

Southern Chile

It's a well known fact to Chileans that Southern Chile is beautiful. It's not a well known fact to everyone else. But now that I know I'll share it with the world. Southern Chile is incredible!!! I wish I had more time to go into detail, but the pictures will have to suffice for now.

Bike ride in the rain

Penguins on Chiloe Island
(which turned out as tiny white dots in the pictures)


Saltos Rio Petrohue


Volcanoes - the one pictured is Osorno

Another bike ride in the sun

Sights in Puerto Varas

Lovely (of sorts) bus ride back to Vina

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cuatro Meses Dia

Who am I and what happened to the Abby from four months ago?
Oh where to start...
This was a great month. Here's a list that just touches on a some highlights:
  1. played for the Primary Program. One sentence does not accurately convey how big it was to me.
  2. trip to Mendoza, Argentina = paragliding
  3. truly realized just how valuable my diary is to me
  4. classes finished (**I think. I missed a week and I have no idea what's what anymore**)
  5. Mom came to visit
  6. I gave a talk in my ward, in SPANISH! :)
  7. Southern Chile, tan lindo
  8. played a special musical number on the violin in my ward
In short, I'm living the good life.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Family: isn't it about time?

My mom came down to visit me en Chile for eight fun-filled days. She served her mission in Concepcion 30 years ago so Spanish is not a problem for her. Glad that makes one of us. It was so good to see her and I enjoyed showing off Vina like a pro (and I also really liked how she was my fall back translator). We traveled down to Southern Chile and I was amazed by the beauty of Region X. Picture this: Ireland-like rolling green hills, huge lakes, and gigantic mountains/volcanoes. Simply breathtaking. I would often stop and try to take in all the beauty and I seriously felt like my heart could just sing because I loved it so much.

Me & Mom in front of Vina's icon: el reloj de flores (flower watch).

**Pictures of Southern Chile are on the way...they're all on mom's camera! Pucha!**

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mi Grupo, 3B

The international students at the University of Vina del Mar are placed into groups of about 5-7 students for small class sizes and such, and I ended up in group 3B. I love the girls in my group. They all have incredible Spanish and are super simpática.

Left to right: me, Linda 2 (Lindsey Phelps), Linda 1 (Lindsey Smith), Gillian, y la Renata. And I don't think I should reveal how long it took to get this picture...yea 3B!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shouldn't give that one out...

The other day I was trying to remember what my cell phone number was. I was racking my brain for the digits when some familiar numbers came to mind. It wasn't until after I said them that I realized I was reciting my social security number and not my cell number. Ha!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I traveled over to Mendoza, Argentina a couple days this last week with eight other international students from UVM (Universidad de Vina del Mar). It was a short, two day and one night trip that was rather relaxed, but still fun.

The most I probably have to talk about are the bus rides. Uuuuuuugh. Both times we left at 10 p.m. which sounds like a good idea on paper: "leave at 10 p.m. and arrive at about 8 a.m. refreshed and ready for the day." Ha! I forgot to take into account crossing the boarder and going through customs and such at about 2:30 a.m. Not my fav. But, I did have some things I really loved about my bus my face mask for my eyes, the Presidents of the Church lectures on my iPod, and staring at the stars when the rest of the world seems to be sleeping. Priceless.

This picture was taken before we even started to move. This face only got better as you can imagine.

Plaza Independencia

Meet Alfie: the Hostel dog. I was struck with puppy love.

Seven of our group decided to go paragliding. A-ma-zing. It wasn't quite the adrenaline rush I was expecting, but I definitely enjoyed it all the same.

Life is wonderful.