Coffeeshop Culture

If there is one thing that I miss most about American culture – one aspect that is so ingrained into my daily life that I can’t imagine life without it – that thing is coffee shops. Which, I sadly say, is not a part of the Chilean lifestyle.

There is one main road that stretches down most of the length of Viña del Mar, Ave. Libertad. If you need a coffee – a real coffee, mind you, not that instant coffee Chileans love so much – you go to Libertad. There’s a string of cafés down this roadbut they aren’t really for coffee; they have it, but that’s not why they are there. You’d most likely go to a café for a sandwich. Maybe some tea. But even then, people don’t typically sit around and drink and talk.

I can’t understand this. If any aspect of the American culture seems like it would fit into the South American lifestyle, it would be the event of sitting somewhere, drinking and talking. When I’m in the States and there is nothing to do, I call up a friend and meet that friend in a café. But here, these cafés and coffeeshops are scarce and unpopular. It hurts.

My positive spin to this negative situation is that I am clearly spending less, make that no, money on coffee. I drink a cup or two of tea a day, at least in the morning, at my host family’s host; then, after that, I try to stick to water.

(The little American brat inside of me, despite all this, just wants to whine, but I only want a coffeeshop to talk to friends and read my books! Wahh!)

Parque Nacional La Campana!

After a month’s worth of mountain withdrawal, I teamed up with two other gringas to hike La Campana, a national park outside of Viña. It was a beautiful day for hiking, despite being very cold in the morning (we were on the metro at 6:30am to get to the park as soon as it opened, at 9am).  Once we left the metro, we took a micro (i.e., small bus) from the station to a kilometer from the park entrance; we couldn’t be dropped off right at the entrance because we had to hike up to the park. Once at the park, we took a trail called Andinista, a beautiful trail that leads up to the summit.

995634_10152354505968549_8262697949087699366_nThe photo above is a view from about halfway up our hike. Unfortunately, due to weather conditions the day prior (it snowed and made the trail unsafe), we weren’t allowed to summit the mountain. But we did get very close: 5k out of the 7k on the toughest trail in the park, which was well worth it, even without the summit.

The snowy peak is the summit, as seen from the entrance of the park.

The snowy peak is the summit, as seen from the entrance of the park.

It was around 6 miles round trip, and easily done within a day. Believe it or not, I have extremely sore legs right now because of that hike! We took several breaks on the way up to our stop, Area La Mina (Mining Area), and still made it within 3 hours; our trip down was around 2 hours with fewer stops. All in all, it was really cheap; the metro fee (cheaper for me because I have a student card), US$1 for the micro to the park, and US$5 for foreigners to pay the park’s entrance fee. Anyone who needs or wants more information on Parque Nacional La Campana can look on its site, here.

Viva Chile!

Viva Chile!


Have I maid a scene?

Hello, readers. I am hiding from my host family’s maid.

Not hiding, exactly. But it could be argued that I am hiding. I’m sitting in my room and avoiding the kitchen, which I so desperately want to be in right now to make my lunch before an afternoon run. The problem with this situation is that if I go to the kitchen, she’s going to try to make my lunch.

What’s the problem there, right? A person making your lunch, how great, I’m sure some people will say. But it makes me so uncomfortable. It’s not that she tries to just make my lunch, but she fawns over me; she tries to do every possible thing she can do for me. I can see how it could be considered her job, maybe, and I could see that through others’ perspectives it could be considered sweet, but in my mind it’s just too uncomfortable.

I have been living on my own for three years. I’ve been doing everything for myself in my daily life, with only occasional help from my parents in big situations. I’m from the United States, a country that is so very individualistic that the idea of having someone take care of me – a legal adult – is just awkward. I want to be polite. I want to be nice. But I also want to say, “hey, lady, I’m used to making my own food and I like making my own food, so please, just give me some breathing room.”

How strange this must sound: sometimes, this culture is just a little too friendly for me.

Shaking Things Up

I experienced my first earthquake and tsunami warning! I’m sure this may not be very exciting for readers who regularly experience those situations, but being a first-timer, it was pretty crazy for me. This quake was a 6.4, and apparently, that’s nothing for Chileans. With the exception of my host mom, who was worried because my phone wasn’t working, nobody I knew really seemed to care. I’ve been told a relatively large earthquake like this happens about once a month; if that’s the case, I’ve got one down, and three to go!

Medio Maratón, Anyone?

The first half marathon I ever completed was only a few months ago, back in April, and in fact is the reason I began this blog (oh, the memories). Not even a year later, and in a foreign country, I write today to say something that I never thought I would say: I will be doing a half marathon in Chile.

It’s called the International Marathon of Viña del Mar (I took the liberty of translating that to English), and it will be at the middle of October. There’s one teensy, tiny, arguably irrelevant problem that I may face, though.

I haven’t gone on a run since July.

After my first half marathon in April, my mom and I set our sights on a new goal: run an entire race without stopping. That goal took form in a 4th of July 5k, which we finished within 35 minutes (not that I’m bragging, but yeah, it’s pretty impressive for a new runner). However, since that beautiful day, my physical motivation went spiraling downhill and I only managed to run a few times (by a few, I mean two, maybe) a week. Since I arrived in Chile, I have worked out exactly once, in a spin class with a few gringo friends. (The word gringo, by the way, isn’t a slur like it is in the U.S. and Mexico. Yeah. I was surprised, too.)

Anyway, long story short, my training for this half marathon will be both a new beginning as well as extremely concentrated. After all, I have about two months to prepare for a half marathon. Didn’t really think this through, did I? Then again, my host brother is doing a half marathon in a month, and started training yesterday; so, really, I’m ahead of the game.