The Beginning of the End

Studying abroad in Chile was 4 months well spent

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Museo Fonck, where it all began

My final 12 days in Chile were fast and furious, so much so that I promptly came down with the flu the day I returned home to the States. Thankfully, my body held off just long enough for me to pack several weeks’ worth of adventuring into a matter of days.

I didn’t travel nearly as much as some students during my 4 months in Chile. I have friends who went to Argentina, Brazil, Patagonia, San Pedro and a number of other locations within Chile. While I would love to have seen other South American countries, I had my own list of adventures that I partook in. And I don’t feel at all like I missed out, for I had my own motives for choosing each particular adventure.

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A Thoroughbred at Haras Sumaya

With that being said, when my mom arrived, there were still things that I wanted to do and see, so I took it upon myself to be both of our tour guide. We visited a few of my favorite places, as well as several that I had yet to experience. I could almost make up my own version of the song “12 Days of Christmas,” except there would be no rhyme or reason behind the lyrics and it would be called “12 Days of Chile.”

For my own benefit, and perhaps yours as well if you’re looking for a sample trip guide, here’s a quick summary of the “final 12”:

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Enjoying a salt water lagoon in the Atacama Desert

June 15: Toured Haras Santa Eladia and Haras Sumaya with a friend

June 16: Met up with mom at the airport, flew to San Pedro, toured Valle de la Luna (see more about my San Pedro trip here)

June 17: Rented bikes, toured Laguna Cejar

June 18: Toured Geysers Tatio, hiked to Pukara de Quitor

June 19: Bus to Calama, plane to Santiago, shuttle to bus terminal, bus to Viña del Mar followed by a nice long walk across town to my Chilean home, carrying all of our luggage

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Looking fab in front of the famous Viña del Mar flower clock

June 20: Attended two classes, gave mom a walking tour of Viña

June 21: Went to my final class, visited the National Botanical Gardens just outside of Viña, watched the sun set from the sand dunes of Con Cón.

June 22: Went shopping at “La Feria” (basically a farmers market on steroids), walked along the beach, ate ice cream, took in an evening of racing at Valparaiso Sporting, and went for sushi with my AIFS study abroad group

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“La Feria”

June 23: Breakfast with a friend before going to Valparaiso for a walking tour (getting caught up in a student protest along the way), and farewell dinner with my host family before a little night of going out with friends whom I sadly may never see again

June 24: Packed and said goodbyes to host family, headed to Santiago via bus. Checked in at our AirBnb, mom took her first metro (subway) on our way to visit Club Hípico de Santiago

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They call me the duck whisperer… I was quite popular at the botanical gardens

June 25: Spent the day with a friend, with whom we went horseback riding in the mountains, dined at an authentic Chilean restaurant and toured horse farms

June 26: Hiked 5 miles to see the Virgin statue at the top of Cerro San Cristobal, ate lunch with a friend, packed and headed to the airport. Successfully departed Chile without crying my eyes out.

Phew, I’m tired after just reading all of that.

It would take me days to describe every moment, memorable event and learning experience from those final 12 days. But I would like to leave you with a final thought. I’m a strong believer that the things that happen in our lives are no accident—it’s all a part of a greater plan.

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The smiles say it all.

By the time June 25th rolled around, I was pretty burnt out and more than ready to go home. It was probably one of the only times in my life when I didn’t want to go riding. But God always knows what I need before I do, and it ended up being a spectacular day. We rode up and down rocky hills and crossed clear, cold streams, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and a vividly blue sky. Mounted on my sure-footed yet refreshingly spirited “Caballo Chileno’ named Lolita, I was overcome with a sense of peace and closure.

I was ready to go home, but was leaving with no regrets.

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3 thoughts on “The Beginning of the End

  1. Nina says:

    Hello! I just found your blog when I was googling about horse races in Viña Del Mar 🙂 I am a girl from Finland who is studying abroad in UAI for this semester. I would be interested to know if you could recommend any good riding places around Viña or Santiago? I have also been riding my whole life so it would be great to do it also down here 🙂 And do you know which days there is horse racing competitions in Viña? Or is there some web site where I can see the dates? It would be interested to see the competitions although I’m more into dressage and jumping back home 🙂 Thank you for your answers! You have really great thoughts in your blog 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • annisemontplaisir says:

      Hello Nina! So exciting that you are studying at UAI! Isn’t it a wonderful view of the racetrack from the university?! I miss the track very much. As far as riding goes, I went on one trail ride in Laguna Verde when I went with a group from the university, and another time with a friend in Santiago, but I am not aware of a specific facility to ride at. You might consider looking into the polo club in Santiago, as I believe they have jumping and dressage events there at times. I also ride and compete on a college equestrian team in the States! However my primary passion is for horse racing. The Valparaiso Sporting track generally has races every Wednesday, if their schedule is the same as when I was there. You can check on their website: http://www.sporting.cl/sitio2005/main.php. Let me know if you have any further questions – I am happy to answer them!

      Like

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