Monday, April 30, 2012

Winding down.

I made it back home. It's been almost three weeks since I've stepped off the plane into the warm Texas air. Dang, it's good to be back. I get to see my family (especially mi madre) and friends. I've eaten some rather spicy Mexican food and even caught the tail end of a few country songs as I quickly change the radio stations in my mom's car. A good old Texas thunderstorm rolled through Arlington and I felt like a kid again as I was startled from my sleep.

Sigh.

After I relished in the presence of good company and good food, things quickly wound down to normal. For the past two months, I had been running at a fairly nice pace through out Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. Now, things have come to halt. I'm on hunt. A job hunt that is, and things are going slow as expected. Tonight I made the horrible mistake of flipping through my photos of Santiago, and after a very vivid dream of being surrounded by the Andes mountains, I couldn't help feeling a little tug of sadness over this weekend. But I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.

Even though I don't want to start the slippery habit of saying "My life starts when..." or "I'll be happy when..." it seems like much of my well being is hinged on this search for and finding of a job. Honestly, if I had the choice, I wouldn't return to Santiago. Texas is the place for me in this moment. I just gotta find a place in Texas.

*I do plan on updating highlights from my travels in Peru and Bolivia. In the meantime, check out my new blog for the new chapter of my life. Oh, for the lack of cowboy boots!

Any suggestions or advice for the recently repatriated expat?


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Chao Chao, Chile!

Currently, I'm sprawled out on the sofa of my old apartment still recovering from the huge plate of gnocchi with arrabiata sauce I consumed at a popular Italian restaurant in Santiago. I worked through about half the meal with a large helping of bread before I had to give up and request for a take home bag. All this to say, it's good to be back in Santiago. In fact, it's been too good. Thanks to Easter weekend, I haven't had to share my friends with their jobs and such. The weather has been particularly warm, too. Ironically enough, if you would have asked me three weeks ago if I was ready to go back home, the answer would have been a definite YES. However, walking through the beautiful neighborhoods of Bellas Artes, Providencia, and Ñuñoa, I'm reminded of the incredible year I have spent in Chile. Last night crowded around a table on the rooftop of Becky's apartment with the token wine bottle half empty, I realized what amazing people I've met here and how difficult it's going to be to leave them. I said good bye to Grace last night as she's adventuring down in the Patagonia for the week, and I'm not looking forward to saying my other farewells.

I've come to a few conclusions. 
First, change is hard (obivo po!).
Second, I would feel this same sadness if I was leaving in two months or in two years.
Third, the part of Santiago I'm seeing right now is not the part that I've also complained about for the past year.

Final Note:
I've only been in Santiago for the past four days and I leave to two! I've had a wonderful time traveling in Peru and Bolivia, and I plan to post with pictures and descriptions slowly but surely.

Mark your calendars. April 11th, 2012- The day Texas rejoiced because Katie came home. I'm pretty important.

Of course there was Katie/Grace photo action taking place on our last night in Santiago together.



Monday, February 6, 2012

My "unapproved" bucket list for Santiago.

First, I do, in fact, have an "approved" bucket list of things to do before I leave Chile. But it's really not that exciting, and I've crossed out most of the items. However, the following are things I wish I could do, but would be chastised by society in general and/or would get me kicked out of the country.

Katie's Frowned Upon Wish List of Things to Accomplish before Leaving Chile:
1. Knock someone over on a bike.
2. Cut off the lone dreadlocks (or any other bizarre hair growth) on creeping down the necks of ugly boys.
3. Cat call at a man.
4. Curse back at a gypsy.
5. Pull down some midriff T over a protruding belly.
6. Break up PDA sessions with a super soaker.
7. Knock the stack of flyers out of a promoter's hand.
8. Break through a chain of women who are all holding hands, blocking the ENTIRE sidewalk.
9. Hit the book/newspaper/phone out of a slow walker's hands.
10. Tell someone that their underwear is blatantly showing through their pants or shirt or pant/skirt combo.
11. Ask "why???" to a person eating a completo.
12. Blah BEEEEP BEEEP
13. Something else that is more offensive therefore I'm going to keep to myself.
14. I'm trying to think of other things so I don't have to pack.

I LEAVE TOMORROW FOR PERU. POST MORE LATER. MAYBE.


My Magnificent Backpack.






Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mendoza: Bike riding and wine tasting.

I'm going to play travel blog catch up. The end of November, I went to Mendoza, Argentina with Grace. Yes, I have been the Mendoza twice before but just to the bus station. It's a complicated story. But this time, I was there to enjoy Argentina's wine country to the fullest. And that's exactly what we did.

After arriving in Mendoza at about 5 in the morning, the nightlife in full swing still, we napped and prepared for our one goal: biking around the vineyards and wineries. After we found the correct bus that drives out to Maipu, we realized that we were in desperate need of coins to board the bus.

Crucial Information we were not told: Argentina has a serious lack of change. Serious lack of change. After gathering bits of data from locals, we purchased a card (similar to a Bip! card of Chile) that we could put money on to pay for the bus. My suggestion: find four people and take a shared colectivo. Faster and probably about the same price when split four ways. 

We stumbled off the bus at the center of Maipu. Biking companies lined the streets. So as Grace and I did what we usually do with traveling decisions, we closed our eyes, spun around, and chose the company that our fingers landed on. Well, not exactly in that manner, but most of our decisions are based purely on guesswork. To our advantage, we walked in to Mr. Hugo's. Mr. Hugo, presumably, immediately handed us a plastic cup of some watered down Malbec and we were shown the route to all the wineries. DO NOT BE DECEIVED by the unassuming map. The distance between wineries is much greater than how it appears on the map. After biking for what seemed like hours we finally ran into some others and joined their band of bikes. I felt very classy taking my lunch in the middle of a vineyard while sipping a glass of champagne. Don't worry, I quickly found a way to "undignify" myself after a series of ridiculous posing in the rows of grapes.

Overall, the weekend was lovely. I had heard good and bad reviews of Mendoza. It might not be the most happening of towns in Argentina, but it's beautiful. It's a nice escape from the monotony of Santiago. I have to admit that the wine was not as good as that in Chile, but the food easily made up for anything not up to standard. Price-wise, you get more bang for you buck in Argentina. The bike rental was about $7US and to try the wine at each winery was between $5 and $8.


NOT a short distance. for me that is.


YES.

Tabla Argentina!

Baby Grapes!

View of the vineyard at lunch.

As always. Classy.

Back to Chile. 4 hour wait at the border due to snow. Depressing, no?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The year of perpetual summer.

I've returned to hot, sunny Santiago after spending three weeks in Texas. Teary-eyed, dazed, and groggy, I opened the door to my room to find it covered in a think layer of black dust. Welcome back. It's definitely taking more time to adjust back to life here that I originally thought. My heart took a second beating as I left my mom and grandmother in the airport for the second time. Now, everything feels so temporary since I will be leaving in May, but nonetheless I'm excited about traveling in February and again in April. Between the lack of permanency and the warm weather, I'm not nearly as sad about cancellations and end dates for classes as I was a couple months ago.

The student population will be dwindling for the summer months and so will the pesos in every teacher's pocket, but summer is so wonderful. And this will be my year of perpetual summer. I will catch the beginnings of a Santiago fall before I head home to my Texas summer. While fall has always been my favorite season, summers are simply filled with fun. So I will be having so much fun for next eight consecutive months.

Currently listening to: Emmy The Great. Check her out.

Some things you should know about me
1. I will never cease to be weird.
2. That's it.


Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year. 2012. Bring it!

I can hardly believe 2011 had gone, and 2012 has arrived. While I should have been pondering the lessons learned in 2011 this New Years Eve, I could only think of the adventure that lies ahead.  I'll admit that every time I hear resolutions, I scoff a little, roll my eyes, and then feel a little self conscious because I've considered the same ones but secretly. During my days at the Y's gym, I remember the rush of people in January and the dwindling around mid-February... not so great for my already cynical heart. But this year, defining all odds, I myself have made three resolutions. And no, I'm not going to post them. If I've learned anything from this last year, everything on the internet is public. And someone will most likely see it and most likely misinterpret it. I'm not ashamed of my resolutions; I've neatly written them and placed them in the front of my 2012 planner (which I will probably use for the two weeks - tops). So why make them? Well, I'm in the business of challenging myself, and I've already made quite a few challenges for the year. Why not add three little resolutions?

Known Challenges of 2012:
1. Traveling without a set agenda in February.
2. Volunteering on organic farms.
3. MAID OF HONOR.
4. Finding summer job.
5. Moving to Vietnam.
6. Three Resolutions. (Here's a delightful article about why your resolutions will fail. Not for the easily offended. Thanks to my brother for referring me to this site)

Did I mention that I was moving to Vietnam? Fall 2012. I'll be joining some dear friends in Hanoi and hopefully landing a sweet teaching deal while enjoying the beauty (and humidity) of Southeast Asia.

Hint for one of my resolutions: You'll be hearing from me a little more often. So, I will expand a little more on my next teaching adventure and post about trips to Mendoza, Pucón, and my visa process in Chile.


I've moved to Santiago. I've climbed a volcano. BRING IT, 2012!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pichilemu

Thank you, Chile. You give me long weekends, cheap buses, great company, and wonderful places to see. What more could I ask for? We had four days off from work, and the last thing I wanted to do in Santiago was waste it going to carrete after carrete, feeling sluggish though the days because I stayed out too late and slept in too much. When my skin is wrinkly and my hair is gray and my grandchildren are sitting at my knee, I want to be able to describe the country I lived in for a couple of years not the nightlife or parties. All that said, Becky and I headed down to the bus station, located the ticket counter, and purchased four pasajes to Pichilemu with no return.

On Sunday, after a morning of packing and scrambling around Grace, Becky, and I all met at the bus terminal. Daniel joined us on Monday. After several traffic jams later, we arrived in the slightly chilly beach town of Pichilemu only to find that there was no return ticket left for Tuesday. We had to extend the stay another night and get the bus home on Wednesday morning. By the time we located the hostel, the internet cafe (to notify our Wednesday students we would not be in class), and the supermarket, it was dark. What else could we do but join the barbecue and enjoy the night? Monday and Tuesday we spent the majority of the time roasting in the sun on the black sand beach. On Wednesday, we tiredly and sunburned-ly waved good bye to the empanada-packed, surfing beach town.

A small conversation between friends and an example of my selfishness:

Grace: I didn't bring a towel to sit on the beach.
Becky: Me neither.
Katie: I have mine. You can sit here, but after a while, I'm going to be taking up the whole towel to sunbathe.

Significant life marker: I waded knee deep into the cold Pacific ocean for the first time.

black sand + cankles?

Aw!

Freezing, but fulfilling!