Happy Birthday, Happy Thanksgiving!

Sorry for the delay, the last few weeks have been so busy!

I went to Arica, a city on the border of Chile and Peru, for a few days with my friend Samantha. We found this adorable little residencial where a family rents out temporary rooms. They loved us as well and we had some great conversations with them, something I like about finding the random places to stay. We went to El Morro, a war memorial site; an archeological museum with MUMMIES from the Atacama desert; and Parque Lauca to Lago Chungara, one of the highest altitude lakes along with stopping at some other pueblos. Great trip, the beaches are well-known as well but unfortunately when we went, it was really windy and we couldn’t stay past eating our picnic lunch. Que triste!

After that, I went to Iquique solo – a friend was supposed to meet me there but had last minute change in plans, but I went anyways. I LOVE Iquique. It’s THE beach city, with beautiful beaches all up the coast. I stayed at this really welcoming hostel with more English speakers and quite a few German speakers than I would have expected. Met other travelers that made me more excited and more secure about traveling soon… some people have been traveling with almost no spanish… and with how mine has improved and is still improving, I’m not worried anymore! I had an amazing opportunity to go paragliding in Iquique, so I went! It is one of the top 10 places in the world to do paragliding, people come from all over the world because it has the perfect weather and the view is amazing, right from the desert to the ocean. I had about a 40 minute tandem flight because the winds were even better than normal, so we went to a further beach to land. Absolutely amazing. Unfortunately I have no pictures, but I will never forget the flight!! The next day, I took a surf lesson! I was pretty good at that too, got up on the board most times… Definitely not ready to go out on my own but apparently better than expected for it being my first try. All good things from Iquique, left to head back to Mejillones and had a long conversation on the bus with my neighbor – further proving that I can communicate in spanish. Only pain was that the customs employees were on strike so we were delayed an hour on the way back… In Chile they check your belongings at the border of the region when coming from the north, I think because of the neighboring countries.

Since I’ve been back in Mejillones, we went to Playa Hornitos, a beautiful beach 30 minutes north of Mejillones, to camp again. Watched the sunset, had a mini-asado, made more s’mores, played some futbol and futbol americano the next day, and tried out body boarding! Really fun, and much easier since I had the recent surf lesson I think. AND I can successfully set up a tent and start a fire! All good news once again because I also decided last week that I am going to do a 5-day trek in Patagonia immediately after the program! My flight is booked for November 28th, I will hike Torres del Paine in the deep south of Chile with two friends, then after that, I will take off on my own to explore more of Patagonia and then the southern regions of Chile and Argentina. Slight change in plans, but after the south, I will end up around Santiago for the holidays at the end of December and head over to the rest of northern Argentina.

Last upcoming events.. Tomorrow is my birthday! And also our Chilean version of Thanksgiving. We are making a FEAST tomorrow for our host families and some friends and their family. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, scalloped potatoes, roasted carrots, green bean casserole, hopefully cranberry sauce, and of course PIES!!! We’re waiting on some carepackages to arrive with some American ingredients… hopefully they do tomorrow. Because of the customs strike, we think there might have been a delay with the mail, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed!!! And then for my birthday, we are going to have a birthday and farewell celebration on Friday. It’s going to be pretty bittersweet because I think we’ve made some amazing friends here… going to miss them more than I realized. Maybe if I have enough money towards the end of my trip when I’m around Peru, I might take a quick visit back here since it’s closer anyways, but we’ll see.

The teacher’s strike has continued, it’s still possible to end this Wednesday, but who knows. Looks like I’m not going to be able to say goodbye to my students. I’m going to school tomorrow morning to clean out my classroom and leave supplies for the other teachers. I hope some of the other school inspectors and profesores are there so I can thank them for their help, but I might not see any of them before I leave too! I feel bad because I had hoped the strike would continue so I wouldn’t have to teach… but I really just wanted it to continue up until this last week when I had only planned to do birthday and farewell festivities in my classes. Still might have a chance, so cross your fingers for that too.

Finally – Here is my birthday wish! I am going to be taking off for about 2 months of travel before I make my next stop to try to work, so I can use any help I can get! If you know anyone living in South America, please let me know their contact information, and also if you would like, I AM accepting donations 🙂 of course!!!

Easy and safe to donate to the Whitney cause via internet – Just go to Paypal.com and enter a payment to be sent to my email address.

THANK YOU!!!

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