Saludos desde Santiago de Chile

So this first post is way overdue since I’ve been in Santiago, Chile, for about a month now, but it feels like I’ve only been here for a couple of weeks!

I arrived in Santiago on July 24th, and spent the first week searching for an apartment with Danny Novotny (another UT student). Our university here in Chile does not provide housing, and we both opted not to participate in the homestay programs here in Santiago. Finally, after walking all around the city for a few days with no luck, we were able to find an apartment in the neighborhood of Ñuñoa in central Santiago. Danny and I are living with a Chilean student and a Colombian doctor, so we’re getting opportunities every day to practice and improve our Spanish.

Since we’ve been here in Santiago, we’ve been able to travel and visit a couple places already:

San Pedro de Atacama

By far my favorite trip so far, San Pedro is a small town located in the middle of the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile. After flying from Santiago to Calama, we bused to San Pedro de Atacama, where we spent two days biking throughout some of the valleys and mountains in the area.

View from our bike ride into El Valle de Catarpe

View of El Valle de Catarpe from the top of one of the mountains

We also took tours to the Atacama Space Observatory for some stargazing. The observatory had 10 high-powered telescopes that allowed us to see things such as the rings of Saturn! Additionally, it was so dark in the part of the desert that we were in that we could see half the Zodiac sign constellations as well as the Milky Way!

The next morning (4 Am), we left for a tour to El Tatio Geysers a couple hours north of San Pedro. Besides the fact that it was about negative 12 degrees Celsius when we got there, it was beautiful watching the sunrise with the mountains and geysers all around us.

El Tatio Geysers

While we did not have enough time to see everything (Valle de la Luna, Laguna Verde, Salt Flats, sandboarding), it was an excellent weekend excursion to one of the most beautiful areas of Chile. I’m hoping to get the opportunity to return one other weekend so I can explore the area some more!

Valparaíso

Valparaíso is a coastal town about 2 hours west of Santiago known for it’s beautiful graffiti artwork and colorful houses built into the hills. We spent a couple days just wandering around the town, enjoying a relaxing weekend.

City of Valparaiso

One of the many beautiful graffiti artworks we saw in the city