Author Archives: ehirschk

Que pasa?

In Valle Frances, Torres del Paine

In Valle Frances, Torres del Paine

 

Mirador Britannica, Torres del Paine

Mirador Britannica, Torres del Paine

 

Street art in Valparaiso

Street art in Valparaiso

If you haven´t heard of it, I highly reccomend that you do. Torres del Paine, that is.  This is the National Park in southern Chile I went backpacking in.  It has been named the 8th wonder of the world, and I can understand why!  My backpacking trip in the park was incredible.  I started off, prepared to be hiking by myself often, but the trek is so popular, you are never really alone.  As an example of some adventures I had on this trek, on the first day while I was hiking to my 1st campsite, a couple stopped me and told me that the campsite was closed and I needed to turn around and go back to another.  Luckily, I ran into 2 girls from my hostel and 2 guys from Holland who had heard it might not be closed, and we decided to risk having to turn around and go for it.  And…the campsite was open!  We saw Las Torres, which is one of the main sites to see and had a lovely evening at the campground.  Along my trek, I met so many cool people and saw some of the most beautiful ladscapes I have ever seen.  I also encountered insanely heavy winds that almost knocked me over and bent my tent poles…womp womp.  I had heard Patagonia was quite windy…and it´s totally true.

I think the craziest thing that happened on my trek was while I was hanging out at my campsite one day with my Zion Adventure jacket on, a man came over and said, “I know someone who works there” and I looked at his shirt that said Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides and I said “I applied for an internship at that company 3 years ago” so he sat down and we chatted for a while.  Finally, I asked him his name, and it turns out he was the guy who interviewed me 3 years ago and who I´ve been in friendly contact with for the past 3 years!  It was so awesome to meet him… and in Patagonia!  Maybe this post should have been named “El Mundo es Muy Pequeno!”  How crazy.  And those are just a few examples of why Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine were absolutely incredible and such a great adventure!

After spending 3 extra days in Puerto Natales, I left for Chiloe which is a cluster of islands off the coast of Chile.  I stayed at a very nice hostel owned by a very funny woman, Anita, whose family and friends were in town while I was there.  Chiloe wasn´t quite the adventure I was looking for, but I had many funny encounters with Anita and her friends and practiced my Spanish a lot, as well as met up with a friend I met in Bariloche.

These past 2 days, I was in Valparaiso.  Valparaiso is such a cool city!  It´s on the coast and has incredible street art EVERYWHERE!  It´s a really fun, quirky city with a lot to offer.  Within 5 minutes of arriving at my hostel, 2 Dutch girls invited me to go walk around the city with them and later that night we decided to go out for a drink.  Well..unfortunately it was Sunday and everything is closed on Sunday!  But we finally found a small bar that seemed to be filled only with locals…how perfect!  We had such a good time speaking Spanglish, watching performances by their friends, and dancing to great latin music.  Wow will I miss this part of the world.  My Spanish has even gotten quite a bit better and I was able to have a conversation about politics (I don´t even talk about politics in English) in Spanish yesterday!

Now, I am in Santiago, and tomorrow I leave.  It´s hard to believe my travels are about to end, they have been so amazing and better than I could have ever expected.  I can´t imagine not coming back, as I keep saying in Spanish, yo soy muy enamorado con sudamerica (I´m enamored with south america).  It´s so fun to look at the progress I´ve made in my travels.  Thinking about how much trouble I had with the public transporation when I first got here, and then getting back to Santiago today and rocking the public transportation, felt so awesome!  Thinking about going home is very mixed: I´m sad to end my travels and say goodbye to South America, but I´m excited to come home and see my friends and family, and I feel so lucky that I am coming home to a job that I love.  I know this is not the last time I will be here, but for now, it´s time for some more adventures in the America that is North.

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El Mundo is Muy Pequeno

The parilla at Juan´s

The parilla at Juan´s

 

Mt. Fitz Roy and my mind being blown

Mt. Fitz Roy and my mind being blown

2 weeks at the farm was magnificent!  I learned a bit more about building with adobe and got to pick plums from the tree and pick up horse poop for maneur (there were way too many puns to be had with that one).  Working at the farm definitely sparked my interest in gardening and permaculture.  I really enjoyed hanging out and working with the other 6 volunteers and it was definitely sad to say goodbye to them.  I had 20 + hour bus ride to El Chalten, and on the bus, who hops on, but the girl, Amy, I went backpacking with in Bariloche!  It was great!  Along with this crazy coincidence, about 4 hours away from El CHalten, a window on the bus shattered, and what did the bus drivers do?  Not much!  It was pretty funny.

I was advised on a great and cheap place to camp In El Chalten, so once there, I made my way to Juan´s house, knocked on his door, and camped in his yard, as well as tried my best to speak with him and his family in Spanish.  The next day I met up with someone to go climbing and then ran into a guy, Charlie, from the bus and we decided to go backpacking together.  The backpacking was incredible!  Fitz Roy is unbelievable, I had trouble taking my eyes off of it.  When we got to our campsite, as we were setting up our tents, who shows up?  Amy and her boyfriend of course!  El mundo es muy pequeno.  Charlie and I spent 3 days, 2 nights up there, including a long day hike, and then I went back to town.

When I got back to Juan´s house, I told him I was going to get a ticket to Puerto Natales for the next day, and he told me that his sister and brother-in-law were driving there the next day and I could probably ride with them.  I had to clarify in Spanish about 5 times to make sure I was hearing him correctly!  That night, I met 3 other people from the US who were also staying at Juan´s and it turns out that 1 of them used to live in Salt Lake and we have several mutual friends. We had a huge feast called a Parilla, which is a type of Argentine barbeque, and it is quite the production.  I have never seen so much meat in my life.  It was such a fun evening, with food, great company, laughter, and hilarious dancing.  It was such an authentic experience and the perfect way to leave Argentina.

The next day I left with Mario and Maria for Puerto Natales, which was an adventure in itself because they only speak Spanish, and my Spanish is still only so so.  And of course… as I was walking down the street to get groceries, who do I see? Of course Amy and he boyfriend!  How crazy.  Tomorrow I head out for a 6 day backpacking trip and am super excited!

Fun, Friends, and Farms

 

Biking the Circuito Chico

Biking the Circuito Chico

imageThe past week and a half has been awesome.  I spent about 5 more days in Bariloche at a wonderful hostel and made a great group of friends there consisting of a guy from France, a guy from Belgium, another person from the States and an Aussie.  The 5 of us did a bit of adventuring and lots of cooking and laughing, especially with some language miscommunications.  If you didn´t know, Argentines start their nights to party late, and I don´t mean midnight late, I mean 2 am late.  This being the case, we decided to go out dancing with some Argentines from Buenos Aires one night, and of course, the night didn´t start until 1:30 am, so we danced until 5…and it was a blast!

The next day was a bit of a drag, I biked the Circuito Chico, which is a 27 kilometer bike ride around the lakes in Bariloche, and it kicked my butt!  I left the next day for El Bolson and ran into some friends from Bariloche at my hostel, as well as made some new ones.  Currently, I am volunteering on a farm in El Bolson.  There are 6 other volunteers: 3 from England, 1 from France, 1 from Belgium, and 1 from Ireland.  The week has been a blast and I´ve been learning a lot.  Rosa, the woman who owns the land, is currently making her house from adobe and that has mainly been what we have been helping with.  It´s a really interesting a process!  Being here has been great, we are all living out of tents and have a shack to cook and hang out in.  The accomodations are very simple and it´s wonderful.  To make it even better, there are 2 dogs and 4 cats that are adorable and cuddly and the other volunteers are really cool.  Originally, I was going to stay only a week, but as of right now it´s looking like I´ll be here for at least another.

The Places Your Feet Can Take You

My host family

My host family

Spanish school already came and went.  The week of school was great, I learned a lot and met some really fantastic people.  My host family was incredible!  In the house were my 2 host parents, Mariela and Jose Luis, and 2 other students, 1 from the States and 1 from Switzerland.  Every night the 5 of us laughed the whole way through dinner; the week was wonderful and I feel so lucky to have had such a good host family experience.  Jose Luis and Mariela are incredibly warm and kind people and I will miss them dearly.

On Saturday, the 2 other students and I went to bike the Circuito Chico, which is a loop you can bike around the lakes in Bariloche.  Unfortunately, we got rained out, so we hiked a short trail called Campanario.  The view from the top was beautiful and there was even a cafe at the top!  The bus ride back was an experience in itself; the bus was incredibly full and the bus drivers here are insane.

The next day, I packed up all of my backpacking necessities and headed to an area called Refugio Frey to meet up with 2 girls from the Spanish school.  The hike in is only about 4 hours, but the views are insane and the Frey is gorgeous!  The wind is crazy in Patagonia, so setting up your tent well is really important.  All over the hikes in Argentina, there are these little cabins called Refugios.  If you want to pay, you can sleep in the refugio and buy meals there, but if not, you can camp and hang out inside for warmth.  Being that I wanted to save money, I tented it, but I payed for my necessities: coffee and wine.  The Refugio Frey sits on a lake surrounded by mountains and the vibe at the refugio is so cool; it’s very cozy and warm and easy to meet and make new friends.  During my 3 days/2 nights there, I decided I’ve found my calling and I must work at the refugio!  I told the guys who work there this and they laughed and told me I’ll have to clean the bathrooms and build walls, to which I said “okay!”  So next year, you can find me at the refugio, because whether they hire me or not, I’m going to work there.

As for now, I’m going to hang out in Bariloche for several more days and then I’m heading to a hippie town called El Bolson at the end of the weekend to volunteer on a farm.  Sorry for the lack of pictures, I have no device to get them online at the moment.  Until next post!

Incredibly Broken Spanish

After 1 long day of flying out of the US, back in, and then out again, I made it to Chile!  With a little bit of trouble and a lot of broken Spanish, I found my hostel and spent about 2 days in Santiago.  The hostel was great, it was very nice and full of interesting travelers, including a German family visiting their daughter who was working in the hostel, who semi-adopted me while I was there.

On Friday night I set out for my 20+ hour bus drive to Bariloche, Argentina!  Finding the bus was an adventure in itself!  I thought I gave myself enough time to find the bus station, but in the end I wound up running around the bus terminal, panic stricken, with only a minute left, going to all of the bus drivers and pointing at my ticket saying “Donde!?”  I found it at the exact time it was supposed to leave, but of course, there was a line to put luggage away so we didn´t leave for another 15 minutes anyway.  On the bus I sat next to an older Bolivian man who spoke no English.  I thought “this man hates me,” but after a few tries at communiating, constantly looking in my English/Spanish dictionary, and a few laughs, we became friends.  He even went out to smoke during a stop and brought me back some water, it was wonderful.  Unfortunately, we parted ways before Osorno, Chile, but another kind older man from Argentina sat next to me and we, too tried to make conversation.

On the bus from Osorno behind me, I heard American accents speaking English!  When we got off the bus at the first border crossing, I asked them where they were from and we quickly became friends.  The 2 of them and myself, were all in the same boat: going to Bariloche with no hostel reservations.  So once we got off the bus, we walked all around the city trying to find beds, and evenutally found one after about 2 hours.  Even the smallest things become adventures when you´re in a foreign country.

Bariloche is gorgeous!  It sits on a lake with mountains all around it and is absolutely breathtaking.  This afternoon i met my host mom, Mariela.  She is so wonderful and full of energy.  There are 2 other students staying at the house, too, and we are not allowed to speak in English in the house; i already feel like my Spanish has improved.  Until next time!image

And so it begins…or it will in several days

Hey friends!  Well, I decided to do it – no, not settle down and get a full time job: start a travel journal!  I won’t promise to update it every so many days, but I will promise to update it when I can and make it as interesting as possible!  So here goes my first entry:

As many of you know, I’m heading to South America on Tuesday!  If you didn’t know, now you do.  Where am I going?  I’ll be traveling around southern Chile and Argentina, mainly in the Patagonia area.  What will I be doing?  Who knows!  But honestly, I’ll be taking a 5 day Spanish course in Argentina, traveling, meeting interesting people, and hopefully climbing, backpacking, and volunteering on a farm or at a hostel.    I purposefully did not plan a lot for this trip, so my plan is to go wherever the wind blows me (cliche, I know).

To say I am excited is an understatement, I am SO INCREDIBLY PSYCHED!  Luckily, I have many amazing friends who have either already traveled to this area, or just have experience traveling in general, and have aquired numerous helpful pieces of advice.  So thank you to my friends and family who have been helpful, supportive, and excited for me, I am a lucky lucky girl to have you around.  So here’s to new adventures and hopefully some good stories to come!

The mess of piles that is my room while I pack

The mess of piles that is my room while I pack

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In other news, my car is more organized than it has been in months!

In other news, my car is more organized than it has been in months!