Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Friends in April

This April we were lucky to have our friends Maura and Amanda visit. We decided to show them a few of our favorite things about Chile: Wine, Mountains, Friends and Fun!

We began the trip in Santiago where we raced and enjoyed the nightlife.

We travelled to the coastal city of Valparaiso. We stayed in a very colorful hostel right in the hills and spent our days walking in the city. Amanda shopped constantly and Maura was our action photographer. We took a trip to Pablo Neruda's house to learn about his collections and poetry.
Streets of Valpo

Pablo Neruda's Casa
We also took a semi disastrous trip to Vina del Mar and Con Con to find empanadas. What we ended up finding was long walk in the middle of no where and a 50 minute bus ride. Finally we ended the day drinking wine in a little empanada stand and it turned out to be one of our favorite nights of the trip.

After spending a few days in Valpo we headed toward Cajon de Maipo a nature resort in the Andes mountains. On the way we stopped at Vina Concha y Toro for a wine tour and tasting.

Upon arriving the the mountain resort we participated in a zip line and hike to a waterfall. The zip line was great and the hike was fun, but when we arrived the waterfall was more like a drip. Still the scenery was breathtaking and it was great to show our friends some of the magic of Chile.

After spending the night in an amazing cabin we went horseback riding though the Andes. It was terrifying and spectacular! The views of the mountains in the sunlight as we rode our horses made us really feel alive!

It was so wonderful to share this time with our friends and we hope they loved Chile as much as we do!

Marathon de Santiago

Arden ran his first full marathon, yes that's 42 k or 26.2 mi in a staggering personal best 3:52 min, through the streets of Santiago, Chile, on a brisk but sunny April 1, 2012.  Amber and friend Maura, in from Washington D.C. for the week, dominated the 10k, while fellow OU bobcat, Amanda Panda, in from Jersey, destroyed the 21k half marathon in preparation for her full first full marathon in May.

Amongst the 10,000 fellow racers spread out over three distances, we knew finding each other would be difficult and agreed on a meeting point and an approximate finish time based on Arden's 4 hour goal.  So as planned, Amber and friends gathered at the finish line (point A) at the 4 hr mark, Amber inside the track waiting to run the last 100 meters with her weary husband, all three unaware that Arden had crossed the finish line 8 min earlier and was currently hobbling towards meeting point B in the nearby plaza.  After an hour of waiting and wandering, Arden returned to meeting point A just in case and found Maura and Amanda, cameras locked and loaded, and poor Amber, worried sick but still waiting anxiously for her wounded soldier.  We took a few action shots and headed home proudly sporting our new Santiago Marathon t-shirts and copper medals of participation.  
That evening we met up with Arden's Mexican training partner, Uriel, and his Japonese friend Kyomaru, for an International night out at a famous bar called "The Clinic."  Great food, strong drinks, and conversation in English, Spanish, and Japanese made for a memorable evening.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve

One of my favorite places we have been to in Chile is Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve. This Nature reserve is only about two and a half hours from Temuco, but  feels a world away. We travelled there with the McWilliams´and had a wonderful time enjoying nature, staying is the worlds most beautiful hotel (Cabin Section) and eating delicious food. Thanks Doug!

Huilo Huilo has two amazing hotels. One is called the magic mountain and the other is the Baobab. The Magic Mountain is a hotel inside of an actual waterfall and the Baobab is alive. There are trees growing trough every part. You can feel nature all around you.


We tried a few amazing activities in the actual Nature Reserve. On the first day we went horse back riding in the forest. We traveled through water and among the mountains. It was breathtaking. Literally for me, I again almost died because of my allergy to horses. That however did not compare to Celina getting thrown from her horse right before the trip began. No worries, she got right back on and let the way!

After the horseback riding adventure we kids decided to go zip lining through the ancient trees. It was exhilarating and terrifying.
Fun in the trees

The coolest activity was taking ATVs to the top of a volcano. With little to no instruction, we women hopped on the back of the McWilliams´ boys ATVs and rode into the wind and the cold to the summit (well almost) of an active volcano. AMAZING. I don’t think anyone enjoyed it more then Doug, who was jumping for joy every time we stopped. I don’t think anyone enjoyed it less than Celina who was stuck with River, her new fiancĂ© and terrible ATV driver.


Doug and Jani Dancing!

On the last night we took a torch lit walk to the waterfall. It was beautiful and a bit scary. 
The waterfall in the daylight

All in all Huilo Huilo is  a beautiful and truly magical place in the world. I hope to go back there someday. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Chiloe Island

For Valentine ’s Day this year we decided to take a trip to the magical island of Chiloe.  Chiloe is filled with myths, legends and good seafood.

We left Thursday February 9th and took an overnight bus. We woke up at about 8am...still on the bus to find we were on a ferry. The ferry took us from the bottom of Chile to the magic island. The sun was shining and we had a beautiful view of the island. 

After landing we arrived in Ancud where we stayed for the weekend. As soon as we set our things down at the hostel we took off running (literally) for a tour to the Pinguinera. The Pinguinera is home to the Humboldt and Magellan penguins! We took a little car ride and the arrived at the beach! We got on a boat and headed to see the PENGUINS!!!  There were so many. We were lucky enough to also see lots of rare species of ducks and birds. The Humboldt penguin is endangered and this island is its natural habitat. On our boat tour we saw the cutest otter. It was playing with our bat and eating fish while swimming on its back. 
The Boat Ride

The Otter

The Penuins

After the tour we headed to town to tour the city of Ancud. We found the Trauco. This is one of the most popular legends of Chiloe. It is a little ugly man that steals girls and impregnates them. Seriously. 
Me & The Trauco

We ended the night with dinner and drinks at a lovely restaurant.  All was perfect except the power went out while we were eating! 
Dinner Date
The next day we work up and went on a tour called Ruta de Las Iglesias. The tour allowed us to visit many of the ancient churches on the island. We travelled to many cities including the capitol and down the coast. The churches are amazing structures that were built without using one nail. The wooden panels fit together perfectly. They have stood strong though two of the most major earthquakes ever.

At one of the stops we tried Curanto. This is the famous dish of Chiloe. It is a little sack filled with clams, muscles, chicken sausage and two types of potato patties. It can be cooked in the ground or in a pot. We had our first curanto in a market and our server refused to give us silverware. We shared one fork and drank warm beer, but the food was AMAZING. 
We also got to see the famous Palafitos of Castro, Chiloe’s Capitol. These are houses built directly in the water.
 On our final day in Chiloe we decided to travel to a Festival Accombrista. Here we tried traditional Curanto cooked underground and got to visit the seaside and one last church.  It was a beautiful day and we only encountered one problem.
The last church


Taking the Curanto out

No bus would stop to take us back. Apparently we looked like backpackers aka freeloaders and no bus would stop to give us a ride. Finally we hid in the bus stop and a nice man waived the bus down for us. At the last minute we jumped out and hopped onboard.
Waiting for the Bus

By the time we made in back to the city we left the same way we arrived. Running.

We had an amazing time at this very special island.