¡Chao, cuídate, Linares!

Leg 1 of the big Chilean adventure is just about done. I’m about to move on out to Santiago, where I will live until December.

It’s been a busy few days. Bear with me for the recap:

SÁBADO (SATURDAY)

We got up early in the morning and headed up to Rabones, a town in el campo that features some pretty fantastic hiking and a lovely retreat site operated by the Diocese of Linares. The day basically consisted of trying not to fall down really steep, slippery, rocky hills, followed by trying not to get caught on barbed wire as we climbed back up the hill, followed by taking 700 shaky pictures of a gringos vs. Chileans soccer game. Note: the gringos won for the first time ever. The Chileans were less than thrilled.

¡Fotos!

Another pretty river.

Not the last mountain photo you’ll see this semester.

Big sky. Big blue sky.

Later that night was the church discoteca. Not much to say about that besides that it was a lot of fun, but that I have trouble reconciling reggaeton and its dances with the presence of a priest.

The discoteca was another example of knowing your limit. You just have to know when to stop, and when you’re going to draw the line. Dance and party cultures, like everything else, vary between countries. If you’re not feeling it yet, don’t jump in. Give yourself time. You don’t want to get up the next morning and feel bad about what you did last night.

DOMINGO (SUNDAY)

Mass again! Then we had a nice long almuerzo, and my family took me to the beach! Linares is about an hour and a half from Constitución, which was the epicenter of the 2010 earthquake and the worst hit by the tsunami. Maybe we just weren’t in the right places to see, but I didn’t notice very much remaining damage. I did notice lots of tsunami evacuation route and tsunami danger zone signs, though.

The beach is beautiful. We went later in the day when the sun was getting ready to set. It was freezing cold, and the dock smelled so strongly of fish, but the experience was great nonetheless.

Lots of contrast in the photo.

So many colors!

The big church in Constitución is constructed of stone from that rock in the distance.

I have now seen the sun rise over the Atlantic and set over the Pacific. Beautiful.

LUNES (MONDAY)

Oral presentations in class. Whatever.

Then they took us about half an hour away to Panimavida to write our evaluations and have onces, with incredible bread and quesillo (queso fresco, or fresh/soft cheese).

Really. That was it.

MARTES (TUESDAY)

We set off in the morning for Panimavida once again, but this time to spend the morning hanging out with artisanal craftswomen (in Crin and chocolate), and the rest of the day at a resort and spa doing whatever we pleased. This pretty much involved getting facials and hanging out in the hot tub, after a delicious buffet lunch which included salmon. Real salmon!

Crin is the art of weaving jewelry and other items out of horsehair. Rari, in the Linares region of Chile, is the only place in the world that has this art.

Some of the hair is dyed, some of it is not.

The grounds of the hotel and spa. Imagine this in the summer.

When I got home, my host mom had a huge well of flour and several pounds of empanada filling ready to go. Had I been better able to explain my obsession with photographing and documenting food, I would have photos of the entire process. Instead, I have the finished product.

These things never cool down.

My goodbye dinner in Linares. With Coca-Cola and red wine.

LINARES, I LOVE YOU/LINARES, TE QUIERO

Linares smells like diesel fuel and winter. It looks like rainbow blocks of houses dropped on a background of gray, and sprinkled with dogs and roadside shrines. It sounds like Spanish, roosters, and reggaeton.

While I’m really excited for Santiago, I can’t tell you how much I’m going to miss Linares. The people are probably the friendliest, most welcoming, and I’ve had an excellent experience with my host family. As soon as I can get back here, I’m coming.

No time to sit around, though. ¡Vámonos a Santiago!

With love,

Gaby

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