October: Highs and Lows

October brought with it some of the highest of highs I have had in Chile along with the lowest of lows.

Low: The first week of October, I was recovering from a bad sinus infection. I was going to and from work and school to home and not doing anything else really. I had no energy. I also had no taste buds or a sense of smell, which was no fun. When I went to pay the bill for my appointment with the doctor, the cashier said to me “Hasta luego!” and in my head I was screaming “No! You will not see me later! I will not be coming back here! I will not get sick in my last few months in Chile!!! NO!”

High: In that time, I received a care package from friends back home and that really lifted my spirits. It meant the world to me that my friends were thinking about me and went out of their way to send me snacks and letters.

High: I did some trekking, even when I was sick. My friends and I hiked Alto del Naranjo, but we went on a very cloudy day, so we couldn’t see anything until thirty minutes into our descent.


Low: I’m not going to go into detail on this public domain of what happened and I no longer want to dwell on it, but I was robbed. When it first happened, I thought it was only money, but the next day when I turned on my camera to put the pictures I had taken the day before on my computer, I realized my memory card-of all things that could be taken-was gone as well. When I realized the money was taken, I was angry, but I understood. I understood why the person who took the money from me did-because they were desperate and they were willing to do anything to get what they needed so they could get out of their present suffering, and I was an easy target. Money is material and as much of a drag it is to have had it stolen, it is only money. My memory card is a different story. I almost feel embarrassed to admit this, but I collapsed to the ground in my room, I felt like I had been personally attacked. My memories from the past four years were all gone. I was so devastated that someone would take that from me, because I couldn’t understand why in the world anyone would take that in particular. Thankfully, I have most of my pictures saved on my computer, though some are permanently gone forever since last semester my iPhoto deleted all of my photos.. The worst part about being robbed was not the event but rather the feelings afterward- I was so angry and filled with bitter. I didn’t feel safe. I wanted to go home.

High: Two days after I was robbed, I went with CAUC (Universidad de La Catolica’s foreigner organization) to Pichilemu, the world’s surf capital, to learn how to surf. My greatest regret is that I didn’t go to Pichilemu earlier during my time in Chile, because I absolutely loved it. The first day there, we put on wetsuits, grabbed boards, learned the basics of surfing and made our way into the water. The Pacific along Chile’s coast is pretty cold so I normally don’t swim in it, but being in the water in Pichilemu made me realize just how much I love spending time in the ocean and how much I missed it.



After surfing, I went to an asado (barbeque) CAUC had set up, made new friends, hung out with old friends, ate choripan and drank escudo-Chile’s staple beer. A few of the girls wanted to go watch the sunset on the westernmost beach of Pichilemu, and despite the choripan and beer in my system, we all ran to watch the sun set. As mentioned in my last post, San Pedro de Atacama had the most beautiful sunsets, but Pichilemu is a very close second. Its giant waves crashing onto the beach and the reflection of the sunset in the tide as it made its way back out to sea were captivating.



My friends and I returned to the asado for a bit, and then we all took some time to relax before going out dancing. I’ve never been to a discotheque in a beach town but it was so, so fun. The next day was chill as we went to Punta de Lobos, another beach and I took some time to watch the professional surfers. I am so thankful for my weekend trip to Pichilemu, because I was hurt, angry and full of fear but the sea took care of me.


The day after I went to the beach, I received news that my close friend Jen had been hit by a car in Madrid where she has been studying abroad for the past few months. She suffered a cranial fracture and was put into a medically induced coma. When I first received the news, I didn’t want to be in Chile anymore. I wanted to be in the comfort of my mom and dad’s presence, I wanted to be with the Marquette community, the Intervarsity community, I wanted to be in Spain holding Jen’s hand cheering on her recovery. I felt stuck and I felt helpless. I knew that the only thing I could do in that moment was pray. I’ve been thinking about how God is mysteriously capable of intervening, how He does not abandon us and how He brings good out of evil by His power and His infinite creativity. I have great faith in the creativity of our God and that He is tenderly embracing my friend Jen. Though I am far, I love seeing how the Marquette community has come together to pray for Jen. It gives me great pride to be from a school where people really do care about others. I am so proud of how wonderfully Jen’s recovery is coming along. God is (always) at work.

High (of this semester in general): I have met incredible people from all over the world and made friends with whom I hope to keep in touch with for the rest of my life. They have been there for me through the highs and lows of October as well as September, August and even now in November.

Here are a few pictures from my incredibly short trip to Chiloe:





San Pedro de Atacama

A while back, I promised an update. Oops. I’ll do another later this week, but I need to study for finals right now.

In September, I traveled to the world’s driest desert: San Pedro de Atacama. I loved the descent of our flight into Calama, because the mountains changed from rough and rigid to smooth and curvy. As my friends and I loaded into the van from the airport to head to San Pedro, the sun was beginning to set. Twenty minutes into our drive, I looked out the window to my right and the sky was blue, blue green and sea foam green-I have never seen the sky quite like it before! What was even crazier was that I looked out the back window and the sky was pink and purple. I have seen sunsets throughout the different parts of Chile I have visited and the sunset it San Pedro was by far the best (Pichilemu is a close second and Pucón takes third).

My friends and I went on a few different tours, but I would have to say my favorite activity was renting bikes and sand boards and biking through the desert canyons in search of sand dunes. Walking up the dunes was tough, but the view from above was incredible. Plus, sand boarding was wicked cool!

Here are some pictures from the tours that I went on:

Lagos Altiplanicos

Lagos Altiplanicos

We visited Lagos Altiplanicos early in the day and it snowed. I did not expect that to happen in the driest desert on earth.

San Pedro

Laguna Cejar

Laguna de las Piedras – Like the Dead Sea

We visited the Salar de Atacama, the home to many chilean flamingos. We tried to fit in as best as any gringa can.

Valle de la Luna

Exploring caves and canyons at Valle de la Luna

Valle de la Luna

Valle de la Luna

Punta de Lobos

Piedra del Coyote – Valle de la Luna. We ran into pretty much every other person who was staying at our hostel here.

Geysers de Tatio

Geysers del Tatio – Just being Daenerys Targaryen and calling to my dragons

Las Dunas

Las Dunas.


Durante mi exploración de lo racional y lo emocional en Valparaíso, me pregunté, “¿Son nuestras acciones emocional o racional?” En la ciudad, me esforcé por entender mejor las acciones de la gente, centrándome en cómo la lógica y las sensaciones afectan lo que hacemos. Yo tenía muchas preguntas sobre cómo la ciudad se convirtió en lo que ahora es. Por ejemplo, ¿Qué impulsa la gente a pintar sus edificios y casas en colores brillantes y llenar las calles con los trabajos de la pintada? En Valparaíso me di la cuenta que cada pieza de la infraestructura ha sido visto como un lienzo en blanco para llenar de vida y autenticidad que coincida con el de la ciudad. Creo que esta acción de pintar esos ‘lienzos en blancos’  es un resultado de la sensación y lo emocional de la gente. La gente de Valparaíso comprende la importancia de ser autentica y compartir sus sentimientos y lo demuestran en las obras de arte que han cubierto los cerros durante muchos años. Por eso, las obras de arte son huellas de los momentos en Valparaíso. Durante la salida, yo observé lugares abandonados con la evidencia de la vida que una vez estuvo allí. Creo que es muy difícil abandonar algo así porque hay muchos sentimientos entre una persona y su hogar, pero en casos como la destrucción de una casa que resulto de un terremoto, puede ser racional y necesario para abandonarlo.

Hay una conceptualización entre lo racional y lo emocional, y dice que ambos están en conflicto o tensión entre sí, pero este pensamiento es de una manera tradicional. La verdad es que hay una harmonía entre lo racional y lo emocional pero puede llevar toda una vida para entenderlo completamente.


During my exploration of the rational and the emotional in Valparaíso, I asked myself, “Are our actions emotional or rational?” In the city I forced myself to better understand the actions of its people, focusing on how logic and feelings affect what they do. I also found myself wondering how the city came to be what it now is. For example, what drives the people to paint their homes and buildings in bright colors and fill their streets with artwork and graffiti? In Valparaíso, I realized every piece of infrastructure has been viewed as a blank canvas, eager to be filled with the kind of life and authenticity that reflects the city. The city of Valparaíso is authentic to the core and the people share this in the many different forms street art which cover the forty five hills of Valparaíso. During my time in Valparaiso, I observed many abandoned places. I’ve always been curious about how a home or building becomes abandoned, because I believe it is very difficult to abandon one’s home. A home is a place of memories, attachments and familiarity, and I couldn’t understand what emotional or rational action would prompt someone to leave. What I learned is in some cases it was necessary to leave. In this city many homes were abandoned in the past as the result of an earthquake, which seems like a very rational and reasonable reason to leave. 

In this project, I didn’t want to portray the rational and the emotional as terms of conflict. In my opinion, there is absolute harmony between the rational and the emotional, but it can take an entire lifetime to fully understand this kinship.





One of my favorite things about Latin American culture is visiting the cemeteries. So far, I have been to two cemeteries: Cementerio Curepto and Cementerio General in Santiago. Both times I have been amazed by the amount of life I saw despite the fact that I was in a cemetery. Here, the character of death is colorful- I have seen tombstones in different blues, yellows, and pure whites. The graves are taken care of by tenants who work in the cemeteries and also by the relatives of the deceased. It was uncommon to see a grave without flowers, candles, toys, or notes around it and if that was the case, it usually meant that the family has moved farther away or they too, have passed. Image


Taken in Cementerio Curepto


Taken in Cementerio General

In the United States, I never would walk in the cemetery to pass the time. On a large scale, death in the United States is not something to be discussed. I would argue that Americans look at death on a myopic scale until it becomes relevant to the individual, whether that be losing a friend or family member or having a near death experience. In Chile, the cemetery is a communal place. A family could be visiting their deceased loved ones, a couple could be spending the afternoon together, or someone could be enjoying a long run or bike ride. It’s as if there is more faith in death here and in what comes next in the afterlife. Image Image

The Upper Class, Cementerio General


The Popular Class, Cementerio General


President Salvador Allende


Querido Allende // Dear Allende


Patio 29: 

Patio 29 is known as the burial place of the victims of the 1973 Chilean coup d-état and its military government under Augusto Pinochet. In the 70s, Patio 29 was used for unannounced, unmarked burials. The individuals buried here were victims of mutilation, torture and execution under the Pinochet military government. The graves on the field are lined with rusted iron cross headstones with a date and “NN” for “No Name”. Some of the iron crosses had printed photographs of loved ones who were assumed to have been buried in Patio 29. Los desaparecidos is a term used to describe the individuals who suddenly vanished. The United States doesn’t have a word as profound as los desaparecidos, but the best translation would be “the missing ones” or “the vanished ones”. I could write down my many thoughts about this haunting and peaceful place, but I would rather share the photographs I have taken:




“Patio 29, recuperación de un espacio público, que nos invita a reflexionar sobre el profundo respeto que debemos tener por la vida y a llenar de sentido el nunca más que todos y todas anhelamos.”