Well I have been in Viña del Mar for around 3 days now and it’s fair to say that I am ready to make this small, resort town along the Pacific coast my home for the next 5 months!
I arrived on Saturday in a bus load of sleepy students, and while I tried to stay awake on the drive from the Santiago airport to Viña, I am sad to say that I crashed and crashed hard. It wasn’t until we were climbing the the small streets of one of Viña‘s many cerros that I awoke to find my sweet host family waiting for me!
I live in a condo building along a major street with easy access to the metro, micros(or buses), businesses, hospitals and a beautiful view of the sunset every night. The colors here are more vibrant than I have ever seen and I love sitting out on our terrace to watch the fire fill the sky.
My host mother, Gladys, is one of the sweetest, chattiest and caring people I have ever met. Unlike other experiences I have had living with host families, this one cooks and enjoys vegetarian food, taking you around the city and dancing! I have been doing surprisingly well at understanding and communicating with my parents and although my host sister speaks English, I haven’t heard a word of it yet! Meals are big, midday and always always always supplemented with bread. In fact, I’ve been to buy bread with my host mom four times in the past three days.
I am also living with another student from Northeastern and Maryland, Eloni Porcher! Her kindness, patience and determination to practice Spanish are much appreciated during this transitional period. So far I have met so many open and friendly students from Germany, France, and America! Every one is embarking on this adventure together in such great spirits and I’m thankful to have wonderful partners for my time here!
While we haven’t started classes yet, I have been exploring the charms of this city. VinaViña is divided into two main parts on either side of the river, and connected to a long chain of coastal towns. A main street, Calle Valparaiso, runs between the cerros from the ocean inland and boasts every service, store and food I could need. We have also explored the coast, going on a beautiful but foggy drive from Viña to neighboring Reñaca to view the continuous beaches, jagged rocks and large crashing waves.
Today, Eloni and I went for a walk on Cerro Agua Santa, near our University, and saw an entirely different part of the city. Towering above the main business district are clusters of colorful houses and quiet streets with breathtaking views of the surrounding towns and sea.
We also tried sushi hand rolls, a very popular snack among the students in Viña. Costing less than 2 dollars and tasting approximately similar, Eloni and I sampled this after school treat eaten like a burrito, not sliced into sushi pieces! It has less flavor than our sushi but I’m finding that Chilean food for sale and not made at home follows this pattern.
Stay tuned for more information about Viña my classes and wonderful adventures with wonderful people!