Kirsty and i have now been in Chile for 4 months, one third of the way through our year! In some respects time has flown, it seems like yesterday when we arrived in Lautaro, completely clueless and unsure of what we had ahead of us! In other respects I cant believe how settled i feel here. It scares me how much it feels like home and sometimes i forget i haven´t lived here my whole life!
So, the Chileans celebrate Christmas a bit differently. The main celebration is on the 24th. Most people go to mass on Christmas eve at 22.00 and this year i decided to join them. It was an interesting experience although I understood nothing i enjoyed clapping along to the Christmas carols. You then return to your house and have a great feast, in our case two feasts, beef before mass and turkey after. At 12 everyone gets to open their presents (not sure when Santa is supposed to have delivered them?) and people stay up for a few hours drinking and playing with their presents. Then you go to bed and that's Christmas over within a few hours (a tradition i am sure my dad would love to introduce to Scotland!). The next day we had a huge bbq with the family outside in the sun and we ate about half a cow, literally. The bbqs is repeated for the next 2 days in which one and a half cows are devoured. Definitely NOT vegetarian!
So Christmas has passed we have completed 4 months of teaching and are just about to head out of Lautaro to travel for 2 months in South America! Literally getting on the bus to Valpo in 8 hours! We are nearly ready and have managed to avoid stress, which seems to be the Chilean way.
On our travels we are first of all heading to Valperaiso for New Year. It is supposed to be one of the top destinations for new year in the world so I really looking forward to that. After that we are heading north through Chile viaLa Serena and San Pedro. We will be stopping off in the Valley of the moon, traveling through the driest desert in the world and hopefully visiting some really dangerous and scary working mines! We are then going to cross the border into Bolivia. Here we will stop of in some great national parks, visit the largest salt flat in the world and more...We are then coming back south through Argentina to Santiago via Salta and Mendosa. From here we are taking a flight to Punta Arenas in Pattagonia. This is right in the south and is only accessible by plane or boat. Here we will embark on a 5/6 day hike, where we will have to carry everything we need on our back. This area is very famous for its natural bueaty and is a must do when you come to Chile. I am super excited for this. We´ll also get a chance to go on boat trips and see penguins etc. On the 14th of February we are going by plane to Puerto Montt and from here we will spend a wee while on the Island of Chiloe. After this we have a few days to work our way back to Lautaro. We should hopefully arrive back for the Anniversary and therefor lots and lots of parties!!! SO this is the next 2 months of my life, cant wait to get out there and see more of south America and fingers crossed me and kirsty will both make it back alive!