Posts tagged ‘andes’

September 3, 2011

Skiing: Andes Style

Woke up at 4AM. Left by 5AM. Skied all day. Back by 10PM. I can’t even begin to describe how immense the Andes are. Skiing on just two of the mountains made me feel like a speck. Just amazing! And no Dad, I didn’t find any Andes mints…

The ski resort that we travelled to was called Portillo. Portillo is located 9,350 feet above sea level and that mountain that I could see from Valporaíso (Aconcagua) is just over the ridge. It had an interesting collection of Chileans, gringoes, Argentinians, Brazilians, and the Swiss Olympic ski team, but the slopes were not at all crowded.

It was so weird to not see a single tree on the mountain. I’m so used to passing trees covered in mardi gras beads, but here it was rocks, cliffs, and more rocks.

The Inca Lagoon rests between the two main mountains where all the runs were. In the morning everyone skis on the right side of the lagoon and then heads over to the left side in the afternoon.

This was my favorite run, Juncalillo, because it traversed the other side of the mountain. I could see families with their kids sledding WAY down below as well as the cars and semis zipping dangerously close to the rocks at one of the switchbacks.

It took quite a bit longer to get back home, but considering we survived the thirty switchbacks and semis driving down the middle of the road in the tunnels WHILE still passing other vehicles, I consider it a successful trip.

The ski review said this: “The Portillo Ski Area in Chile is the most famous and oldest center in South America, renown for its extraordinary beauty and its world-class skiing and snowboarding. In a world quickly going generic, Portillo proudly remains unique, private and grand. There are no towns, shopping areas, high-priced tickets or major ego to be found here, just casual elegance and a warm social atmosphere that encourages every visitor to feel like part of the family.”


August 8, 2011

Santiago Bound B-I-N-G-O

This weekend I accompanied my mom to Santiago. This passage she has perfected down to an art form. After a 1.5 hour bus ride, we took the metro to the station closest to her friend Lily’s house. This metro however is not so similar to the metro in Viña. We arrived during rush hour so there were torrents of people. The doors would open and no one could even get in or out because there were just so many folks. I witnessed two body checks and too many flying elbows to count within my 20 minute ride. After stepping foot onto sidewalk outside of the metro, I finally got to take in my first glimpse of Santiago. That moment didn’t last very long because we quickly jumped onto a micro and it swept us away, nearer to Lily’s apartment.

My mom’s two closest friends Lily and Nelly live within a block of one another in Santiago. Every week she goes and calls on them, then spends the night visiting with her son Gonzalo and his family. Both Lily and Nelly were very kind and I’m sure that I will make many more visits to see them. Lily had us for tea and she pointed out to me all of the landmarks that could be seen from her apartment. It was getting dark, but what a gorgeous view she had!

Pretty soon Gonzalo came with his wife and son. We all rode together Anamaria’s birthday. She is my mom’s niece. It was a family affair and I met SO many people! I was introduced as my mom’s gringa and everyone was so kind and welcoming. Chileans definitely know how to throw a good birthday party. Even though Anamaria was well into her 40’s, a birthday is a big celebration. The food was overwhelming and the wine never stopped flowing. We had paella for the main dish. The dish that was served in was a meter in diameter and it was full of the freshest seafood. Then the cake! It had enough carmel and honey in it to nearly push me into a diabetic coma. Finally at 2AM the crowd started to fan out and we retired at Gonzalo’s house.

The next morning he drove us back to the bus station so that we could see a little more of Santiago before leaving. No matter where we seemed to drive, the Andes were always right in your face. Just amazing. I’m definitely going to be spending a lot more time in Santiago…

The whole reason we had to rush back was because my mom had a dance performance. I wanted to see her dance, so I asked if I could come. She asked if I was sure and I said of course. When I arrived I realized why she was doubtful. This performance involved a small meal, two singers, and bingo.

Think ladies auxiliary fund raiser, that’s what it was! We sat a table of four and I had such a great time talking to my mom’s aunt and her friend. I was easily the youngest person there by about thirty years!

In the end we came away with two prizes. I was hoping we might win the trip, but no such luck. After all of the games were done we returned back to our apartment and we talked ’til late into the night.