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Chile: Part 1

“Traveling-it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” -Ibn Battuta

We recently spent two weeks traveling through southern Chile. We did so much in those couple weeks that it seems somewhat overwhelming to write about. Chile is a breathtakingly beautiful country, so much so in fact that of all the places we have been, I think Derek and I would agree that it wins when it comes to natural beauty.

Our trip started off a little rough on Wednesday with intense weather in Lubbock that caused us to miss our flight out of Dallas. We were both scheduled to run portions of the Patagonian International Marathon on Saturday, so were were praying we could to Torres del Paine by then. We were able to fly out of Dallas on Thursday night and another domestic flight to Punta Arenas and a 4 hour car ride later, we finally arrived at the EcoCamp in Torres del Paine around 2am on our race morning. We both got to see some awesome scenery over the course of our race. Derek’s race started at Glacier Lake (of course he took no pictures) and mine started right near the famed Los Cuernos del Paine or “the horns” (of course I took like 50 pictures). After our races, we were able to enjoy the EcoCamp. If you ever make it down to Torres del Paine, the EcoCamp is the place to be. Their environmentally conscious domes, friendly staff (Tim, Pablo, and the rest of the crew, you were amazing!), and down right delicious meals made our experience at the EcoCamp one we will never forget. Most of the other guests were there for the race, so we had the opportunity to spend a few days with a bunch of crazy, travel loving runners like ourselves. Meeting kindred spirits is one of my favorite parts about traveling.  Somehow, through the shared love of adventure, life experiences, and, in this case, running, we met a bunch of strangers who felt like life long friends by the time we left. I sincerely hope our paths cross with all of them again in the future.On Sunday, we took an excursion with the EcoCamp to explore more of the park. We made several stops including Sarmiento Lake and Laguna Azul. We feasted on a traditional Chilean barbecue (we were definitely not vegetarians on this trip) with the 3 towers as our backdrop and rode bikes on different parts of the trip. We saw guanacos, condors, foxes, flamingos, and rheas. Torres del Paine is absolutely amazing! I would go back in a heartbeat.

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We (sadly) left the EcoCamp on Monday and returned to Punta Arenas. The following day we ventured out to Tierra del Fuego with a local tour company to see a colony of King Penguins. Now, one thing we were not prepared for was the lack of English spoken in Chile. We certainly do not expect anyone to know English, it just so happens that most places that we have been are full of English speakers. Chile was not that way, so obviously there were some language barrier issues because I speak very little Spanish (and Chilean Spanish is different anyway) and Derek speaks just about none. So, the tour bus drove onto a ship that would carry us across a bay to where the penguins were and once on the boat we were allowed to get out of the bus and walk around. Our guide apparently told us to be back at a certain time, but we didn’t quite catch that. When we docked, we went to get on our tour bus and it was no where to be found. The dock was a ways away from the nearest town and cars and buses were clearing out quickly, by the time we decided for sure our bus wasn’t there and we needed to look for a cab it was too late. Luckily, a man and his wife in a little pick up truck signaled to us-he held up the number 2, we shook our heads excitedly yes, and before we knew it we were in the truck (sorry mom) trying to explain to him what happened to us in very broken Spanish. With his help we were able to reconnect with our tour group, turns out the guide was planning on coming back for us, but he had to clear the dock or so he said, and we continued on to the penguins. We arrived at the colony and had to put on multiple layers due to the biting cold and the wind, but seeing the penguins waddle around was worth it!

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We returned to Punta Arenas that evening, caught a flight to Puerto Montt the next morning, and arrived in Puerto Varas and the Lake District that afternoon where we picked up a rental car. We feasted on some conger eel cheeks, which were delicious, and took an impromptu drive out to Parque Nacional Vincente Perez Rosales. The park has a rapid filled river running through it with the volcanos of the Lake District visible in the background.

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On Thursday, we drove out to the island of Chiloe, again crossing the sea in a large ship. We spent the day exploring the island and the national park. Chiloe is partly known for the colorful palafitos that line its coast. These are brightly painted houses on stilts. We read about some of the folklore of Chiloe before arriving and Derek was fascinated with the story of the camahueto a bull with one horn (or unicorn bull) that violently erupts from the earth and destroys everything in its path as it run to the sea. We drove so far out onto the island that we ended up on a remote beach with nothing but a few run down houses and some free roaming horses, cows, and sheep. It was serene and peaceful being the only people around to enjoy the ocean.

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There are more stories to tell and I will get there, but it’s time to take a break and pack some boxes. We leave for Utah in 2 1/2 weeks. The good news of today is that we have a place to live! We at least won’t be homeless! We found a wonderful apartment right in the middle of the neighborhood we wanted to live in. One task down! We will be west before we know it.

For more Chile pictures check us out on Instagram @asweheadwest!

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Airports

I love airports. I have loved airports for as long as I can remember. Flying is in my blood, especially if you know my father. I can’t even remember my first flight because I’ve been flying since I was a teeny tiny person. I was lucky growing up that my parents took my brother and I around the United States. We went on vacations and traveled to see family that lived in other states. I believe that’s where I got my travel bug. Although sometimes our travels give my mom a heart attack, I blame her for this obsession and my dad, who has been all over the world. They have always encouraged me to see, do, and explore. They are pretty awesome that way.

My family has lived pretty far away from other family members for most of my life and since I left home I’ve lived quite the distance from whatever coast my family was living on at the time. So, airports became a natural part of my yearly routine. At least twice a year or more I found myself waiting in line to board, ticket in hand, excited to get to whatever destination I was going to. And it’s never gotten old, it’s still exciting…even to this day.

My favorite place in an airport is the international terminal. Watching the different people come and go, seeing all the exotic places they are traveling to. I’ve done my fair share of traveling, but I never cease to get jealous of a flight headed to Brazil, South Africa, Vietnam, or any of the number of places I haven’t been. The thing about being obsessed with travel is that you never get your fill.

I am currently waiting for a flight that will take Derek and I to Chile. Yes, 6 weeks before our big move we are taking a previously planned 2 and 1/2 week holiday to South America, a continent that we are visiting for the first time. We will be traveling from Patagonia in the south to Santiago in the middle and exploring everything we can in between. Yet another decision that seems a little odd. With a life changing move just weeks ahead of us, we duck out for a couple of those to take a vacation. This seems about right for us. Traveling has always been a priority in our marriage. It’s one of many things that I love about Derek, it’s an interest and a goal in life that we share.

One of the other things I love about my husband is his ability to stay calm in chaotic situations, this is a trait I don’t have as much as I’d like to. We were supposed to already be in Santiago this morning, but due to a massive storm in Lubbock we won’t be leaving until this evening. This has clearly thrown off other arrangements that we had for today and tomorrow. But Derek always reminds me to be flexible and to remember that no matter what we will be in Chile eventually and it will be great. We don’t understand why this has happened (for the second time, we had an eerily familiar experience on our trip to Greece two years ago), but we trust that God has a plan and He will put us where we need to be. I’m just praying that place is the start line of the half marathon I signed up for in Patagonia on Saturday. No matter what happens it will be an adventure, even if it’s not exactly how we thought it would go. And in the grand scheme of things this is little and we know things could be much worse, we are lucky we get to go to Chile at all. We’ve learned to trust and have faith a lot over the last few months and this experience is no different.

So, before we go west, we will head south (hopefully), and do what we do best…have an adventure. Those of you that know me well know that there will be plenty of pictures to see and I will post what I can while we are there. Most of them will be on Instagram initially, so if you don’t already follow me you can find me @asweheadwest.

Adios America!

Jaclyn