Another week of classes has ended, now it’s time for adventure!
I got up around 7:30, which is my usual time for getting up in the morning, showered, got dressed, ate breakfast, and was on the bus with my housemates by 8:00. We arrived at the school at 8:30, and after waiting a few minutes for the tour bus to arrive and ensure that everyone was geared up, we were on our way to the Andes! The ride was, in short, rather long, and took us about two hours to reach the mountains, but the views from the bus more than made up for it. We even passed a herd of goats walking down the road towards a farm at the base of the mountains. One of the coolest things I saw (and this was while I was still on the bus, mind) was a dormant volcano nestled in the mountain range that would occasionally belch a cloud of steam as we were driving past it. Words are insufficient for me to describe how it felt to be so close to the wonders of God’s creation. After the two hours had elapsed and we had made a rest stop at a local way station, we arrived at a small town at the base of the mountain where we would begin our hike.
Pictures would better describe what the hike was like, but to put it in words, it was ARDUOUS. I don’t want to seem like a wimp or anything, but the hike uphill was brutal, and I felt at several times that my heart was going to explode from sheer fatigue. Along the way, we passed all sorts of interesting landmarks, including hot springs being heated by underground lava flows, weird species of plants that the Mapuche Indians used for all sorts of medicinal purposes, and the majestic Purple Mountain, home to the biggest glacier in Chile. After three hours of uphill struggle, we stopped by a lagoon at the base of Purple Mountain to unload our packs, eat lunch, and rest up. I was wheezing like a dying car engine by the time we reached the lagoon, so I was happy for the rest. I think we were all getting a little silly by that time, especially when Andy (Profe’s teaching assistant) thought it would be funny to pick up a road apple (horse poo, for you city folk), and throw it at Profe. Yeah…that was a strange day, to say the least. At least he took it pretty well and wasn’t too upset or grossed out.
There was another half-hour of climbing after lunch, and the path was even more treacherous, as it changed from sand to rocks, and walking started to become more difficult and painful. We eventually reached a clearing in front of Purple Mountain where we stopped to rest and take some pictures of the mountain, and of the way we had come. David, one of our classmates, drew a rather interesting connection, and said Purple Mountain looked a lot like Mordor and the land in front of it resembled the Shire. (That’s for all you Lord of the Rings fans out there).
It was another few hours back downhill, but the going was much easier, even if the rocks kept digging into our feet and the wind kept blowing my hat off. At 5, we reached the base of the mountain, had a quick bathroom break, and headed back to the bus to sleep. We must have only slept half an hour or so when we stopped for dinner at a local restaurant, where we had home-made empanadas. A little messier than what you would find at the local bakery, but goooooooood.
The last hours of the trip were a bit of a blur, as I slept through them. The bus stopped on Salvador Avenue, and my housemates and I hopped off early to catch the bus back home. We had steak, rice, and salad for dinner, and we all crashed shortly after eating. I don’t think any of us had enough energy for anything besides breathing at that point. Well, thus concludes part 1 of the weekend trip. Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2, as we visit two of the most famous wineries in Chile! Until next time, God bless and stay well!