Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Do not fret, we're still alive

Hello

Good day to you friends, family, and acquaintances we haven’t spoken to for a few years but who are bored enough to read our poorly constructed and relatively pointless blog. Let’s be honest. You knew it, we knew it, everyone knew we were too lazy/too busy being legends to keep up a regular blog. We’re well aware you’ve all been losing sleep over it. BUT DO NOT FEAR beloved fans, exam season has arrived and in a desperate attempt at procrastination we are back. It’s been nearly 2 months since our last post but here is a brief summary of some things we’ve done.

Beaching surfing paragliding day-drinking at our landlord’s pool bar go-karting immediately afterwards accidentally eating stray dog sold by a street vendor attending festivals and gigs sand-boarding hosting Amelia’s parents and getting them far too drunk on an all-day wine-tasting tour camping at the base of an iconic mountain range eating plain spaghetti under a tree in torrential rain visiting Buenos Aires white-water rafting hiking 70km visiting lakes lagoons volcanos glaciers and waterfalls kayaking body-boarding through river rapids getting mugged at knife point sleeping in airports suffering from poverty chirpsing on poor unsuspecting Mexicans getting in arguments with our Chilean flatmates getting too big for our boots continuing to drink Pisco despite its creator being Satan himself and a minimal amount of university work.

We have precisely one week left of university (wtf) and then we’re both off on our various travels. Amelia is heading to Peru while Elle will be going up to the desert, Mysteryland festival then heading to Brazil to visit Iguassu falls, spend New Year in Rio and beach hop. Yes pals, this is actually our university degree.

Following that will be a nice visit to Bath for end of exams in which our intoxication levels will make up for an entire semester of our absence, then both of us (obviously) are heading to Barcelona to actually stop being wasters and work in a real-life job. We’re finally growing up and settling down together; expect to hear wedding bells sometime soon.


Oh and of course here are some photos.



Wednesday, 24 September 2014

This one time, in BA

As Amelia so rightly pointed out in our last post, I’ve really not banged on about going to Buenos Aires whatsoever. As you’re all clearly not sick of my stories yet I’m going to talk about it once again.

While Amelia and Jack took a romantic trip to La Serena, I accidentally ended up on my own couple’s getaway to Buenos Aires. Due to unforeseen circumstances I left for Argentina with just Charlie, readily prepared for assumptions from everyone that we were a couple, despite having met only twice before.

BA is amazing. The city has so much character and atmosphere; it’s like a shabby Paris with all its beautiful architecture and wide boulevards lined with outdoor cafes. The place is huge and each of its districts are extremely different, in terms of both character and wealth. The night life is also great, or all 30 minutes that I experienced of it before deciding I needed to finally end my 44 hour streak of no sleep. I spent the next half day awkwardly making trips to the 8-man dorm bathroom to be sick. Shout out to the cocktail Possible Seizure for making this possible.

On that note, we really weren’t that safety aware in general. On one of Charlie’s nights out, he ended up leaving the club temporarily for some air, falling asleep against a car for an hour and a half in a backstreet, then waking up at about 4 and re-entering the club until 8. Strong.

We roamed through some more dodgy streets as obvious tourists when we went to a match at the Independiente stadium – the atmosphere for this was unbelievable, especially given that the result was 5-3 to Independiente. The entire stadium jumped and fist pumped in unison, and fans were climbing the fences around the pitch.

video

I also woke up one night to two fellow dorm-dwellers having sex next to my head. So that’s good.

Upon returning to Chile, I had to persuade (lie to) the authorities to let me back in the country, given that I knowingly left without sufficient documentation to re-enter. So I’m now technically an illegal immigrant. Despite all this we finished the trip pretty much intact, having gained a severe amount of weight from Argentinian steak and alfajores (these are a kind of chocolatey cakey biscuit - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOKKPJzr-4w), and lacking only a bank card, some stolen clothes, and a fair amount of money and health.

Plaza de Mayo


Power couple


Very inconspicuous tourists

BREAKING NEWS: We finally spent time apart

A lot has happened since our last post. There has been laughter (Amelia got weed on by a stray dog and the locals pissed themselves). There have been tears (Elle got too drunk and cried because she wasn’t allowed to take a  different stray dog into our apartment). And potentially the most shocking plot twist of all: the two of us have actually spent a significant portion of the last month away from each other, leading to several ‘where’s your girlfriend’ related questions. The gist of it is that Amelia has a lot of friends and Elle does not.

For the hectic month that has been September, I have hosted not one, but two visitors from home. 


Given the hype of all the ACTIVITIES we’ve been doing here in Chile, the pressure was on to show first Megan, and then Jack, what it’s all about. Under these circumstances, I found myself on a random fishing boat in a remote coastal town, nearly broke my leg on an off-piste ski slope, and mistakenly dragged someone who doesn’t speak a work of Spanish to an unsubtitled show at the Santiago planetarium (sorry Jack). That said, it was the perfect excuse to see a load of awesome places outside of Santiago, including La Serena, Zapallar and Valparaíso.

La Serena with the ultimate idiot abroad

At one with the ocean/finding ourselves in Zapallar

Valparaíso, a city of street art

Gone fishing

Just getting some ice poured on my head
by Manuel Pellegrini's best mate

Oh, and I don't know if you've heard (she hasn't mentioned it once to a single person), but Elle went to Buenos Aires, so she'll be writing a post on that.

As soon as the visits were over, Amelia met the rest of us at the beach town of Viña del Mar for the biggest celebration in the Chilean calendar year, dieciocho. Essentially, the whole country sacks off the entire week and instead engages in daily barbecues and drinks far too many ‘terremotos’ in massive carnival settings with fairground rides and nightclub tents. Terremotos translate to ‘earthquakes’ and consist of fermented wine and a scoop of pineapple ice cream. See below for the aftermath of said terremotos.

Amelia awoke from her lil nap in the taxi
and entered the hostel in style

We also went to a bar on Alex’s 21st birthday called Spazio Badoynk (or Spaz as we lovingly labelled it), did some weird dancing then ended up in the Casino, where we discovered that Ally actually has a gambling problem. Much persuasion was later needed back in the hostel to tear her away from her Paddy Power account, drunk naked and angry.

Spot the gambling addict

Elle finally lost the 'I can drive I just don't have a pink licence'
argument when she spectacularly crashed into a curb

It’s fair to say it has been a good month. Other ACTIVITIES included a bike tour through a vineyard, salsa classes and Abbie head-butting the occasional Chilean.


However, post-visitor issues Amelia is currently experiencing:
  • Having shared a room with someone every night but one from 25th August to 21st September, I am officially scared to sleep alone.
  • I actually have to do some uni work.
  • I must now return to spending a disproportionately large amount of ‘alone time’ with Elle.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Just two gals trying to get by in the big city

We were told that our year abroad would turn us into more tolerant people. This was inaccurate.

Don't get us wrong, we love this country; there are so many amazing things about it and I'm sure we'll write about them soon.

However we are British, socially awkward and we like to complain so firstly here is a post about some of the key cultural differences and difficult moments we’ve experienced here in the last 2 months.

1. The language barrier

Chilean Spanish is very different to what we’ve learned from European Spanish. Not only is the accent difficult and there are more slang words than la chucha, but even basic words are different; turns out accidentally informing someone that you’re going to make love to a taxi is a conversation killer.

It’s also pretty awkward having a name that in Spanish literally translates to him/he (‘Elle’ sounds the same as ‘él’). E.g If you tell someone you were chatting to Elle, it just means ‘I was chatting to him’ and they give me a weird suspicious look as if they're trying to verify what gender I belong to. My Starbucks coffee cups (middle class white girl) have said ‘El’, ‘L’, ‘Ellel’, ‘Ellen’, ’Helena’ and ‘Elnor’ so now we just make up a name every time to spare the awkwardness.

As accurate as it gets

2. General incompetence

We subjected ourselves to wearing dirty laundry because we had too many questions about the Chilean laundrettes. No more, no less. We don’t wish to expand on that dark time.

After incessant warnings from locals and our placement tutor back home NOT to walk around alone in the middle of the night in unknown territory, we successfully got out the taxi at the wrong place with a drunk smug belief that we were in the right destination and a bid farewell to the driver, who was trying to inform us of our error. ‘That’ll do, good sir!’ was our response and we waved him into the night before eventually bumping into course mates who, in this same time, had walked home and eaten a KFC.

There are too many incidents to mention for this one, including Ben getting charged £25 for a £2 journey in his taxi (he likes it when we tell people this – go tell all your friends).

3. Things we miss
  • The 'slut drop' (No we do not want to salsa dance on a night out thank you, we do not know how and the Pisco won't stay down if you insist on spinning us around like that. Just let us act like the scatty drunk Brits with no dance skills that we truly are).
  • Flushing toilet roll down the toilet.
  • Dry shampoo (not a single Chilean retailer sells this, except for one pharmacy which never has it in stock, and made us feel ashamed for suggesting it because it's apparently for very sick people who can't make it into the shower. Maybe we should just be sanitary human beings and wash our hair as much as we're actually supposed to).
  • Non-compulsory attendance to lectures (90% attendance here otherwise you fail).
  • Sensible numeracy.

This is the 1 peso coin ladies and gents, and it has a relative value of 0.1 pence. Discuss.

Thank God for the extra 1ml.

Bit by bit, however, we’re all slowly adapting to Chilean life. In Bath, if you haven’t left by 2am latest for McDonalds then you should reassess just how much you’re enjoying your night out in XL nightclub. However, we are now just about able to handle getting in from a night out at 5am. This is terrible news given the time difference – it’s advisable to avoid Snapchat stories and conversing with people in the UK where it’s 10am.

And some things don’t change. We still end up in McDonalds. Here’s to embracing the Chilean culture.

Monday, 18 August 2014

EVERYONE LOOK HOW MUCH FUN WE'RE HAVING

Here are some of the ACTIVITIES we’ve been doing in Chile (it's making our heads spin), so we can now justify our all-too-frequent imitations of the following video clip for the past half a year:



Hiking in Parque Aguas de San Ramón

Nip slip

Pensive and at one with nature



We are not in the peak of physical fitness and we are not Bear Grylls. However this hike only takes 3 hours and gives you an awesome view of the city, the mountains and a waterfall.

Horse-riding in Cajón del Maipo



Our little tour guide

Given that we’ve never really done a lot of horse-riding before, we expected there to be some initial basic instructions on how to ride a horse before trotting up steep mountains. There was none. Not to mention our tour guide was an 8-year-old boy. Not to worry though, there was the reassuring safety reminder that a girl went to hospital with a broken rib the day before. For the purposes of putting relatives’ minds at ease, we had extremely comprehensive insurance, we definitely had all our contact and passport details to hand for case of emergency, we had efficiently planned the logistics of the whole day before turning up and getting on a bus, and we didn’t hitchhike back *. All this aside, we had the best time and the view speaks for itself.

* We cannot guarantee the validity of the aforementioned claims.

Zip wiring in Cajón del Maipo


Zip wire man checkin' out the goods

Parque Bicentinario



Tours 4 Tips

La Vega Central

So happy together 

Each of these can hold up to 12 bodies

Meeting bright and early on a Saturday morning (special mention goes to Ally lasting the 4 hour tour on an hour of sleep), we began our ‘Offbeat Santiago’ trip around the lesser-known areas of the city, sampling the sopaipilla and the terremoto as we went. From there the tour led us to the oldest, biggest and most important cemetery of Chile. Currently there are some 2,200,000 bodies buried there, which only fills 3-4% of the available space (an area the size of 117 football pitches). 

Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos


Cheers Elle


The museum of memory and human rights was an incredibly moving insight into some of the events which occurred during the Pinochet dictatorship. Interviews with torture victims and letters written by children were two of the most hard-hitting, in a museum that was amazingly modern and well put together. This is, however, just one particular outlook on that period of time. It’s very interesting to hear Chileans arguing their separate cases for both sides.

Skiing in La Parva

Amelia pooed her pants

That's pretty much the final thought we'd like to leave you with there.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

We're here, we're queer

We spent the first three weeks of our year abroad as wasters whilst the others were settling into their full-time jobs, which was pretty great. We saw some cool stuff, became well acquainted with Piscos and Terremotos (if an alcoholic beverage literally translates to ‘earthquake’ you know it won’t end well), and got pretty damn good at lying around the flat eating Chilean chocolate bars (THEY COST 15P. LET THAT SINK IN) while watching thrilling daytime sitcoms with their high quality acting: highlights include ‘my mother-in-law hates me’ and the chef who dreams of being a famous singer.

When the time finally came to start our studies at the Pontificia Universidad Católica we were of course totally unprepared. At this point Chilean Spanish was still about as familiar to us as Japanese (smiling and nodding blankly is a daily occurrence), so turning up to a lecture as the only exchange students filled us with unspeakable fear and distress. We awkwardly introduced ourselves to the class as the new kids we were, telling them all our ‘fun facts’ about ourselves; there's nothing fun about the social anxiety induced from pressuring us into making a class full of Chileans laugh with our quirky anecdotes. We were certain that our broken Spanish had lost all chances of finding a group for the dreaded upcoming coursework project.

However, turns out being the only pasty white girls in a class full of Chilean guys will get you far in life no matter how useless you are. At the end of the class before we’d even left our seats, we were approached and propositioned for a group with two eager and opportunistic males. You can’t argue with their hospitality and openness to exchange students but they’re gonna regret that one.

Casa Central, the main PUC campus

San Joaquín Campus

San Joaquín Campus

Unfortunately, there’s just no avoiding sticking out like a sore thumb. The students applauded us enthusiastically while we paraded around as a line of foreigners on a tour of the campus (the tour guide had a flag and everything). Likewise, Tinder is absolutely going off. Shout out to our boy Esteban:

*Swipes right*

A tribute to Miercoles Po: For any exchange students starting a new semester in Santiago, it's the quintessential first night-out. For any Chileans it is a mockery and to be avoided at all costs, unless your plan is to chirpse on the exchange students. Entry was free for foreign girls, 5000 pesos for foreign guys, and if you’re a local it’ll cost you your life savings plus probably your own mother. The drinks are expensive, the music is poor, but each week it moves around different locations in the city and attracts thousands to its questionable carretes. Mostly we just enjoyed tweeting socially unacceptable messages to be displayed on the big screen. 

The place of dreams

We promise we'll write a culturally informative post soon like we're supposed to. Until then, here’s a nice Chilean man on the metro:

video

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Home is where the skateboarding dog is

After 3 weeks in Chile, we'd like to kick off our blog with the following invaluable life lessons we've learned thus far.

Life Lesson 1: Organisation and preparation is a waste of time.

Thanks to our careful planning and coordination (as per usual), for no particular reason we embarked upon the journey from Heathrow to Santiago on separate flights, airlines and well, weeks. After 24 hours door-to-door travelling from Portsmouth to the hostel, and an entire seven days of separation, no one was more surprised than ourselves when we arrived safely with all luggage in tow.


Descent into Santiago
With no place to live, we booked into Castillo Surfista for the next 2 weeks. Some people might try to tell you that choosing a hostel in the middle of South America requires thorough research, prioritising factors such as personal safety, cleanliness etc. Those same people may also try and tell you that choosing a hostel based solely on its skateboarding dog is a rash decision. On both accounts, those people would be wrong.


Shout out to our main man Duke

Life Lesson 2: Life favours the lazy and unambitious

After exhaustively trawling through flat-share websites for days, we were on the verge of losing all hope of finding anywhere half-decent to live. Case in point, crazy landlady in the following link:

https://twitter.com/AmeliaT94/status/490417866651750400

We pretty much gave up and spent our time lying in beds on Facebook, and thanks to this we saw the advertisement for the apartment we are currently sitting in, the moment it was posted to our newsfeed. Thus bringing us to our second life lesson. Go-getters: 0. Elle and Amelia: 1.

Leaving the comfort of the hostel for our Parque Bustamante apartment and its panoramic views of the local skate park/drug den/mating ground, we were excited (socially anxious) about meeting our new housemates. Upon arrival, we discovered we were not the only young couple living the dream under this roof. Elle and I would be living with a Chilean couple and a German couple, and for the first week we'd be sharing a cosy bed together. Such jokes often made to us, it was nice to truly live up to the expectations. Ah to be young, in love and abroad.

View from the apartment

Life Lesson 3: Chileans are the ultimate example of life lesson 1

At the risk of stereotyping, the Chilean race is lax, unsystematic and unpunctual. When your crazy tour guide landlord promises to bring you essentials such as bed sheets and a key the following day, expect him approximately one week later with no key, the wrong bedding in one hand, and a bottle of Pisco (local Chilean liquor) for Monday night shots in the other.

That said, once you adapt to the chaos, the people here are unbelievably friendly and helpful. After two days Elle received an invitation to a Chilean wedding, not to mention countless BBQs and parties. The city itself is also really cool, with a permanent view of the Andes almost anywhere you go (see edgy year abroad pics below).

Sadly our three weeks of doing sod all have come to an end as our university semester starts this week. Commence future blog posts about failed social interactions in an educational environment.

Disclaimer: we accept no responsibility for any mishaps that occur from following these life lessons.


La Parva

Chased by a semi-agressive mountain dog

Walking up San Cristobal


The Virgin Mazza, top gal