Adventures in Atacama: Valle de Arcoiris

Of all the thrilling excursions and spectacular places we had heard about in the Atacama Desert, the Valle de Arcoiris wasn’t a hotspot that immediately captured my imagination. It was only by chance, on the flight from Santiago to Antofagasta, that the Llama read about a hike into the valley from the Sky Airline magazine.  We tore out the page, folded it up and stuffed it between the pages of the guidebook I often carried but rarely consulted.

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Gringa Tax

My hair is thick and wavy, my eyes are brown and steady. My skin is not very dark nor very light, and I´m definitely not too tall. My tongue rolls r´s and sails past d´s, and has no trouble cooing u´s. If I keep my sentences short and uncomplicated, most days I can “pass.” Continue reading

Valparaíso: A City Built in Neverland

A few months ago, I could not have told you the name of a single street in the entire country of Chile.  I could make broad statements about the desert in the north, the mountains in the south, and a fertile wine growing valley surrounding the capital city in the center.  The intricacies of this skinny country were nothing more than abstractions of guidebook details. Continue reading

Chilean Spanish: Language Lessons

So you took high school Spanish, maybe even some classes in college.  It’s been a few years, but you at least know how to say “hello,” “goodbye,” “I want a beer,” “where is the bathroom,” and “thank you.” Right?

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Not so fast, there, weon.  Chileans don’t frequently use “hola” or “adios.” They say “alo” and “ciao ciao.Continue reading