new destinations: Chile

Earlier this year, I experienced some changes at work after my company was acquired. The minutia of my day-to-day workload is still the same but the main change that shook up my life was my best friend at work resigned and went to work for another company that subsequently sent her down to Chile. Even though I miss gossiping with my lunch partner-in-crime, the career opportunity was just too exciting and I was extremely happy for her then and even happier for her now that I get to visit her in just a few days.
I booked my flights at the beginning of May and though they weren't as cheap as my usual holiday jaunts, I felt justified since it's quite a distance away and I'll have free lodging. (However, I'd like to point out that India was almost twice as far and it cost about half.) Anyway, I found flights from Newark to Santiago (with a layover in Houston) for $1,250 round trip on United. Even though United sucks (though to be fair, a lot of airlines suck), it's still my preferred airline simply because Newark Airport is a United hub so their prices are usually pretty cheap comparatively.

I knew almost nothing about Chile prior to planning for this trip. I knew from grammar school that it is the longest country and I learned a little about Pinochet in high school but other than that, I was clueless. When I started planning for this trip, I learned about the amazing region of Patagonia, that Atacama is the driest desert in the world, I found out I might see penguin colonies (which is something I hope we'll try to do), and that the empanadas are a must-eat.
I tried to brush up on the little bit of Spanish I know, but I don't think I've put in as much effort as I normally would because L is fluent and because she's my safety net, it made me lazy. But considering I learned to roll my 'r's just last year, I will be attempting to converse in Spanish as much as I can (with my limited ability).
Because the country is so long and thin, it's difficult to city hop without taking a plane. We've got one weekend outside of Santiago planned (we're heading to San Pedro de Atacama) and the second weekend will be spent more local. Because of the geometry of the country, that also means varying  weather and temperatures from one end to the other so I had to pack versatile clothing. If I feel like I packed successfully, I'll probably try and do a separate post on that.
I'm v. excited. This will be my first time to South America, so I can finally add another continent to my list (still have yet to visit Africa, Australia, and Antarctica). I haven't actually been across the equator to the southern hemisphere yet so this will be an exciting on many fronts.

See you on the flip side.