Sunday, November 28, 2010

Valpo, Oprah, Thanksgiving, and The Largest Pool in the World

So I now find myself at the end of November, and on the edge of my last month in Santiago before returning home.  I have 22 days left, with my flight leaving December 20th.

I have been taking full advantage of the summer weather here.  This has included hanging out at the pool with friends, a trip to Valpo, and an overnight trip to the world's largest pool, San Alfonso del Mar.

My last trip to Valpo was when I was sandsledding in May, and I didn't realize that that much time had gone by so quickly. I also forgot how much I enjoy taking a daytrip there.  It's nice just exploring the area, walking up new hills, and seeing the city from different perspectives.  It's also a good workout and didn't make me feel guilty for not making it to the gym that weekend.

I didn't do anything special on Thanksgiving Day.  It isn't a holiday here, and so I had all of my classes, and it was a normal workday.  But then there was a Thanksgiving Dinner on Friday night, hosted by a fellow teacher and her boyfriend at their apartment.  When making the plans, someone said that it was an Orphan Thanksgiving since we weren't with our families, but it was misunderstood by most people as an Oprah Thanksgiving, and so she became the unofficial sponsor of the dinner.  It was complete with pictures of her hanging around the apartment and a gift of a metro ticket under each of our chairs, just like what she does for her audience members.

As you can see, we had many of the staples for a Thanksgiving dinner: turkey, stuffing, gravy, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and apple pie.  Sharing a meal with my coworkers was something I am truly grateful for, as I feel like I got to know them better than I have while socializing at the office.

The day after the Opah Thanksgiving I was on a bus to the town of Algarrobo, which is home to San Alfonso del Mar.  There is a hotel resort with the largest pool in the world.  Here is the website if you want to check it out for yourself:

I got in around 1:00 in the afternoon, and since it was reserved in somoene else's name (There were 18 of us between 2 rooms) I relaxed on the beach while I waited for everyone else to arrive.  After that we hung out at the beach, then prepared another Thanksgiving feast.  Thanks to Julie and her amazing baking skills we not only had a pumpkin pie but also a delicious cheesecake. 

A few months ago I saw a friend had visited here, and I wanted to go.  But when I saw the price (about $260 a night) I thought I would never be able to make it there.  It turns out that the rooms have enough beds and space to sleep 10 people, and so one of my friends organized the entire trip.  It only ended up costing us about $28 per person, and it was such a nice time with everyone.  It was another night that made me grateful for the friends that I have here, and I think I'm going to make a trip there a Thanksgiving tradition.

My first year here is slowly coming to an end.  I'm now buying my Christmas gifts to bring back with me, and I'm cleaning through my closet and making all of the necessary plans for my return trip.  Yes, I'm sad to be leaving the warm weather and what is familiar to me in Santiago.  At the same time, I am looking forward to the modern comforts  from home that I will not have had in over 10 months.  5 weeks will be a long time at home, especially in the winter.  Luckily I will be close enough to visit friends from Santiago that are also returning home for the holidays, and I think that will help pass the time more quickly.

Until next post...

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