Sunday, March 27, 2016

Chile Pt. 1: Marble Caves aka Capillas de Marmol

Wow... I haven't posted in 2 years... Well, let's just get into it then.

I recently got back from Chile, and by recent, I mean a while ago and figured it would be good to post about it and just haven't because I'm clearly so good about blogging!

Anyway, this will be the first of multiple posts to cover my trip. All will be written horribly. See the warning below.

Warning: These posts are very much geared towards myself, because my memory has gone to hell and I need these posts to help me remember what I've researched, done, and my after thoughts. But I figure I'd make them public in case they help to inform anyone even a little bit. But basically, if you're reading this, apologies and good luck for my writing style.

Onto the trip...

The Marble Caves was the first venture of my 3-part, 12 day trip to Chile. And let me just say: Getting there… took forever.

We landed in SCL around midnight, grabbed our luggage, and headed to Left Luggage (open 24 hrs) which is located by the domestic arrivals exit on the first floor. There’s a ton of taxi companies herded around there at all times, so it’s virtually impossible to miss!




We bought SIM cards (Movistar), grabbed some pizza, and waited for our flight. Let me go off tangent and say that I absolutely cannot travel without a hoodie. And of course, in my haste, I grabbed my Captain America hoodie… So not only am I a walking American flag (OPSEC FAIL!!), but this is one of those “costume” hoodies and of course I became a walking tourist photo op for other people! Fun (I hate taking pictures)!! 


Yea... Conspicuous much?

Anyway, we departed at 6:45am via Sky Airlines and arrived at BBA (Balmaceda) at 10:05am. The flight was less than ideal. They started boarding us aboard a shuttle, minutes before we were supposed to take off, to take us to the plane, where we then boarded. AKA we took off late. Then there was a pit stop in the middle of the flight to pick up more passengers, which our itinerary had zero indication of! This obviously caused much confusion amongst us passengers, foreigners and locals alike. And the worst part: we couldn’t even get water to drink without being charged up the ass! At the time, my mom wasn’t reacting well, but I was trying to hold off judgement, maybe this is the norm in South America... But now, after having flown LAN Airlines, I am judging and can safely say: Sky Airlines can suck it!

Anyway, we proceeded to pick up our rental car from Europcar and ended up adding on a GPS. Oh, one thing to note, I didn’t see a single automatic car. Everything is manual, so if you decide to make this journey, make sure you can drive stick. I mean that’s just from what I saw, there may be automatic options, I don’t know.

And so our treacherous journey began…

I had done a ton of research prior to the trip and read several blogs that said the drive to Puerto Rio Tranquillo would take around 3 hours which was contrary to the 6 hours that Google Maps had estimated. It’s 120 miles away, so it led me to believe that the blogs were right… But then again, from past experience, I’ve learned to never doubt Google. But of course, against better judgement, I believed the bloggers! Few blogs mentioned much about the commute, and of the ones that did, they only said how scenic it was. It was AWFUL. Yes, I guess it was scenic. You can take a look at the pictures. But overall, it was a nightmare. The roads were all gravel or ROCKS, and I don’t know wth kind of gravel that was, because it was way bumpier than normal. Not to mention DUSTY! If you have a car in front of you, especially a bus, then expect to not be able to see 2 feet in front of you. The road is narrow, yet that doesn’t cause other cars to slow down, so here I am worried about my rental car and road raging hard. There was also a ton of construction going on where roads became one lane and again, idiot drivers didn’t feel like taking turns, so both sides would go and get stuck and then one would finally yield and take 20 min to back up because the other drivers behind him won’t budge. The trick I learned was to stay behind a tourist bus because they seemed to ALWAYS be yielded to.

I definitely got unlucky with the construction, but even without it, the drive sucked. TIP: Get a TRUCK!! It won’t make the drive great imo and it’ll still take a long time, but it should make it a bit less sucky. They gave me a Mazda 3. It was an extremely bumpy ride. I feel like was immersed in a Shake Weight machine and must’ve lost several pounds. But I gotta say, well done Mazda. That car held its own! It was the little engine that could.  We had left the airport around 11am and arrived at Puerto Rio Tranquillo around 4:30pm. So about 5 hours. Not quite what Google had estimated, but I was also booking it down there… within reason.

ALAS! We’d reach Mordor! ... At least that’s how the journey felt.

Here are some photos from the drive down:





Annnnddd cue the SETBACK! Murphy’s law is real. All the companies do their last kayak trip at 4pm. This is contrary to what I’d read online and heard from my email correspondences with some of these companies. Fortunately, we were able to convince the wonderful gentlemen from El Puesto (http://www.elpuesto.cl/v2/hostal/) to do an extra trip for us. We offered to pay extra, but they didn’t accept, so of course we made sure to tip super generously. They were also the only people we met in the whole town that spoke English so it was a nice break from attempting to converse in Spanish. Btw, they also have a hostel that is rated quite well, so check em out!!

We left at 5pm and it was about a 10 min drive to the beach where the kayaks are. I had read something about going straight there, but wasn’t sure if we could get kayaks on our own without a guide, but it may be an option to consider. We were on the water for 2 hours, got to watch the sunset. It was absolutely beautiful... I don’t really have much else to say about the excursion, so here are some pictures (click for larger view). We'll resume after the break.











We departed Puerto Rio Tranquillo at 7:30pm to head to the bed and breakfast we’d booked in Coyhaique. Everything at Puerto Rio Tranquillo was booked, plus, it’d be a closer drive to the airport. I was really worried about the time because check-in closes at midnight, so again, I was booking it even more this time, and again, Mazda3 held its own! Got into Coyhaique at 12:30am, BUT the GPS kept leading us to the wrong place, and there were a bunch of roads closed as well, which was super helpful. Fortunately, I was prepared and had printed out a map of Coyhaique and downloaded an offline view to my phone too, so we finally arrived at Raices Bed and Breakfast (http://www.raicesbedandbreakfast.com/en/). It was way past midnight, and I was really worried they wouldn’t let us in. Honestly, I simply felt bad about ringing the bell so late and waking them up, I mean these small establishments run out of peoples' homes. But my mom did it and the lady opened the door! Omg... this woman… I love you. She opened the door and was so incredibly warm and greeted us with “WELCOME HOME!!” She showed us to our room which was super homey and comfortable and CLEAN. One thing I noticed about Chile as a whole is that everywhere is SOO clean! And the Wi-Fi everywhere is super fast as well!

After about 40 hours of straight traveling from plane to plane to car to kayak to car… Oh how nice it was to shower and pass the eff out!

 


Woke up to a wonderful breakfast and headed to the airport (about 45 min away).


We got there about an hour and a half before takeoff, recommendation was an hour prior. Btw, LAN has self-check-in kiosks to mitigate their lines. Sky does not. The line for it was forever long. SOMEHOW, my mom managed to skip the line and get us checked in right away, so it was a non-issue, but just a heads up, get there early. I mean we would’ve been fine waiting in line because as expected, they didn’t start boarding passengers until AFTER our supposed takeoff time. And of course, there was another pit stop on the way back to Santiago. At least we were prepared this time and brought our own water.

So million dollar question: was this trip worth it?

There was so much hype around the Marble Caves. The pictures online look absolutely amazing. It seemed like a once in a lifetime, must make trip. Worth it? In my opinion, no. Don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful, but I wasn’t blown away. The pictures online were WAY more beautiful than in real life. The kayaking in such a vast lake was the best part, but there are so many places you can do that. The rest of my trip, in posts to come, has more breathtaking views and didn’t even require the 10 hours’ worth of suffering to get to. And that’s not even including the flights because, lucky me, I sleep through all flights. But it sucked for my mother. That said, I don’t regret it one bit. I’m all about taking the risks and going through the troubles for those few precious moments and experiences, and the risk was simply realized in this one. But I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else unless you want to stay longer and do other excursions as well, which I can see being worth it. There are a lot of recommendations online to make this one day trip, don't listen to them. Either invest more time into the trip or don't do it.

As I mentioned previously, the rest of my Chile trip was a blast! Posts coming soon (but don't hold your breath, it may take a while).

And on that note, I will leave you with a photo of the little Mazda3 that could:


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Meet Odin!!

Good morning!!

So unfortunately, the momentum and motivation to work on my cosplay costume has DIED. Basically because the bachelorette trip I'd mentioned previously is scheduled for the same weekend as comic con. Boo! But I will do a post of what little progress I've made.

Also, I got a PUPPY on Sunday!! And everyone was like, "Get ready to have no life! You can't go out anymore!" And my response was, "Actually, I'm getting a dog BECAUSE I have no life and am home.... All the time. Sad..." And I LOVE the little guy to death!.. But I am beginning to miss what little semblance of a life I had prior aka TV, video games, eat, sleep, workout. He literally taking up my whole life. I don't eat or sleep or anything anymore. I just sit there and soak up his cuteness. Oh how fast we fall in love with dogs. I never knew my heart could feel this much love! He's so cute that it hurts! No kidding, I am dying a slow, sweet death from cute OVERLOAD. It's just too much to handle... Blah blah blah, there is much else to say about why I chose him, all the research and preparation, how this first week with him has been, but I am honestly too tired to recap it all. Let's just say it's been a roller coaster of emotions with him getting really sick and I am def worn out from watching him around the clock and worrying and stressing. But he is recovering quite well. Welcome to parenthood I suppose. Let's just get to the happy stuff and introduce him to you. 

His name is Odin. He is 9 weeks old. 3 lbs. Mini Siberian Husky.

Monday, March 10, 2014

This Is Sparta!!

Hello!

So 300: Rise of an Empire came out this past weekend! Loved it! Love all things ancient Greek. One of my tattoos even roots from my love for Spartans! Lol, god I'm a dork. Oh! And I'm kind of obsessed with Artemisia...

Homegirl is the very definition of FIERCE!

Anyway, I love the Greco-Persian Wars. It was the only time in my school career that I paid attention in history class. I even wrote a poem in 10th grade as an extra credit assignment! So I managed to dig it up and have decided to share it here... despite my imminent embarrassment... in honor of the movie release! Okay... we are now entering a no judgement zone:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Realizing New Year's Resolutions! ...And Cosplay?!

Greetings!

So in January, I resolved, like many do this time of year. Though actually this is my first year doing this whole resolutions thing. I'll skip the boring eat, sleep, exercise better stuff and get to my main resolution: "Do" more. What the hell does that mean? Well... I think about things... a LOT. And then I research and plan a whole lot more. And make lists, lots and lots of lists, it's kind of ridiculous... So I want to start executing more. Aka DO. It is a pretty macro and vague resolution, but I don't expect to do everything. I just want to get started on my bucket list and project list and travel list, etc. So I listed a few places and events that would be reasonable to try and hit up this year. And here's how it looks:
  • Vegas
    • Britney Spears Show
    • Grand Canyon
  • LAX
    • Disney D23 Expo (Possibly in Orlando??)
    • Labyrinth of Jareth 
    • Eat at Ding Tai Fung and stock up on lien wu (waxed apples)
  • San Diego
    • Comic-Con (July 24-27)
  • DC
    • Otakon - if I can't get tickets to ComicCon (Aug 8-10)
    • Bacon Convention - for the boyfriend and Chicago's is way too expensive
    • White water rafting @ West Valley Gorge (Sept-Oct)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Crochet!

Hello!

This is just a quick and dirty post, as no deep thought processes were really involved. I recently decided to take up crocheting! Pretty random, I know. I guess it was motivated by my cousin who signed up for Michael's Knitting 101 and Crocheting 101 during their open house. Unfortunately, I missed the open house and JoAnn's classes are all during work hours, so I went searching on trusty ole Youtube and found an awesome channel by The Crochet Crowd with whole series of lessons.

In the first seven lessons, I learned about materials, the basic chain stitch, how to single crochet, half double, double, treble, and how to changes colors and cast off. And this is what I ended up with (below) - a swatch of the different stitches!

They touched a bit on reading patterns in the next lesson and then I crocheted my first circle and granny square in the following lessons!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Long Hiatus = Long Post

Hi Friends!

I apologize for the long break. I actually had made a conscious decision to quit blogging since I apparently fail at taking progress pictures of my projects and my posts would've just ended up too short (in my opinion) for a blog post and might as well go on Instagram.

Long story short: I ditched blogging for Instagram. 

But recently, after receiving a really encouraging comment on an old post which also made me come back and look at my blog, I found that there was value in cataloging my ventures somewhere that I can look back at and see all the cool things that I attempted and my thought processes behind them. I post so much random crap on my Instagram that the "gems" get lost in the mix. There is value in both, I do enjoy looking back at my Instagram photos and see how I've been living life, and it is also nice to have a blog to look back at the especially notable events/things I've "accomplished". This time around, I definitely want to try and blog more often so that I can capture the plethora of thoughts and processes that I go through instead of just the final outcome. I tend to do a TON of research and planning before I attempt something in order to hopefully get it right on the first try. It's easier on the budget and I get bored so quickly that I usually lose interest after the first round of execution (Hence the "wandering" part of my blog's title? Duh!). I also have a perfectionist (I call it anal, but my friends are nicer about it and say perfectionist...) side and really beat myself up over the dumbest things... Basically, planning is paramount. I definitely have some projects on my list that have a big learning curve and will take multiple tries, practice, and time, so those will be perfect to document here!

Okay! Sorry, stream of consciousness, I ramble too much. Pictures! Pictures make blogs more interesting, so I shall update you all on the stuff I've made in the past few months of hiatus.... Here we go! (Note: these pictures are all pulled from my Instagram so that's why a lot of them are in collage format. You can click on them to enlarge for more detail.)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

August 2013 Ipsy Glam Bag

The new August bag arrived yesterday! This month's theme is "Glamour Academy".

Ipsy Glam Bag ~ $10/month for full sized and sample beauty products.