Mary Johnson is a student at Southern Illinois University and is an ISA Classmates Connecting Cultures blogger corresponding with the International Studies department at SIU. Mary is currently studying in Valparaiso, Chile on an ISA Fall 1 program.
I have had one of the most amazing weekends of my life. Here’s why:
I SKIED IN THE ANDES. Isn’t that incredible; I mean really?! Portillo to be exact. I don’t know if I’ve ever been anywhere more beautiful. AND we were about 5K away from Argentina!
Be spontaneous. Before I came to Chile, a friend who travel abroad told me to say yes to everything I could (of course, stay safe). Even if something doesn’t work out just as you planned, it’s likely to be a worthwhile experience anyway!
I didn’t even know I was going until about 10pm the night before. A couple of friends found a really good deal on skiing (45.000 pesos, that’s about 90 USD–which included everything) and had signed up during the day. I was afraid I was going to be too late but I went ahead and emailed the group; they were very helpful. We met around 5am but got stuck in a small town about a half an hour away. The roads were pretty iced over and we were afraid they weren’t going to let us go through. But just the view from here was incredible!
I have to say, skiing was a little rough for me. I hadn’t been skiing for three years and even if I had, I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the girls who had grown up in ski towns. They were all incredible skiers. Our little hills in the mid-west don’t compare to their mountains in Colorado and Idaho. On the first trip up the mountain I decided I would tag along. BAD IDEA. There was no easy way down once we got to the top (for me, anyway). I stood at the top by myself for a good 10 minutes wondering just how I was going to get down alive when a nice paramedic began to coax me down the hill. I started to feel a little more comfortable and started to take my turns a bit faster. I then lost control and began to barrel down the hill knowing that it wouldn’t end well. I flipped a couple times, lost both skis, both poles, my hat, and broke my fanny pack. I have bruises going all down my right arm, my back, and my right leg. NOW, don’t get the idea that I wasn’t having a good time, because I was. Did you see that view?! Despite the fact that I could have broken a couple limbs, I was laughing during my roll and slide backward down the mountain. I knew there was nothing I could do at that point. I can only image what other people were thinking about the crazy, out of control gringa.