It is my last and final week in Santiago, Chile. I am down to the last few days and I can’t help but wonder, where did the time go? I am falling more in love with this city and all is has to offer as the sun rises over the mountains each morning. The past few days were jam packed with excitement, beauty, laughter, and wonder.
I got to see some of my very good friends here in Chile and meet some new ones at a BBQ over the weekend. The girls and I took a bus into the mountains, yet again, to spend the afternoon eating, talking, and dancing. We just can’t get enough of the view! This was a celebratory feast hosted by the English department at Universidad Mayor. Let me tell you, they sure know how to end the semester! Equipped with eating contests (baby food, hot peppers, dog food, seafood, garlic, etc.), singing contests and dancing contests. We ate steak, sausage && finally tried Terremoto’s! Muy bueno!
Early the next morning we did something that scared me, yet was thrilling all at the same time. We wanted to get a different perspective of the mountains, so instead of hiking and trekking up…this time we took los caballos! Horseback riding in the Andes Mountains. Ah-mazing. I was able to truly take in the geography of this beautiful country…looking every which way at the mountains, the wild animals, and the local plants. For me, the closest thing to riding a horse was getting a pony ride at the local fair as a child-totally not the same thing. Patience and trust were crucial while riding my horse. I was terrified that he was going to get spooked, sense I was nervous, or simply start running. It was very difficult for me to give up all sense of control, yet it was also liberating at the same time.
I already knew this but what really came through on this day was just how supportive we are towards one another. For several of us, horseback riding was a first. For all of us, horseback riding up the Andes Mountains was a first. We didn't get a crash course on just how to go about getting from point A to point B by horse. We didn't have the tools or know how to get the horse to stop and go, to turn left or right, to turn around completely when we take a wrong turn. We didn't know how to handle the heights. But what we did have, was each other. From my horse, whether I was towards the front of the group or towards the back, I could hear some of the girls helping out others, a phrase used often,"You are in control."
With all my heart I want to press pause on this rewarding experience, rewind, and start all over again. Trouble is, you think you have time...
My name is Natalie and I am a graduate student at Buffalo State College in the special education program. I have been given this amazing opportunity to really grow not only as a student, but as a teacher and a person. Through this experience my hope is that I get to know myself better as an individual; develop a deeper understanding of the Chilean geography, culture and language; and gain a different perspective on the possibilities within the classroom. I hope that you follow me on this journey and learn right alongside me.