The Perfect Pair — Hiking and Salsa

Last weekend I decided to stay in Santiago rather than traveling out of the city. With orientation just ended, it was our first time to really relax and have some substantial time to explore our surroundings. A group of us therefore, decided to do a hike that supposedly had a waterfall and was just outside Santiago. We all met up around 10 am at the outskirts of the city and then bussed to what we were sure was the entrance to the trail. It took us about 30 minutes to finally find the entrance, though, because it was inside a huge sporting complex of one of the local universities and the guards at every field gave us different directions.
When we finally found the entrance, the man working at the entrance of the trail told us that we wouldn’t find any waterfall at this park because it was too dry. We had to go to another entrance to the park that would probably take us about an hour to get to. We decided, since we were here, we would hike the trail at this entrance and enjoy the day. The guy kindly showed us the trail we needed to take and we were on our way.
About 20 minutes into the hike, we all quickly realized that this was much harder than any of us expected. While the views were breathtaking, it was fairly steep uphill and it didn’t look like it was flattening out anytime soon. Once the trail opened up, we saw a trail marker with a green band. The man had told us to take the yellow trail—which was the easier trail. The green trail, the guy had told us earlier when we said we wanted to take this one, was very difficult and for this reason, not many people could successfully do it. We all kind of looked at each other as we all took another swig of water. We were this far into it now. We weren’t turning back. “All or nothing,” we said, and continued on. The hike did not get any easier over the next 2 and a half hours and our group quickly thinned into three smaller groups.
The final ascent was the most precarious, with no truly defined trail, we guessed which direction to go up, decided that way was too steep, came down, and then went up another way. Once we finally reached the top, we all took in the outstanding view. With the giant Andes surrounding us in every direction and the city of Santiago in the distance, we couldn’t ask for a better place to picnic. We enjoyed the top of the mountain, eating lunch, taking pictures, and of course, putting on more sunscreen. We all felt like we had accomplished something incredible—reaching the top of the Andes after a very difficult hike.
The descent back down to civilization only took us about an hour and a half and was much more leisurely than the hike up. We conversed with another and enjoyed the much needed relaxation for our muscles. As we climbed on the bus to return to the city, we were all sweaty with dirt climbing up our legs and buried in our shoes. Me and some other girls decided to go to a pool at one of the girl’s apartments. Getting our feet wet after a long, hot day could not have felt better.
If I wasn’t tired enough, I decided to go out that same night, expecting to have a drink or two at a restaurant near by and be in my bed by midnight. As we finished our drinks though, one of the girls, Maya, looked up and said, “So the salsa dancing is in Bella Vista.” Salsa dancing? “I don’t know if I can,” I admitted. The girls, though, quickly persuaded me to come with, saying their would be Chileans there to show me how to salsa and what else would I do. I agreed. You’re only in Chile once, right?
The salsa club was this eccentric, low-lit room with a two-story patio inside with small tables to order drinks. We found the Chilean we were meeting, who we met at the university the day before, sat down and ordered some drinks. After talking and meeting other Americans who were also studying in Chile, we decided to start dancing. At this point it was around midnight and we were about the only ones on the dance floor. The Chileans taught us how to salsa and literally within 2 minutes we had guys coming up to each one of us to ask if we wanted to dance. I was shocked. I think I’ve been asked to dance in the United States about 5 times. To be asked right as I stepped on the dance floor in a style in which I felt completely uncomfortable and extremely awkward with, I was nervous to say the least.
All the Chileans, though, were especially nice, showing me the different steps of salsa and how to follow the beat of the song. I consider myself a pretty rhythmic person and I can usually pick up on dance moves quickly, but salsa was a different thing. I felt the whole time I was one step behind and couldn’t quite get the hang of it. This didn’t stop all the guys from asking any of us Americans to dance. One guy I danced with for about an hour and half. At first we didn’t talk much but then he asked my name and where I was from. We started to talk a little bit and he showed me the steps of salsa (probably the third person to show me how to salsa that night). He must of thought I spoke amazing Spanish or something, because the next thing you know he was speaking so fast I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. Not only was it incredibly loud in this club but now I had a native Spanish speaker speaking faster to me than I could understand English in.
At the end of the night he ended up giving me his number and his business card to the restaurant he worked in. I couldn’t tell you exactly what he said but his business card is still in my purse with his number scribbled on it. I really hope he doesn’t call though. Although he was cute, I know if he called I would not understand a word he said. We ended up slinking out of the club at a mere 4 am (the lastest, I believe, I’ve ever stayed out in my entire life). The club was still jam packed when we left too! Literally, I think we were the first ones to leave for the night, as if it was like 9 pm or something. Overall, a very successful weekend where I got to explore the culture and life in Santiago.

This entry was posted in Brenna Cameron '14, Chile. Bookmark the permalink.