Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sunday, December 1

We got off the plane in Punta Arenas at 5 in the morning without having slept at all. When I turned on my phone after landing, I received a nasty message from my host mom saying that she felt as if I was “treating their family like they were nothing but a hotel to me”. I was really angry and super confused and sad because I make such a huge effort to be a part of their family and it’s me who feels like they don’t want me. I just tried to put it out of my head and enjoy the trip and figured that I would talk to them when I got home. Anyway, we got our luggage together and stepped out of the airport and experienced our first taste of Patagonia summer.
It is freezing cold with a wind so powerful it whips your hair around so you can’t see anything, steals your hat, and almost knocks you off your feet. We got into this big tour bus and drove for like 15 minutes before we stopped by the side of this road where there was only a tiny dock and two boats in sight. Our counselors asked us if we were hungry, which we were, and they passed out our “breakfast” of one tiny packet of cookies for each person. People were pretty pissed off because we had paid a lot for the trip and we didn’t want all the meals to be like that. After eating, we all wanted to change into warmer clothes before going on the boats, so we took the suitcases out from under the bus and changed clothes right there on the side of the highway. Then we got on the little zodiac boats (I got in the littler one with 9 other people) and began the 45 minute ride to Isla Magdalena, which is a wildlife preserve for penguins.
The Strait of Magellan was super strong and rough, so the boat was rocking back and forth a ton, but I had a great time. We walked around the island and took pictures with the penguins for about an hour, and then we got back on the boat and went to Isla Marta, which is a preserve for sea lions. We didn’t get off the boat there, we just navigated around it. Then we started the ride back, but by that time I really had to go to the bathroom. I ended up having to endure an hour ride back in a tiny boat bouncing up and down over huge waves. I almost died but I finally made it back to shore and to the bathroom on the other boat.
After that we got back on the bus and drove to the hotel. We chose roommates (I was with Katie Ward), and then we had some free time before lunch to explore the city. We went down to the little vendors that were outside the hotel and we stumbled upon a military parade walking past the town hall that they hold every Sunday apparently. While we were looking in the little stalls, this man came up and started talking to us. He was a little creepy, but a few people stayed and talked to him. While I was buying this amazingly soft lama sweater from a vendor, he warned me to tell my friends to stop talking to the guy because he was a known sexual predator. I was pretty freaked out and quickly got my friends away from him. Then we went back to the hotel and met up with the group to walk down to a nearby Chinese restaurant for lunch. We spent about 3 hours waiting for the food and then eating. Then we went back to the hotel and formed groups of 10 to go walk around the city. I ended up with a bunch of German people that I didn’t really know but that were super nice. We walked to find a grocery store and buy cereal, and then we walked down to the beach to relax. We laughed a lot and I tried out my multitude of German phrases (I know about 2…) on them.
Then we went back to the hotel and the counselors told us we could chill in our rooms until dinner time. It was like 6, and Katie H, Sally, and I decided we wanted to take a quick nap, so I went up to their room and we went to sleep. I set an alarm for 6:30 but we didn’t end up waking up until 8! I hate naps because they always make me more tired than I was before, but at least we didn’t sleep through dinner. We went down to the lobby bad I sat down for dinner at a table with the French guys. It’s really weird because the Germans and everyone for English speaking countries (USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia) speak English together, but with the French we have to speak Spanish. I was kind of OK with it though because I felt guilty for speaking so much English and also they’re super hilarious to be around. After dinner, a group of us went back out to walk around the city by night, and we dipped our hands in the freezing cold water in the Strait of Magellan. Then we went back to the hotel and I brought Sally the cake and candles that I had packed in my suitcase to celebrate her birthday.
She was really surprised and adorable and I'm glad she got to spend her birthday among the penguins in Patagonia. Then I called Nancy because I was still really freaked out by that message she sent me. I talked to her and told her how hard I was trying and that for her to flat out say to me that  I was treating the family like a hotel was rude and uncalled for and honestly I was kind of pissed. She apologized and said that we both probably needed to try harder, so I agreed and I guess the problem is more or less solved for now. After we hung up  I called Maxi and apologized to him for not making that big of an effort to be friends with him (we really don’t get along very well) and told him that although there is no way I can be how Cristobal was for him, I would try harder. He also apologized for being mean and snappy with me and said he would try too. I went to sleep feeling a little better about my whole family debacle.

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