Monday, June 16, 2014

Week 1 - Valparaíso

We've come to the end of Week 1 here in Viña del Mar. We've survived our on-site orientations, meetings with the host families, first round of proficiency exams, and first few days of classes. The students have all adapted excellently to their new living situations and are enjoying life in Viña.


Heads Up Seven Up during on-site student orientation

Taking proficiency exams

Our first few days were rainy and cool, but the weather has cleared up nicely for us. For our excursion to nearby Valparaíso, we enjoyed clear sunny skies - the perfect weather for a day spent walking up and down the cerros "hills" of the city and for a boat ride in the bay.

The day's activities included:
- a ride on the metro, a first for many of the students
- a guided walking tour of the city's artistic and historical districts
- lunch at a cultural center which was once a historic prison
- rides on the city's most famous mode of transportation, los ascensores "elevators"
- a boat ride on the bay, complete with sea lions!


Taking the metro for the first time was an adventure. While in Valparaíso, we also took a city bus- another first for many of the students!


Valparaíso is full of murals and street art. Our guide led us through beautiful neighborhoods where nearly every house was painted.

A group picture among all the graffiti. What a good-lookin' group of students we've got!

The Ascensor Polanco is not a typical elevator in the sense that it travels vertically, rather than on a slope, and the car is more like an elevator you'd see in the US. However, it is the oldest ascensor in Valparaíso and has an added charm- the entrance to the elevator is underground and to reach the car, you must walk through a tunnel that goes through the base of the cerro. The view from the top was phenomenal!

For lunch, we stopped at the Parque Ex-Carcel, which was once home to Valparaíso's prison where many "rebellious" thinkers were imprisoned during the dictatorship. The spot was a nice mix of Chilean history and great views of the port.

 This time a more typical ascensor. Valparaíso has more than 40 cerros and at one time had nearly as many elevators. However, today only about 7 or 8 remain in active use.

Next we headed out into the bay to see the ships at port and... a surprise for the students- sea lions!

We had a wonderful time in Valparaíso!

We also took a trip to the mall on Saturday and many students took advantage of the opportunity to buy warmer clothing (it's been unseasonably cold for Viña lately, although the forecast shows things warming up from now on), toiletries they'd forgotten to pack, etc.

We're looking forward to this coming week's activities, which will include our first choir and dance classes. This weekend we will visit a local Mapuche community to learn about how they're working to maintain their culture and identity in the area. ¡Hasta la próxima! Until next time!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting!! I look forward to my weekly dose. Looks like the kids are learning a lot and having a little fun too. ¡Buen trabajo!