Monthly Archives: March 2013

Top 10 Moments of 2012

In no particular order I’m going to list ten of my most memorable moments from Chile in 2012. They were either memorable for a good reason or are looked back on with fondness in hindsight only.

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1)  Meeting the infamous Negro Piñera. Fondly refferred to as “Black Piñera”, the President’s brother has earned his own fame by partying and surrounding himself with beautiful women and generally being the opposite of his brother.

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2) This picture happens to be the last one ever taken on my prized DSLR camera before drowning it in Sprite in my backpack. Please note how unattractive everyone looks with two sets of head gear or absailing-type helmets on. A broken camera was a cherry on top of our bad decision to rent from the cheapest company. Bikes were awefully uncomfortable. We laughed at Sam for renting an expensive bike, the bike you see behind me… he swapped with me or I would have died.

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3) Getting stuck in a 7 hour traffic jam that turned a 6 hour journey into 13 hours. The whole of Santiago was leaving town for Chile’s independance day (week) celebrations. Its safe to say we walked most of the way.

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4) When your roomate buys an antique combi and you take your frist trip in it. The weekend’s accomodation was truely disgusting and tiny and came with complimentary rotting fruit, questionable bedding and more. It was one of my best 72 hours in Chile. Sun, beach, guitars, barbeques, friends, strangers, stray dogs, bon fires. French kisses.

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5) September 8th. 5 birthdays, 1 cake, 1 party. Not many memories. A friend makes cakes as a hobby and made one with 5 flags on it. France, South Africa, Mexico, Denmark and Nicaragua.

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6) Trying to speak the language of love. My first attempt at trying to get to know someone without being able to communicate. Yes that is an iPhone in my hand and yes, I’m using google translate. He was my Valentine 🙂

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7) The time I got to show friends from home my favourite spot  in Santiago. There is nothing like seeing a familiar face in a foreign land.

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8) Waking up to this. The time a Chilean, an American and a South African used a van as transport and accomodation.

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9) Getting stuck in rainy Valdivia during a long-haul bus ride. Deciding to visit the Kunstsmann Brewery, getting jolly and meeting a stranger who later became a close friend and someone we named our cat after.

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10) Every now and again when I took a moment to realise where I was and what I was doing. (those moments are also very frequent in 2013- as you can tell)

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Why we hate the Vaal and Why we shouldn’t

If you don’t set your expectations high you’ll almost never get your hopes up. That’s something very true in my life and I’d find it hard to believe someone who doesn’t agree. I proved myself right on this once again when, at the age of 24, I went to the Vaal Dam for the first time.

 I am a Vaalie. I was given that name by default after having been born and raised in Gauteng. Anyone born within a couple hundred Kilometer radius of the Vaal goes by the same name. Vaalies have a bad reputation with South Africans who live on the coast because of their migration every summer to the sea where they clog up the beaches and ruin every aspect of life for the locals.  So naturally I had medium to low expectations for my first visit.

There's a reason people have certain ideas about Vaalies. The closer you get to the Vaal, the more of this you see.

There’s a reason people have certain expectations of Vaalies. The closer you get to the Vaal, the more of this you see.

 Reasons to like the vaal:

  •  Its bigger than Luxemburg
  • Its one of Gauteng’s major sources of drinking water
  •  It’s a tranquil getaway only 45 minutes from most people’s front doors in Johannesburg.
  •  It’s history- the 5km island was once used as a secret meeting place by the apartheid government. But now it’s used to
  •  host an annual Round the Island Race which won the Guinness World Record for the largest inland yacht race
  •  It’s bordered by three provinces. The Free State has the biggest coast line and Gauteng and the North West have the most activity.
  • Its a playground for watersports and apparently has more keelboats on it than at all of our coastal harbours.

 What also helps is being treated to luxury accommodation in the form of a friend’s holiday home and getting to make use of their watersports toys. Spending time with 30 close friends enjoying Africa the way it should be enjoyed makes one think twice about leaving it all behind again.

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Dont knock it till you’ve tried it. Keep your expectations low and let the world surprise you. So maybe i’m ‘leaving this all behind’ but since theres so much to see I feel a little less sad about it and a lot more excited about whats next.

“If you see a fork in the road, pick it up.” Yogi Berra

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Why Heading to Europe is Scarier than South America

People called me brave when I packed up and left at the beginning of 2012 to start a year abroad in Santiago, Chile. Alone, without any Spanish knowledge, no job or place to stay.

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The truth is that I researched the hell out of that trip. There was almost nothing that I wasn’t sure of by the time I stepped foot on the plane. Except for Spanish.

  • I had a hostel booked for the first week.
  • I had a possible apartment lined up which eventually became my new home filled with my new family.
  • I had an invaluable contact who sent me a list of which English Institutes to work for and which ones to avoid. Coincidently she’s also the one who steered me in the direction of my apartment.
  • I was wanted there. Needed there. If I was brave enough to take the plunge, I would be rewarded with a job. There are more jobs than there are teachers.
  • No tourist visa required.

Apart from arriving in Santiago slap bang in the middle of their summer holidays with little to no chance of getting a job straight away, everything was good, easy. Except for getting my passport stolen.

After much debate, I’m going to The South of France. I’m joining the proverbial gold rush, except its hardly proverbial since its literally a rush of people to one place in search of riches. Just in the form of jobs on yachts. A month’s work as a lowly deckhand can get you around 2000 Euros with zero living expenses. After scraping by in Chile as an English teacher, I could now do a menial job in paradise and save. So why is it so scary?

  •          You’re illegally looking for work in a country that this time does actually care. Unlike Chile. 
  • While job hunting, you’re encouraged to stay at Crew Houses that can’t guarantee you a spot since they don’t take bookings. They also cost an arm and a leg.
  • There’s day work but it’s not guaranteed (too many people, too few jobs)   
  • Money might run out before I find a job. 
  • Obtaining a Schengen visa is unnecessarily stressful. South Africans- go to South America… it’s one of the few places you don’t need a tourist visa on a Green Mamba.

France is first world. Its close to home. I’ve been there a few times already. and I’m still losing sleep over it.                                                            

ANT1rempartDVincendeau

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