Even though we still have a month left of winter in the Southern Hemisphere, the weather has been getting more and more pleasant since the start of August. The past two weeks have had many days above 70 F with lots of sun. The wind has also picked up, & I must say that I’m more excited about that than the rising temperatures because the smog has been greatly reduced in the city! I think it’s safe to say that I am a huge fan of this climate and the mild winters (minus the smog). The last couple of weeks have been busy at the university as students are finishing up their semester after they voted to end the student protests and finish classes. I have been working hard on analyzing my surficial water samples from the Southern Volcanic Zone and realize now how much time and effort goes into making graphs and figures for a publication. I only have around two more to make until I will start using them to write the results and discussion portions of my paper.
Last weekend a couple of friends and I decided to take advantage of the long weekend and went hiking in a park right outside of Santiago in the Andes – Aguas de Ramon. The metro could only get us so far from the city center so we had to take a combination of taxis, buses, walking, and the subway to get there and back. It was nice to be able to explore more of the city, though. The park entrance was really busy, as it’s one of the closest hiking areas to Santiago. We had planned on doing one of the longer loops but we learned when we got there that you have to get to the park before a certain time to be able to do those loops so we settled for the shorter hike. The trail takes you from the base of the Andes up through a river valley to a couple waterfalls and lookout areas and then loops back to the entrance on the other side of the valley. There were quite a few people on the trails but even the shorter hike we did (around 4-5 km) was long enough to spread everyone out. It was a really nice hike and we all agreed that we should go again, earlier this time, to do the all-day long hike further into the mountains.
The number of asados (BBQ’s) this month has increased exponentially over the last 2-3 months now that the weather is warmer. We have started a “Cycle of Asados” in which every asado is dictated by a different person so we can all learn how to light the coals, cook the meat, and add a little touch of our own to the get-togethers. Cinthia completed her asado on the 6th of August and Andrea was the chef just last night on the 20th. Everyone says it’s my turn next! It has been really fun hanging out with my friends more lately, especially since my Spanish has gotten a lot more fluid this past month. I made the salads for the asado last night and also brought peanut butter cookies for everyone to try for the first time. They were a complete success as I didn’t bring any home with me. Our friend Salo even had his guitar and played/sang some tunes. A very relaxing evening.