Stephensons in South America!

This month my parents and brother came to South America for the first time– to celebrate the holidays with me! Gordon could only stay for a week, but after he left, my parents and I went to Chile for a few days. We had an amazing time, and I’m so glad they were willing to come all this way to be with me. My mom’s already thinking about coming back in May!

First up: Buenos Aires.

Key rules and stats:

  • Never let anything surprise you– this is Latin America.
  • Never walk or thrust an extremity into the street without looking first, or a colectivo (bus) will rip it off.
  • Number of miles walked: 1,000,000 (mas or menos)
  • Number of steaks consumed: 12
  • Total entry visa costs: $390 USD (hey, at least they’re good for 10 years)

Our game plan for BA was pretty straightforward: we would walk ourselves to near exhaustion and then gorge on delicious steaks and sweet things like dulce de leche. As you might guess, this plan served us just fine for five days.

the Florialis Generica, a metallic flower that opens and closes with the sun

gringo cowboy

Taking a break at the parilla La Cholita by ordering ribs instead of a steak two nights in a row...

El Tigre, a city an hour outside of the city on the Rio Plata. We took a ferry ride around the delta.

Next up: Chile.

Key rules and stats:

  • SERIOUSLY never let anything surprise you– this is Latin America.
  • When the menu says there are hot dogs on the pizza, believe that there are hot dogs on the pizza.
  • Number of meters hiked/driven up: 9,000? How high do the Andes go? :)
  • Visa entry costs: $390 USD
  • Number of cute animal species viewed: 3

We spent our first few days in Chile’s capital, Santiago. Santiago is a sprawling, modern city– it’s surprisingly large, nestled in the foothills of the Andes with a cloud of brown smog hovering above it. However, you don’t notice the pollution within the city itself, and we spent our time browsing neat craft markets and hiking up to high points in the city for panoramic views. Here are the highlights:

A fountain at Cerro Santa Lucia, a high hill in the middle of the city

After a few days of urban exploration, we rented a car and went up.

Way up.

A Chilean gaucho (cowboy) we met on the road

Next we headed to the coast to a seaside beach town called Viña del Mar. We found a cute bed and breakfast to stay in and kept heading north, where we heard we could see sea lions. The views were incredible: ocean on one side and sand dunes on the other.

Found ’em!

sea lions!! so fat and beautiful.

But seal lions weren’t enough for us– we were feeling greedy. We wanted to see penguins too, so we kept driving north to Cachagua, a wealthy coastal community with an island reserve. We drove all over a housing development, trying our best to follow the quick-fire directions that people gave us but getting lost every time. We were starting to give up when we came across a wonderful man at a bus station who carefully drew us a map and pointed down a windy, unfinished road under construction.

With about 30 minutes of light left, we finally got to see our South American penguins.

We dipped our hands in the Pacific and played on the beach for a while.

On our last day we went to a winery called Viña Casas del Bosque. I don’t really give a damn about wine one way or the other, but we did learn some interesting facts:

  • Harvesting season: March–May
  • Plants take 3-4 years to mature and yield fruit for 30 years
  • Red wine grapes fare better in warmer conditions than white wine grapes

Best of all, my mom got to sample the goods:

A lot of things on this trip went wrong– wrong address, wrong directions, changed flights– but we still had a great time. Thanks so much to my wonderful family for braving an adventure in South America– I hope you enjoyed this place that I love.

Yours always,


Update: More photos from my mum!

Los Stephensons on a bus tour




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