A Trip without a Plan Pt. 2: Puerto Varas to Valdivia

Let me first start by saying, I am now an active user of Booking.com and if you don’t have an account, I would highly suggest getting one (here’s my code if you want a discount!). We booked so many places the morning of and it was perfect. Not to mention they always have the “deal of the day” and when you book your first 5 stays through the website, you achieve ‘genius’ status which gives you an additional 10% off select hotels/places offered. It’s worth at least signing up for an account.

Back to the trip:

I woke up in Puerto Varas with an idea. I had done some late night googling and blog searching about good places to go in the Lake District of Chile and a city popped up that hadn’t been on our radar before: Valdivia. Looking at the map, we could have hopped right on Rut 5 and been in Valdivia in a few hours, but what fun is that when Lake Llanquihue, the lake Puerto Varas sits on, has two volcanos next to it?! We opted to go around the Lake until we ran into the Volcano and see what we could do from there.

On the way, we stopped by a town called Enseñada which had a river/rapid area where we ended up sitting in our rental car, overlooking the rapids, and picnicking 🙂 We were happy travelers. The strange thing about the water in the rapids was that it was crystal clear, almost reminiscent of the Caribbean with one major difference…it was freezing. Winter in Chile is cold, winter is southern Chile is colder. We were chilly in Chile…….HA. Anyways, the view was beautiful and luckily we had the car heater to keep us warm.

After following the lake route a little longer  we ran into the base of the Osorno, our first volcano encounter. While we had been driving, it was cloudy, windy and not that great of a view so we weren’t expecting much. We decided to put our rental car, a little white Mitsubishi, to the test and drive the volcano. Switch back after switch back we climbed higher and higher not really knowing what to expect. It was amazing how much the terrain changed from forest to bushes to volcanic rocks to snow. Once we got to a clearer area, the wind started to kick in. There weren’t any trees to protect us and you could feel the steering wheel turning as we were driving straight. We reached a point where we couldn’t see anything in front of us because the wind was pushing the snow almost horizontal, it was a good place to turn around. But before we did, we admired the fact that we were on the incline of a volcano at the height of the clouds.

After making it back down, we continued around the lake and headed into the actual town of Osorno. Running low on our cell phone data packages, we stopped by the mall which conveniently had a Dunkin’ Donuts. Amazingly, as soon as we got off the road, the rain started coming down hard. We took our time drinking our Dunkin’ coffees and falling in love with a grocery store called JUMBO. I would consider JUMBO equivalent to a South American Target, enough said.

If you didn’t know, I have a thing for grocery stores. I’m not much of a clothing shopper but you stick me in a grocery store and I can stay there for hours, I thank my mother for that. But luckily Mariana has the same love for grocery stores! No need for fancy dinners (unless it’s sushi), some avocados, tomatoes, onion, chips, and salt was all we needed to make a fantastic avocado mash and we were happy. Oh, and wine, you can NOT forget the amazing Chilean wine called Carménère which will have to have a post of its own.

After our shenanigans at the mall, we were off to Valdivia. We had booked our hostel that morning but it wasn’t your traditional hostel with 30 bunk beds in one room. We actually had our own apartment with a kitchen and our own bathroom.  The hostel was called Kapai Central Lodge and I would definitely recommend it! Sipping our wine, eating our snacks, FaceTiming our families and friends, planning where to rest our heads the following night was how we ended our first full day in the Lake District of Southern Chile. I was beginning to like this no planning thing…

xo,

B

 

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Holiday Plans & Matadors

Here are a couple of fun pictures from previous events 🙂

As I’m writing this, it’s currently 39° F at home and 92° F in Buenos Aires. With that being said…

Cody and I booked our tickets for our Christmas/New Years Adventure! I am so beyond excited! Not only will we be spending the “winter (our summer) break” on the beach, we’re going to Iguazu Falls, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world and spending New Years on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! 🙂 WHHHAT?!

So excited!!!!

If anyone has any suggestions of things so do I’m all ears!

We will fly into Iguazu Falls and go to both the Argentinian side and the Brazilian side. The Argentinian side is more adventurous whereas the Brazilian side has the better view, so we will do both!

We’ll fly out from the Brazilian side and head to Rio de Janeiro! The Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf mountain are obviously on the list of things to do while we’re there as well as the AMAZING fireworks show that will happen on New Years Eve! It’s suppose to be one of the best firework shows IN THE WORLD! We’re stay a few blocks from Copacabana beach where all the action happens. 2 million people go to this beach to celebrate…it’s going to be a hell-of-a party!

Other things on the list of things to do, suggestions are welcome:

  1. Have a caipirinha, in a coconut, on the beach (this has been a life long dream. I kid you not)
  2. Feria Hippie de Ipanema – a hippie market that only happens on Sundays
  3. The Copacabana Fortress and Palace (two different places)
  4. Pedra do Arpoador for a sunset
  5. Possibly the Carioca Aqueduct & Escadaria Selaron which are a little farther away from the beach
  6. and maybe a tour of a favela

As well as spend as much time on the beach as we can! I know there are a lot of safety concerns when it comes to Rio. I’ve talked with a few people who have told me be street smart. If you feel like you’re in the wrong area, you probably are.

The Christmas situation here is definitely different from what I’m used to! The other night a few of us went walking through La Boca (where the famous soccer stadium is), San Telmo and Puerta Madero to finally sit down and share a drink by the water. In San Telmo there was a massive parade supporting many of the South American countries. There were lots of drums, lots of noise, lots of feathers, in as little clothing as possible with lots of booty shaking! The streets were packed with people watching and cheering their favorite country. We continued walking to Puerta Madero which is where I saw my first glimpse of Christmas this year! There were lights strung on lamp posts in the shape of candy canes, lights wrapped around ships in the water, and a large lighted Christmas tree. It was a little odd walking by in shorts and a tank top with Christmas music playing at a concert near by…but again, I’m not complaining 😉 The lights were absolutely beautiful.

Sunday morning I woke up and thought I was going to go walk around San Telmo market again just because I could. But another idea popped into my head, I wanted to go to the Feria de Mataderos which is pretty far out of the center of the city. It’s a market celebrating the traditional gaucho (Argentinian cowboy) ways and traditions.

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I walked 45 mins to the train station and took a 30 min train ride and a 20 min uber to get to the Feria. Once I was there it was really cool! Like most markets, there were hundreds of stands set up but this one had a stage in the middle. As soon as I got there I heard the music and singing. Come to find out, on December 6th (in two days) they were celebrating 30 years of the Matadors. There were lots of traditional instruments playing, singing and tango dancing. It was quite the show!

I walked around munching on an empanada looking at all of the trinkets and food available and finally decided to get a tamale and oh boy was it good! I remember having tamales growing up when my mom would make them and I thought they were the coolest thing. You had to unwrap the corn husk and the texture and taste of the corn meal was always so tasty to me, needless to say, these were very delicious. I also had some type of sweet puff pastry with jam or jelly on the inside. I don’t know what it was but it was sugary and I liked it!

I spent a few hours walking and enjoying everything before heading back home. Another successful Sunday spent at a market 🙂

Since I can’t show many training photos, here are a few photos of us attempting to get stronger….maybe, you decide.

xo,

B

Apple. Bubble. Saddle. Elbow. Carpet.

Well last week fell short of expectations on the training end of things but sometimes you need a reality check to keep you on the straight and narrow.

On Monday I seemed to hit my head a little harder than expected. I finished practice and felt fine the rest of the day. I even went up to the roof to look at the b-e-a-utiful view of the super moon! But sleeping that night was a little difficult due to the fact that my head was pounding. It felt ok-ish in the morning so I went into practice, started warming up on the stationary bike and the headache got worse…I knew what it was. I’ve had a concussion before which was part of the reason exercise was stopped immediately. So Tuesday I was sent home to get some rest. I went back to my apartment, closed all the shades and rested for the rest of the day. I ended up going to the hospital to see a doctor (part of protocol) and get a CT scan to make sure everything was alright…the doc said I’ll live. There’s nothing like a good little hit on the head to knock some sense into you. Be more careful. Note taken.

The rest of the week I was on the ‘coming-back-from-a-concussion protocol’ which involves memorizing 5 words a day until I can recite them back to the athletic trainer without missing any which isn’t easy when your given the words but immediately asked to answer 30 more questions about reciting numbers and months backwards and then asked to give the completely random 5 words back. Guess what the first day’s 5 words were…apple. bubble. saddle. elbow. carpet…I won’t forget them now! Thanks Mariana 🙂 I will be back to train next week!

Anyways, here was my view of the super moon from South America! (because you haven’t seen enough pictures).

Thursday was an eventful day! At practice we had the pleasure of meeting the President of Argentina and the Prime Minister of Canada! A few of us ended up on the President’s snapchat account!

That night, a group of us went to a Traveler’s Dinner which is a closed-door dinner event unless you have an invitation/reservation. The owner of the place brings in a chef from different countries to cook a fantastic meal for travelers in the area. The idea is to bring travelers together, share stories, and learn about the world. Thursday night’s theme was a Russian dinner, yes I am in Argentina having a Russian dinner with a few Russian, French, Danish, Canadian and Argentinian cast members! I’d like to think I’m becoming more “worldly”. The dinner was definitely something different and fun to try. We started with wine/beer, pirozhki (rolls stuffed with sautéed cabbage slaw), river fish (tasted like herring) with onions on toast, and a shot of vodka. Moved onto borsch (a type of veggie soup that was very good), potato peirogis and neoplian tart with another shot of vodka for dessert, Zdorov’ya! People are starting to realize I take pictures of everything…

Here’s a little fun fact that got us excited: at the table we were naming of all of the touring shows in Cirque so I went on the Cirque webpage and look what I found 🙂

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Saturday was a relatively sunny day so I decided to walk to the Japanese Gardens (Jardín Japonés) which is about an hour walk from the apartment building. Since I couldn’t work out all week, I decide it was going to be a much-needed walk. But not before being surprised by some friends outside of my window…

It’s spring time here so all of the trees and flowers are just starting to pop up. The city is turning beautiful shades of green and purple! The purple trees/flowers are called Jacaranda and they line the major avenues, plazas and city streets. It’s an unexpected pop of color and life when you’re walking around the bustling city.

I made it the Jardíns in just under an hour being the speed walker that I am (it’s not ‘arrival time’ it’s ‘time to beat’) and learned they are biggest Japanese gardens outside of Japan. It was $70 ARG to enter which is about $5 USD.

An hour is plenty of time to spend walking around enjoying the view. There’s a very nice restaurant inside the jardíns if you are in the mood for a classier lunch/dinner.

Sunday was a recharge day, getting ready for the week to come because it’s going to be a long one. In the afternoon, a group of us walked to El Ateneo Grand Splendid which is a famous book store in BA. There are a few of them in the city but this one in particular is well-known, it was a theater turned bookstore and it’s beautiful! There’s a cafe where the stage initially was where you can sit and enjoy your new purchases. I would have bought a book but my Spanish isn’t quite good enough to be able to read and enjoy Spanish literature but was a perfect Sunday stroll destination. We ended up sitting in the cafe talking for a few hours.

Heading home, there was no getting around it, we stopped for ice cream. It was on our way back, it would’ve been a crime to just pass by. Since Buenos Aires has a huge italian influence (I’m talking pizza and pasta that will transport you to Italy or so I’ve been told, I haven’t tried it yet), the ice cream, or gelato I should say, is just a little too tasty.

xo,

B

 

Cirque du Soleil Workshop: The Final Week

Ahh I can’t believe I forgot to post this!

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WEEK 4! The final week of the workshop, I can’t believe it’s been a month already!

Monday:

Cody left early in the morning to catch his 12 hour bus home.

This week’s schedule was a little different from the previous weeks because there was a kid’s camp happening in the mornings so our schedule started an hour later, cut a half and hour out of our lunch but then finished at the same time at the end of the day.

So instead of starting warm up at 9am we started at 10am but today I had a meeting with a guy I’ve been talking to about #SodaCirque (!!!) at 9:45am. So great getting to meet all of these people in person who I’ve spoken with on the phone! I found out a lot more information about the show and a more definite schedule although nothing in definite with Cirque until it’s actually happening I’ve come to learn.

When practice started I was actually able to do real skills this week! I started out doing the skill I was working on before I got split open by the bar. No one else had worked on this skill so for the big presentation at the end of the week, I would be the only one doing it.

During our lunch hour, in the studio next door, they were setting up the stage for the show in South America! So cool!! They had to make sure all the pieces were there and everything worked before they sent it down.

After lunch, during the afternoon session, I tried a different skill but ended up going back to the morning session skill because I liked it better 🙂

After a trip to the nicer grocery store with a few other crew members we had dinner and reconvened downstairs for a little Cards Against Humanity with some new friends we met at HQ who were staying the residence now too. That game gets people comfortable with each other pretty quickly! Two of the guys were actually on touring shows already and were just here for rehab or training a new act.

Tuesday 

Regular sessions for the day, continued to work on different skills while making them consistant at the same time. We started to nail down more of a routine and an order for the presentation that was coming which we found out there were going to be quite a few important people coming to watch…no pressure.

After the afternoon session, I rented a bike and went to the pharmacy down the street and grabbed a few thank you cards just to show my appreciation to everyone there who I was able to meet and work with. I really had a great time and I wanted to make sure they knew that! And of course, along with the French thank you cards (that I had to translate first before I bought them to make sure they did actually say thank you and not something else…) I found some more candy bars I hadn’t tried yet, I can’t resist trying sweets 🙂

My favorite out of this bunch is the Crunchie bar, it’s sponge toffee that has a weird texture but is one of those candies that can get stuck in you teeth and you get to pick out for the next hour. I like those, it keep me occupied. I know what you’re thinking, no I did not eat all of these candy bars at once! I actually brought most of them home so my family could try them too.

Wednesday 

Wednesday, I had another meeting with Patrick at 9:45am to ask a few more questions forgot to ask the first time. I am getting a better idea of the show the more I get to talk with people about it, it gets me more and more excited!!

Morning session, lunch and afternoon session were the same, making more of the routine adding in costumes if we wanted to. At the end of the afternoon session we meet the VP of Cirque who actually has actually announced the past 7 Olympics for Canada, he had just gotten back from Rio!

We also got to go see another C:Lab happening for #Soda! Can you tell I’m excited!! I went back to the physio room to see the trainers to get some strengthening moves I could do when I got home to keep my ankle and knee strength up before going to SA.

I went home and had told Olivia and Steph that we should go up to the Portuguese place up the street because it was that good! We all go chicken that hit the spot right away but at 6:45pm I had my last massage. When I looked at my watch it was 6:38…I had to literally sprint home on a full stomach to make it! I made it there just in time.

With my belly full and muscles relaxed I went back to my room and slept like a baby.

Thursday 

Today was the day of the final presentation!!

We started practice at the same time but our coach let us out an hour before our scheduled lunch time so we could have extra time to get ready. The boutique store which never seemed to be open was finally open! So I went to go check that out and ended up buying a few things of course.

After lunch we put our costumes on and got ready as people started to show up. The man in charge of this project expected 25ish people to come…there were 90-100 people who came!! It was awesome! He introduced the project to everyone while we climbed up on the apparatus. When he was done, the music started and we started our routine. If someone didn’t make their combination or skill, we created an interesting system to hoist the person back up so they could try again if they wanted to. Everyone either made their combo the first or second time and the presentation was an amazing success! Even though I had only been back swinging on the apparatus for a week, I made my skill the first time! The power of positive thinking and visualization at work 🙂 (thanks dad).

After the presentation I went to the physio room to see JP on how to “manipulate my scar” so the scar tissue doesn’t continue to build up to the point where the skin gets stiff, it’s not pleasant to rub a new scar and it’s a little painful.

Before the happy hour they had prepared for us, Steph, Olivia and I went exploring in the rest of HQ. When you’re wandering around a place known for its creativity, you’re bound to find some odd things:

We went right up to the happy hour Marie had set up for us as a good-bye/great job! Sangria and apps galore. We were able to talk with the coaches and some of the head people who came to watch the presentation and get some insight into where this apparatus is heading and what they are thinking the next steps will be. It’s pretty cool to be able to talk with some of the important people making the executive decisions about the shows.

We ended up leaving HQ and heading back to the residence with pitchers of unfinished sangria in our arms 🙂 All we had tomorrow was a meeting to wrap up the month so we were going to make the best of the night!

Friday

Checked into my flight at 10am, I had another meeting with the costume department at 10:30am to get more measurements taken so they can have something to work with before going down to SA. This time I got to meet Michael Laprise and Chantal Tremblay who are MAJOR PLAYERS in Cirque. They created the show Kurios which is now touring the US! And they are the artistic directors for my show!!!

Our final wrap up meeting started at 1pm and the whole team + coaches and riggers were there to give final thoughts on month and what we thought the next steps should be. It was an awesome meeting, so many good ideas being thrown out there with a lot of constructive feedback.

In lines with concluding everything, we each had a meeting with the physio to make sure we were leaving in the same condition we came in as…stitch free! Aside from some rips, pretty good finger burns, and a gash that didn’t want to stay closed without stitches, I was doing just fine!

Doing a little more exploring, I was able to go up to the very top of HQ to “the grid” and see what the technicians see:

Since this was our very last night in town we wanted to do something all as a team. A few members had been to an archery tag place earlier in the month and said it was a ton of fun. Our new friends joined us for our 6:30pm reservation time. I was expecting a laser tag kind of set up but it was actually just an open area inside a building with a few blow up things to hide behind. The concept was a lot like laser tag, if someone hit you, you were out. It ended up being really fun! We played against a team of random people and of course, being the compeitive athletes and acrobats, we won!

We went back to the residence and joined our Russian friends out by the BBQ and played games and laughed until we were exhausted.

Conclusion of the month: I would not have changed a thing! I loved every single second of this month and I could not be more grateful to have gotten the opportunity! The people, the apparatus and the workshop became my friends, a challenge conquered and an absolutely wonderful experience! I wish everyone the best of luck and I will miss everyone! Hopefully I will be fortunate enough to be up there again in the future but for now, I’ve got my sights set on South America 🙂


Saturday

Saturday came early, I had to turn my ID in (which I wish I wouldn’t have but you live and you learn) and left the residence at 6:30am to give myself enough time to go through customs. Montreal has an interesting system where you go through customs in the Montreal airport rather than when you get into the US. The flight took off at 10am and I was headed home! What a great experience! 🙂

Xx, Bets

Hello Again!

The last few blog posts have been the same thing… “haven’t wrote in a while”or “it’s been a while” and this one is no different….but I plan to keep it up this time!

It has been a while since I wrote but that’s because I was busying Chasing the Dream 🙂 It’s been a busy last few weeks though because I’m very proud to say that I’ve caught the dream, but that’s just the start of it!! I was offered a contract with Cirque du Soleil to be an acrobat in two different opportunities!

  • The first is a workshop in Montreal, where Cirque is headquartered!

I found out about this opportunity first and could not have said yes sooner! I had been in contact with one of the recruiters in the casting department, Charlie, for various opportunities. So when he did email me with this offer, I had to ask him if it was real…was I really selected?! He assured me that I had been chosen and I would be living in Montreal for a month helping Cirque in a workshop to create a new piece of equipment. All other information was confidential until I got up there (…think trade secrets, just like magicians have to keep their magic tricks a secret, so does Cirque until they implement them into a show). But even though I have made it up here and am currently participating in the workshop, I still can’t share a lot, sorry! I can’t show you any pictures of the equipment or tell you any details but I can tell you that it is ABSOLUTELY AWESOME!

  • And the second opportunity is a contract with a brand new show that will be touring South America for a year!!

I found out about this opportunity after I found out about Canada and couldn’t believe it…I still can’t believe it and I don’t think I will until I get up there!! I HAVE A CONTRACT WITH CIRQUE DU SOLEIL!!!! And the awesome part is that I’m able to participate in both contracts!

Basically, I got a call from Charlie and his exact words were, “I have some good news…” after that I knew! They wouldn’t call unless it was good news. He told me a little bit about the project but not much because not much is known in general, it’s still in creation mode. They basically offered me a job and I said yes. They know the skills I can preform so they know whether I am a good fit for what they want. As of now, I’m 100% sure I’m in one act in the show and they still need to make a decision on other parts of the show, I might play a role there as well.

Since the show has been officially announced by Cirque…I can tell you the name of the show! It’s called Soda Stereo Sép7iMo Día (#SodaCirque) and will be modeled after the Beatles Love and Michael Jackson One shows. Soda Stereo is a very famous band in South America so the show #SodaCirque will be working with two members of the band to create a show that embodies their music and vibe. It is not a tribute tour, more of a show where the level of Cirque’s artistic and acrobatic reputation is combined with Soda Stereo’s legacy and vibe to create one hell of a show!

I cannot wait to tell you more, but that’s all I know! If you spend sometime on the weblink attached to the Soda Stereo name above, you will find a lot of cool information on the show! Hope you’re as excited as I am!! I will try my hardest to continue to post!

Xx, Betsy