Karin Mitchell's books on Goodreads
Between Families Between Families
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Chilean Adventures: Part I

So I tell stories in real life about my travels a lot cuz crazy shit happens to me when I travel. The trip with the most crazy shit to time spent ratio was to Chile in 2005.

Like most of my big journeys, I went to Chile by myself. I was there for 2 months. People are always shocked at how much I travel by myself. Or that anyone would travel alone. Especially for extended periods of time. Especially to places where I don't speak the language. Especially being a cute blond. Especially when you're the person whose been known to travel without plans, reservations, a map, or knowing the language.

But for me its the best way to go. You're the most open to meeting new people so you meet lots. You get plenty of alone thinking and writing time. You get to internalize your experience better. You get to do whatever YOU want. And mainly, the craziest and weirdest shit happens this way.

My first two weeks in Chile were to be spent at a resort called Portillo. My profile picture on this blog comes from Portillo. Its stunning.

My friend Foss had given me a pair of skis not too long before this trip. I had them mounted and borrowed a bag to transport them in. They were light and a midrange width. I was beyond excited. New skis. New mountain. Foreign country. I thought I might jump out of my skin.

I dropped my things off in a dorm room, changed, and immediately headed out to ski. I rode the lift with a guy from Belgium who was also alone for the day and so we paired up for a couple of runs.

The view was beautiful. All the skiing was above treeline so it was fun to ride the lift and scope out the different areas and lines you might ski.

One of my favorite things about skiing is seeing the mountain and picking out an interesting and creative line and sticking that line. There's little more satisfying than having eyed a tricky line through rock outcroppings and then being able to say "I stuck it!"

After a time or two down a more technical slope which was sparsely covered, I saw the line that I wanted. The Belgian and I headed there. He was a little reluctant to go down the way I wanted to, but I'm a girl and even the most gender neutral dude has trouble watching a girl do something and admitting he can't.

I headed into my line confidently. I slowed a the beginning of a rock outcropping where the line I'd chosen narrowed to just the width of my two skis. I dropped in, thrilled with my choice.

Then felt my ski catch.

And went flying. Head over foot. Head over foot. I heard my helmet hit a cliff. Head over foot. For about 150 yards. I'd ejected from both my skis.

I sat momentarily collecting myself. Then reluctantly turned to see how far I'd have to hike up to get my skis.


I saw the Belgian shaking as he screamed, "ARE YOU OK?"

I pulled my mitten off, held up my bleeding thumb nail and yelled back "I HURT MY FINGER!"

He skied down and handed me my broken in half ski as well as the in tact one. I skied to the bottom on the in tact ski with the broken ski cradled in my arms with my poles.

He told me I was one crazy lucky Swedish girl. And I said, "I know."

Turns out he was the Belgian ambassador to Chile.

The next evening, I was in the hot tub eavesdropping on people's conversations when I heard a guy tell the story of having seen my fall. He was telling his friends "The girl actually looked like the better skier so I was watching the dude worrying about him, when I saw this chick go flipping over the cliff." He dramatically told the whole story to a rapt audience as I listened smugly.

"That was me." I piped up. "And thanks."

"Wow!" he said. "If you hadn't been wearing a helmet you pretty much would've died. Trust me, I'm an orthopedic surgeon."

"Well, then. You've seen me fall. I'd better introduce myself."



Judith said...

That's awesome! I can't wait to hear more.

Gina said...

Have I mentioned lately that you are awesome? Traveling alone and kicking ass doing so, dang.

Oh, and I gave you an award. Check my blog. :)

Anonymous said...

So glad I didn't know that at the time!!