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Thursday September 29th

Echoes: "Boxing Without Gloves" or My Second Week Abroad

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Hola mis amigos,

This is Jack, former News Editor for The Signal. Since I’ve last written for the paper, I’ve moved down south to Pablo Neruda’s hometown: Valparaíso, Chile. “The Valley of Paradise,” as it translates to in English. The city next door is called Viña del Mar, “The Vineyard of the Sea” and that’s where I’m currently writing to you all from.
In the past month, since I’ve been living in Chile, below you’ll find probably the most exciting adventure I’ve been on: climbing Volcano Villarrica.

The title of my blog, Jack Outside of the Box, is inspired by something one of my gringa friends said to me as we were being bused around Pucón's natural beauties. I noticed her rings and she noticed mine (from a shop at the Western Wall) and she described to me where each had come from and what they meant to her. Then she stopped, ran her fingers down to her knuckles and said to me, "Do you know where these scars came from?" Of course I didn't.

"I got them because I used to angrily box without gloves."

This stuck in my head (as is obvious) for the rest of our long weekend outdoorsy trip. Boxing without gloves. I've been doing quite a bit of that here in Chile. Out of the United States. Almost incomprehensibly far from anything I've ever known. Boxing without gloves. I'll tell you more about this in a minute.

Pucón, the town we stayed in from Friday morning until Sunday night, is a posh hiking-and-biking "pueblito" located in the south of Chile. It is best known for the Huerquehue National Park and Volcán Villarrica, along with its vast and picturesque lakes used for waterfront activities.

On Sunday, as you can see in the pic above, thirty other gringos and I trekked up the ultimate Volcán Villarrica. Starting at around 7 a.m. and ending at around 11 a.m., we filled our day-packs and hiked up about 1,000 meters of volcanic rock. Unfortunately, it was too windy and icy to get all the way to the top, but, being someone who's never hiked terribly often, it was totally a blast for me.

Meet Jack! (

It was great exercise — my thighs and hip flexors were getting a good burn — and I'm starting to understand why people dedicate their lives to doing this stuff. Hiking, that is. Given that I had NO equipment going in, I was a bit worried about how well this would go. But with a last-minute Patagonia sale, I was able to prepare myself (sort of) for the climb of a lifetime.

That's boxing without gloves. Doing without preparation and continuing to do until your hands bleed from the freezing winds of an 1,000-meter hike. (Shout out to Aubrey and her rings for being awesome with that little nugget.)
While the Volcano was the climax of my trip for sure, we did a bit of trekking beforehand. We got to visit a Mapuche village (a major indigenous group in Chile) and we even saw a few waterfalls .

Saturday it rained unfortunately, but we got a full day of R&R in. Most of which was spent eating fruit tarts and drinking tea at this quaint little café next to our cabins. If you ever visit Pucón … go to La Menta Negra! Reasonably-priced teas, fruits and coffee, and the staff was caring, sweet and welcomed us to stay the entire time we were there (which was about three hours, aka a long time to sit in a one-room café).

All in all, it's been quite the eventful adventure here in Chile. What I realized this weekend is that I have a ton more to learn. Muchísimo más que aprender. And that I'm really feeling at home in this country. And when you feel at home, when you feel mentally safe and wanted and welcomed, it's a lot easier to venture out of the normal and do some seriously cool and possibly dangerous things … like boxing without gloves.

Check out more pictures from Jack's climb up Volcano Villarrica and read the complete article here: "'Boxing Without Gloves' or My Second Week Abroad"

Follow Jack's study abroad adventures here: Jack Outside of the Box



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