Cajón del Maipo
By Shannon Wing ’22
When making the decision on what to do with my summer, I had two requirements.
Number 1: Work within the field of sustainability.
Number 2: Be somewhere where I could hike and climb.
These two requirements brought me to Santiago, Chile. Chile has some of the highest potential for renewable energy in the world and also houses some of the most beautiful trekking in the world, as I got to experience this past weekend. When arriving to Santiago, I connected with a few other MISTI students as well as an MIT alumna in the area that were interested in hiking and climbing. After formally meeting up for a beer after work and bonding over our experiences with the MIT Outing club, we planned a weekend in Cajón del Maipo.
Setting an early morning wakeup, we took off into the mountains and after a quick stop in town to pick up some more friends, eat some cheap empanadas, and ask for some local advice we had our route. “See that mountain over there? Hike to the backside of it, there should be a slope that isn’t too steep or snowy, climb that.”
The mountain has no name that we can find, but it sure was beautiful, with 360 degree views of the Andes and no one else in sight. After a few hours or scrambling up scree and postholing through the snow, I celebrated taking the ridge with one of the best meals I have had here yet: a peanut butter sandwich. Now before you call me out for being a liar, hear me out. This statement is fully justified for three reasons. One, my cooking abilities are questionable. Two, to quote my coworker, “Where did you find Skippy peanut butter? That’s a delicacy around here.” The one jar of crunchy Skippy brand peanut butter that I brought down here has made me many friends, that and my maple syrup. Three, even Chilean’s admit, “go to a peruvian restaurant, their food is better.”
Now, I am back in the office, learning about how new renewable energy plants impact the Chilean power market as well as analyzing the world’s fuel prices. This week I also had the privilege of attending a renewable energy conference with Inodú titled “Hacia un futuro de energía 100% renovable,” where experts in the field debated in english and spanish what the best approach is for Chile to get to 100% renewable energy.