Well, my return to Santiago was a successful one. I stayed in a different hostel than the first time around (Kombi Hostel) which turned out to be a great decision. The staff was just fine, the showers were inconsistent, but the location was right in the heart of the nightlife district and I met some incredible people in my 3 days there. 
I had a few sights to see left on my list from the last time I came. I went and saw a few museums (Pablo Nerudo's Santiago home, the National History museum),both of which were good, and help highlight how truly different The last 500 years in South America are vastly different from our history up north. The fact that there are tons of people still alive who remember what it's like to have a dictator take power by force is eye-opening, and makes our political "crisis" seem tame. I also finally got to check out the Central Seafood Market and get a massive bowl of fresh ceviche for $6, which was incredible. 
But I'd say the highlight overall was our day trip to Cajon de Maipu on Saturday. I hadn't planned on going, in fact I hadn't even heard of the place until the day before, but the beauty of not having a schedule is the ability to call audibles and change plans on the fly. I went with my buddy Will that I met in the hostel and three of his friends, well now I guess I can say my friends. We took the Metro -> Metro -> Bus route on public transport, about an hour and a half worth of travel, to this area on the outskirts of Santiago. We stopped to have a few empanadas for lunch and then arrived at Concada de Los Animas, a natural park of sorts. We ziplined twice over the river and then walked down to the riverbank. It was running to fast to swim (and it was more brown than I'd prefer) but cool to see nonetheless. Would've been perfect for someone who knew what they were doing in a kayak. After we left there, we simply started walking down the road and exploring. We found a shop that sold chocolate and massive hand-made wooden artifacts. Great combo. We stopped at a few random swimming pools to see if we could negotiate our way into a quick dip to cool off, with no success. And I was finally able to try Mote con huesillo, a sweet peach flavored juice served over a cup of wheat (a texture kind of similar to Golden Crisp cereal). Very sweet but pretty refreshing in these hot December days (still feels weird to say). And not to mention my three new friends didn't speak much English, so a great couple days of productive, yet tiring, Spanish practice. It's these little random adventures that I love, and it's why I try to say no as little as possible.
I got into Valparaiso on the Chilean coast 2 days ago. The city is absolutely gorgeous right on the bay, maybe my favorite city so far just from a scenic perspective. I'll stay here through Christmas and New Years before heading south. And I'm going for my first ever surfing lesson today. A day without broken bones that leaves me with a little bit of dignity will be considered a success.