So much to write about. I started writing myself notes so I wouldn’t forget things.
Yesterday we tried to go to la casa de Pablo Neruda, but unfortunately it was closed by the time we got there. But we did at least get to explore some other parts of the city. It was about a 30-45 minute walk to Barrio Bellavista, which muy muy bonita! There is so much graffiti everywhere, and I love it. It really is amazing artwork. In one of my training classes, a girl asked why people deface public property so much, and I just couldn’t have disagreed more! Some of these artists are so incredibly talented, at least from my perspective, and there is a lot of interesting statements and written works too. There was one that said something along the lines of Keep your promises to Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet. Anyways, I definitely need more time to wander about Santiago… in the daytime. Our classes run until about 5pm, and there’s only about an hour and a half before it’s dark out after that. We found out we’re leaving on Saturday at 1pm so we won’t really have time then either. More disappointing is that we had thought we were leaving at 8pm so we started making plans to go ski and snowboard the ANDES MOUNTAINS on a daytrip on Saturday… and now we can’t go.
Other fun tidbits – we are employees of the Chilean Government’s Ministry of Education and United Nations Development Program. Nice addition to the resume.. ¿cachay? (Chileanismo for ¿comprendes? or you know?) Today we took a picture with the Minister of Education, and a few people went to a luncheon where the President spoke. We got to walk through the Presidential Palace too and later got free admission to the museum that was underneath (with an Easter Island exhibit). ¡Que bakan! which means cool in Chilean slang. English Open Doors also does a weeklong summer camp the first week of December so I might even look into that… I think those placements are in the Lakes region and it would be cool to get another week of free room and board, depending on how my teaching goes! Still looking forward to it and coming up with lots of class activities… I’m undecided on what my extracurricular activity will be though, maybe something with music appreciation… I wanted to play futbol americano but couldn’t fit the ball in my luggage haha. Music is fun though, and hopefully I can use a lot of my itunes library and get more if I need to. One of our teachers told us that the reason he was finally motivated to learn english was because of the Beatles and the need to learn english to understand their lyrics. That’s pretty cool. They keep emphasizing how much of a difference being educated in english will be for these kids’ futures, and it’s so true. For university, for jobs, everything. I know there’s the debate over whether english should be becoming such a dominant language and concerns over people losing their own culture, but it’s just happening already. What would be the point of purposely keeping oneself with an economic and social disadvantage? Today, one of our teachers who knew english as a second language actually referred to some as ¨terrorists of the language.” I think she was meant people who are not as supportive of the learning process as they should be… I just thought that was funny.
Anyways, lighter and exciting note on the food – THEY LOVE POTATOES!!!! That was probably the best news I couldn’t have received about the food. I’ve had a lot of mashed potatoes and I don’t mind it one bit. Also had some interested versions of hotdogs. Yesterday for breakfast we had cut up hotdogs with onions as part of it. It wasn’t bad, just strange for breakfast I suppose. Today I tried a Chilean hotdog, not sure what they call it, but they put chopped tomatoes and avocado on it. And mayo but I asked for sin mayo…. Ordering was very difficult by the way. I’ve realized that once I get the courage to speak in Spanish, I forget that I have to also listen and understand what they say back. Apparently I can either not talk and just listen and understand, or I can talk and not listen haha. Last food note – Vegetarianism does not exist. Not a problem for me of course, but no carne only means no beef, and they basically don’t understand the concept of vegetarian. Por ejemplo, They had a vegetarian wrap with ham in it.
HOWEVER, last night we went out to a karaoke bar and then a club sort of place. I love karaoke. I don’t even mind when they get our song request wrong and we’re forced to try singing in Spanish (Sugar Sugar by the Archies). I was better at communicating than I thought because I managed to ask for the list of songs, ask how to submit a song, and if our song was coming up next… in roundabout ways at least. Impressive! I also finally tried their standard drink – Pisco sour. There also was this drink, I’ll have to get back to you with the name, but it is a mixture of wine, grenadine, maybe rum? and MANGO ICE CREAM. It was delicious but strong. Whatever it is called, it is named after the word for earthquake.
The temperature has been pretty decent. Colder than I expected at first, but it still warms up during the day. It’s strange because the buildings don’t have very good insulation, so most of the time, it is actually colder inside than it is outside! However, I’m adjusting pretty well I think because I’m always warm. People wear their coats, sweaters, and boots around the hostel and classrooms, while I wear flip flops and tshirts. Estoy loca.
LASTLY, la huelga!!! La huelga is a strike. I’m not sure if that really can pass for the same as a protest, but today I saw an authentic Latin American protest which was so exciting. We were heading out to lunch and heard a lot of noise and only a block further was a crowd of people banging drums, blowing whistles, and chanting (I’m not sure what)… Lots of flags, banners, and a fake coffin that said SE.NA.ME … not sure what it means still. There were tons of guards that looked like a SWAT team and huge armored vehicles. It was really interesting to see first-hand and I only wish that I knew what it was about. We thought we had figured out that it was some kind of workers’ strike, but I can’t be sure. Pictures will come soon, I promise!!
Chileanismo de la día! (Slang of the day): carrete = fiesta
Just posted our locations for our teaching placements finally… I’ll be in MEJILLONES, right on the coast! Can’t wait… even if it’s going to be an 18 hour busride. Next few days are going to FLY by. I am really looking forward to meeting my family and going to school, but I will definitely miss the people that I’ve met this week once we are spread out all over the place! But hopefully we’ll keep in touch and just have more excuses to visit other areas of Chile!!