Valpo Voyager

Student Stories from Around the World

Category: Chile (page 2 of 4)

Thankfully, I’m in Chile.

in front of Ruca Mapuche

Last Friday we visited a Mapuche tribe in a pueblito called Peña Blanca. The woman who gave the presentation showed us all around the area and taught us some traditional Mapuche traditions. Her parents were the founders of the organization that would keep her culture alive, and she wasn’t planning on letting it die down anytime soon. Mapuche means “people of the earth” in their native tongue, Mapundungun (Mah-poon-doon-goon…say that 5 times fast). She showed us the protector of the area, the herb garden and told us about all the ceremonies that they perform and for what purpose. It’s a beautiful culture, and we celebrated after with food and a traditional dance.

Mapuche protector

The following day, Olivia and I decided that we were much overdue for some beachtime, so we planned a trip to Cachagua but…that fell through. So instead, we stayed closer and visited a beach that we both had heard of called la Boca in Con Con, only about 20-30 minutes in micro. We arrived at about noon, greeted by lots of stands to rent out surf gear and take lessons. The waves were calm and rolling gracefully in the open sea with the wind as Olivia and I walked along the fine sand to find a spot to settle. Accompanied by a new-found dog friend, we found a place to sit and relax…but quickly and unfortunately realized that this was not a beach for sun soaking. The wind blew sand into our faces and so we said goodbye to our doggie pal, and went to Reñaca. Beautiful beach and perfect for soaking up rays.

Canine friend at la Boca beach

I decided, while we were in Reñaca, to go for a dip in the ocean. Little did I know that Reñaca is one of the most dangerous beaches to swim in due to the undercurrents. So here I am, naive little me, going out in my two-piece swimsuit to swim out in the ocean. I go out and dive in without worry or care as my friends carefully watch me. I sit on top of the waves thinking I would simply be able to float along…how wrong I was. It started with me trying to fix my top piece, thinking “haha the ocean is going to take my top” but the current tired me quickly, and finally had control, smashing over me and then pulling me back in…I started getting scared and frantically tried to find the sand underneath my feet but to no avail. I waved at my friends but they didn’t catch that I needed help…so I continued to fluster in the water, panicking and losing my air…the thought definitely passed through my mind that I wasn’t going to make it. But then by the grace of God, I miraculously felt sand with the tip of my toe and used all the strength I had in me to finally clamber onto shore. And with my top in place, I walked casually back to my friends and laughed, relieved to be alive. I acted as though nothing happened, but it really scared me. Since then, I’ve been a little nervous around water. I still go in the water, but with extreme caution and never water past my hips. Moral of the story: be very very very careful with the ocean. I’m probably just saying that because I’ve only lived around lakes my whole life, which obviously are much calmer. But still. Careful…

Dia de la Accion de Gracias

Before...

...during....

We had the final shebang with all the international students that happened to fall on Thanksgiving day. Along with all the students were all the faculty, so that brought some of my professors, the directors of the program, and even my soccer coach! All the students brought a dish from their country to share; it was a GIANT potluck with food from Germany, France, Mexico, Spain, USA (Olivia and I brought peanut butter and jelly sanwiches; hahaha) and plenty of other countries.

...after.

There was a food contest as well that Mexico (Tinga de pollo) ended up winning for the savory plate, and Germany (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte) for the sweet dish. They looked absolutely delicious, and I didn’t get to eat either of them because directly after, there was a war to get food at the potluck table. I waited until the mess died down a little and only got sweet stuff…and some of my PB&J’s. It was an eclectic and interesting mix of all different flavors from all different places, and all of it was delicious.

There was also a talent contest after dinner. There was a Peruvian girl who sang songs and played guitar from her country, a juggler from the US, and (the winner) the Mexican national anthem. It was a riot!

Through the entire night there was plenty of laughter, lots of pictures shown from the year and stories of many memories. We couldn’t all believe that it was almost over…still don’t want to think about it.

Our little husband 😉

And then after the dinner, Olivia and I were walking with our little USA flag towards the metro when a little boy pulled his grandmother over to us to let us know that our flag was pretty and asked where it was from. [all in Spanish] “It’s from the United States, and that’s where we’re from too. That’s our country” “Oh! Wow! I’m from Chile!” We found out his name was Benjamin, and he was 6. He continued talking to us and asking us questions and even at one point told us; “You both are very pretty. I’m going to marry both of you.” It made our night; we now have a little Chilean husband. A sweet encounter.

Saturday we enjoyed more beach time and made delicious chocolate chip cookies while singing to Christmas music.

la Iglesia de la Matriz

Then Sunday, we went to la Feria de las Pulgas in the Baron area in Valpo with our uncle Basilio. He took us through one row of 3 in the Feria which was basically a gigantic garage sale with everything ranging from antique wristwatches to power tools to clothes to toys to books to a t.v. set to…literally, pretty much anything you could imagine. I didn’t take any pictures because of the crowds and to make sure my camera wasn’t stolen. Then we lunched in uncle Basi’s apartment on bread and pebre, salad, spaghetti and some dessert that we called  “Kiwi a la Basi”. He lives right next to the oldest building in Chile (I believe…) which is la Iglesia de la Matriz, founded in 1559. It was completely ruined in 1822 due to a massive earthquake, but was rebuilt little by little until finally in 1842 they finished. Obviously it’s looking pretty great today!

Overall I’d say this weekend was pretty great. Relaxing and beautiful days 🙂 Feeling pretty thankful to be ALIVE for one and in a country as beautiful as Chile is.

Lots to be thankful for in life; glad this holiday, although not celebrated here, was certainly not forgotten.

A day in the life.

Nothing too terribly exciting (that’s to say anything outside of my normally wonderful Viña life) has happened lately, so I thought I would take you through a day-in-the-life…

On Mondays and Wednesdays I have classes at 2pm, on Tuesday at 8:20am, and on Thursday and Friday I have no class…regardless of my laze-provoking schedule, I usually wake up around 7:30/7:45am to take advantage of my day starting off at the gym or with an easy morning jog.

We post our schedules on the fridge in the kitchen so that our host parents can set out breakfast for us (awww) which usually consists of a yogurt with avena (plain oats) & a piece of (delicious) bread that can be paired with either cheese or marmalade. We spend the mornings doing homework, classes or still just trying to wake up. Chile in general is usually not up and kickin’ until about 10 or 11 when most stores and shops open.

Then anytime between 1pm to 3pm is lunch. Magaly, the house maid, is an amazing cook and always has something delicious prepared! Lunch usually consists of a salad, soup, entree, and (of course) dessert. We’ll sit at the table, make conversation and, if we’re lucky, watch Dama y Obrero, one of Magaly’s favorite soap operas (and now, one of mine as well!) Lunch usually takes an hour or two and then after we go upstairs to relax and digest a bit until the afternoon activities which are usually random and thought of in the spur of the moment which can range from going to the beach to learning how to dance Bachata to just walking around the city.

Then in the late evening there’s la once which consists of some bread with marmalade or meat, cheese and pebre and maybe some tea or coffee. It’s typically the most conversational part of the day where everyone lightly munches and shares about their daily adventures.

Outside of that, the spaces are filled with the randomness of life happenings, every weekend with its own zest.

As for this past weekend here’s what happened:

Oh my dear Lord...

I don’t remember if this was the weekend or during the week, but at some point I tried something called acompleto which is a gigantic hot dog with tomatoes, avocado and a thick layer of mayonnaise on top. I asked for no mayo and then proceeded to become more and more frightened as they prepared the beast…turns out there are two hot dogs inside the enormous bun. I managed to eat the entire thing but ate little else the entire day. It was filling to say the least.

Another food experience was with my Chilean Naval school buddies, when they introduced me to chorrillana which is this mountain of french fries, covered in eggs, onions and meat. Perfect man food…but I’m not so sure if my tummy could take anymore giant food feats of Chile any longer.

There have also been temblors which are like little earth tremors, baby earthquakes. Apparently there was one at 3am that was relatively strong that I didn’t feel…but there were a few little ones during the day that I did.

Olivia and I also discovered a club full of flaites (ghetto Chileans), which I highly recommend you do not go to. It’s called Area Universitario…or something like that. We were going to go to this salsa dancing club called Cubanismo for a birthday of one of our friends, but we couldn’t end up finding her and it was really expensive to get in, so we settled on the place next door…this club of flaite which one should never set foot into. The music was horrible and the environment was dirty and…just don’t go.

Then Saturday came along and we went to the Jardín Botánico (Botanical Garden) and enjoyed an afternoon walk there. There was a French garden and Mexican cactus garden as well as some trees, a little lake and river. There was also the opportunity to do some zip-line/rope course in the park that looked pretty cool and you could rent bicycles! (Olivia and I got excited about the bikes…) It’s a very relaxing place to sit and take in.

Basilio, Olivia and I with empanadas!

Well, you can escape Chilean’s love for food forever because we made empanadas on Sunday. They take a lot of work, but are definitely worth it. Basilio taught Olivia and I how to make them so that we can share them with our families when we go back home. We made seafood, cheese, and the classic Chilean pino (beef, onions, egg, and a single olive). It was fun, but I’m really bad in the kitchen…so I mostly watched the Mallorca vs. Barcelona game with Messi. I helped a bit though, chopping up some of the meat and folding the empanada dough into their pretty little forms. Then we lunched on each of the 3 types of empanadas and seafood soup with bread. We were so stuffed, but even still, after lunch our host mother asked us if we were could make waffles for la once. We asked her if she was serious, and after she nodded, we unwillingly agreed and took a long post-lunch nap…luckily she forgot about the waffles by the time la once came around.

La feria

After the incredibly filling lunch and siesta we took a walk over to Avenida San Martin for the Feria Artesanía where vendors show off their wares and sell them at relatively low prices. You have to be a little more careful though because especially during the start of summer/tourist season they raise prices a little more, so it’s better to buy these things (if you can) away from that season. We browsed around the stands and saw a guy make spray paint art which was incredible. It’s also right next to the beach where people make incredible sand art statues.

It seems like this weekend hasn’t been the most exciting of weekends, but I’ve found since I’ve been here that you don’t need to go on a big trip to some exotic place to have an adventure. I love my Viña life, which of course you’re probably thinking “of course she does because she’s in Chile…” but being here, I’ve learned to love even more my Minnesota life and my Valpo life. It’s just all how you look at the place you’re in and how you choose to enjoy it and take advantage of everyday.

As Neil Armstrong once so wisely stated,

Every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine.

Keep that in mind and love the life you’re in, wherever you are. Don’t focus so much on what you could be doing or where in the world you could be enjoying yourself, but rather about where you are right now and the amazing things that are happening in world around you. Find adventures in the place you are with people you love because those are the adventures that will make all the difference with the people that have made all the difference.

Take in every sunrise, every sunset...

So as I said, and will continue to say for my rest of my days, I love my life.

…do you love yours?

Adventuring, partying, gringo-ing.

All right, so a LOT of things have happened since my last post:

Mendoza

I have a tourist visa instead of a student visa, which means that I have to leave the country before 90 days or I’ll be illegal and since Mendoza, Argentina is just across the border, I thought I would take a nice weekend trip there. I asked a few weeks before if anyone wanted to go with me, but everyone had plans…so I went solo (which sounds sad, but no worries; this story has a happy ending!) 90 days was October 29th, and I bought my tickets for October 25th: close call much.

I strolled on over to the bus terminal to purchase my ticket with my passport in hand to verify that I could cross the border. They examined my passport and then proceeded to ask me for my visa, where I flipped open to the page with a little piece of paper stapled; they told me that wasn’t my visa. They told me it was a yellow piece of paper that they had given me coming into Chile when I arrived at the airport and asked me if I had it. I said yes, thinking to myself “why would I throw that away, it must look important enough, right?” I went back home and started looking…and eventually destroyed my room not finding it anywhere. I realized that when I moved houses, I had thrown away a lot of things, including that yellow piece of paper that turned out to be my visa. I was under the impression that it was just a receipt for the transaction and the paper that they stapled to my passport was my visa…reverse that. Now I was stressed; I was supposed to leave for Mendoza the next day and I didn’t have a visa to cross the border to Argentina so that I wouldn’t be illegal in Chile. I had to change my ticket for the day after and scrambled to find everything I needed to get my visa (which is another novel in itself…I’ll spare you the dirty details because this blog is going to be painfully long as it is). After a long day of taking the metro to Valpo, dealing with the receptionist, hopes being crushed, thinking I would be illegal in Chile and be evicted from the country, going back to the bus terminal, going to the police station, feeling hope on the horizon, almost being a criminal and getting Carlos (director of the UVM) in trouble for not having a student visa, and explaining to many officials how I accidentally threw my visa away, I finally ended up with one, beautiful, clean, new visa in my possession. I don’t think I can tell you how relieved I was.

I arrived at the terminal with only the phone number of a family friend whom I was supposed to call when I arrived to show me around the city a bit and help me find a hostel. I changed my money and searched for the information center to find a map and a phone. The gentleman there assisted me in getting a hold of who I needed to get a hold of, and after a nice conversation with him, Maria de la Luz arrived to show me around. She and her friend (and now mine as well) Ivana walked around the city with me, showing me some plazas and finding me a safe, clean, and cheap hostel to stay at for the night. We got along immediately. Mendoza is known for its leather, so after Luz had to go to class, Ivana, her boyfriend, and I went shopping. She continued to show me around the main streets and I got a good feeling for Argentinians and their culture.

Later that night, Luz came to the hostel with her boyfriend Pipi, and we went out for some light drinks and conversations a nearby bar. We talked for hours about the differences between Argentina and Chile, the USA, soccer, and life in general. Then we went over to Ivana’s apartment and played a board game until 4 a.m. Great night.

Relajando en el Parque San Martin; Relaxing in San Martin Park

The next day I woke up at 8:45 a.m (don’t ask me how…), ate some breakfast, chatted with some French guys who stayed in the hostel the night before, and then packed up my stuff to go over to San Martín Park. The park is gigantic! There’s a zoo, garden alongside a lake, sporting fields, and lots of beautiful statues/fountains. I simply wandered around leisurely. I found a spot under some trees, took out my Bible to read and napped in the shade.

Luz and Pipi invited me to an asado at their house, where we had some delicious Argentinian BBQ and watched Zorro. I tried mate for the first time, which is absolutely delicious traditional tea in all of South America. We also had a sweet jelly (I forgot what it’s called) with cheese later before I left. Then I departed for the terminal, and it seemed like I hadn’t spent enough time there…so we agreed that I had to come back! Which I will in the coming weeks to get to know the city more and go rafting and bungee jumping. Excited 🙂

Soccer Championship

Campeonas!; Champions!

And so here we are, UVM going against la Universidad Católica in the championship game. After some incredible shots, a red card losing one of our fastest players, and plenty of aggressive play, we ended up claiming our champion title for the 4th year in a row. We won 3-0 and proudly posed for newspaper photos (you can see the article here).

The celebration really started when we got back to the locker room.

There was plenty of noise; chanting, singing, laughing, banging the locker room benches and walls. Then, of course, everyone had their turn to be drenched in trash bins filled with water. After, a few of the players tried to have a nice mil hojas cake with manjar but ended up throwing it in our coaches face and savagely grabbing at the remains to gnaw at.

Craziest celebration of a soccer win I’ve ever experienced…can’t wait to start traditions like this when I get back.

Halloween Party

The same day of the championship day was Halloween, and Olivia and I decided to invite some friends over to have a small get together. With the gracious permission from our host parents, we expected about 9 or 10 people to come over for some snacks and Halloween movies. What it ended up being was almost 20 people in the living room, most with costumes ranging from Edward Cullen to a gangster to plenty of cats. Everyone brought along something to share, so we had lots of chips and cookies; cheap college kids. One of the girls brought karaoke, so we all jammed out and sang along to every song. Then, of course, the Chilean touch of dance. Everyone wanted to dance, so with some rearrangement of furniture we created a makeshift dance floor, and after some people left there was enough room to have Bachata lessons (which I failed miserably…but with some practice I’m sure I’ll get better!…maybe). Great Halloween!

La Sebastiana

La Sebastiana

…in Valparaiso was incredible. Olivia, Oscar (host brother), and I visited another one of Pablo Neruda’s houses with a stunning view in the heart of a beautifully dysfunctional city. Walking around the city afterwards was awesome, and full of plenty of new discoveries and passing a few art galleries along with all the beautiful graffiti and murals.

Almuerzo Gringo

Que rico! YUM!

Olivia and I had cravings one day for some good ol’ USA style breakfast. Therefore, the idea came that we should make some for our host family. With the help of Alison (also in the program) and Scott (gringo host brother) we put together a giant gringo-style breakfast (that was more like lunch because we didn’t eat until almost 3 in the afternoon). Bacon, sausage, french toast, and a giant stack of waffles. The family loved it and decided we needed to make waffles again. You can be sure that we most definitely will.

Cachagua

Only an hour and a half ride from Viña, we took the micro at 10 a.m on a Saturday morning. I slept the second half. When we arrived we all stretched and walked to the beach; a walk we imagined would only be a few blocks…ended up being much more than that and up a hill. Finally, when I was at my point of almost frustration, we arrived at the peak and could see the bright turquoise water, the soothing waves, the white beach: absolutely unreal. I felt like I was in one of those seemingly photoshopped pictures that automatically come with a new computer it was so incredibly breath-taking. We took our places on the sand and then Emma (another student) and I decided to go for a swim. The water was not just cold, it was ice…but we swam anyway. “Getting used to the water” meant not being able to feel your body entirely, which was fun. We would brave the sea for a bit, and then clamber back on shore praising God that He made the sun to warm us. We did this 5 or 6 times.

Olivia and I also found a path along the side of the bay with boulders and cliffs that led all along the edge of the coast and went on for, what seemed like, ever. There was one bridge and waterway in particular that reminded me a lot of Pirates of the Caribbean; so cool. The waves were wild, the salty mist refreshing. Ahhhh…

And then we waited for the micro home. When it finally got to us, there weren’t enough seats for all of us, so a few of us (myself included) stood for the hour and half ride back to Viña del mar (which ended up being 2 hours thanks to the tourist weekend traffic). The driver was insane. As there were no more seats in the micro, the more people he picked up had to stand…and it got more and more full…and just when you thought it was full enough, he would stop to pick up more people. So, to entertain ourselves, the other gringos and I sang songs to pass the time. We would cheer when people would get off (both in relief that there was more space and in happiness for their freedom from the seeming death trap) and groan when more people would pile in. Entertaining ride to say the least. And for the last 20 minutes, enough people got off that we were able to have seats. Nice.

Lot of adventuring lately. Can’t wait to do more!

Impressive.

The weather has been funky. One day it started out grey and cloudy then turned in the late afternoon with some sun and clear skies, and that night it rained cats and dogs. Well, at least it keeps me on my toes! I’m always prepared with extra layers, but didn’t think so much about rain before I came here. Nonetheless, I’ve gotten my fill of puddle jumping and nights coming home sopping wet. This might be why I now have a stuffy nose…hm.

I’ve also been busy accustoming myself to my new home and family as well as working on midterm projects, rehabilitating my ankle and playing Capoeira.

Since I haven’t been able to play soccer, I’ve been trying to find alternatives to things that will restrengthen my ankle and body. I unwillingly turned to jogging; it doesn’t require much ankle flexibility but…I really just don’t enjoy it in the least. However, I needed to do something active or I would go crazy.

I don't mind jogging to this view.

So a little background, I have never ever ever liked running. I do it anyway, but with much moderation; never more than a mile and a half. Well, living in the new house is amazing, but it’s a lot farther from the beach. Olivia told me that she jogs on the main street, Alvarez, to the beach and it’s about 6 miles there and back. Immediately dismissed the idea of taking that path, and decided to take a different way along Uno Norte towards the beach by the Casino and San Martin; it seemed much shorter. Thus, I began to jog along and jammed out to some good tunes as I tried to remember exactly where I was. My thought process was something along the lines of this: “Ah, yes I recognize this place. It’s just around the corner…oh wait, I forgot about this plaza, now it’s just around the corner…shouldn’t it be on this block?…where am I?” and finally, I found the beach. I sat, relaxed for a few minutes, and then jogged back. Knowing that it was much farther than I had expected, I looked up on google maps how far it was. Turns out I ran about 5 miles round trip. I had impressed myself to say the least. I felt incredible, almost invincible, after. My plan is to do that at least 4 times a week; it’ll make up for all the bread and sweets I’ve been eating…no regrets; they’re delicious.

I also started Capoeira, which does require ankle strength but it helps work other muscles and flexibility as well, so it’s been more of a help than a hurt…and my ankle has actually been feeling better after all this activity.

Capoeira at Mil Tambores

 

For those of you who might not know, Capoeira is a beautiful Brazilian martial art that is a mix between self defense and dancing (not ballroom, more like break/street dancing). How it came to be was through the Brazilian slaves centuries ago who disguised the fighting style as a dance so the slave owners wouldn’t know; they also would practice in the Capoeira (short grass). For those of you who also might not know, I’m absolutely in love with Capoeira. The capoeiristas that I saw at Mil Tambores are the same capoeiristas that I’m taking classes from now. They’re really impressive and intimidating. We also play the traditional Brazilian instruments/sing the music of Capoeira. I’m slowly improving not only in Capoeira, but also in flexibility. I can touch my toes with no problem 🙂

I’ve also booked my big trips remaining this semester; Mendoza and Brazil. Having a tourist visa, I have to leave the country before 90 days. Luckily, Mendoza, Argentina is only 8 hours on a bus. Since everyone else already has plans for this long weekend, I’m taking this trip solo across the border to re-legalize myself. Should be a nice personal retreat. I also have my plane tickets to leave on the 20th of December for Rio de Janeiro to spend Christmas and the New Year with my dear Brazilian friends from VU. Absolutely can’t wait…well I can, I love my Chile, but I am rather excited!

Because I’ll be spending time in Brazil, I’ve also been picking up some Portuguese lessons from the family friend, Basilio. It’s very similar to Spanish in a lot of ways, but definitely not the same. I can speak in Spanish to my Brazilian friends and they’ll understand me. We even tried to have a conversation where I would speak in Spanish and he would respond in Portuguese, and it worked out that we could understand each other, which was so cool. I’m also studying up Michel Telo, known for his song “Nossa, nossa.” If nothing else, at least I can sing along to some of his songs.

Olivia and I have also discovered some sort of insect is biting us in the night…it’s either pulgas (fleas), zancudos (mosquitoes), or something called a manga…so we’ve bundled up in plenty of layers upon layers so they don’t bite us until we torch our sheets tomorrow. (Just kidding; we’ll just wash them thoroughly. Extreme thoroughness.

Feeling so funky, feeling so fresh, feeling so fly. Love my life in my Chile.

Rollin’ in the new

I know it’s been a while since I’ve updated, but things have been a bit topsy-turvy here so I’ll just highlight a few things.

Last Saturday our group went to Isla Negra which is not actually an island, but the name of one of the houses of Pablo Neruda. When we arrived, we had to wait for our tour at 3, so we got lunch and then went out to the ocean. The day was grey and cool, but that almost added to the feel; the ash grey sky with the steel blue ocean and the bright white foam of the waves that came rolling into the ominously black rocks that made up the shore.

The beach at Isla Negra

When we walked over to the house/museum for our tour, we noticed a lot of what looked like governmental cars outside. It was the president of Ireland visiting the house of Pablo Neruda! Being a poet himself, he gave a speech as to how Pablo Neruda has influenced him and the world for the better. Though I didn’t get to meet the president himself, I talked to a few of his bodyguards. I love Irish accents.

Finally after the speech and interviews, we went on our tour. We weren’t allowed to take pictures indoors, but the house was meant to be as if you were living on a boat. The doorways were low, everything was made of wood, and the views from the bay windows were spectacular. Pablo had a lot of collections; unique shells, pipes, colorful glasses, miniature ships in bottles, and of course, figureheads (the carved statues of typically woman that go on the front of ships). The entire place was so beautiful and it was easily seen how someone could write poetry in a place like that.

Another big topic: my host family. I changed host families just yesterday. My old host family and I were never on the same schedule and it became difficult to live in a house that seemed always empty when I was there. I had been spending a lot of time, therefore, outside of the house enjoying time with friends and exploring Viña more, specifically spending more time with my friend Olivia and her host family. It was strange how naturally we all melded together, and I began to notice that I really loved spending time with them. Olivia told me that whenever I would leave, they would always ask her when I would be coming back; I felt a part of their lives already.

Then a few days ago, they asked me if I wanted to stay and live with them. Being that I wasn’t completely satisfied in my other host family, I was more than willing to make the change to a more active and comfortable place, but I felt bad and didn’t want to offend my original host family. They explained to me that these things happen and people switch around all the time; it’s normal. So after talking to my host family and the director, I moved my things yesterday into my new room with my new roommate, Olivia. What a difference it’s made already! I have Oscar and Christopher (my Chilean host brothers), Scott (gringo brother), and then of course Olivia (gringa sister) along with my new host parents (who I call Mamá and Papá instead of their first names) and Basilio (a very good family friend who’s secretly a superhero and can do basically anything and is teaching me Portuguese). I feel so appreciated here and there’s always someone to talk to; I think it’s safe to say I made the right decision.

Dancing in the streets; bailando en las calles

After putting all of my things in my new room, we rushed out to enjoy the rest of the sunshine, Oscar, Olivia and I went to a festival called Mil Tambores. It’s basically a bunch of bands of drummers parading around the streets of Valparaíso. People painted their faces and bodies, dressed up in costume, and brought their own drums to join in on the celebration. They walked on stilts, performed tricks with fire, played Capoeira. There were plenty of beats, chants, singing, and of course, dancing. We danced with the brigades on the shoreline for miles through the sunset and into the night chanting along with the community that was there. It was absolutely incredible.

Now I’m sitting in my almost completed room (just missing a few pictures on the walls) in front of a window spilling sunshine and relaxing before I start my homework. Isn’t life just a peach?

Machismo.

Disclaimer: I’ve loved my experience here and the people and the culture, but this is just something that goes along with it. It’s very rare, but still happens.

Yesterday, our UVM team was supposed to have 2 games: the first against the girls of the Naval base in Viña, the second against the University of Valparaiso.

We got to our first game where the field was located midst the training and living facilities of the Navy men who, as you might imagine, all stayed to watch us play. I ended up scoring the first two of the twelve goals as we claimed our victory 12-0.

After the game, we all boarded the van to take us to our next game in Valparaiso. It was only going to be 20 minutes per half as it was a celebration of an inauguration of the new field they had built, but it was still going to be a serious game for us. The University of Valparaiso was the only team the girls had lost to last semester in a very very tight game. When we arrived, we all rushed to the locker room to listen to the coach’s field assignments and the starters dressed themselves in the university’s white/away jerseys. After the main ceremony, we took the field, warming up with team passing games and a few drills.

After a while, we saw the men warming up. They were supposed to be playing after us, so we supposed they were just warming up early…really early. When we saw the officials, the starters ran to the locker room again to change out of the away jerseys into the majestic, red jerseys; the home jerseys. Then we all gathered to hear the coach’s motivational words once more to get us all ready to take the field to play. All the team gathered in the center of the field to do our grito (cheer) and we took our positions, ready to go…but the Valparaiso team was still huddled talking to the officials. The men were still practicing.

A few moments later the team manager came over to us looking seriously agitated and upset and told us to pack up our stuff; we were leaving.

Turns out that the men’s teams were going to play first. Even though both of the women’s teams were ready and we had the right to play first, they let the men play simply because they preferred to play first. They told us we could wait and play after, but at this point it was already late and we had been offended enough. As we were exiting, the crowd was confused and whistled loudly (which here means something along the lines of “what the heck!”) and even began to chant “Let the girls play!” The mayor of Valparaiso was there, and he did nothing.

So the men got to play, and we left. We weren’t going to wait around for the men to finish their game in order for the women to be able to play; we weren’t going to take that kind of disrespect. They had invited us to go over to their new field and play, when we could have said no but we gathered all of our players and took van to be able to play in honor of their new field. On top of that, we were there warming up and getting motivated for almost an hour beforehand but because the men felt they had the right to play first, they kicked us, the women, out.

This my friends is typical Chilean machismo. Uncommon, but still exists.

Still makes me angry, but there’s nothing that can be done about it now. Chile is making steps towards equality between men and women, but obviously, still needs work. I know the women on my team and I will not be allowing this type of disrespect and little by little we can get diminish the existence ofmachismo in this country.

You win some, you lose some.

La Campana is a National Park about an hour and a half away from Viña del mar. It has over 8,000 acres of beautiful landscape and even differing climates depending on where you go in the park, and the group of UVM international students was taken to Las Palmas.

It all started at 8am on Saturday morning. They seem to like doing events on Saturday mornings when everyone is still tired from Friday nights. I happened to be a victim of this sleepiness when I arrived to take the bus with the group on Saturday with the other students. Olivia and I didn’t get back to her house until 5am the night (morning?) before, because Chileans love to dance and I mean they absolutely love to; it’s very typical that they’ll dance all night until 5 or 6 in the morning. In fact, I left Ovo on Thursday night at 3:30am and people were shocked and kept asking me why I was leaving so early. Well anyway, so we get to Olivia’s house at 5am, I spent the night (which ended up being an hour and a half of sleep) and then we gathered our things to wait for the bus. Olivia and I had deceivingly high amounts of energy but still attempted to power nap our way through the bus ride there.

When we arrived, our guides introduced themselves and we started our adventures. Guillermo, the main guide, explained a few of the aspects of the park as we went along. A majority of the trek consisted of sweat, dirt, hills, and photo opps; it was awesome.

Olivia and I; the world is our toaster.

We saw wild horses which was something unexpected but so incredible. They were purely free and galloped around the park. Even saw a momma and its baby. I made friends with a small colorful caterpillar who we named Jorge.

La Campana

Most of the time, people would be chatting among themselves, but a lot of the time I couldn’t even bear to talk; the scenery around me was breath-taking that at times I would be so captured I couldn’t speak at all. This seems to happen a lot here in general. Chile is simply indescribable.

coco!

When we stopped for lunch in the midst of the dense part of the palm trees, I felt like I was in Jurassic Park. We sat in the fresh green spring grass, ate our home-packed lunches, and relaxed. Olivia and I, still having energy, decided to find cocos which are basically miniature coconuts that you crack open and eat. They’re delicious and thus, a little hard to find sometimes. Little animals like to eat them, so you have to search underneath fallen palm branches and such to find some. Olivia and I ended up finding a ton (her more than me; she’s a pro) and shared them with the other students caught by the lazy fever.

We then played a big group version of rock-paper-scissors which was oso-hombre-arma (bear, human, gun). It was the Americans versus everyone else from all other parts of the world. I don’t remember if we won, lost, or tied…but it was fun nonetheless. Then we attempted to make a pyramid which ended up being huge! I love this group of international students. It’s so cool being able to bond with so many different kinds of people from everywhere.

Then Guillermo lead us a little further and then back to the home base where we had started. On the way back, I was talking with one of the other guides, Italo, who said he could teach me how to surf. Sweet!

In all, it took 5 hours, but it was all so incredible! Then the bus ride back, everyone fell asleep, completely dead to the world. Great reward after a great success of a day. I’d say this was a win.

The next day, I went to a soccer game between la Universidad Católica and Colo Colo (professional soccer teams here; not university teams despite the name). I was with my “brother” from La Calera, Oscar, and his friends who are all also fans. They had rented out a micro (bus) specifically take us to the game in Santiago and back. We also took random stops along the way to throw out garbage from the food and drinks we had on the micro (because we couldn’t take anything into the stadium). I learned a lot of chants for the Cruzados on the way, and proceeded to belt them out during the game.

Before we were even allowed to enter, however, our things were checked out by the police. They have a lot of strict rules for soccer here, one of them included the size of flag you’re allowed to have in the stadium; my Valpo flag was too big. So after putting that back on the bus, I was greeted at the entrance by people passing out little pamphlet reminders of the violence laws in Chile.

El estadio de los Cruzados/The stadium of the Crusaders

Then started the game. I had never been to a professional soccer game before, much less one in South America, so it was quite the experience. There was constant yelling, singing, and swearing all around me. The energy was unlike anything; especially with the game being as horrible as it was, when the fans were mad, they were mad. It ended up that the Cató made a ton of shots and played much better, but simply didn’t make any goals whereas Colo only had a few opportunities but made their goals within them. It was painful to watch, but nonetheless I loved being there.

We got back on the micro, and at first everyone was talking poorly about the referees and how horrible the game was but then they continued with the chants. I asked one of them why, especially since our team lost. They told me that they have passion for the team, the game, the sport. Some even had tattoos for the Universidad Católica; all I knew was that they really got into it which was really cool to see. We sang for almost the entire 2 hour ride and celebrated life as it was.

Monday, I found out I had 3 soccer games this week. Also on Monday, I injured my ankle. Funny how life works sometimes.

Tuesday, today, I had to face the bet I had made on Sunday’s game. One of my classmates, a colocolino (Colo Colo fan) brought his jersey for me to wear for the day. He said he was going to take a picture to remember this moment in history, but luckily he forgot 🙂 a win inside a lose! Nice…but I still have to wear it…

But now, I’m off to my game to support my team on the sidelines and wait until Thursday hopefully to get my chance to prove myself on the field.

TTFN (Ta Ta For Now!)

Sunset, Sunrise, Soccer & Skype

On Saturday, my friend Andrea and I went to Reñaca to go hang out at another friend’s (Agustin) apartment. On the bus, we weren’t sure which stop to get off at, so we asked the bus driver to let us know where the end of “Ositos” was…he didn’t. He was kind of rude, and so when we asked how far away we were from the stop, he said we had just passed it. So we got off at the next possible stop and asked directions. Luckily, we were only a couple blocks off so we walked on the downward slope of the hill (almost everywhere is a hill here). When we passed all of the tall buildings, we could finally see the ocean on this beautiful, clear, sunny, perfect day. It was breath-taking. I still can’t get over how incredible the ocean is here; indescribable! Agustin’s apartment is located on the side of this hill facing the sea. You could see the curve of the coast, all the hills, the picturesque beaches and I even saw seals surfing! (I think I might ask them to teach me…I want to learn.) We stayed out on his balcony all afternoon until the sunset; nothing compares to an ocean sunset.

 

Pure serenity.

The next two days were solidly dedicated to a paper in one of my classes at Rodelillo, where I take my classes completely in Spanish with other Chileans. It said it could not exceed 11 pages…which meant there was a lot of material to cover. I spent the next two precious, ideal/ days of warm sun and clear skies inside working on this paper that I could have been doing over my week long break. Such are the typical mistakes of a college student. I do believe I’ll take advantage of my ability to make these mistakes now and learn from them later. At least it’s done and over with now.

mi equipo, mi familia; my team, my family

Tuesday, my UVM team and I went against another university, DUOC, and absolutely dominated. I didn’t get in this game it being the first one of the season, but it was incredible watching them play. I suppose I’m an aspiring bench warmer wanting to play with the reigning regional champions of Chile: challenge accepted.

That night, I had the Skype meeting with the Valparaiso University International Office which was awesome to be able to talk about Chile straight from Chile. I followed the questions that Julie Maddox gave me and talked a little bit about each point…okay, a lot. To be honest, I just couldn’t stop talking about how much I love it here and how everyone should come here. Got a bit carried away I suppose…but I do believe that’s a good sign 😉

Burnt some cookies with Andrea on Wednesday; used our creativity to make some cool shapes like a cat that looked like Pikachu and Charlie the Unicorn and, to finish off our dough, a snowman (the carrot nose burnt…) They didn’t taste so bad with a little honey. My host brother, Axel, loved them, so that’s a good sign. I’m not a complete failure in the kitchen, but I’m not so great.

Then yesterday went a little something like this: woke up late, went for a jog, found the post office (finally), went to my meeting with the orchestral director, soccer training, went home, got ready, birthday party for a Mexican amiga here, danced at the casino club.

I’d say, I’ve had a decent past few days. Loving my life here.

 

Días de Patria

This may or may not be one of the longer posts I’m going to have on this blog, but if it helps, there are a lot of pictures too :)

Here we go!

Singing/Chanting about Chile at Ston

It all started last Wednesday night, a big night to go out here in Chile. A big group of us went to a bar called Ston and started celebrating los días de patria (patriotic days) early. We enjoyed a drink called terremoto(earthquake) and is a mix of wines, grenadine, and ice cream. It’s delicious, and there are tons of different flavors!

Students in traditional Chilean gear

The next day, Thursday, we had a celebration with the other international students at the UVM Rodelillo campus. There was plenty of food and dancing, specifically the cueca, Chile’s national traditional dance. They even had a contest for those international students who attended cueca classes (which I unfortunately couldn’t attend due to soccer training). It was very fun to watch! Especially with all the missteps ;) but they all did very well. Then they had a game after that anyone could participate in where you had to (without any hands) eat a sweet in a shallow plate of water, find another in a pile of flour, and finally bite an apple. I got 2nd…of 3. Silver medal!

On Friday, my friend Olivia and I decided that we should study…but we made brownie sundaes instead. Little did we know, that as we were making the ever delicious dessert for la once Basilio, a friend of Olivia’s family, was making panqueques con manjar! It was a very sweetonce to say the least.

Spaniards with their tortilla española

Later that night, we went over to an apartment where the Spaniards had a dinner with tortilla española (an omelete with onions and potatoes) and bread with Spanish ham & tomato (I don’t know if that one had a particular name)We ended up going to Sala Murano and getting our groove on for the rest of the night. Because I had a friend who worked there, we all got in for free, which made the night even better (because who doesn’t like saving money). We made it even more patriotic with our friend Mauricio who painted some of our faces with the Chilean flag.

Olivia with her host mom & Basilio making empanadas

Saturday, Olivia’s family invited me to a BBQ where we madeempanadas de pino from scratch with Basilio again. Later that night we went with Olivia’s host brother to watch fireworks at the beach where I heard the Chilean national anthem for the first time. They continued to play traditional patriotic songs as everyone around us hummed or sang along as fireworks continued to shoot up over the water. After the beautiful display, we went to the fonda (a fair/get together) at Sporting, the horse race track. On the walk over, I even met some people from Minnesota! I told them what part I was from and we actually had some friends in common. It’s crazy how small of a world this really is. When we arrived, the place was filled with rows upon rows of vendors selling food and drink. They had even set up places to sit or dance!

At the fonda at Sporting

There were soooo many people, so we decided to sit down at a small set-up bar and enjoy a jar of terremoto. When we were about to leave, we lost Olivia’s host brother and his friends and neither of us had anymore credits on our phone to call him…so we decided to just go home. Olivia walked me to where the collectivos were and I experienced one for the first time. I learned a valuable lesson:collectivos and taxis are not the same thing. But I had a great conversation with the driver, and he helped me get to where I needed to be.

Sunday I spent with my host family at home, where they had a giant asado (BBQ) with all of the family. I finally met Claudio’s son (Francisco) and daughter (Carolina), and Vivi’s sisters were there too (Jaqui & Carolina). Caro (Claudio’s daughter) also brought her adorable puppy who was all ready for Independence day and dressed in traditional Chilean gear. We had tons of meat, salad, cola de mono(monkey tail; milk, coffee, and a Chilean liquor), pisco (Chilean liquor),and chica (a slightly carbonated alcoholic juice).

Big family lunch!

I learned plenty more Chilean slang words from Francisco (who may be the most Chilean guy I’ve met so far). We sat for hours exchanging stories, teaching/learning more about Chile, and consuming more food and drink than thought to be humanly possible. It was one course after another after another after another of the lunch, then the coffee & the palete cleanser (mote con huesillo), and then more coffee and Chilean desserts. All together it had to be at least 6 hours, if not more, and I loved every minute of it.

Monday, I left Viña and traveled to La Calera where my other family lives, and we left for Palos Quemados to camp which was only about 30 minutes away. It was absolutely stunning. We were set in between the hills. Everywhere you went you could smell asados and cooked meat. Our crew had plenty of meat and the traditional Chilean salad: onions, tomatoes, and cilantro. We relaxed and danced a bit with our radio and I learned more about Universidad Católica (a soccer team of which I am now a fan). I can now recite a few of their chants :) Then I cuddled up in our tent



Palos Quemados

The next morning, aTuesday, and the official Independence day of Chile. I woke up to the beautiful landscape and clear skies. We had a little bit of bread toasted over the fire for breakfast and some tea. Then interspersed naps with lunch and more naps; successful laziness. It wasn’t until I saw some people playing soccer in the campsites next door that I gained a sudden spurt of energy. We asked if we could play and got a game going. It was cloudy at this point and little mists of rain cooled us off as we continued to get muddier from the futbolito (little soccer game). Then we had to start packing everything up and get going, and of course at this point it was clear and perfect outside…figures. We got back to La Calera and gathered with the cousins to go to Oscar’s apartment to watch the Universidad Católica game against Tolima (Columbia) in the Southamerican cup. They didn’t do so well in that game, but they still did well enough to move on to the octo-finals! YAY! We then went to a fonda which consisted of a ton of people, really expensive drinks, and a live band. They didn’t even have terremoto…but at least we got to dance.

Wednesday rolled around and I left La Calera and enjoyed a quiet lunch with my host family where, for the first time, everyone was present! We had empanadas, salad with onion, pepper and eggplant, and for dessert, banana with honey. Then I enjoyed a relaxed night with some friends playing UNO at their apartment.

And now it’s Thursday where I’m about to go to the beach with my Columbian friend, Andrea, and enjoy the sunset on the beach.

I’ll update you soon!

American Pride

First off, I would like to share this quote that my Cine teacher shared with me about studying/traveling abroad:

You can’t go home again.

                                    -Thomas Wolf

It’s implicating that once you leave your reality of what is home and the culture that is familiar, you can never really go home and experience it the same way you had before. This quote seems to be a central point in today’s post; I’ve never felt so patriotic.

On Friday I went out with one of my Mexican friends and her roommates and her roommate’s friends. One of the friends of the roommate was named Clara. She seemed congenial at first, but then she asked me where I was from. When I told her the USA, her face immediately changed. The rest of the night whenever I was conversing with the others, she would say to them, “She doesn’t know what you’re saying” and then shoot me a look of mockery like I didn’t know what she just said either. I felt stupid and embarrassed at first, but then stopped caring because let’s be real: who cares. I’ve encountered a few of them, these “Clara types” who stereotype all Americans to be idiots, but the best way to deal with them is ignore them. I’m still learning to language. This I think is sometimes the mentality/impatience we might have with people who aren’t fluent in English. Take it from someone who’s experienced the other side: give ‘em a break! And never feel embarrassed about where you come from.

This Saturday I went out with some Spainards, a Chilean, and Andrea (& with the exception of Andrea, none of whom speak or barely understand English). I love experiencing these differences in cultures, differences in people, and even difference in language. We were all speaking Spanish but there were distinct differences and slang and dialect. It’s so cool listening to them all speak and hear their accents and have them all mix together into one language. I suppose that might be the same as someone from Chicago, Texas, California, New York, and Minnesota having a conversation all in one room. Just never thought about it that way before…

I know that I’m trying to use Spanish all of the time, but there are a lot of students in my classes who have been asking me for help with English. I actually visited a second year English class a couple weeks ago. It was so interesting. The teacher had a British accent, and they were talking about advice and suggestions. She emphasized a lot on the difference between the two which to me, never really seemed that important. There were so many little things about English that never really occurred to me in terms of grammar. At the end of class she asked me to give suggestions to those who were interested in studying in the United States. It was cool to be able to share a little bit about different parts of the US and give suggestions. I felt really proud to be able to talk about my country.

In one of my classes, we deal with globalization and cultural events and such, and one of the topics that’s hit on a lot is 9/11 (which I just realized is tomorrow). The last class they directly asked me about it, and I remember exactly where I was. I didn’t understand a lot because I was pretty young at that time, but I shared a little about what I remember with the class and then it started to become difficult to say anything at all. I started to become a little emotional and speechless. I never had felt so strongly towards my country than at that moment.

It’s easy to get carried away with all the other cultures and find faults with your own, which admittedly I was doing. However, now I’m learning that the more I get to know other cultures, the more I can appreciate and expand thoughts about my own. I can honestly say that I am certainly very blessed and very proud to be an American. I finally truly understood this allegiance we learned since we were young:

I felt this to be relevant especially with voting coming up and tomorrow being the remembrance of one of the most impacting, disastrous moments of our time: September 11th, 2001. My thoughts and prayers go out to all those who were effected by this traumatic event in our history, and also to everyone who will be voting this year (which everyone who is able should).

Sending some American love from the other hemisphere.

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