Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Feliz Cumpleaños


March 3rd was my 18th birthday. Turned out to be one of the only cloudy and cold days during the summer, which happened to be very nice, since it is usually boiling down here. However it seemed like any other day, and even lunch was normal, I got a present my my host mom and one from my host brother in the morning, but other than that it didn't seem like my birthday.

I was actually quite sad in the beginning, wanting to cry since we weren't doing anything, and I was talking to one of my exchange friends about it online. I wanted to cry so bad. She even left me online which made it worse.

However at 3:30pm three of my best chilean friends came over to my house, and I just thought that they dropped by to say hi, and happy birthday so I talked to them for a little while. I was so happy I almost cried. Then my mom told me there is some bad news and told me to look outside. It was actually Liz, Clea, and Philipp my exchange friends who live near me. I was so happy and excited I had tears in my eyes, and I ran towards them out to the gate. My counsellor came as well.

It turned out my host mom threw me a surprise birthday party, and I had no clue about it, eventually my older host siblings from my first family came, and Ella the other exchange student. It went so well, we talked a lot, ate pizza and cake and then later played ping-pong.

Needless to say it was a very up and down day. Who knew. Well, at least I am 18 now.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Lateness

So, lately I haven´t been updating my blog. I have a reason.
And nope my excuse is not that  I have no time, which I do, even though school and the bus ride back and forth to school is ridicolousy long.
Mainly, I have been having limited internet and I do believe that checking up on my e-mails and important things on facebook, so this blog has been on my lower priorities.
But, when I do have some time I´ll fill you in on the past two and a half months.

However, I did just come back from Easter Island, it was awesome.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tribal Knowledge

At the end of Janurary came a new arrival, a complete fish out of water, I am refering to the new inbound here in Chile from New Zealand who happens to be living in my old host family. I decided to help her throughout her first week since she doesn't have school until March 4 like the rest of us, and I visited her at the house, translated everything that she didn't understand, and showed her things around my old house. As well as Clea, Liz and me took Ella to Santiago to the feria to go shopping and show her a bit of Santiago.

At the end of very day I spent with her, it was like I had a mini epiphany each time, and realized something new about myself. It was so different and weird to see it from the other side, to see the exchanger acting all awkward, not knowing what to do, and saying "si" to every question even though I knew she didn't know what they were asking, or if the question actually wasn't able to be answered by yes and no. And the all too obvious "I am overwhelmed face".

It really shined a light on my perspective, and to think back in late August when I arrived here. I then went to ask my family members and friends if I was the same way. They all said the same thing, HAHA you were a fish out of water too! Although my friends re assured me that I was still super friendly, and tried to talk a lot (when I wasn't sleeping in class) even though I didn't know how to speak Spanish, I was just waving my arms around and attempting noises that would suffice for the words I wanted to say. Although now I am happy to say (and so are my friends) that I am the fish IN the water.

Every day I realized how much I know of this country, and that I even have tribal knowledge. I know how to take a micro, and ask the driver if he is going to a certain place, I know how to use a metro built for 6 million people, and that 2 million people use each day. I know what places to go to, where to be careful, and certain tips to stay safe, and not be too noticed. I almost felt like a babysitter, I was taking care of this girl making sure she didn't get in harms way, helping her to buy a phone and talking to the lady about what phone we want. I felt like my host brother Jose where he helped me buy my first phone as well.

Those day reminded me so much of August, as well as it showed some light on my growing and learning in Chile. Until then I knew I probably grew, but I just didn't have anything to compare it too. I know can converse in Spanish, when I take a bus now, my stomach doesn't tie into knots worrying if I will take the wrong one. Travelling by myself seems normal, and reading a Harry Potter book in spanish while I read, is just as normal. I realized just how far I have come, and just how much older I am. I look into the future and see myself going into highschool and I just don't belong there anymore (nor did I really to begin with) and even looking at the new inbounds who some of them are older than me, I feel like I am at least 5 years older than them.

This inbound shed some light!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Beavertale 2

So, I swear I will in depth post some more about Janurary and Feburary I just haven't had the motivation to do it. Especially with the lack of commenting and all.

Anyhow since the middle of Feburary passed I needed to write another beavertale for Rotary, basically a massive blog entry spanning on what I have done the past 3 months.

If you want to read it here, and see my ugly photo, and a quote taken from the entry here it is.

http://www.clubrunner.ca/data/7080/html/50859/Taylor.pdf
BEAVERTALE 2

I have been in Chile for 5.5 months now, and I still have another 5.5 months left but I know that this year has tripled in speed compared to my outbound year where everything was about waiting, and now it is trying to savour this month before it goes by. I last left off in the middle of November, where I was just about to start my summer vacation. The end of November brought the end of the school year and really warm weather. With the start of December I was full into holidays, but I still had some school things to do. I was nominated as Queen of my class and another student from my class was nominated King of the class. We had some rehearsals to go to since everyone in my grade was competing and we had a little choreographed dance number with the whole group the theme was “The Men in Black”. When the actual night came all the girls had to wear white dresses, and shoes (I was running around at the last minute trying to find white shoes, and a slip under my white dress, since Chileans didn’t understand that the two sheets of sheer mesh fabric are SHEER) and the guys wore tuxedos. We were the last group to “perform” that night, since we had the younger grades compete for king and queen, as well as my little sisters doing a belly dancing routine, we even had our teachers doing lip-synching routines to old English bands, it was hilarious. After all the other routines we did ours, and afterwards we all had to sit down and announce all the homeroom teachers and then announce who were official king and queen of the grade. They based the winners on what class raised the most amount of money over the year for their trips, and other things. Turns out my class came in second. All the girls got a cute little crown (which is now on my jacket) and the winner got a massive crown and walked down the catwalk. The rest of the night was spent dancing until 4am.
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That same weekend I had to get ready, and leave the Sunday to my Rotary Trip down to the south of Chile. 35 exchange students decided to go out of the 50 in the district, and we flew down to Punta Arenas acclaimed for being the most southern city in the world. After the plane ride we visited penguins in their natural habitat on this tundra beach, and they were waddling around everywhere. We then headed into our bus for the 3 hour ride to Puerto Natales which is home to the Torres del Paine (a very beautiful set of mountains). When we spent a day in the Torres del Paine it was so amazing and beautiful our pictures didn’t seem to show how blue the lakes were or how big the mountains were. We even had lunch in the middle of a glacier lake, with the Torres del Paine on one side of us, and 4 exchange students swimming in the glacier water on the other side. I was fine with just touching the water. We even went on a boat in the lakes the next day and visited glaciers, and hiked towards them, the wind there was tremendously strong and trying to brush your hair at the end of the day was nearly impossible. When we headed back to Punta Arenas for our last few days we all went to the plaza and kissed the golden foot on the stature. The story goes that if you kiss the foot you will get good luck! One of the best things about the trip was the weather, it was the only time I have ever seen it rain during the day here in Chile, and I thought that maybe I felt snow at one point. I was so happy to see clouds as well. In the Santiago Valley it is a rarity to have any clouds in the sky, it is pure bright blue sky all day, and it never rains in the summer, NEVER.
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When I got back from my trip, I had my “prom” so to speak I literally arrived that morning at 2 am from my exhausting trip (the day of we decided to hike up a giant hill that took us two hours and in the pouring rain, it was exhausting) slept and then woke up and got ready to go out that night. I got to see my class again after a month of hardly seeing anyone, and everyone could tell the progress I made with my Spanish, it was so nice to know that people saw improvements, the party was great, and everyone’s parents came as well. After the dinner, the dancing lasted until 5am when everyone was forced to go home.
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Christmas came very soon after and I couldn’t even tell it what Christmas in Chile. The weather was very perfect and hot summer weather, and even the house wasn’t even decorated until Christmas Eve where we had our very tiny artificial tree in the corner of the living room. Christmas Eve I was outside in my backyard listening to Christmas Carols and then at around 11pm we had our Christmas dinner, which consisted of normal Chileans salads, chicken, seafood, and homemade apple sauce (My host dad and I were the only ones who ate the apple sauce, it was the closest thing I had to cranberry sauce haha) At midnight all the kids and everyone else got to open up their Christmas presents it was very melodramatic since Viejito Pascuero (Santa Claus) didn’t come at night, all the presents appeared during the day sometime. After the gift giving (where most people only get 1-2 gifts not the many in Canada) everyone sat down and drank together and talked a long time into the night. Christmas Day was not celebrated at all and everyone slept in, I woke up to notice that half my family had left the house so I was free to leave the house and spend Christmas Day at one of my friend’s house. It seemed very odd for the whole family to be gone form the house Christmas Day, but it did just feel like another summer day to me. I was missing that snow!
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Before the New Year’s I had to change families and I moved to a smaller city Isla de Maipo, except my house is right downtown on the main street (compared to my last house being on farmland) and my parents own a supermarket next to our house (the house is also filmed in a Chilean Soap Opera and when they come I stand outside to watch the very “dramatic” scenes that happen at the front of our house, I even talked to the stage manager). I have my host parents Jorge, Cecilia, and my younger brother Jairo (14) and for two weeks I had a sister and a roommate Yazmin (16) who left on her exchange to New Zealand. In this new house I live by the church clock that sounds on the hour, the fire fighters siren (that always seems to go off at noon right when the church bells play a pretty song) and at night the two street cats on the side of my house that seem to fight each other to the death every night. I spent New Year’s with this family and we watched the countdown together and toasted it with champagne, at about 1am the whole family came over to the house to celebrate until about 5am in the morning.
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January came with more summer holidays, and the leaving of my host sister, as well as one of the New Zealanders in our district. When I had to say goodbye at the airport to my NZ friend I couldn’t’ imagine myself there in 6 months, and I know that when I come home I’ll be bawling my eyes out. Most of this month was spent going to Santiago and shopping and checking more of the area out, as well as hanging out with some of my Chilean friends. We then had a new New Zealand girl come to my old city and is living with my old host family, so I helped her a lot in her first week here. At the end of the day hanging out with her, I felt so proud of myself about how far I have come, and that I am not a fish out of water anymore, and that most of all I have tribal knowledge. I am not a stranger to this country anymore. I know what buses to get on, how to use the huge metro in Santiago and if I don’t know where I am going I know how to ask directions. I am not scared of the old men and the guys in general who stare at me through their cars (and almost crash trying to look at me while craning their necks not looking at the road) and all the whistles and cat calls in English. I know how to walk proud and act dumb as if I have never heard English in my life. (Though most people in my city think I am from Germany, and will shout it on the streets from time to time) But, this does not bother me, it is normal and routine to me and is just a part of life. My biggest accomplishment made here is that I am not a fish out of water, and helping this new inbound showed me just how far I have come, and I wouldn’t want to trade spots with her ever. (I also did become number one translator as well that week haha).
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February also brought summer vacations and in the beginning week I was able to go to the beach with my Rotary Counsellor, two of her daughters, Clea (an exchange student from Arizona) and Ella the new inbound. We went for three days, and we were very lucky that we got three sunny days as well (lots of times it is cloudy here on the coast). We spent those days most of the time on the beach as well as in the waves, which are very dangerous and I even got stuck in a riptide and was getting pulled out super far until one of my friends told me that I should try to come back in. However, it was extremely difficult so I had to start swimming to the side of the beach to get out of it. As well as the waves were super strong, a lot of times they would suck you into it when they were still far away and we would get swept up in it, a couple of time I was thrown all the way back to the beach again. One of the days we went to San Antonio, a big fish market, and we took the oldest and shakiest micros ever to get there. (All the old buses from Santiago which are deemed too bad go to the coast) Every time we pulled over on the side of the road I swore the bus was going to tip over however, it never did. By the end of the three days I had a slight tan, blonder hair, and of course A TON more freckles, along with me being half a foot taller than everyone else here in Chile. I am definitely noticeable from a block away.
So, February is coming to an end very, very soon and I will be going back to school sometime in March. The cold weather will come back which I am very excited for, the heat here is outrageous; to go anywhere (especially Santiago) you have to go early in the morning so you don’t suffer from heat stroke.
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I can’t believe I am half way through and that I only have 5 months left here. Seems so unreal that 5 months to me seems like so little time in my eyes. I can’t even imagine not talking in Spanish and having half English half Spanish dreams anymore, or wake up doubting if that last dream was in English or not. However, I must enjoy the time I have and savour it for all its worth.

Chao,
Taylor

Friday, January 30, 2009

Feliz Navidad

Christmas.

Well, it was surely different.

The day was hot, sunny and of course not a single cloud insight, and there was just no magic in the Christmas it felt like any summer day in Chile. Except on the radio they had english christmas carols playing and there was a tiny plastic tree in the living room with no special family ornaments.

At around 11pm the family sat down for Christmas dinner which wasn't too unlike some lunches we have, except for the homemade apple sauce, the rest was chicken, seafood, bread, salads, and corn. Everyone had finished dinner earlier than any other meal I had ever seen them eat, and at 12pm the kids were allowed to open their presents from Santa Claus. Everyone had one or two presents and no more for Christmas and then everyone talks and drinks in the night. I was already dead tired and decided to have some pisco with the family to celebrate and to make me go to sleep faster. The next morning I brought all my presents to bed with me and opened them up (I opened the presents from my Nana one month later when the package finally was able to be picked up even though it arrived Dec 19 ...weons en la oficina) My family was doing nothing for Christmas Day and I actually went over to my friends house for Christmas Day and had lunch with his family.

It seemed so weird that in a family orientated country that Christmas was so "lazy" about spending time together, I would have thought that the whole family would be together for the two days but instead I spent more time with my friend. It was just really different and I was secretly hoping for my snow, and the magic of Christmas ... which there just isn't any when you can see your presents Christmas Eve, there is just something special when they all appear at once in the morning and your stocking as well (which by the way they dont have stockings either) and snow falling down, and the chimeny going, having hot chocolate and being able to wear slippers and your new christmas pyjamas.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Por Fin.


Por Fin or finally.

The 6th and last day of the trip, which was in Punta Arenas and there was a lot of confusion, it is always the big joke that the Rotarians always take the wrong path and two minutes later we are re-tracing our steps. Before we boarded our plane at night we decided to climb a "hill" so to speak while it was raining.

We first started going up part way on the bus, where it decided to drop us off we were told this was a "japenese garden" we were all thinking it would be cute little plants and bonzai trees with maybe some ponds in the mix. It didn't look like that at all. It was evergreen trees everywhere and it was not a garden it was a reserve. We started going up the hill and came to a cross road and the Rotarians eventually said go left so we all start going and my little group of people were lazy today and decided to walk in the back of the pack where we noticed that the Rotarians were still debating if left was actually the right way to go. So my group stops while everyone else moves ahead, which was a nice 20 minutes break. The Rotarians decide it's fine and we have to start moving we get to another cross road and decide to go left again but we couldn't see anyone else from the group. The Rotarians tell us to head back since we went the wrong way, .......we spent how long going up and we went the wrong way and worse yet the rest of the people are too far up to notice. We eventually go all the way back down, and take the right turn and the rest of the exchangers finally notice to come back. We then got in trouble for going ahead of the Rotarians.....ooooops, not me, I was too lazy to walk that fast. So we headed off again, and it starts to rain, and the hill turns more into a mountain to me, and people slip and hurt knees but we reach the top thinking that we are done there was a whole lot more....going down I slipped into mud and had a huge mud stain right all on the side of my butt. Paul decided this was funny which it was, he rushed over to help me up, which I said he was supposed to do that before I fell and to catch me ahaha. If only, then I wouldn't have been dirty. We finally get to the road and walk down but with the steep altitude it wasn't an enjoyable decent it actually hurt your knees a lot, and we all ran down the grass hill making it to the end. We were wet, dirty, sweaty and tired.
At night we finally boarded our plane, and it turns out the under 18 Chilean boys soccer team was on our flight as well. I switched with one of the players and I got to sit beside Kate (NZ) and I wrote basically 30 x-mas cards in 3 hours. Also Fred from Denmark was behind me and was sleeping. Now twice during the bus Fred decided to get a capful of water and dump it in my mouth (since my mouth is open when I sleep) and every time I wake up disturbed and water everywhere. This was my chance, and Kate has it on video. I got my water, filled the cap, and right at the exact moment Fred actually moved his head upwards (It was originally hanging off to the left) his mouth wasn't open, but who cared and bored it down. He woke up so fast, ripping hs hat off and swearing at the camera. It was awesome revenge! When we got off the plane I gave everyone their letters, and we got our suitcases and left with our families at like 2am.

Friday, January 9, 2009

City Tour of Punta Arenas

The fifth day we were still in Punta Arenas, and we had a city tour. We went to the cementary, the port and the plaza of Punta Arenas. We first went to the cementary which was really different it wasn't your ordinary cemetary with grass and tombstones, it was quite odd. Everything was in gravel and in the front of the cementary were the big buildings (I forget the proper name for it) for the rich families that are buried beneath and all together. Lots of walkways were lined with huge cedar hedges. Here is what the family "shrines" looked like they were actually quite pretty (I would think they would have to be for how much money you would be paying for one). One family actually had a huge garden and gated it off and only in the month of November are vistors allowed to go into the garden.
The smaller (cheaper) burial grounds were quite different as well, most were above ground tombstones surrounded in cement or stone, and some were buried and if the family was vigilant enough they actually planted beautiful gardens. Some had a mixture of real and fake flowers, and some just stuck bright fake flowers in the dirt (This is Chile what can I say) They also had little shrine areas at the front. It would be covered by glass and the family could put Jesus, Virgin Mary, or a picture of the person, it was quite creepy sometimes of some of the things or pictures in the cases for everyone to see. There is also what looks like a wall of where cremated bodies would be, but it is actually tombs in the wall, and they also had "windows" of shrine areas, and one wall was devoted for children most died in the 70's and there was a bunch of toys and little kid ornaments in the window it was quite sad.
We stopped to overlook the port for a little while and there was a little stand of Peruvian people selling sweaters made from alpaca fur at a better deal compared to the stores around here. Although no one could understand them because of their accent, and the few missing teeth caused some speaking problems I am sure. The port kind of reminds me of Valparasio but without the hill.
We then went to the plaza to go to the feria, and most of us kissed the foot in the plaza. When you kiss it you are supposed to have good luck, and you can see many people do kiss it with the toes being all bronze again, maybe this is the reason why so many people got sick after this trip. Across the street there was a colonial house that we went into, but I totally forget the history behind it, I was distracted by to much english and some of the exchange students were playing the piano while the tour guide was talking in spanish (What do you think I would rather listen too). Later after dinner we all went back into the plaza and hang about, and I was able to climb up on the statue and kiss the indian on the top (double luck I am not sure) and the meanwhile we had gringos filming the staue while I was trying to hide from it eventually I did "salud" the camera just how rotary taught me too. Haha

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Punta Arenas - Rotary

Our fourth day in the south we had to make the 3 hour drive from Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas. This morning we actually got to sleep in a little bit, but it is pretty hard to do when the sun rises at around 5:30 am and sets around 10:30pm or 11pm as well. Lots of sun! Of course before we left Puerto Natales we all had to get off the bus to take a group photo, we took 25 minutes just taking this photo and then sperate photos of the people from certain regions of Chile, and then some of the countries. There is a picture of just the two Canadians with our massive flag (thanks to the provincial government) in most photos our flag is the biggest and the most unique I would say, it is amazing the amount of people who comment on our flag saying how pretty it is.

When we got to Punta Arenas we had our Rotary obligations and we were invited to a lunch at a Rotarians house who owns like a farm, with lots of sheep as well, we watched one get sheared. Kind of disturbing. We also saw alpacas, llamas (the ones that spit), emu's, and ostriches. The emu actually fed out of my hand, a little scary because it sees the food staring from the side of his head and then dodges towards your hand like it is going to bite it right off. Of course it doesn't, but my friend Maddy was screaming when it was eating out of her hand ahah. We even went into a fenced area with three llamas and we were chasing them, I actually got close enough to pet one, and then there was Philipp who was trying to ride one, and Matthew from Colorado was the only one that was able to calm them. Two of them actually looked like they were about to spit and were chasing my friend Liz around the place haha.
We then saw some more penguins but they were farm penguins not like the ones we saw the first day at the beach. They made really funny sounds though, after this some kids went to play soccer with a sheep skull, I was too tired and talked to some Rotarians instead. For "once" we all had to wear our blue polos and Rotary jackets, which mine is getting way to heavy. Canadians however get awesome bright red ones, and my friend Paul from France gets a bright blue one, and all the other boring countries have navy blazers (kidding they arn't boring they just don't have spunk :P) We were at the meeting for a while for "once" mainly just talking in english when we weren't supposed to and the people who have their banners from their host clubs at home gave them to the club (which by the way any Rotarians from my club reading this should be reminded that I am waiting for those banners to be sent to Chile like you said they would haha, but really)

Patagonia - Third Day in the South

The third day in the south of Chile we were on a boat all day touring around the lakes. Of course the day started off with rain but by the time we had to be on the boat it was a nice day out. Most of the exchange students quite enjoy the rain because in the Santiago Valley it only rains in the winter season and only at night, so to have rain during the day was quite the odd occurence.

Most of the time inside the boat I slept on the table, seeing as how the day before we were tired and went to bed at 1am and had to wake up at 6:30am and we did this for two days in a row, I was catching up on my sleep a lot while in the bus or boat. If you were outisde the boat while it was steaming through the lakes you got absoultely soaked through and through which happened to Christy from Hawaii (and she didn't have a proper waterproof jacket either), Kirk from North Carolina, Jonah from Uxbridge Canada, and Philipp from Germany. Kirk & Jonah ended up wearing shorts for the rest of the day, and mind you it was probably a high of 13 C for the day, and we were on a cold boat. Although Philipp doesn't mind anything and spent his day acting like a pirate on the ship. Once the rain stopped a little we had a beautiful rainbow.
When the boat was at its slow pace we were allowed to goutside without getting completely soaked. I would always stand at the very front of the boat. At one point we had 4 dolphins jumping around the boat as well. Most of the lake looked like British Columbia to me again but there was glaciers and waterfalls which added something new.


This is Liz from Oklahoma and me just showing how bad that wind can really be, or at least to someone without a hat. Which I lived in mine for that week.

At one point we got off the boat to go trekking towards a huge glacier, it was raining and the rocks were slippery mind you, we had a couple people hurt themselves and twist their ankles.
This is what it looked like while trekking, it was so awesome to have trees on the mountains, since in Santiago all the hills are almost bare, and notice the steep staircase, that is how people get hurt haha.
This is looking in the opposite direction of the glacier to the rocky outcrop that we were situated on. A lot of streams were flowing through the rocks. You can see a lot of the exchaners as well. After travelling a little bit more we stopped for lunch somewhere where there was some actual flat ground. You can see Daniela from Germany, Ann from Germany, Liz and me. This is the Chilean Flag and the Patagonian Flag. Afterwards we headed back on the boat and headed back home, which I mostly slept in the boat again, and I sleep with my mouth open so my friends decided to shove a mini morocha in my mouth (its a small cookie) and apparently I felt nothing so they shoved it farther down, in turn I woke up and automatically spat out the cookie like it was poison or something. I actually thought it was a coin since it was so cold. I learned to sleep with my mouth closed that week seeing as how twice in a row Fred decided to get a capful of water and pour it in my mouth, to which I would wake up distubed and have water all down my shirt.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Torres del Paine

The Torres del Paine or translated into the "Paine Towers" this name is referring to the mountain range found in the Chilean Patagonia (or southern region of Chile). The mountains have a distinct shape that make it look like towers, as well as great shaven cliffs on the backside of the mountain range. I found it very odd how it was all tundra and then this spot of mountains.

On our second day in Chile we were in Puerto Natales and headed off to the Torres del Paine National Park, it was very windy with heavy rain, and we knew we had to walk outside for a couple of hours as well. We were not looking forward to the rain and cold but luckily in 30 minutes before we got into the park it cleared up and it turned out to be quite the sunny day for the most part. It was very weird and unpredictable weather there. The big joke with the Rotarians is taking way too many photos and getting off the bus to take a group photo with our flags and then boarding the bus again. "Vamos Chicos" "Saludos el video" "Bajamos" were the most common things we heard that week and just think of it in a high chilean accent it was pretty hilarious, and most of that video I am sure contains us exchangers doing the peace sign, and catching us all breaking the fule of no speaking english (which today when given my allowance all 4 exchange students in my area got our fines of about $5 CDN for speaking in english, at least they did it after the trip, but still).
In this photo you can see the "towers" better they're in the middle and kind of covered in clouds but all the same there they are. This lake infront of them is actually a salt lake something to do with the minerals deposited into the lake by the water from the mountains. We all touched the water and our cameras and in turn once the water dried we had lots of salt on our cameras! Of course we had to trek down a hill which many of the exchange students (including me) were willingly hopping down the hill by passing the shrubs and not feeling a thing. Of course heading back up we noticed that those seemingly harmless shrubs had lots of needles and spikes on them which we felt now since our adrenaline had ran out.
For the morning we were in the bus a lot so we were able to see almost all the park in one day. Seeing as how it takes 10 days to see the whole park if you walk. This picture just not do justice to how blue this lake was, the minerals from the glaciers made the water so blue in this specific lake. It sparkled like crazy as well. We also saw other lakes, waterfalls and amzing mountain ranges. Needless to say our cameras were out, and our mouths wide open in awe. The south of Chile actually reminded me a lot of British Columbia. There is also an incredible amount of wind that is in the South of Chile, so while we were walking outside our hair was a huge mess as well.
This is just another picture showing the mountain ranges, this time we actually got to enjoy it for 20 minutes or so before getting hustled back onto the bus. A lot of the exchangers didn't like the bus either, they wanted to do an extreme hiking exhaust-yourself-until-you-die experience here. As in hiking for 12 hours non-stop for 10 days straight, I quite enjoy the bus at times although I love walking and biking doing it for that long is no fun especially with the crazy weather here in the south. Apparently last year they had problems with the camping here with the weather and bathrooms and ticks, which is why we all stayed in hotels this year.
We headed for lunch at a resturant located in the middle of a glacier lake, and this is my
favourite part of the Torres del Paine. Where there is this massive sharp cliff in the middle of the mountain. We had the best view in the resturant as well as walking over the bridge to get to the spot on the water. We also had 4 guys swim in the glacier water for awhile as well, it is glacier
water so it is super cold and needless to say there was definite shrinkage that day! It was Philipp from Germany, Peter from Michigan, Paul from France, and Frederik from Denmark. Philipp was probably the craziest of them all and was actually swimming until his body went numb, but he is also the one who wanted to hike 10 days in the park for 12 hours a day as well. Not my cup of tea. We still had our fair share of walking I might add. Later after lunch we walked around the lake, which is a sparkling light blue and started our hike through the forest and onto a different lake, that had a median inbetween the lake itself, so much wind and it was terribly hard to walk on sand with sneakers on. All of our hair was a brid's nest filled with pounds of sand in our scalp, later that night it took me twenty mintues to brush it all out after I had washed it with conditioner hoping that it would help untangle it. Apparently it made it worse, but how was I to know. This photo it one of the glacier lakes with my exchange friend "Maddy" from Dallas, Texas. We are from two very different parts of North America and we always have debates of english words that are different, our joke about the accents. Apparently I am a retard for saying "pencil crayons" instead of coloured pencils, as well as being weird (I would say polite) for saying washroom instead of bathroom, none of the americans knew what I was talking about. As well as enlightening them all about how Canada was in WW1 and WW2 Maddy looked so dumbfounded for 10 minutes after I told her, and I even had to prove it by bringing the Dutch exchanger over who proudly insisted that Canada liberated the Dutch in WW2 he was so cute. None of them had ever learned about other countries in the war and thought it crazy that we were in both and entered the wars before America.

If you notice in the picture, the weather already changed and twenty minutes later it was super hot again while we were trekking around an island looking at glaciers. Lots of wind and surf. If you look closely you can see some glaciers in the background as well.

This would be just one of the many glaciers we saw...and after we saw a lot more while walking around in the island. It was an icredible blue colour and we had to hike up a huge hill to even get to see the glaciers. We also met our ecuadorian friend from the night before travelling around here as well. Weird coincidence, and a little odd. When we trekked back across the median the weather had changed once more to violently windy to the point that salt and sand was stinging our faces, wind was whipping through our hair, and it was starting to rain. It also got a lot harder to walk in the sand, and I pretended to pass out onto the rocks, and apparently some foreigners from Britian said "Oh, is she alright? Should we help her" but I started to get up, they obviously couldn't tell between a faint and a teenagers laziness and deciding that rocks make a good bed. This was the last photo of the day. After we visted Cave Milodon where a bear lake creature once inhabited the area and the cave was massive, it could support a tribe in there. But afterwards before heading on the bus Renee said that it looked like the lion king if you just added animals and heat. Which it kind of did. But I just really liked the sun rays through the clouds in this photo. It was such an awesome day, and we went back to our hotel and we didn't eat chicken or mashed potatoes this time. However we got flan twice in a row that day instead, at lunch and at dinner. I just drank the juice the flan was in, the texture threw me off a little which is why none of the exchangers ate the flan. Also having dinner was throwing me off as well, coming from my host family where if you wake up early enough you have breakfast and then we have lunch and nothing afterwards, and defientaly no sweets. Too many kids, so having dessert after every meal and dinner, I was eating a lot.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Fin del Mundo

The end of the world (fin del mundo).
This is where I went for my first Rotary trip here in Chile, the south, not the deep south or down south it was truly on the opposite end of the world close to Antartica.

For 6 days there was 36 exchange students all closely packed together in hotels, planes, and buses. All wild-eyed and crazy and ready for some adventure and to speak in english (which were totally against the rules, but how can 7 consellors stop 36 students from speaking the language they want to speak in, well they can't)

I arrived at the airport December 14th at 7am which meant we had to leave our house in Talagante at 6am. It was not a fun wake-up that morning, went through some super relaxed domestic security (no taking off jackets or shoes) and we made it on the plane in no time. While waiting though all the exchange students spotted a Starbucks which I haven't had in about 4 months even though it was more expensive and not up to the usual standards it was still Starbucks. Especially since everyone here drinks instant coffee, which to me isn't bad at all. Our plane ride was about 3 hours long and lucky for me I got the emergency exit row which is wonderful for someone with super long legs, which Chileans seem to lack. Once we got off the plane we got our bags and boarded our bus, and we headed off into the tundra, and there was nothing much more to look at but clouded skies, little hills, and maybe the sea.
We took a detour onto a dirt road that went on forever until we reached a beach where we could walk a trail and see penguins. Which to my surprise there actually were penguins, usually you go to park reserves to find nothing there. We spent a good hour in the tundra, taking pictures, and we headed to Puerto Natales which was a three hour bus ride from Punta Arenas. We had a nice hotel to which Clea my roomate and me had three beds and a massive room to ourself. This day for lunch and dinner we had chicken and mashed potatoes in a row! It's a big joke that gringo food is chicken and mashed potatoes, every Rotary event we attend we seem to have it. In the night we went to the water, where we met a university student from Ecuador studying in Chile, he talked so slow in Spanish and I understand why the Chileans make fun of other latin american countries for how slow they talk.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Antibiotics

I have antibiotics, why, because I got horribly sick. It was unpleasant to say the least.

It started Thursday, thinking that my 20minutes to dry my hair in the sun was a little too much for my skin I went inside feeling a little woozy. (In the morning I had already noticed the swollen lump on the left side of the neck, but it happens a lot at home so I thought nothing too much of it) I had a nice little nap and woke up feeling worse. By the time I went to bed and started to sleep I had quite the fever, not thinking of waking up my host parents to get some pills I just suffered through the night with intense cold chills and then intense hot flashes (no its not menopause). The morning came and someone finally heard my calls from my door, and I got juice and ibuprofen, and my host mom suggested that we go to the doctor before it got worse on the weekend when she didn't work.

At the doctor I got examined and got asked basic questions. She was set that in the past I had tonsilitis but I just didn't understand the word in Spanish which is basically the same word in both Spanish and English. But she presricibed me some anitbiotics, but at this point I was still able to walk around a bit and still had some strength. The ibuprofen still working I ate some lunch and spent the day in my bed with my laptop and internet, once the meds wore off it wasn't as pleasant. I started to get my fever back and getting dehydrated. I was only allowed ibuprofen every 6-8 hours and only one tablet so after Friday morning the ibuprofen they gave me did nothing noticable for me, I spent Friday with a fever, and a jug of water beside my bed because we had no juice or chiken broth which I so longed for. Friday night was brutal, but not as bad as Thursday. I also had my first dose of amoxocilin.

Saturday morning brought nothing good, and my neck and back were sore from my lumpy pillow and the body isn't supposed to lie down for that long. I had troubles going to the bathroom since I was so dizzy, and I didn't feel like eating. Saturday was all fever and more meds. My host dad asked if I was able to go out to a b-day party with them, here I am lying in bed with crumpled hair, hadn't had a shower in a couple of days, sweating, and tired and he asks me that. I was surprised. Sunday morning seemed promising and my fever was down really low, I even had a sandwhich and had some breakfast, by the time 3pm hit I had my ultime fever at 104 F it was my bodys last fighting kick at the bacteria or something, it was bad, my host parents didn't know what to do but give me my anitbiotics early and have more juice on my table.

(Apparently that night they had a party in the other house for one of their friends b-day which half of my friends were there! I didn't know and my friends didn't come see me :( but they said it would be really weird trying to find me, meh)

Monday I had no fever, the main goal was regaining my strength and not holding onto the walls when I walked. I ate, and now I am all better, just thanking that it didn't happen before my big south trip on Sunday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's bound to happen

It's bound to happen with all these micros (buses) driving crazily around with no route per se, or at least to the average traveller. I have finally taken the plunge and decided that if I ever want to get out and do things on a daily basis, and on a whim, I would need to learn how to take a micro.

Some micros are easier to take than others, like when I am in downtown Talagante at the bus station where all the buses stop at (so I don't have to flag them down) and I can easily see their signs in the wind shield, and easily choose my micro home. Which is any bus with the sign of "Isla de Maipo" on it. I board the bus pay my money say what city I am going to and I can wait a little bit. I can't relax because I am always worried I am going to miss my street. Once I see we are near my street I go up to the driver and ask him to stop here, or if I am lucky there will be just a button I have to press, I then get off the bus and I am done with it. That is the easy micro for me, it is not so easy at night though, seeing as how out of the city and into the country there are no street lights which makes seeing where we are that much harder, and makes my walk back home a little scarier. My dirt road won't have any strange people or anything of the sorts, but we have one house that doesn't have a gate around their house and they also have like 10 dogs on their property that wander the road. During the day it is fine since they are too lazy and it is daylight so they can see you, but at night if they are not sleeping they sometimes can bark you and it does get freaky, I have been lucky when it did happen my host dad was in his car behind me coming back home from work.

The other day my friend asked me to meet him in the plaza, and today I decided I would take the micro since I couldn't expect anyone to just drive me there. So I got my exact change, asked my host mom if there was any buses that from our road will not go to Talagante, which she said they all go to Talagante, which is a relief. I got my glasses so I could see the signs and I was off on our long dirt road headed for the main road. This is what I don't like doing, I don't like standing on a street by myself in the country where guys in cars an shout and whistle at me all they please. I am just praying to God that they don't actually stop and offer me a ride. I have been fortunate enough that it hasn't happened yet. Once I see a micro I put my arm out to the side and point my index finger signalling the micro to pull over, I was lucky enough that the first micro I saw pulled over. I am assuming since I am a girl and alone it pulled over, seeing as how whenever me and my brother try to flag down micros at the same spot about 5 will at least pass us without pulling over. I was happy to board the bus fearing more teenagers in cars passing me by, even though I wasn't fully confident in the bus seeing as how this was my first time taking it in this direction. It turned out to be fine, and I got off and made it to the plaza in no time.

Turns out when my friend said meet me in the plaza he meant a plaza of a different smaller city, but forgot to what city so I just automatically assumed. When he called, he offered to come to Talagante and find me but I said I would probably be fine trying to go to the other city. Of course I was scared shitless sort of, reassured me that I could ask people on the bus where it was. I also figured that this was an educated risk, since it was daylight out, and if I though I went to far or if I got lost I could always cross the street to the other side and take a micro back to Talagante and I would be fine.

At the bus station I know exactly what bus to get on, I just don't know where to get off, so I eventually ask this nice looking lady beside me if she knew the Isla and if she knew where the Supermarket was (me and my friend decided to meet there instead) she didn't really know exactly but she was really nice and said it was after when she got off and asked another lady to help me, which this lady talked super fast and was talking about how the bus turns around. I was utterly confused by her but I was proud of myself for actually talking in spanish to perfect starngers who didn't fully understand my situation. I was still slightly nervous but I told me head that you can't get lost and the worst scenario is that you take a micro back to Talagante. I finally understand what the lady is talking about when I see the plaza and we make a turn into the downtown of the city, so now I am searching for the super which I have seen once in my life here, but I can't find it and we make another turn and we are in the residential area. I quickly ask a another lady if we passed the supermarket she didn't know, so I ask the driver and he didn't understand me so I decide to get off the bus. I wasn't official lost since I knew if I just walked a few minutes back to the downtown and then walk another 10minutes to where I saw the plaza I would be fine. Turns out Isla de Maipo is a lot smaller than I thought, so when I reached the downtown my friend called and asked me where I was so I told him what happened and he eventually found me. It was a laughable situation. I told him how I couldn't see the super and how nobody knew where it was. We eventually pass it the super and I can see why I didn't see it, it was so tiny that I was probably looking on the other side and we passed it. At least I know how to take a micro to this city.

Thank goodness for common sense. As well as in daylight this situation is really hilarious but if it was in the night (although I never really do travel at night unless I am with friends) I think I would have been freaking out a bit more. But it's bound happen to get lost with a bus system like this.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Beavertale

I am obligated to Rotary to write a Beavertale. It's basically a summary of what my life has been like here, and I have to write one every third month. Not that I have been here for three months yet.

If you want to visit the actual site where my HIDEOUS rotary photo will be posted along with my entry it is http://rotary7080.org, then under "Site Pages" go to "Youth Exchange 7080" then on the left again it should say "Beavertales" and I am on the second page. :)

ENJOY

I arrived in Santiago, Chile August 24th on a very foggy day, and I was invited by some brisk weather (which was very refreshing seeing as how Burlington is always in a heat wave in the summer). I was greeted by my counsellor (Sofia) and my host parents Fernando & Consuelo. By the early morning I was already at my new home in Talagante (30 minutes away from the capital city, Santiago). When I arrived at the house I was greeted by my siblings, all 5 of them, Jose (20) is studying music, Tety (18) is my older sister and is studying obstetrics in university, than as my host dad would say there are the “little monsters”. He would be referring to Victoria (6), Jaime (5) and Rafaela (3). Coming from a very tiny (& quiet) family living with so many people has been quite the change for me.

The first things I learned in Spanish were “I am hungry” “I am cold” and “Hot water bottle”. Seeing as how I am now on the opposite side of the world, it is winter here, but nothing compared to Canada (it’s more like Burlington’s spring) but the houses have no central heating. So the temperature outside is the temperature inside the house, and needless to say I wasn’t ready for the cold weather and neither were my toes. After a month the weather got a lot warmer so that I didn’t have to wear my hoodie, sweater, long john’s, and wool socks to bed anymore.

I started school my 4th day here and this is when I really started to learn Spanish, or some may call it Castellano. (I consider I am learning two languages here Spanish & Castellano since they are so incredibly different, my friends can talk in Castellano and I will not be able to understand one word, where as in Spanish I can understand everything if they pronunciate). Chileans have a reputation to talk at lightening speed and with a language all their own. The majority of my family works at my school “English College” so I was being helped at every step of the way my first day there, but don’t be fooled by the name. The big joke is that the only thing that is in English at the school is the name. I was placed in the same class as my host brother who is currently in the U.S. So you know that everyone in the whole school knew I was coming, and for weeks after I first came there people I didn’t know would shout my name (or attempt to seeing as how Spanish isn’t the kindest language to my name). My first day was a lot of smiling, nodding my head, and shrugging my shoulders, and some more smiling. Even though I didn’t know much Spanish I was able to make it through the day with everyone thinking I was the charismatic “gringa” from Canada (“gringa” means North American Foreigner). I like school because it helps my Spanish and I have a good group of friends there, and the courses that I actually try in are Chemistry, Music, English, and Gym Class (which usually consists of soccer and the teams are usually the girls against me, and I usually win). Although now school is ending for me next week and then I have summer vacation for almost 4 months, this is do to the fact that I am in the graduating class, hence less school. So, in March I will go back to the school and do Cuarto Medio (Grade 12) over again but with a new class.

Being a “gringa” (foreigner) means that I get a lot of attention (even if I don’t want it some days). But I have the luxury that since people do know who I am they help me out a lot more and understand why I am making so many hand signals (or more compared to the average Chilean). Many times I get suckered into doing certain things because I don’t actually realize the full extent of what I am agreeing too. My friends just tell me the bascis and nothing more, seeing as how it makes it a lot easier for me to understand. My good friend who is very into music one day asked me if I wanted to sing with him while he played the guitar. So I said sure, why not? The only other piece of information I got was to be at the school on Saturday at a certain time. It was only a couple days later when Jose told me that I was actually singing at a festival, in front of people. So it turned out that I sang three songs by myself with my friends being the band. On my last song “Imagine” the music cut out and I had to sing the last verse with no music, I got quite the applause. After the show, I had eight, 10 year old girls run after me, asking me questions, the next day in school they found my classroom and asked me more questions….luckily my friends persuaded them to leave so I could hang out with my friends.

The stereotype of Chile would be that is super hot all year round, and the food is spicy as well. In reality the winters are cold! Not incredibly cold but enough to notice and make you wear multiple sweaters, as well as the food is anything but spicy. The food is very simple and healthy for you (at least in my family, I have learned to make things with out having a microwave, and I can do without dessert after dinner now). Lunch is definitely the largest meal of the day and I am not hungry until the next morning. We have a variety of things such as pasta, and lots of soups and stews (for winter), but we always have bread and ensalada (like salad but the dressing is lemon and salt). We also have lots of tea, coffee, and hot milk. You are considered weird to want cold milk, which is exactly what I wanted on my first day here, to be sorely disappointed when it turned out to taste like crème. I now too can’t drink milk cold!

September 18 is Chile’s independence day, and that week I got to experience lots of authentically Chilean and Latin American things. I was introduced to asados (BBQ), empanadas, and all sorts of Chilean meat and other dishes. The whole month the country was adorned in its flag and the only colours you could see was red, white and blue. Rodeos were happening, and it was normal to see someone dressed in traditional clothing with their hat and poncho dancing the cueca. (Which I can dance the cueca). It was also the time for partying and I was lucky enough the party was at my house so I was able to go to bed early (6am) and go to sleep when most people went home at 10pm. I still don’t understand how they do it.

I have definitely learned that you have to laugh at yourself, especially when learning a new language. Numerous times I would mess up words such as spoon and sexy together. Or have my friends as a joke have me write different answers for some school work. You just learn to laugh at it and when people bring it up you laugh along and have a good time with the story. Also, having three little kids in the house (when I am used to just one other [quiet] sibling in the house in Canada) makes your life very noisy, and I have given up on trying to break up every fight or console all the tears. I know to just laugh when they have tantrums because a minute later they will be on to the next distraction. But they can also bring other joys in my life, like when Jaimito runs around the house with his pants always half way down his butt, or Vikki trying to save a baby cat, and Rafa always showing up at my door with some sort of make-up all over her face. Also when our yard will be flooded with water and the kids decide it will make a decent pool for the day. Those are some things that are really hilarious and enjoyable that you just don’t experience when you have grown up with a brother very close to your age.

I remember in the beginning of my exchange and even now I will be in the car just thinking “Wow, I am in Chile!” while I am heading off to someplace I would never think I would go to, or do at some ridiculous hour. Like, coming back to the house at 6am when you left the house at 10pm and before you enter the house you see the sunrise over the Andes. That is when you think “Wow, I would never have done that in Canada, nowhere even close”. This whole exchange still seems semi-surreal to me, I can’t imagine going back to Canada now. My life is in Chile right now.

Cuídate

Taylor

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rodeo

So, I have been slacking in the blogging. Mainly because things have become similar (almost mundane to me) but if I wrote about it, it may sound interesting to you. Who knows. Also, my english writing sucks as of now, and writing in English now gives me a headache, whereas before concentrating on Spanish gave me a headache. They have now reversed.

I went to the Rodeo last weekend on the Sunday. My host dad Fernando is very into horses and grew up with them and all. So him, and his brother still ride horses and do rodeos.

Now to explain what they actually did in the rodeo:

The rodeo is obviously a circle, but it also has a stable wall in the middle, with two swinging "fences" as you might call them on either side. So that you can create a smaller ovalish shape when you close the fences, and when they are open you create a larger circle.

You have two riders in the oval at first and they both wait at where the cow will come out, they generally try to make the cow run around border of the oval numerous times usually three so it gets used to running and following the wall. One horse is at the back of the cow, and the other rider is at the side of the cow with the horse running sideways so that it pushes the cow into the barrier so it stays in the directed course.

After a couple rounds, the first fence opens and they run the cow around circle barrier until almost the other side of the circle. There are like "gymnast mats" attached to the walls, but only on these two certain areas. (I can't find the word for it but its like the mats they put around huge posts when you're skiing). Once you reach that area the horse on the side tries to ram the cow into the wall. You get a certain amount of point for how well you rammed the cow into the wall. They want clean hits not dirty ones, if you understand what I am getting at.

Once the cow has been rammed, they direct the cow back to the other side, and ram it into another wall (with mats of course). Then they go back to the other side, repeat, then direct it back to the other side and direct the cow into the outside of the barrier which is now opened.

You get good points for ramming the cow cleanly and at the right section, you also get a point if you run the cow out of the oval properly as well. You can also get bad points if the cow runs in the opposite direction, and you don't direct the cow into the outside barrier properly either.

Where I was sitting with some of my family we had a good show of the oval, and where one of the matted walls were. The oval is probably the most dangerous because the cow comes out all mad and not wanting to run around properly. At one point we were all watching, and the cow jumped over the fence into the circle. It went straight past us, needless to say my host mom quickly grabbed hold of Rafa and pulled her to her chest. The cow did it another time, and once again it looked like it wanted to jump over where we were sitting! Ahh.

Plenty of times Tety and me got sprayed with dirt from the hooves, and when we were eating icecream every time they came around we had to protect it. It was quite hilarious.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I am meat, to be measured.

Today was one of those days were you just go "Wow, that was messed up!"
Although since I am an exchange student I am able to take that statement and not let it bother me and just accept it as just part of the culture no matter how wrong or how inethical today was.

So what did happen today?

Basically, it was a meat show.

Things have started to become mundane and I know what to expect each day. So, when I walked into the gymnasium I was expecting to run a lot of laps around the gym, then stretch, then do some random sprints, then play "soccer" if you could even call it that with the girls in the class. Most times the teams will consist of one team against me. But today was a different story. I was handed a sheet that reminded me of the sheets that I am given in gym in Canada, where I have to write down my flexibility, vertical jump and other measurements of strength. This sheet was slightly different. It didn't ask me about my strength, or my flexibilty or even how my cardio was. Instead it named body parts. Because here, strength and what your body can do is not important its what it looks like.

First they measured my height which was slightly a problem seeing as how I am the tallest girl by far. Then they had to measure my weight, I was not entered into a private room so I could see the number by myself, nor was this whole process in a private manner seeing as it was on the stage in the gym for everyone to see. Of course when they told me my weight it didn't mean anything to me since it was in kilograms but it turns out I have gained a little bit of weight but nothing noticable and it hasn't forced me to buy new clothes. We then had to do some calculations to see how much fat we have in kilograms, which doesn't work because it doesn't take into account for how much muscle you have. They don't use newer machines that send a very tiny electrical shock to see much fat and how muscle you have. So most of the numbers are completely false.

Anyhow, I thought this whole thing was over and that we might actually do something physical. But, it wasn't over. We then went to using a skinfold measurer (google it) to measure the rest of the fat on our bodies. Our male gym teacher proceded to measure the fat on the back of our arm (he also gets part of the tricep as well), also on our shoulder blade area on our back, and then on our lower abdomen. Of course it was conducted in a professional manner but after I was measured I was in such a state of shock because that should just never happen. It just felt so wrong, and I knew in Canada numerous parents would have contacted the school about it, but here it was treated like nothing different. Nothing about that day to them was wrong or insanely different.

The next step was to measure around our bust, the smallest part of our belly and our hips. Not really sure what the bust can say about your fat seeing as how everyone has a different ribcage size. It just seemed so weird. I am so used to having a machine telling me my body fat precentage that having a bunch of false measurements seemed so.........incorrect. Not to mention all the "healthy body talks" I have had and all the self body image conversations I have gone through, so when I was 'analyzing' this situation I couldn't help but think of all the negative body thoughts and images that these girls could have. Especially when one of my friends actually said "Hahaha my arm fat is lower than yours" who says that. I was so surprised so I just laughed along and excepted that this is Chile.

Well, it wasn't over yet. We then did some abdominal exercises, the basic ones you would expect but then they got weirder and weirder as went furthur along. It probably wouldn't have been so bad if the all the guys in our class wasn't watching us (the guys were expected to do nothing the whole gym class so watching us was some entertainment). One of our exercises was in a bent over position while lifting our leg like a dog. I am sure there is merit to this exercise but it is rather embarrasing when the whole class is watching you, and calling your name, namely only mine.

Today was weird. Today was messed up. Today was different. Today I was culture shocked for the first time since I have been here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Updates...

SO, my internet was broken (well, not broken, but my host-dad just didn't pay the bill so it got disconnected for a week). Having no internet for a week sucked. But, I survived?
The real problem was that I am used to talking to my Chilean friends via MSN, and I couldn't do that anymore. (sniff sniff). As well as it is so much easier to understand them when I can read what they are saying and I tend to learn more on MSN. So it was a bummer not having it.

But some updates;

a) I have now joined an actual GIRLS soccer team. It's called Soccer Girls. I still don't get why they insist on english names for certain things, and they still have the grammar wrong. So I play Saturday mornings, the field is a bit smaller and we play 9 aside. I play central defense now, and I thought I was going to be like a "sub" since I am new but I was put on right away and for the whole game I wasn't taken off at all. Hah, and my jersey on the back says "T.James" I think we won the game like 5-0 but I wasn't really paying attention to the score. Oh and of course I am like the tallest girl on the field.

b) Apparently I have been told that there is only like 20 days left of school until it is summer break. Well, at least for my grade since I am "graduating" we get more time off since everyone has 2 days to write their PSU its like SAT's they are entrance exams to university and you get certain points on your tests. But, I don't have to take them! Then we go to the beach for like a grad trip. Woot. But I am sad its ending because I won't see most of thos people again, only some of them.

c) It's getting warmer here. As in I don't have to wear socks to bed anymore or a sweater. I am actually starting to sweat with all the blankets that I have on my bed.

d) I don't have to switch schools. At least my consellor gave me that, but I still have to switch families. And, the idea is to switch me to a family that is known to be very overprotective with the boy they have now, so I can only imagine what they would do with a gringa girl like me. So we'll see, I need my freedom, especially since I have to switch in the summer I don't want to be locked up in a house all day!

e) Today, I received my first letter! Tis sad my first letter came two months into my exchange. Well except for my package from my mom. Hurrah for Carly (Platypus) to be the first one, and it was great to get a letter!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Rotary Weekend

The past three days have been fun-filled Rotary adventures.

Friday all the inbounds had dinner at a restuarant in Santiago.
Saturday we toured Santiago and at night we went to Vina del Mar.
Sunday we toured around Vina del Mar and Valparaiso.

So, Friday night we ate at "Buenos Muchachos" which was a rather fancy looking restuarant compared to what we were used to so we all looked under dressed. But we had some good times just hanging out with the other exchangers (speaking english) and dancing. We had to leave at 2am and the next morning we had to meet up at the bus at 9am. So, seeing as how by the time I got home at 3am and I had to wake up at 7:30am none of the exchangers got much sleep.

In Santiago we toured Pablo Neruda's House which is a famous Chilean who wrote a lot of important pieces of writing. He had the coolest house. Parts of it reminded me of the Hobbit House in Lord of the Rings because the ceiling were so short and it had circluar doorways. He also had two houses, we were told that the second one was for his mistress. It was super cool because from the kitchen there as a secret doorway to the stairs and a whole upper floor. Devious but awesome.

We then went to the La Moneda which is where the President lives (and by the way the President is a woman) It's basically the equivalent of the white house but this is located right in the middle of Santiago. Like try placing a building that big on like Queen Street in Toronto. After the Moneda we went up the hill "Santa Lucia" to eat lunch, we also had to climb halfway up to the lift cars so that it could take us up the rest of the way. This hill was the hill that the first Spanish conquerer climbed to claim Chile for Spain. On the top of the hill there is a big statue of the Virgin Mary.

Santiago behind me, it was a cloudy day but most of that is smog. It hadn't rained in awhile so the smog gets pretty bad as in you can't see some of the hills that should be easily visible.
On a lift car, Santiago behind me again.

After Santiago we went to Vina del Mar. By the time we got there it was night time. So we went out for dinner which turned out to be at a mall at a fast food place that just made 50 orders of everything. Quite the change compared to last night. We then went to a disco, but only for us students Mady and I had to talk to the D.J about getting rid of the gringo music and playing some reggaeton instead. Just because we are gringos doesn't mean we can't dance. We then went to our rooms in the hostel. Which was pretty nice for a hostel seeing as we all got our own bed.

The next morning we went to Valparaiso which is the city next to Vina, and we went up a cable car to the upper portion of the city seeing as how the cities are on a hill. It reminds me of San Fransisco. We walked around a bit. The Rotarians would lead us around and then be like oops wrong way we should have gone this way. Needless to say no one knew what we were doing. I love Valparaiso though its so cute. All the houses are colourful and adorable. This is Valparaiso behind me. Cloudy again.
This is a typical street with all the colours.
This is Vina del Mar in the background it's less colourful and more touristy with it's beaches where Valparaiso is a port so I find it more cultural.

The rest of the day was spent on the water in a boat, and we also had lunch somewhere else just north of Vina. Then we all had to leave, so we could go back to Santiago.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

You May Say that I'm a Dreamer...

Since my Spanish is obviously not fluent (yet) and I have definately not even created a dent in the second language of Chile ( yes, there is a second unknown language that "Lonely Planet" didn't tell you about it's called Castellano which is basically Chilean slang but it might as well be a second language) So whenever my friends want me to do something they tell me the bare minimum.

This is what happened on a Tuesday;

My good friend Marcelo (who is totally into Guns N' Roses and rock & roll galore) asked me do I want to sing with him while he plays and then Saturday we would play together, seeing as how it totally doesn't matter what you sound like as long as you know the english words, I was like sure. I won't get embarrased singing with one my best friends so might as well go out and do something. Of course by Wednesday I told my brother about it, and he said "Oh, you're doing it for that festival in the school on Saturday right"........um I am not quite sure actually. So of course I ask Marcelo and it turns out that yes, it is for the festival, and yes there are going to be people watching. This is not what I had in mind, seeing as how I only sing when no one is in the house. But, I guess that means nothing now. Thursday during music class (which I hope I can go to everytime seeing as how I chose art which turned out to be a very boring class) we went up to a locked music room to practice, the three songs they chose, well I didn't really know the words all to well or where I was even supposed to come in to sing. We were basically starting from scratch. I had papers of lyrics I had to read from, it was not so pretty. By Friday we were basically allowed to skip school to practice for the day, by then I had 2 of the songs memorized. With a piano, and 2 guitars going and me with no microphone I can't hear myself and I was rather getting annoyed by all the noise. But with luck, one of the guitar players had to write a history test which apparently took forever. So it was the Pedro playing the piano, and Mela playing the guitar....but a lot quieter this time. It was great I could hear myself, and I actually made progress on where to come in to sing. Seeing as how the singer and piano have more in common then the guitars. In a band the guitars are almost like selfish little children creating all the noise and getting all the attention (solos anyone?) where as the piano and the singer are quiet and are more to keep the song on track. So, with only one guitar it was great. I even had to sing "less pretty and more gritty" in a part of a song which really does hurt your voice.

Saturday we had to be at the school by 2:30 to get some practice time in which really didn't work seeing as how we never really got the stage to practice. Or at least for me I didn't get to practice with the microphone at all. Our drumist was like we don't have time to pracitce with the microphone but your awesome so you don't need too. Haha I basically said "Screw you all on the stage I am using that microphone" and once someone turned it on I did just that. I sang bits and pieces of the songs ...and even some of our guitar players joined in on some parts. So for the 4 hours of waiting for the show to start we basically sat around talked, tried to practice but we eventually went up to the music room to practice each song twice, and they basically told me this "If you mess up, keep singing, cause no one really knows english anyways" Which is true because when we were listening to other people singing we couldn't tell if it was spanish or english because there english pronounciation was so bad.

While waiting to play, I had invited Clea and Liz (other exchange students) to come and watch me. At first I was thinking it might be awkward for all my friends to be with my exchanger friends just because we would be speaking english, but it wasn't it was actually pretty great. Since we would talk in English and we would actually translate almost every thing we said. It helped us practice since we were talking a lot more. As well as I find translating things a lot easier than just speaking Spanish to someone. So, Fabi was my main friend that we talked to and it was pretty awesome. As well as Pedro, Marcelo and Mela. Hahah in Clea's school she apparently only has one good-looking guy whereas in my school they arn't as few. I introduced her to the Baeza Brothers, her jaw dropped. She hadn't seen three good-looking guys at once in her entire time at her school, whereas in one moment I can show her three ahahah. It was hilarious. Everytime she would turn around and she would see Pedro (yes, I do have a friend named Pedro, but not like the guy from Napolean Dynamite, this one has a jew fro) she would gasp and be omg this is so not fair ahhaa. Of course I had to shuffle them around and make them kiss a bunch of people they don't know, but that is the Chilean thing to do. But, it was awesome how my very two different groups of friends came together so well. It does help that they are gringas as well!

We were the last people to officially go on the stage, and our band name was named "T-james" yeah it was named after my nickname I was very embarrased. As well as the master of ceremonies had to announce that I was the foreign exchange student from Canada. When we were finally ready and all the sound checks were done, we first sang November Rain the hardest song for me to sing because of all the entries but I nailed almost all of them and even when I didn't no one could tell. The hardest song was done with. Then came Patience. It went fine and dandy. We were then told to get off even though we were supposed to do 2 more songs....but then they said "Oh well do one more" so we did Imagine. This is basically just the singer and a piano song, with a slight hint of a guitar. It was going really well when we came to the last chorus.

"You may say that I'm a dreamer" ....the piano got disconnected by someone. In this song the piano is the main instrument, so the guitar stopped as well. Ugh after a couple seconds of fumbling through words I decided to go solo (accapalo? I can't spell) I did the rest of the song by myself, and I got the biggest around of applause through the whole section. It was amazing. When we got off the stage I was greeted by Liz and Clea and gave them the biggest hugs ever (they already call them Taylor hugs because they are so big). I was also greeted by like 6-8 10year old girls. Who ran after me. They asked me questions about the usually things. I couldn't even congratulate my band mates since they swarmed me. Since Clea and Liz were there as well they swarmed us. They first only talked to Liz and me since we have coloured eyes and stick out a lot whereas Clea has dark hair and eyes. She was lucky for a couple of minutes when my brother came over to hug me. (This of course made the girls scream "pololo. pololo.pololo"[boyfriend] I had to explain to them that he was my brother and he was Chilean) Lucky that he did that because it got me away from the girls. And since we had to talk to Marcelo on the bleachers I was even luckier that I was able to climb on the bleachers and hop over them to get away ...for awhile. Liz got away as well, and Clea got backed into a corner we couldn't even see her since the girls had pretty much attacked her. Liz and me may have been bad friends for not helping her but we weren't going to risk our lives ahahha. We had some time to talk with people for 5 minutes when Clea came back with our fan club. Finally Fabi told them to leave and we had some peace.

We eventually had to go. We were getting a ride from The Baeza Family (if you haven't noticed the Baeza family and the Perez family are very close they know everything of the other family and they both love they other family to death) Of course another Chilean thing is that the number of seats in the car doesn not define the number of people that can fit in it. Seeing as how it was suppose to seat 7 people and we fit 10 people. All the girls in the back and the boys in the middle. We were able to talk in all Spanish except for a couple of inside jokes which is going to happen when you know a different language and you want to make a secret comment. We eventually arrived at our house, and Liz, Clea and me were talking about our different experiences with Chileans that only other exchangers understand. Jose joined in on the english. Even though we should be speaking Spanish but I thought we deserved it since we translated everything and talked to a bunch of fanatical girls in Spanish when we couldn't even hear them properly from the music.

That day, was just such an awesome day, since you combined an event I worked hard for, with being able to speak Spanish and be understood most of the time, and have both your Spanish friends and exchanger friends come together and be able to talk to one another and conjoin. It was just plain AWESOME!!

These are the days that I love..

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rotary

I got an e-mail saying The Rotary Club of Talagante would like to invite you to a meeting seeing as I have been in Chile for 5 weeks now this invitation is semi-late but I wasn't expecting to go to a meeting at all, because I was told that Rotary doesn't expect you to do anything. Compared to in North America where the exchange student has to go to every meeting and join in on all the Rotary Club's activities. So here I have an invitation as with the rest of the 3 other exchange students that are hosted by the same club. Phillip from Germany, Liz from U.S.A (Oklahoma), and Clea from U.S.A (Arizona).

I had to arrive by 8:30pm thinking that this is when the meeting would start but of course here in Chile nothing happens on time. My sister and I were actually the second group to arrive along with Phillip and his host parents and the president of the club. I wore multiple sweaters to the meeting thinking that it might be freezing but instead they had a fire going (in Chile you never know if the place will be freezing cold or sweltering) so I was dying of heat. The other exchange students eventually arrived and we made some awkward Spanish conversations with the other Rotarians. It does get quite annoying when someone asks you a question, and you answer it, and they re ask you it, and you re answer, then finally someone will say something lengthy just to cover all the basis, so the Rotarian will finally leave. As in I swear this lady was saying "How long have you been in Chile" so I said "One month" then she re asked the same thing, so I said the same thing, then my good friend Liz jumps in and says we arrived this date we leave this date, so we are here for almost a year, that answer is good enough to make them leave. Ahah after they leave I make sure I was hearing the right question, which I was ..... or so says the other students. Situations like these make you think you are really dumb but you arn't...just other people are really dumb.

Eventually we had our own circle of English going on, didn't last for too long seeing as how Sofia (our consellor) insisted that we had to speak in Spanish. So when I wanted to ask a question it had to be in Spanish. My first one to Tety was to ask Sofia if he had to switch host families because I don't want too. Of course Sofia said yes, but Tety started to argue just a little bit saying how I shouldn't have to leave ahaha. Sofia then joined our circle, so english vanished and spanish appeared. It is the weirdest thing talking to someone in Spanish to a person who is natively fluent in English. It just seems wrong. But, we were actually able to talk quite fast about certain things and understand eachother. It is a lot easier talking to adults in a quiet room than it is to teenagers who speak fast and with lots of slang and in a noisy classroom. At one point I thought that I wasn't learning Spanish fast enough but coming to the meeting really showed I was learning it and speaking it, it's just hard to make yourself understood with teenagers. Compared to Rotarians you can understand most of what they say.

We also asked Sofia the dreaded question if the rumor was true that we are going to have to switch schools after the summer. She said yes. We are all horrified. The fact that we have to move host families but also move schools!!! We were not happy. The reason is because the host families live too far away from the different schools, but still they could find different host families not just ones that have children on exchange, or they could just not switch us at all. We are all not happy about this arrangement seeing as how some of us are actually going to have to live in different cities which is not fair to us at all, when we were just getting settled. We are all going to try and protest it, i.e talk to people back home. Seeing as how we all thought the rule was that you never never never were supposed to switch schools. Maybe I could convince my host aunt and uncle to host me so I can still go to the same school ;) seeing as how they were very unhappy with the news that I may be leaving the school. Even though I am going into a new grade, I love my school, and I have friends in the next grade, and my school is family run by my host family so I know everyone in the school.

Eventually the Rotary meeting got started, a whole lot of reading, and ringing the bell. Whereas in Canada you ring the bell once to begin, and once to end, and perhaps to shut people up. Here it was ring to being, ring to end, eat some more and talk, ring to begin again, ring to end, then you could talk....this happened so many times. It was so different to back home because there was less people, and no exciting things like Happy or Sad Dollars (where if osmething happened over the week you pay a dollar to tell everyone) plus this gives you a chance to know what people have been doing and raise money at the same time. No jokes made about people or nothing. No one had to sing the national anthem or the 4 truths (Is it the truth, is it fair to all concerned, does it create good will and friendship...etc.) There was none of that. The food was delicious though and having it at night seemed odd compared to in Canada it is bright and early in the morning. And the wine on the table was a big joke with the exchangers seeing as how we are not allowed to drink, we thought this could be a test, and made sure at toasts we promptly grabbed the water and not the wine ahah. However I sat through it all and it wasn't boring since it was new to me and I got to talk in english with my friends that I hardly see. It was even cooler that my host sister could understand most of what we said (she did study in England for 5 months) but couldn't talk back quite as much (sounds like me here) but I was actually able to translate what she didn't know which was quite awesome since I knew enough Spanish to do that. However it was getting late as in 11:30 so me and Tety were allowed to leave "early" because Tety had to study ...of course we thought we could get away with just saying good bye to the exchange students and Juan and Sofia my consellors, but no this is Chile..we had to kiss everyone in the room. So it took forever to get away. Which we laughed about it outside.

The meeting overall was pretty awesome, it was so good to see the other exchangers and talk in english and make fun about things that happen in school, and whatnot. We are still not happy about having to move cities, families, and schools. It is like starting an exchange all over again. Except for the fact that we will know the language and the general culture. But the hardest part of an exchange I find is not the language or culture it is fitting in and knowing you feel comfortable somewhere and that you belong and that you are no longer that "gringa". That feeling will be gone when we all move I think.

So I think we will all do some researching and see what we can do about it. :)
Don't worry I am staying positive!