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!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fútbol

"As I stepped out of the car, I realized everyone was watching....."


Since I have been in Chile I haven't had all too much exercise some random soccer games here and there with my brother and his friends. Of course I needed to do somthing in the afternoons as well. So, I went hunting to see where girls could play soccer.

Of course, nada.

Girls "just don't play soccer" here.

But, I saw a sign in the school saying soccer Mondays to Wednesday 3pm-5pm. So I asked my host-mom if I should do this. The next day she talked to the coach and she told me that I was allowed to go but I would be the only girl, since the rest of the team was guys. (She made is sound like "girls could play" but really it was an all guys team, meant for guys, and only guys. But seeing as how my host-family owns the school they can make exceptions plus the coach wouldn't say no. So I got in.) Of course this was only practices so I could have some exercise.

I started the next day. I didn't bring too much soccer equipment because of lack of space so this would include me not bringing proper soccer shorts. Mmm yeah. But I had lunch (which was really too heavy and I felt really sick) and I went to school, and found the teacher. We drove to the field, and most of the team was already there getting ready. As I stepped out of the car everyone was watching....

I can speak for most of the guys there that this was there first time ever playing with a girl, let alone just seeing a girl wanting to play soccer. So I got lots of looks. I just got ready like everyone else, and waited until I was invited to start passing with them (here it is kind of too "macho" for a girl to do anything equal to a man or to be just as strong) so waiting was my best bet. As I waited under a tree while hearing the whistles and kissing noises I was getting from the school behind me, I was eventually asked to come out and pass the ball around.

I am very sure they were quite interested if I could even pass, so I made sure all my passes were clean and precise, and that I received everyone perfectly. All was going okay. Until we started doing some real work. I had one person I recognized from class and was immediatly paired up with him (the other day he still thought I couldn't speak AT ALL) so we had a nice little chat while we had to run around the field for a while, man was I tired, no sports in two months really does a number on you. Mr Messier's words come to mind "It's easier to stay in shaope then to get into shape" ughh how right that is. At least I don't smoke, or it would have been worse. We commenced with numerous dribbling activites and running galore. I was exhausted. Needless to say at that moment I never wanted to come back to this ever. All I wanted to do was finish this up to at least make sure no one could say "haha we knew a girl couldn't make it through a guy's pratice" so my only goal was to finish with everyone else, and maybe with some dignity.

Eventually we had a break, and everyone started passing again. I was content to be the loner on the bench and relax perhaps, but no I actually had a friend and he wanted to pass with me. So at least I had a nice friend. Then we had a scrimmage. The coach not giving me a position still not knowing how I actually play or where I played. So I just cozied myself up to the spot of left defense. One of the players said something at the beginning of the game couldn't quite get it but I think it had to do with none of them playing with a girl before etc. I asked him to repeat it slowly but he repeated it just as fast, oh well. At the beginning of the game I didn't touch the ball, and the players were faster than any girl I ever had to chase down in Canada. But, I got my break. I went after someone and got the ball (of course everyone had to cooo at it because a girl beat a guy no less) so I earned my respect with that one moment and was then passed the ball. I even almost had an assist. Which the coach was very proud and was going on and on about how I almost had an assist. hahah

Eventually, it was over, I was sore, my calves were, sore, my hips, my ankles.....ugh. And my stomach hurt like no other due to the heavy lunch. But, I did leave with dignity, and my host mom told me later that the coach was impressed because he thought that I was going to be bad, and by the end everyone was asking what my name was of course I have to say it 5 times before they realize that "Taylor" that funny sounding word, is, actually my name. (Someone asked me my name during the game and I had to keep repeating it that the ball went past him...oops)

I got to the school, was giving some yogurt that I happily chugged down, kept getting comments on "oooooooh" your cheeks are so red "you actually played?" ...well yeah.

So I accomplished my goal. I finished it. I think I may go again. But we are creating a womens league Saturday mornings, so I will join that, of course that really does conflict was partying on the Friday night, especially when coming home at 6am is the norm. Oh, and I also had tea with sugar and a celery leaf to help my tummy (mi wata)...I think it sort of helped. It was refreshing though. And, this morning mymuscles ached a lot!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Never Until I went to Chile

I have never __________until my exchange to Chile.

seen soo many stray dogs
not worn a seatbelt in a car
had a fence, and a gate around the house
had a maid (Mom & Dad even though you think you count as one, you don't)
drank so much tea in my life
ate so much bread
taught people how to dance
danced to Reggaton
have been told that "I am sooo beautiful" by soo many people, everyday
had someone shout "Taylor, I love you!" in the middle of class
had an empanada
had no heating in the house
had to wear a uniform at school
had talked in Spanglish
wore long johns
wore two pairs of everything and a hoodie to bed
wore socks in bed
seen the toilet flush counter-clockwise
ate cow tongue
worked a gas stove
not had a microwave in the house
hung dried ALL my clothes
stayed up until 6am to party
saw the sunset and sunrise in the same day
worn my shoes in the house
had young siblings
learned how to start an asado
danced the cueca
had a mini fanclub when I play soccer
take more pizza at pizza hut then I could take at the buffet so my friends could wrap it up and give it to the people on the streets. 4 1/2 slices was my limit but I was given 8 slices to eat.
been okay with peole smoking around me
been offered to smoke so much
heard a peacock "cry" (it sounds like a cat meowing)
thought that 60 cents is way to expensive for a chocolate bar
been able to buy chocolate bars for 20 cents
had mayo, and yogurt and other products come in bags
had to listen to the teacher pray before class
not heard annoucements or the national anthem at school
had one day have mountians everywhere, and the next day look like there are no mountains due to the winter smog
lived near vineyards
lived in the country
had opposite seasons
thought that on a winter day it was warm and I better put on a T-shirt
had seen sooo many mullets!!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Sun Sets and Rises on a Month

The sun sets and the sun rises last Sunday, it marked the finish of my 4th week in Chile

How I saw the sunset and sunrise is a different story.

On the Saturday the family had to go to my Host-Grandma's House for a lunch with the Dieguez family to come together for the holiday. We talked around a little table drinking Chicha (Sweet wine that hasn't been fermented as long) and cheese empanadas. The empanadas were delicious. A cheese empanada is usually fried bread (whereas meat empanadas have normal bread) with melted cheese on the inside. We then all sat down for lunch. Everyone who came was;

Fernando & Consuelo - My host parents

Jose, Tety, Victoria, Jaime, & Rafa - My host siblings

Sonya & Tonio - My host aunt and uncle

Tonio, Nacho, Gabi & Felipe (the bf) - My host cousins + host cousins bf

My host Grandma, her boyfriend, and the Great Grandma

This is the Dieguez family, so my host mom's family

The whole family just sat and talked for the longest time, and having tea can take up to an hour.

The sun was starting to set (Jose was sleeping on the grass trying to get some snooze time in because he was going to go out that night, and he stayed up to at least 7am every morning for the past 3 nights) when the sun set we had "once" so more tea and some donuts!!! I was understanding most of the conversations in Spanish and was even speaking some Spanish. Although I do still talk in english a lot but sometimes it works because some of my family members are studying english in university, so they can understand when I talk they just can't reply back. Which sounds like my situation but in Spanish. Although I do speak spanish in school.

When we got home, Jose & Tety were going to the "Fondas" and they invited me along. The Fondas is like the Chilean version of a fair. Except you go there at night, and people drink a lot.

I was with Jose, and his friends that I play soccer with. We played lots of Fuzball and they were surprised that I have played it before. They all thought it was a Chilean thing, same with Churros they didn't believe that we had them in Canada as well. We sat down for a couple of hours and had meat kabobs and they had a few pitchers of terremoto, it looked like someone peed in their glass ahah. Needless to say I was supposed to take care of them, but another person I knew hung out with us Naima. We walked around a lot but eventually found a place we liked to dance, and they charged us $10 to get in for four people plus a pitcher of Chicha, we were in their for 20 minutes when they closed the place down, ahaha. We eventually started to head out this was around 5am. We had a guy come up to Naima and me and tell us that we were the most beautiful women at the Fondas that night (Naima is half Swiss so she looks like a gringa too) Even people that I meet (friends of friends) think that I am 19years old, and can't believe that I am 17! We were about to leave when Tety's (very drunk) friend wanted to leave with this (very creepy) guy. Tety has a very strong personality and wouldn't let her friend leave, it took 5 times but eventually her friend left. Tety was so angry.

Even when we were walking to our car, she had to hold onto my jacket because she was scared that the drunk guys would try to do something. We left just after 5am and we dropped a few people off, then had to check up on her friend, eventually she agreed to come with us, after she was at the guy's house. By the time we got home it was just after 6am.

At the house I could see the sun rise over the Andes, the same one I saw set in the ocean that night. I had realized that it was Sunday and that I had been in Chile for a month now.

Have I changed? I am sure I have....but I haven't noticed the changes yet.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Indpendence Day

Chile's Independence Day. September 18th.

It started out on a Wednesday afternoon with my washing patio chairs for our family BBQ.
The kids were playing with their kites (which many times got stuck in trees where I would fetch them out for them) my brother starting the BBQ (which works with coals) and the rest of the family making the lunch.

We cooked sausages and beef, had avocados, rice, potatoes, and bread. My host parents had pisco and pepsi. Picso is Chile's National drink, it is very similiar to rum.

We all ate outside at the table at my brothers house, and sat there almost until the sun set.
I was even "responsible" enough, and had the trust in my host parents to even have a glass of pisco and pepsi. (Cultural Learning) It felt so good to be trusted. Seeing as how I have always had the trust from my parents, so it felt very good to earn it from people who used to be strangers to me.

Later on, me and Jose had to go pick up some alcohol for his party that was happening at night, so we picked up his friends and headed for El Monte to this little hole in the wall (all places that sell alcohol that are not in the supermarket are little dingy hole in the walls) and we picked up 20L of Pinepedo?? some sort of wine/pisco mixture. It came in dusty glass jugs from like the pirates of the carribean. This "stuff" was to make a very popular drink here in Chile called "terremoto" translated it means Earthquake. And I can see why seeing as how its a mixture of everything put into a big pot. Pinepedo, pisco, pineapple icecream, pop, sometimes wine. It's pretty distrubing on the stomach I would imagine. We also picked up coke and a jug of wine why? to make Jote. Jote is basically Coke and Wine put together. The Chileans love their wine, and they also love their pop such as Coke. So I believe someone had the idea that putting their two favourite drinks together would make an ultimate super drink. I think not. I smelt it and I almost wanted to puke. Somethings just arn't meant to be together.

The party was really good, and I went to bed at 6am which is considered early....
and again "gringa can dance".......also people speak better english when they are drinking ahah
so it was a lot easier for me to talk to everyone as well as everyones spanish was slower and reduced to fewer words.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Piercings Chilena Style

How to get a piercing Chilena style.

First, you walk around downtown trying to find the cheapest place that will pierce your ears. Usually piercings can cost between 500 - 1000 pesos basically $1 - $2.

Second, the person who will pierce your ears will hand you a blue pen. Why? So you can mark where you want the earring. You do this by yourself in a tiny mirror with maybe some advice from a friend.

Third, the person presses a button on the ear gun and bang you have a piercing.

This Chilena Style is free of all the gimicks of North American piercing. Who needs hydrogen peroxide or any disinfectant whatsoever. Or any cleaning to the piercing gun isn't all too necessary either. (I saw the lady pierce two of my friends one after another and didn't clean anything)

The whole time all I could think of was how my aunt (who is an esthecian and used to pierce ears, and is very anal about cleanliness) would absoultely die if she saw this!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Just a Day!

Friday. Just a day.
This is just one of the views of a "hill"

I woke up at 6:30am as per usual to get ready for school. Did my usual routine got dressed in a uniform, and heated up milk for my chocolate/coffee drink, with bread. I got a ride to school but this time my host Dad Fernando drove me instead of Consuelo with the three little kids. We also had to pick up a few of the kids that we drive to school as well. We spoke in English so that Fernando could pratice some more before he goes to Victoria and gives a speech and answer questions afterwards. I was telling him on how English is a very indirect language and how everything is assumed and judged by tone. Whereas Spanish is a very direct language and there is a verb for everything and rarely do you say "I am going here" in Spanish directly translated it would be "I go here" in that sense it is hard for him to judge certain questions.

I got to the school, went up to my class 4 ME on the second floor knowing the the first two periods were going to be "English Class" ahahahha. It is quite a joke, but I help my classmates pronounciate certain words. As in "although" they just cannot make the "th" sound, or add it with another sound. "Although" usually ends up to be "Aldo" so trying to get them to say "thwart" was a whole other problem. Also trying to get them to figure out the difference between "keys" and "kiss". After english class Biology was supposed to happen, but instead some official guy of the school came in and of course all the guys started to cover their earrings and make their hair look shorter. But, he came in and told us that we were going to eat hotdogs and then leave the school (I am still not sure why we got to leave early)

We had our hotdogs and left. With my friends we walked to downtown Talagante and sat down in the centre plaza (this is basically a circle square in the middle of the city). We talked and tried to fix our friends "new earring" instead of hydrogen peroxide we used someones perfume to disinfect it. All I could think of was how my Aunt would die if she saw this!

We went to the supermarket and spent 30 minutes deciding what kind of cookies we wanted, I found oreos (hurrah!) but they are about half the size of the ones in Canada. I also found cereal that looked like Frosted Flakes but were in Spanish instead. Everything again still seemed really cheap.

We went back to the plaza to eat our food, the whole time this one stray dog was hovering around us for food. It was so adorable but of course it looked so adorable that everyone gave it food, which is also the reason the dog was so fat, insanely fat, whereas most of the stray dogs are very lean. I also noticed lots of whistling and honking that people made at girls, that I hadn't noticed before because I usually walk around with my older host brother. But benig in a group of girls and with one guy......well, you can imagine. This day was also a rather hot day. When the sun comes out here in Talagante it feels like a late spring in Burlington, and I rather hated the fact that I was wearing tights, socks, and Mary Janes, when I really wanted to wear long shorts and a T-shirt.

When I got home at around 1pm my host father told me that we were going to pick up his horse Ahrecife from his friends house in a town one over from ours.
Frankly I am quite scared of horses ever since I was almost bucked off one up on a mountain in the Yukon. So I decided this would be an opportunity to perhaps, get over the issue.

Well, a did pet it. But I would rather not...

When we arrived at the house I even had to lead it around a bit. Scary. Apparently I will ride him someday.

So this would be the horse...
I have also now officially been given homework thanks to my Chemistry, Physics and Spanish teachers. How wonderful. I did do my 20 chemistry questions with out a translator and my brother only had to help with 3 questions I think that is pretty darn good. I also understand a lot more Spanish that is being said to me, responding however is not so easy!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

ZOMG! A Gringa can dance?

Last night was my first party (Carrete) in Chile!

And lets just say the dancing is....different.

I got to the party at around 7pm when it started at 6pm....but no one was really there. We had to go to the supermarket and get some food to cook for the night anyways. By the time it was 8pm still no on was really there. We got the barbecue started...whichis really a brick area where you put hot coals on and the grill can move up or down. Not many people showed up until around 12am to 1am. That is considered early ahaha.

This would be the BBQ

So we ate grilled hot dogs, and sausages in bread basically a classier version of a hot dog.

I then went inside with the girls to get some music...this is where the dancing began.

Reggaton a perosnal favourite of most Chileans were playing so I started to dance, turns out I can dance! Also turns out it is a big surprise if I a gringa can dance, and also a bigger surprise that a girl can dance as well. Seeing as how in Chile apparently the girl does the awkward shuffle and the guy does all the fancy hip movements and actual dancing.

So, a gringa taught the Chilean girls how to dance. I thought it was going to be the other way around. I also did the "gringa dance" just for them ahah. And I got "ohhh yeah that is the gringa dance we thought you would do ahahha". So I taught them how to move their hips, and do certain footsteps and how to shake your butt (I was taught this in gym class by a bellydancer).

I also taught a small amount of guys that didn't know how to dance at all either, it was quite hilarious. I tried to dance with some guys that were apparently good dancers but I guess I freaked them out with my dance moves because they are so used to the girl being a swaying pole on the dance floor. But after the guys had a few drinks and loosened up by 2 -3 am I was able to dance with some of them. It seems quite weird to have guys that actually dance and move their hips and actually move when dancing seeing as in Canada the common dance is to move your foot from side to side, if you are a guy at least.

The dancing is also very close, but not ranchy at all....I think North America needs to be taught this. Seeing as how dancing consists of only grinding and very rarely to the beat. Ahaha

The gringa from Canada, taught latinos how to dance....who'd have thought that?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Young-ins

Youngins (Young ins) some slang I call young little kids I don't know why.

I live with a 6 year old girl, a 5 year old boy, and a 3 year old girl.

They can be ohhhhh....little (monsters) balls of fun hahah

(All the nicknames given are from the Dad not me)


Victoria is considered the introverted one, and quote "is pretty and stays quiet" ahah

Jaime is the "hurricane"

Rafa is the "monster" one day at lunch she desperately wanted an avocado, when she got it she cried because she didn't want it, then when we took it away she cried because she wanted it again. Finally we brought out some salt for the avocado and then she was happy. Haha

Yesterday, I was surprised by Rafa coming into my room with pink glitter smeared across her entire face, me thinking hmmm should we wash it off I get reassurance that this is a common occurence, so don't worry. Then Jaime enters as well and well, they find a roll of gum I brought with me (Hubba Bubba 2 meters long sort of gum) them being kids were enamoured by the thought of gum (chiclets) espcially since it came in this huge roll. I swear you could give them something bigger and fancier and gum would still be there favourite thing.

Children are curious.

And well, my room is full of unusual things. So, of course everything is questioned "Que es esto?" "What is this?" and I have to be more careful completely forgetting that kids are like cats they get into things and don't really know what they are doing at the time.

Cats jump into walls, kids will eat something and 5 seconds later realize it wasn't food.

Last night was hilarious! I showed them my camera and took a couple of photos of them seeing as I haven't really taken any here (don't kill me!). This turned into a frenzy of them wanting to use the camera, and then getting photos done, THEN I showed them that it took videos OMG what a big fat mistake! It turned into a riot. I had a one second video of me holding Rafa and bouncing her around and Rafa and Jaime kept replaying it on my computer over, and over, and over, and over somemore. They just couldn't stop giggling. I finally got a video of Rafa giggling because it sounds so funny, and it is so potent of happiness.

I forgot that kids were crazy!

Jaime & Rafa note the pink make-up

The videos I will try to upload somewhere on this page. One will be the one second one of me bouncing around, the other will be Rafa giggling!

Aliens Invading ... Chile?

Last Thursday we had a U.F.O sighting.
Ahahah but seriously we did.
A bunch of us were in the car and we were pulling into the dirt road that we live on and my host-sister Tety was just entering the road as well when she pointed to the sky and was saying there was an alien. Me thinking ahah, mmm okay?
We got out of the car and there was this green orb thingy circling around in the sky it was funny to watch and the little kids got hysterical.
But yeah, Chile has U.F.O's!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Culture Shocked

Seeing as everyday there is something new, especially in this past week, I thought a list of differences would make everything clearer than explain how each day has gone by.

NOTE: "It's not better, or worse, it's just different" - Rotary :)

Driving, well as I have said before it is LOCO
Seatbelts are not worn, except for some reason when we drive on the highway
Collectivo's are around everywhere instead of taxi's and they have no seatbelts as well
Stray dogs are EVERYWHERE! & they're not vicious at all, actually they're very friendly
There is no dinner, only "once" which is tea, bread, and sometimes eggs
Lunch is massive! Almost like 2 or 3 whole plates of food and they think you will eat all of it
School is well, a joke.
Time is not of the essence here. Right now can mean like 30 min to 2 hours from now
To greet someone you do a side-kiss thinkg. It really sucks if the person hasn't shaved in a while.
They talk fast, as in faster than most Spanish-speaking people
The houses are not heated
You go to to bed with socks and slippers, pants, as well as 2 shirts plus a sweater with the hood on
Smoking is their past-time, okay not literally but at a party even if a person does not smoke for a month they will smoke at a party (Social Smokers)
Shoes stay on in the house
Your clothes are hung dried even in the winter
Little kids are allowed to drink pop. As in 3yr olds. I thought that would make them more hyper than they already are. Haha
Tea is had at all times, it replaces milk, or at least for me
Milk tastes like cream, like table cream even though the fat content says 1.2% so it should taste like water but it doesn't
EVERYTHING comes in bags. Like milk (but different from us), yougurt, mayo, and other condiments. It freaked me out at first when we had weiners and they were squirting mayo from a large bag.
They point out in my yearbook all the "Chinitos" ahaha
Every house is gated, and may have barbed wire, or broken bottles, or pointed fence edges at the top of the fence. At one point part of a fence of barbed wire was down and it freaked me out that it wasn't there.
J-walking is expected
On the roads everyone thinks they have the right away lol
Houses are usually one floor
The notebooks for school are all graph paper (and this is for printing words)
Alcohol is sold in grocery stores
Almost anyone can buy ciggaretes as long as your not wearing your school uniform
When you walk into a big store and you have a bag from another store, a special piece of tape has to go on it so they know you arn't shoplifting anything.
Toilet paper doesn't have those serrated patches, its literally just a roll.
Everyone's favourite bands are usually the Beatles and Guns' N' Roses
Oh, and there is this obsession to ask you if you have a boyfriend (pololo) even if they just met you.

This is what I have noticed some weird, some cool, some unusual, but this is Chile so far this week for me!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

School - English College

School.

"I woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head" - Beatles

I did something similiar, but I also put on this ABSOLUTELY stunning uniform, and I must say I made the tie look uber hot. hahaha. uh huh as if. The shoes are worse though as in, ugly, black,
big mary jane shoes

I was driven to school by Tety (my older host-sister) and I was escorted up to my class "4 Medio E" I was greeted by Marcelo (Chelo), & Nacho my host-cousin. It was awkward entering the classroom with no friends but it was only awkward for like 10 seconds. I had my seat and then the people began to come.....

In Chile to greet anyone you do like a side kiss on their right cheek. So that was happening a lot.

Eventually I had a mini crowd around me which Chelo pointed out to me, seemed odd to me. But alas, I kept talking in my Spanglish and everyone else was told to speak in english or in spanish but very very slowly. Not too many people knew english, I thought it was weird for an english school haha. But Jose did warn me. I did talk to David who lived in Florida so he was fluent in english and for a little while he translated some things that I couldn't even possibly try to say in spanish, but he didn't have to translate too much seeing as how I have prefected the art of spanglish with sign language too ^^ ahahahhah. It was awhile in class when I noticed the teacher hadn't even started a lesson plan, apperently we do nada (nothing) in most class just a few do we actually do anything. I can do this :) ahaha

Here is how my day went.....

Spanish Class - Nada
Math Class - Nada (I was taken down to see my host uncle and his wife, it was really good I understood them and everything, and they even said my spanish was really good hurrah!)
Historia - Writing notes, but I don't know what she said so I practiced spanish
Historia - More notes....
Filosofia - Copying Mime's notes and the teacher looks like John Lennon no kidding and he has a scratchy beard so when you have to do that side kiss thing your cheek itches afterwards haha
Religion - Nada
English - Nada, the teacher showed up like half way through the class and then said "Vamos" so the next class of math was skipped as well hahaha. This may be the reason why no one knows english hahaha.


But, for the most part I was talking to my classmates who were trying so hard to talk to me! :)
So I met...

Mime: she is very nice and tries really hard in school, and was very helpful in showing me around the school and helping me to practice my english.

Carmen: Very quiet, but was helpful in showing me around the school

Geraldine: Very nice as well, helpful, and was very good at explaining things in spanglish with me

Chelo: Very nice, and is such a sweetheart

David: Translated a lot of things, I can think at the end of the day he was bothered by people pestering him and him being the human english-to-spanish dictionary.

Nacho: Well, everyone says he is stupid, and he looks like a wannabe gangster in his uniform a.ka. he tries to wear his pants low hahahahha.

There was some other people but I didn't really talk to them too long to get to know them too well.

Apparently my classmates think I am very nice, and even charismatic. Think I was smiling enough? haha Overall it was amazing and they even told Lulo (my host brother in Pennsylvania) that I was nice. I think I did very well then. :)

I shall get some pictures with me in that hot uniform hahaha!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Spanglish

The second day here in Chile I was lucky enough to have my host sister Consuelo Junior (Tety) take me out to Santiago (this helped me to keep my mind off of thinking of home).

Consuelo and I first walked on the dirt road that our ranch is situated on along with many other houses. As you walk past the houses each one is guarded by a gate along with 7-8m high fencing and sometimes barbed wire. Depending if they were trying to guard their grapes as well.

We walk until we hit the main road and wait for something. A collectivo.

Collectivo: basically a taxi that goes on a route and you share it with whoever is in the taxi already and you pay a set fee and you don't tip them.

We get off the colectivo somewhere in Talagante near the plaza centre, and we walked past brightly coloured buildings and run down sidewalks. Minding you that it was winter so the foliage of the trees hasn't spruced the place up yet. We wait a minute for a micro (a bus) but this bus is sooo cheap I read the fares to go to Santiago it was like $2-$3 dollars and Consuelo thought that was expensive. I'm thinking going for 30 minutes by bus to Santiago for like maximum of 3 dollars is a bargain seeing as that Burlington Transit charges you 2.50 to go one way. We end up at my highschool English College.

My older host brother (Jose) would tell that they don't really teach you english there anyways but they still put the highschool's name english ahaha. So my host sister and I went to get my schedule and she knew EVERYONE in the school every step we were stopped to say hi to someone, and here it is customary to kiss people on their right cheek. Even if you don't know the person you will say Hola, kiss, you won't talk to them or even know their name and when you have to leave you say Ciao, and another kiss. They don't even have to know your name but if you tag along someone they know its customary. Needless to say I kissed a lot of people.

We finally got to the point of being able to meet my class 4 medio E. We went to the classroom and I didn't meet them. I tried to understand Consuelo and the teacher so I think he didn't want me in because I would cause a riot seeing as when the door opened heads were already turning and straining to look at me. So I met my host-cousin instead, Nacho. Consuelo has for-warned me about the Chilean guys and to stay away from most of them hahaha. Seeing as we were walking by and we already had a whistle and some looks.

The point of going to school was to assure me if I needed anything I had like a bigillion family members that can help me.

Then my host-dad Fernando drove Consuelo and I to Santiago. It was less than 30 minutes to get there. He dropped us off at La Moneda (President's Buliding) after we parked in a place that looked like a subway staircase apperntly it was parking space, freaked me out. I was told to keep hold of my bag so intially I slung it over my shoulder just for good measure. So we went into the metro (TransSantiago) rode it to a certian point, I just followed my host-sister the whole way.

Chileans always ask if you are hungry (seeing as I eat very little or poco) and well I am not really hungry ever except at night so they are amazed when I hardly eat anything at lunch. So I had some juice called Watt's really good its like puree juice but better. Then we went across the road to her univeristy with the tennis court. While Tety was playing tennis I was practing Spanish. After her tennis match we met up with her friends. We drove to the mall to get some lunch at like 3 pm haha. We ate at a place called Doggi's apparently Tety said its like McDonald's but it really isn't. Maybe a Chilean McDonald's? I had empanadas.

Empanadas: Chilean food, basically deepfriend crispy bread with cheese in the middle it was delicious.

Driving in Chile, well its LOCO (crazy)!!!
The driving lanes that are marked with white paint will magically dissapear and become a free for all. If its a two way road cars will drive in the middle of it until they absolutely have to move to the right side. Cars will drive in the middle of a clearly marked lane, cars will pull out on a turn and be in the way and the on coming car with be like a 1mm away from hitting it. Blinkers are used for a half second or not at all, and well seatbelts are they but not the buckle ahah and if it is well you don't use it.

Coming home after that day and going on the metro again in RUSH HOUR well we had to let the subway car pass at least once to get to one that wasn't suffed to the brim with people. We got a bus back to Talagante when the sun was setting over the mountains, it was gorgeous. We got back to our dirt road and I could see the stars and the milky way seeing as how no streetlights were around at all, you notice what they rob you of.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Chilly in Chile

I went to the airport on the 23rd and along came my brother, my mom, my dad, and Hayley. By the time I had to go through customs I was sobbing and the lady at U.S customs was confused, out came my sobs about how I had to leave my family. She didn't care haha. But it was the fastest time I had ever gone through U.S customs they didn't even need the form saying that my parents agreed to let me travel to Chile. Apparently a student visa was good enough. The plane was tiny like super tiny I hit my head on the ceiling. My carryons were so heavy and it turns out that the AirTrain that would take me to my next terminal was sooooooo far away. As in I was sweating by the time I got there. Once I reached terminal 4 it was chaos there was no order and I couldn't figure out where to go. It turns out I had to get a new plane ticket (who the hell knows why when I had one already) then I had some McDonalds, and went through security again. I waited for my plane and that was it. LAN Airlines was probably the best I've flown. I didn't have to pay for my pillow and blanket (damn you Air Canada) and was served dinner and breakfast.
I was offered vino several times though ^^ (don't worry Rotary I refused I was much more intrigued by the milk that tasted more like creme) I had two seats to my self as well as double the pillows and blankets, and a heartfelt movie to go along (Sex & the City). I got to sleep, seeing as the plane finally took off at 9pm instead of 8pm and I arrive in Santiago at 6:50am. SO the flight was rather good. I got off, went through customs in a flash (cripes coming into Canada is harder even being a citizen). I came outside the area and was pestered by a couple of taxi drivers (which I was warned)I hopelessy looked for my host-family so I wouldn't be bothered in Spanish anymore, I then saw my consellor Sofia. For 5 minutes I waited with her, my host parents were late because of the thick fog that was in the valley of Santiago, and even driving home was a challenge to see 2 metres in front of you.

The cold was a nice change compared to Ontario's humidity. But after a while I was "tengo frio".
We got to a dirt road that twists and had huge puddles, we get to a gate that we had to open. The property has 3 houses, and is not a farm but a RANCH (Brett it is a ranch not a farm!!!) I met everyone and had breakfast not that I had much of an appetite. Then I had a nap.

Everyone in Canada questioned me about bringing soooo many sweaters GOOD THING! Because the houses here don't have central heating so if it's 5 -10 C outside its the same in the house. You wake up and your breath frosts in the air. I must admit for winter it is warm but it makes up by being cold in the house as well.

First thing I noticed was that no one took off their shoes in the house, being in Canada its a courtesy to take them off. But seeing as the whole house is tiled I could see why it wouldn't make a difference, anyhow I had to get into my moccasins because my inner Dad was saying how much of a mess that would make. My first sentence was probably Tengo Frio! I woke up with my toes like popsicles, and thats what I said all day. When I woke up I went outside (where it was much warmer and almost hot) and I played with the younger kids, and played some soccer. We had the family's first asado after the winter for me because I had arrived. Asado is a barbecue but not like a really fancy barbecue more like a standing pit with coals on it and a grill top on top.

Chileans love to eat! I eat so little compared to them (it might be because of stress) but I don't eat too much anyhow. Everytime I finish I get "really you're full?" "Si satisfecha" (yes, I am full)
it is quite funny. I had to have another nap and did nothing much for the rest of the day but watched Los Padrinos Magicos (Fairy Godparents cartoon) with the younger kids, couldn't follow it even though I have seen that episode. I then had "once" which happens after 9pm its like a midnight snakc but not at midnight and consists of tea and bread. My host-brother Jose started teaching my Spanish because he is fluent in English so it is easier for him to explain things to me. But I did read an article in the newspaper about how the Chilean soccer team "Colo-Colo" was getting rid of their coach since he is doing a crappy job so they were explaing what his options are. I thought I did pretty good at reading it. I think my first day went alright, even if my emotions were raging and I felt pretty homesick.

I started reading my only english book and was wayyy to far into it I think I might want to savour it.

In Chile you wear lots and lots of layers because in the morning and at night you are freezing and I neede a hot water bottle, but during the day you are almost boiling.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Moments...

Today I went to my last Rotary meeting in Canada, and had to go to city hall to get some more pins ^^. When I finally got home I had a perfect moment by myself. I had the song "Fix You" by Coldplay playing, I was lying on my bed, the sun was streaming in, my dog was sleeping on my bed, and I just felt so happy and satisfied. I didn't have any of those mixed emotions about leaving and it was just so nice to have a moment where my emotions didn't take over my day. It was lovely to say the least.

Today is also my going-away party...we'll see how this goes.

And here are my suitcases my Mom and I painted the maple leaves on them I think it looks pretty cool and let's just say there is no mistaking them at the luggage claim.





I thought we did a damn good job for hand painting!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Preparations


The last two weeks I have been in British Columbia visiting my grandparents and other relatives and friends. While I was there I was hard at work making host family gifts. Needless to say when I arrived there my suitcase was merely 20 pounds (the suitcase weighs 12 lbs by itself) and when I got home the suitcase was 49 pounds, and that's with putting 1/3 of the jam and probably a 5 pound piece of fudge in my brothers suitcase.
Brett (the bro), my great grandma and me...

I did go to this pretty awesome extreme tree climbing place. Basically your doing obstacles 50 feet in the air with two carabeaners holding you in place!

This would be my brother....

And now I have like 9 days not even, and I have way too much stuff to do!!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

I got my visa!

I have my visa! It was pretty much pain free to get it other than the big blister on my right foot.

So today I hoped on the GO Train got to Union Station. Got a taxi, arrived at 2 Bloor Street West it turns out to be a CIBC building, so I thought the address was screwed up turns out it wasn't. Went on the 18th floor office 1801 and there I was in the General Consulate of Chile. Sounded pretty sophisticated for the little dumpy office I was in. I just had to give my documents to the nice lady then fill out a super simple form. They didn't even want my parents signatures or where I was staying or nothing it was pretty ridiculous. I was then told to go do something and pay a bill to waste time for the next 45 minutes. So I paid the bill of $137.00. Went underground found a shoppers got a drink and some fruit-to-go haha. Waited for the pay phone which some guy was hogging, got to the phone realized long distance was 3.70 grrrr (I lost my cellphone that's why I'm kicking it old school with the pay phones) So I didn't call my mom. Then some Starbucks lady came out with little free samplers of a caramel frappachino it was so yummy and just the right size. So went back to the office gave them the paid bill, then they got my fingerprints (I feel like a criminal haha) then she goes sign these 4 pages in blue ink (sound familiar anyone?). Then she stamped some random things in my passport then on my sheets to get through immigration. Then I was done! She gave me some touristy brochures as well. I then had to walk back from Bloor, through Queens Park untill I reached Front Street it was a beautiful day, I got to Front Street and a bird pooped on my head, not pleasant.So I had to find a leaf to wipe it off. Got to Union, got on a train 30 seconds later it left. (just in time). I then realized I had this massive blister on my foot, lovely.

So all in all it took just under 5 hours to go from Burlington, obtain a visa, and come back. Pretty good I think and pretty easy I thought.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Everyone is Leaving, sort of thing...

It's been a wild couple weeks due to going-away parties, and the end of the school year all in one. Of course you try to squeeze in everything just to make it to that last party because you know you're not going to see that person for a long time, so the homework gets pushed back just for a little bit longer, and that's fine with me!

Karoliina's party was the first weekend of June, and almost everyone came to it which was awesome. We all had a great time, got caught in the rain, took soooo many pictures, had A LOT of hugs and goodbyes.

Then the next weekend I went to Carla's party because she is going to leave for Ecuador soon after her Cross Canada Trip. So a few of us went over in Mississauga to have a nice visit maybe stay for the night. Turns out we stayed until the next Sunday night since no one wanted to leave!

Oh man, Oh man, we had some crazy times like, jumping into an unheated pool at 12am (it was cold) taking underwater pictures, watching "Love Actually" and only Mark and me staying awake to watch it. All of us huddled in a little room, most of us on the floor, trying to sleep (I was smart and went and found a bed upstairs haha). The next morning swimming again! Until the rain kicked us out. Massages, tickling Anto until he could barely breathe. It was just such a fun weekend. Oh how could I forget Botcheball (Lawn Bowling) and signing all those Canadian flags.



I wished it could have gone on forever it was just so awesome!

On the note of leaving, my ticket has been booked, I leave August 23rd at 2:35pm.

Sooo excited, a little nostalgic, but totally looking forward to it.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Host-Family & School Info

I am still an outbound and still in pre-departure mode, which means that this blog isn't too exciting yet. But, I can at least tell you about my hostfamily. This family is massive! Literally. Here they are;

Jorge - 78 Host-grandfather
Fernando - 46 Host-Dad
Consuelo - 46 Host-Mom
Jose - 20 Host Brother (in university studying music)
Consuelo - 18 Host Sister (in university studying obstetrics)
Javier - 17 Host Brother (he is going on exchange in the U.S)
Victoria - 6 Host Sister
Jaime - 5 Host Brother
Rafaela - 3 Host Sister

I am excited, see I wasn't lying BIG family. Like the age difference in the kids? ahaha. I don't really know much more about them, just that they're super excited to have me!

School. Well, the name of my school is called "English College" I ain't joking! But don't be fooled it's not an all english school, I might spend an hour or less learning english a day. I think most of that hour will be spent looking over the other student's reports. Oh, and I have a uniform, I might be wearing I tie and a shirt/dress. We'll see!