Friday, November 11, 2011

100 years where I have less than 1 month

Here is the English version! Happy 11-11-11!

Since I posted in Spanish, I would like to mention two updates:

1. I felt my first temblor (ever) Friday night. I was at at party and it scared me to death. There wasn´t damage and it really wasn´t a big deal, but they are expecting a big earthquake, actually a mega-quake possibly off the Richter scale, in the near future. When there are a lot of temblors, as there have been recently, it is a sign the earth is closer (in geological time) to an earthquake. This could mean today, next month, or in five years. The next day I packed an emergency bag in case of a tsunami! The temblor was 5.7, but because the earth is so rocky here, that is considered a medium temblor and causes no damage. In other parts of the world a 5.7 could be devastating, but here it isn´t even considered an earthquake until it reaches 7.0!

2. Really random... I have spoken with many people here who have seen UFOs, some several times in their life. I really think that because we live in the driest desert in the world- it´s a large open empty space devoid of life- the government tests new aircrafts. Why would aliens want to land in a place with no life that already looks like Mars?

100 years: Corázon de María´s anniversary
In August we had the school´s anniversary. We don´t have this tradition in the US, and I loved it. My school celebrated its 100 year and there were games (eventually a championship), cake, a parade, a special dinner, and crazy challenges for one week. Unfortunately, my camera stopped working with the memory card and I don´t have a lot of photos! But I do have part of the ¨mission impossible¨: to take an impossible picture. Yasna´s class (the orange aliance) had the idea to take an photo of me marrying a student in the ocean, on a floating dock. Yes... you read that correctly. This will always be a special (strange) memory in Chile!

I enjoyed September. In September Chile celebrates its independence and culture with Fiestas Patrias. We had asados, danced la cueca, had chicha (a sweet wine), decorations, and folkloric dances. It is like the 4th of July, but more intense. And Felipe and I went to a concert with communists! We are not communists, but it is common in Chile. The thing is capitalism here doesn´t have much regulation, there is more in the US. The companies take advantantage of the people and absense of rules. It is a disaster with the prices and distribution of money, so the people want more regulation. That is why there are ¨communists.¨ But everything went peacefully and I have photos of Fiestas Patrias:

In the school

House decorations

Street light decoration (not a firework) 

To see more: Fiestas Patrias (y mis cumpleaños)

La Serena- a green place
We had a long weekend and Felipe and I went to La Serena. It was beautiful! I can´t lie... it is much better than Antofagasta. It was fabulous! La Serena is 12 hours (by bus) south of Antofa. The climate is mild, it is like CA or Italy, very mediterranean and GREEN, with beautiful buildings and less dogs. We spent a day in the city, went on an astronomy tour (which was horrible because the moon was shining brightly and you couldn´t see the stars), went to Valle del Elqui, and the flowering desert. Valle del Elqui is a valley where they produce pisco and fruit (many papayas). There is a wonderful smell and sunshine almost year round. We ate at a place with sun-powered cooking machines. They weren´t quite stoves...I don´t even know what you would call them. It was really neat, but the food was just ok. And the flowering desert was great! We visited a goat farm, there is a link below:

Valle del Elqui

Sun cooking machine

The desert is dry and doesn´t flower every year, normally every 5 or 6 years. This year it flowered more than normal thanks to the rain. We had a great time except there were these psychotic horseflies:

These demons followed us and tried to bite us- they were very aggressive! At any given time you might have 3-4 on your body... disgusting!

Note: This last one is not my photo nor where I visited. This is the part of the flowering desert I really wanted to see, but didn´t. It is farther north than La Serena. (But I still liked what I saw :)

To see more: La Serena y desierto florido

Professor´s Day
We had ¨Day of the Professors¨ in Chile. I wish we had this day in the US. It is exactly like it sounds, a day to celebrate and appreciate teachers. My school had a musical act, there weren´t classes, and the children gave us gifts. I did not get many because I am not a head teacher, but most teachers got a lot. When we walked to the front of the school the children applauded. After the musical acts, the school took us to have a BBQ and listen to more music! It was delicious and amazing.

With students


Random oddities in Antofa
Juggling with Toilet Plungers
Yes, a few weeks back I saw a street performer juggling with TOILET PLUNGERS. Obviously I needed a picture! I had my money ready to give him and begun to take pics when he looked at me with a strange face. He gave me a signal to stop and then came to me and said, ¨Don´t take photos. Don´t take photos.¨ I offered him money, but he declined and and demanded to see the photos. I thought he might have been on drugs so I told him I didn´t speak Spanish, then goodbye...

Look at that face :/

Pigeons as Pets
My friend Daniel´s family has a lot of birds, including:

Yes, a pigeon. They rescued her when she was young. Here she was incubating eggs that just hatched yesterday!

Hornitos y Juan López
Felipe´s family took me to Hornitos and Mejillones, one hour from Antofa. We spent the day at the beach, then a different weekend we went to Juan López, which is like Hornitos, but smaller. Here are photos of both places: 



The Tropic of Capricorn

Felipe´s ´toenails´ (seashells)

The drive from Juan López (this is a different beach we did not visit)

Beautiful buildings

How to break into a Juan López beach house in 3 easy steps:

1. Climb up the side 

2. Squeeze into the space between the wall and door (Why is there a space between the wall and door??)

3. Open the door. Congratulations!

If you are ghetto don´t come
Halloween recently passed, and each year in Chile the American influence get stronger. A student of mine (yes, a student) tried to sell me a ticket to a party at a disco. Remember in Chile there is a big distinction between the social classes? Yeah, here is a phenomenal example:

It looks like a regular invitation, but... says ¨If you are ghetto don´t come¨

Some people think it is a joke, and I believe it, but there is truth to every joke. If it were just a joke, the message wouldn´t make sense. The real message is clear... and it is exactly as it says: if you are ghetto, don´t come.

For Halloween I dressed up as ¨lady luck¨ (or something like that) with a costume I made in one hour. It worked, and when the flaites threw water balloons we weren´t hit by them!

Costumes in Unimarc

What would Halloween in Chile be without an offer of mayo with your pumpkin?

Felipe and I carved a pumpkin. It was Felipe´s first time carving one! Children arrived asking for candy, but they don´t understand the celebration of Halloween and the majority didn´t even say ¨trick-or-treat¨ (in English OR Spanish). I taught a few ¨trick or treat¨ when I could, but English scared them. English is terrifying, right?

This pumpkin speaks English- ahhh!!!

Chile wants to be the US, but it doesn´t know how. Yeah, I also got on the news:

I looked down to show my costume, but the camera didn´t show it. Well whatever, moving on...

The strikes
When I wrote this in Spanish they were continuing, but I think they are completely over. Maybe. One day I had to get off the bus earlier than usual because there was a protest blocking the street. I heard talks about some schools losing the year! Imagine: you are a student or teacher, and you are going to lose the year because the students are living and protesting in the school. I think instead of losing the year most schools are just working through summer. Remember the video I had of the tomas? It is in Spanish and I still have to add the translation, but I have the link: 

Normal: a protest truck in traffic

These signs are gone now, but they used to be quite common

My life
Now it is spring and I have such little time with EOD. In reality I never feel I have enough time to do what I want or need. I have relationships here I want to develop and summertime is coming. But the program ends in less than a month! I want to learn more and Spanish and enjoy my life here. I have learned a lot these months, but there is always more. More to learn, more to see, more experiences to have!


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