Saturday, May 30, 2009

Jam-packed Two Weeks...Can You Handle It?

I'm going to start with two Saturdays ago. In the afternoon, my water polo team and I had a scrimmage amongst ourselves, and then we had a cook-out at the pool. It was great because I was able to talk to Enrique for awhile. He's a really cool guy. After the cook-out, the guys on the team asked me to play soccer with them, and so I did. It was a blast. Some of the guys were really good. Sunday, I went to church with my family and then afterwards, we went to a bakery called "Laura's Sweets." My mom bought pieces of almond cake, orange cake, and coffee cake. I can't even describe how incredible they were...I was in heaven. Monday, we had an easy practice because Thursday and Friday are holidays. Thursday is the anniversary of the day that Chile won it's first and only naval was against Peru. Tuesday, I went to my social work and the kids asked me to play soccer with them. Even though, I had to stay at the foundation much longer than usual, I did play with them. These kids were even better than the guys on my wopo team. I think there's something in the water down here...hopefully I get infected with it so I can have some talent with soccer. Wednesday morning, I met up with Cathleen to plan our weekend trip to northern Chile and to print out our plane tickets. Afterwards, I wrote my journal entry for my social work, and met up with Greg, Laura, and Arturo for lunch. We ate at a Peruvian restaurant. It was so good because Peruvians use a lot of spice, and Chileans don' it was a great change. At water polo practice that night, the guys taught me ways to insult people in spanish even though I'll probably never use them. I talked a lot with our goalkeeper who's really cool. That night, I stayed up until 3am packing my stuff for my trip. At 6am my transfer to the airport picked me up. At a Dunkin' Donuts in the airport, I got an awesome donut and great mint chocolate hot chocolate. Unfortunately, in the plane I kept having that kind of dream where you fall of a cliff. The guy sitting next to me must have thought I was weird because I would jump in my chair every two minutes. From the airport in Antofagasta, Aerospace bused us to the bus terminal. We had some time to spare, so went to a book fair, where I bought "La Niebla." Then we met up with Cathleen's friend, Samantha. She's teaching english in Antofagasta. Then we took our bus to Iquique and arrived there a little before 7pm. We stayed at Backpackers' hostel and it was a little weird. In the same stall as the toilets...was the shower. Anyways, we met up with Tony, Rob, Ken, Caitlin, and Anna. Cathleen and I went to an overrated cafe for dinner, and then we walked past a carnival that had the ride I was on with Matt in Ocean City years ago. My mom has a recording of it, but I don't know where it is. After dinner, we met up with the other group and hit the casino. So of course at first, I lose $20, but then I reluctantly tried my luck again, but this time at the roullette table. It paid off because I won back the money I lost plus a little extra. The worker of the table told me to play the numbers 5 and 17 because they were hitting all night. So I did, and I won three times on the number 17. The next day, Friday, we had breakfast with Cathleen's German friends, Stefi and Hanis. Cathleen and I then took I tour of certain parts of Iquique with our guide Felipe. First, we went to a run-down mineral producing factory where I collected nails, rocks, and seeds for my collection. Then we went to Homberstone, the run-down town of the factory. It had a really cool metal pool. Then we saw the geogliphs carved in the sides of mountains. For lunch we ate at Don Williams, and chatted with a family from Santiago. Then, we visited two churches that had statues that freaked me out because they were a little too real. Before the tour ended, we were able to get pictures with huge statues of dinosaurs. On the way back to the hostel, the bus driver was crankin' out some '90s mtv hits. I felt like I was back in the states. At night, we went to the duty-free mall called zofri. So I figured out that there is no word for cologne in spanish, it's perfume. So spanish-speaking men were male-scented perfume. We had MickyDee's for dinner. That night, we took a bus to Calama. At two in the morning we had to have our luggage checked for drugs...I think they could have waited until the morning. It was freezing cold in Calama. We met up again witht the other group and got a bus to San Pedro de Atacama. At 9am we arrived. No tour agencies were open, so we went straight to our hostel called "Mama Tierra." San Pedro is what I thought Chile would be like before I arrived in Chile. There's only dirt roads, houses made of adobe, and just a really calm atmosphere. At a feria, I bought a really nice hand-crafted chess set for $10. When I tried to take out money for an atm, I discovered they didn't accept visa. Well that put a stop to my shopping for souveniers for family and friends unfortunately. First, we booked three tours with Atacama Connection and then ate at Todo Natural. I had an incredible ham and cheese pancake. Then, we made reservations for the star-gazing tour. Kevin, Julia, Greg, and the other group went sandboarding in the afternoon, while Cathleen and I went to the Salar de Atacama. First we stopped to look at a tree...I'm still trying to figure out why. Then when we went to see a church, I was kissed by a llama named Macarena. She wouldn't take no for an answer...haha. Then we watched the sunset surrounded by beautiful mountains and dozens of flamingos. Our guide was german and her name was Claudia. Side note: Mama Tierra had an awesome Colombian hammock. The next day, Sunday, we woke up at 3:30am for a tour and our bus was 30 minutes late. That morning it was -20 degrees Celsius. It took two hours to get to the Tatio Geysers. Victor was the name of our guide. Midway through the tour, I got altitude sickness. I got very dizzy and nearly collapsed. Victor gave me some oxygen, and I was back to normal. Then, I decided to get in the thermal there, which felt so nice. Afterwards, we ate llama in the town of Machuco. In the afternoon, we went sandboarding in Death Valley which was really cool, and we watched the sunset in the Moon Valley. I talked a lot to our new guide and was able to learn a lot from him about the surrounding area. At night, we ate at Paso por Chez Michel for really cheap and then we met up with Kevin and Julia for the stargazing tour. It was really cool. I was able to see the cross, the scorpion, the centaur, the jewel box, star clusters, the sombrero galaxy and Saturn. One thing I learned was that with the technology we have know, it would take us thousands of years to fly to the stars. Since they are so far away, we actually see the stars of years past. Then, Monday we took a bus to Antofagasta and almost missed our flight to Santiago. Before I got on the plane, I had the most incredible completo...hotdog with tomatoe, mayo, and chile. On the plane I played Peek-a-Boo with one year-old Lucas. He was so cute. The rest of this week I studied my butt off for my modern philosophy test that was Wednesday and my state test that was Thursday. Yesterday, I went to Isla Negra which is on of Pablo Neruda's houses. It's so beautiful right on the water. My favorite room was the one filled with seashells from all over the world. Pablo is buried there in his backyard. For lunch, I had ate salmon with shrimp sauce. It was really good. During lunch, I talk to two exchange students from Mexico, Christy and Cynthia. There were very nice and I was able to hold a conversation with them pretty easily in spanish. After lunch, we went to see the biggest pool in the world. It is shared by 5 separate hotels. Literally it's the size of at least a dozen football fields. And now, I'm just trying to recover from the last two crazy weeks.

If you want to see my pictures on facebook and don't have an account, e-mail me and I can send you my name and password so you can see them.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Rollercoaster Week

The week didn't start off too well. I was incredibly homesick (*fish) sunday night and all day monday. Then on monday, I received back my philosophy exam which didn't help my mood at all. I received a 2.2 out of 7. I was absolutely devastated. I was a mess. For each essay question, the teacher wrote that I didn't answer the questions that he asked. I was really confused because I thought that I did answer the questions in the way he wanted. He told me that we would talk wednesday after class. Tuesday, I didn't have to go to my social work, which was great because I was able to get a lot of reading done for my classes. Wednesday morning, I worked on a presentation for my poverty class which was due Thursday. With students that work with me where I do social work, we had to present to the class what we actually do at the Foundation Cerro Navia Joven. Before my philosophy, I met with my group and we split up the work that we needed to do for the powerpoint presentation. I then went to my philosophy class 30 minutes hoping to talk to my professor. He showed up less than 10 minutes before class started, but we still were able to talk. He read over my test again, and said that he could see that I studied really hard. He told me that I wrote about the metaphysics (theories of reason) of Descartes, instead of his basic themes. That was the only problem. What I wrote was correct, but it was about the theories of Descartes that must not have been important for the class. I understand now the difference in between the two types of theories...I's still confusing. He told me that for the next test that I should sit with the grad student who helps the teacher and tell him what I think about the answers before I begin to write. He'll make sure I'm on the right track. At the end of our conversation, my professor told to not worry about anything. He'll fix this first grade at the end of the semester. All in all I felt a little bit better afterwards. During the class, we learned about the philosopher Kant. I really tried to understand what his theories were, but I was a little lost. After the class, I went to the professor to clear up a few points and he was able to clear all of them up for me. It was a little confidence boost being able to understand what Kant's thoughts were. At water polo practice that night, all we did was scrimmage. I didn't like it because everybody came to practice...especially the ones that don't come when we swim for 75% of the practice. Anyways, I didn't get to play much because they don't trust me as a solid player yet. Thursday in my poetry class, I received an essay back which helped my mood a little. I received a 6.7. In the afternoon, my social work group presented our foundation to the class. The presentation lasted 40 minutes. It went very well. After class, I went to an artesan fair with Caitlin and Laura. A lady there tried to get me to buy a purple sweater with the head of a wolf on it. I love talking to people so I flattered her and tried it on and also told her why I was in Chile. I looked ridiculous in the sweater. I felt bad for saying no to the lady, but it definitely wasn't for me. After dinner, Caitlin, Laura and I went to Amanda W.'s volleyball game. From there, Caitlin and Laura went home, while I went with Amanda and Ken to Esteban's house. We had a good night playing madden and winning eleven. This weekend I need to get a lot done, because in two weeks I have a state exam and a philosophy exam. In addition to that, I'm travelling to the north of Chile next weekend, so I won't have much time to study. Oh...totally forgot. Happy birthday Rachel!!! I hope you like the beautiful sweater I sent you...haha.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Great, Tranquil Weekend

Friday night, I did not go to practice because we had a big dinner for Pablo after his graduation ceremony. The food was great and we had a merengue pie that was to die for. Fabiana, Juan Pablo, Pancho, Niko, Marta, Valentina, Pablo, my mom, my grandmother, and I were at the dinner. It was great to have big family dinner. Afterwards, I met up with Claudio, Rob, Brittany, Eli and Pia. We just relaxed at Pia's apartment, and talked until 6am. I love having Chilean friends because my spanish is really improving. I didn't feel too bad staying out too late because I wrote two essays during the day friday. Saturday, I shopped for mother's day gifts for my host mom, her sister, and mama Ana. I got my host mom and her sister each a set of hand cream and spray, and I bought mama Ana a scarf. Then, after working on an presentation for class, I went out with Laura, Cathleen, Arturo and Stephanie. It wasn't that exciting of a night, but we did have fun. I had some really good mango juice and shared a pizza with Laura. This morning, I went to church at 9am, and then called my mom, Nan, and Corinne's mom to say happy mother's day. Then my host mom and I went to her sister, Marta's house for a mother's day cook-out. The food was absolutely amazing. The meat was incredibly tender, and I ate until I couldn't possibly eat anymore. After lunch, I danced in a circle with Carlie (4 years old), Darinka (9), Gabriel (12), Valentina (14), my mom, and Marta. Carlie was telling us what to do. It was so funny. Darinka and Carlie were so cute. They were very timid around me at first, but by the end of lunch, they wouldn't leave me alone....haha. After we ate "3 milk" pie (don't knock it, until you try it), we watched a horror movie about the loch ness monster. We had such a great time.

Friday, May 8, 2009

First Grades

This week I got my first grades from three of my classes. The grading scale in Chile is 0.0 to 7.0; 7.0 being the highest. In my class called State: Transformations and Roles, I received a 4.0 on my three question essay exam. I'm not too happy, but the class is ridiculously hard...even if it was in english, it would be hard. Somehow a 4.0 on the Loyola grading scale equals a B-, so it's not that bad. In my class called Poverty and Development, I received a 6.5 on a two page paper I had to write on globalization. On the Loyola scale, 6.5 is an A. In my class called Poetry: Latin America and the Society, I received a 6.5 on my one question essay exam. So overall, I'm pretty happy. This weekend I have a lot to do. I have two papers, one oral presentation, and tons of reading for each class. Also, this sunday I'm taking my Chilean host mother out to dinner for Mother's Day. Tonight, we are having a big dinner because my Chilean host brother has his graduation from college tonight (2nd degree: 1st in history and now in teaching).
Wednesday night at wopo practice, we scrimmaged while wearing t-shirts and jean shorts. My best friend was on the other team. When he grabbed my t-shirt to keep me from swimming, I tried to swim faster, and accidently punched him in the nose. Now, he has a big bump on his nose, but luckily it's not broken. Hey...that's water polo and I was able to score because of it.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Off to the Campo (Farm)

Last Thursday night, I went to see Amanda W.'s volleyball game at San Ignacio. Unfortunately, she lost. Afterwards, I met up with Laura, Stephanie, Arturo, and a few of Laura's Chilean friends. First, we went to a pub and I talked to Arturo (a Mexican) and Esteban (a Chilean) about US politics. They absolutely love Barrack Obama. After the pub, we went to a dance club called Blondie. We had a really great time. I danced on the stage and the balcony. I got back to my house a little before 7am. Friday, I met up with Rob, Eli, Hanna, Brittany, Pia and Claudio to go to Claudio's grandparents' farm house for the weekend. It took us two hours to get there. The town was called Patagua. After dinner, we went for a walk around the farm. It was really dark. Eli was really scared, so we all hid around the farm and tried to scare her. I fell in a really deep hole, but luckily didn't get hurt. Later, we went to a friend of Claudio's farm house and talked to a bunch of people. I was the tallest by at least a foot. Pia and I rode bicycles around the neighborhood. The next day, we had pino empanadas for lunch. They were so good. I tried one of Chile's hottest was incredibly hot. After lunch, I learned to drive a manual I just need to learn how to drive a manual car. Later, we went to a wine festival. There we saw the cueca (Chile's national dance), I rode a mechanical bull and learned that many spanish words have double meanings in Chile. At night, we went to a farm disco, which was a little strange, but fun. It was right next to an abandoned rodeo, where I found a lonely, sad horse. I felt bad for him. The next day we had a really big cookout. The grandfather thought I was from Argentina because I couldn't understand him. People from the farm here, speak very differently. Before we left, I went for a walk around the farm with Jacke (Claudio's aunt), Camilla (Claudio's cousin), Hanna and Pia. From Jacke I learned a lot about the farm. After every corn harvest, they burn the whole farm because it enriches the soil. It's very dangerous, but somehow the wind controls the fire. During the winter, they grow lemons and oranges. We left the farm around 6:15pm.