Sunday, May 23, 2010

this is for you, kelsey

alright so it's officially been forever since i've posted something and so i apologize, mainly to kelsey because i think she's the only person who hasn't given up on the idea of me actually consistently writing in a blog yet. so here's to you.

anyways, obviously a lot has been going on so i'll try and break things down in sections.

Section 1: La Piojera.

La piojera (roughly translating to 'lice hole) is a pretty (in)famous bar in santiago known for its terremotos, which is a drink consisting of cheap wine, pisco, some sort of liqueur, and pineapple sherbet. i could be completely wrong on the ingredients because it mostly tastes gross, but the perfect amount of gross where you kind of just keep wanting to drink more. like the drink equivalent of funyuns. but anyways, terremotos are ridiculously strong so you always have a pretty good time. the place is not the safest (daph stolen bag, me missing phone) or the cleanest but it's something that everyone visiting santiago should experience. our house has enjoyed going quite a few times. these pics kind of sum it up.

the drinks themselves

saluuuud! the suecia family.

and the interesting people you meet.

Section 2: Field Trips

The past month also marked the last two field trips for our program group. in april we visited Pomaire, a small village outside of santiago that is known for it's clay artesania. this was a cool field trip as we got to eat a lot (2 full meals. for one meal, an empanada the size of your head was simply the appetizer. oh boyyy), got to try out the spinny clay thing (clay throw? i dunno but i was predictably awful at this), and we even made our own clay piggy banks. it's crazy how hard these people work for such little profit. while shopping around town, i bought a hand painted clay vase for 200 pesos. or 40 cents. whaaaaat. crazy cheap. our other field trip was just last weekend to vina concha y toro which was really nice, although i think i preferred our undurraga tour (the guide was just way cooler). but we did get to try a couple really good wines and then afterwards had a gigantic feast of empanaditas, pan, steak, papas provencales (like scalloped potatoes), and dessert. for dessert i got the lucuma cake which is amazing. lucuma is one of my favorite things i've tried here. it's a fruit, but you don't eat it in fruit form. generally they make a paste type thing out of it and put it in desserts, especially ice cream, and it tastes SO good. it's almost like cookie dough mixed with dulce de leche. from a fruit. so it's healthy, right?

Section 3: Class

Ha. not. but i am going to start teaching english to high school kids with the ingles abre puertas program and i'm pretty excited about that. i'm glad i'll be able to volunteer in some way, since building houses isn't exactly in my skill set. me + hammer + walls = certain doom. i'm also not sure how i feel about building the mediaguas, something a lot of chileans seem to have mixed feelings about as well.

ahhh well that's it for now. the french open started today and i'm SOOO excited. i honestly think it's rafa's year again, and after watching him win 3 back to back masters 1000 shields on clay, i'm feeling pretty confident. there have also been some really interesting supreme court decisions coming in the past week and i'm really excited to see how the confirmation process goes for kagan. alright, nerd OUT.

Monday, April 12, 2010

vida. life. viiiiidaa.

alright, so now that it's been about two centuries since i last wrote i guess it's time. I think this also marks the longest time i've been in santiago without leaving for some sort of trip, and it's actually been really nice sticking around santiago...more like "real life" i guess, if there is such a thing when you're studying abroad (i'm starting to think there isn't...haha)

so annnnnyways, life has been going along and here's what's been happening. I had my first assignment due for one of my real chilean classes (one of my classes is a class for foreigners where i get to feel good about my spanish ability once a week). my first assignment was an eleven page paper about ....something...literally. we didn't have a prompt or anything. just a "okay go write for 11 pages and use these texts. roooiiiiiight. so it was basically me torturing myself in front of the computer for days and complaining to anyone within listening distance. or emailing/facebooking distance. sorry all, but it really did suck. i did indeed finish it though and have now moved on to torturing myself about what kind of grade i'll get. this is normal though and hopefully it all went well. guess we'll seeeee.

the Weekend of Evil Paper Writing was all easter weekend, and although we were not motivated enough to make an easter egg hunt, we did have a huge group dinner at the dorm. I made home made mashed potatoes (with a little help from Andrea who used her bare hands as the mashing tool) and there was a bunch of other delish food. por ejemplo, scalloped potatoes, sushi of the california roll variety, broccoli, stuffed mushrooms (i actually tried and liked the fungus. shocker), pan fried chicken, salad, patacones (fried plantain chips) with homemade salsa and guacamole, brownies, and this odd combo of thanksgiving cranberry thing and cheese (kind of good in a gross way). so it was basically awesomely delicious and super fun. i think we're going to do more group dinners, with the boys cooking next time. they weren't so much help this time around but they did do the dishes afterwards. thanks, boyzz.

Dish Washing.


mashing away.

The school week (well the 3 days i have class) is pretty uneventful and classes are admittedly kind of crappy. they're somehow very different from class at home. ie more boring. this probably has a lot to do with the fact that class is in spanish and that i can miss a word and then just space out for the next five minutes. but lectures also just seem a lot more pointless and the profs seem to go on about things that aren't important...or at least i hope they're not. another difference is that when a chilean student participates in class, he/she really participates. at home, you'll generally say a sentence or two and anymore than that and the rest of the class gets antsy waiting for you to shut up. not so much here. chilean students share their opinions for what feels like centuries. i'm not saying it's a bad thing, but it's definitely different. haha.

but yes other exciting things...kelsey, laura, and i were reunited after their week long trip to buenos/iguazu (i decided i'd rather go later in the semester and i had that paper to write). so to celebrate, we ate ice cream of course! it was a beautiful day though and we walked through the bellas artes neighborhood to get to this really cute ice cream shop so we could try their specialty: rose flavored ice cream! which sounds very very wrong but it's actually really good. so that was a cute afternoon. i also successfully made eggplant parmesan last week and i feel very proud of myself about it. yum.

and then the last thing to talk about is this weekend! friday was kevin's birthday and it was a really good time. jess and alyssa were nice enough to host it, and although we couldn't have music playing because they live in a residencia like me, it was still really fun. i played some drinking games with chileans (yes actual interactions with chileans. score). these chileans also liked to sing in english such things as "to the bottom, to the bottom. oh yeahh oh yeahh" and "I like to drink a lot, i like to drink a lot". maybe not so creative, but really hilarious. here are some pics i stole from andrea-

please note kathy stealthily stealing chips in the back of one of those pictures. ahahhaha. too funny. the next day, andrea, john, maritza, and i tried to go to a bar to watch the big barcelona/madrid game but unfortunately every single table and chair was taken at the bar so to console ourselves we went to dunkin donuts and the weirdest thing happened: their donuts had no holes in the center! i felt kind of scandalized by this. what is a donut without the hole? i felt better about the situation after i ate my manjar filled donut and realized the world was okay again.

that night, we really wanted to go out and do something but all planning seemed to fail. until laura said that her host bro was having people over and that she could therefore have people over too. fantastic. kathy and i headed on over as did marc, kelsey, and amanda and it was a really good time. we also got home ridiculously late (6 am) so i was a completely useless person the next day but that happens sometimes.


and kathy giving the best face ever. hahaha.

so that's it for now. tomorrow i think kathy, lynzee, pablo (my tandem), his friend, and i are going to a cafe con piernas. should be interesting. chaoooo for now. oh and besos, too.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Torres del Paine: the fellowship of the ring

So this weekend i finally got to go to chilean patagonia, specifically torres del paine. soooo beautiful. but firstly, my cumple!

last week was my birthday and it was such a blast! my dorm mates had multiple surprises (and cakes) for me, which was fantastic. in total about 5 different cake type things. scoooore. that night we had an asado (otra vez) and a little party which turned out to be quite the fiesta once our landlady left. kelsey and laura also brought over the supplies to make shamrock shakes which was fantastic since they don't have them here and y'all know how much i love them :). so basically this was a paragraph to say thanks to everyone for making my birthday so much fun. love you all!

and now back to the torres adventure. we left thursday night from the santiago airport to head to punta arenas (very very south chile). i forgot until we got there how much damage the airport sustained from the much so that we never actually got into the airport. everything was operating out of tents outside the airport and we had to take a bus directly to the plane in order to board. that was a bizarre experience and a huge reminder that the earthquake is still affecting everyone here. we finally got to board our flight to punta arenas and arrived there at about with nothing to do until bus companies opened up, we took naps on the airport floor. que comodo! 6:30am finally rolled around and we found a bus to take us to puerto natales (about 3 hours away from punta arenas) where we loaded up on calories before taking another bus to torres del paine national park.

while in the park we did SOOO much hiking (obviously). over 20 hours worth. and for those of you who know how uncoordinated i am, it definitely was not the easiest thing in the world. we also camped...which meant limited showers. and you also know how i feel about showering. haha. but the discomfort was soo amazingly and totally worth it. once we left i felt so great knowing that i was able to see the things i was able to see and do something pretty far out of my comfort zone. and we got to see the two best things in the park: las torres and the glacier!

so yeah...torres was crazy beautiful. not a serene beauty, but a powerful, stately, intimidating beauty. it's really one of those places you look at and go "whoa. mother nature is amazing." beyond the beauty of the mountains and the landscape, there were some downsides as it was craaaaazy windy as well as pretty darn cold, especially for camping. i also kept looking at the torres and thinking how it reminded me so much of the evil mountain thing in lord of the rings. and considering all 7 of us were always hiking in a line we were pretty much the fellowship. hence the entry title :)here's some proof of the ridic wind-

and some random things:
1) when camping, consider packing a variety of food. for instance, my packing 12 peanut butter sandwiches and trail mix maybe was not the best idea. hard to swallow down that much PB after awhile.
2) when people say it might be cold, it will be. if you hear it rains a lot, it probably does. maaaaybe a good idea to pack appropriately. whoops.
3) using your highschool back pack for intense back packing might be a little uncomfortable.
4) why oh why did rafael nadal lose to ivan ljubicic at indian wells? seriously? ljubicic?! the loss of ranking points resulting in a slide back to number 4..ugh. this is going to be a rough year for me.

back to school this of my classes still has not started! so hopefully i like the profe or i guess...well i'll just have to deal with it. haha sooo yeah that's it for now. the moral of the story is that if you ever get a chance to go to patagonia, go! it's rough but totally worth it. oh and if you're ever in puerto natales you should probably hit up patagonia dulce. seriously delish chocolate related things (brownies, hot chocolate, tortas...mmm). so that's it for now. left out some deets but too many and it's boring, right? chaooo for now.

Monday, March 8, 2010

i need what little piece of paper?!

this weekend six of us (me, john, laura, marc, ellie, and kelsey) went to mendoza, argentina for a few days...and here goes!

so we bought bus tickets for 7:30 am friday morning. this means i woke up at about 5:20 am, and i'm sure you can guess how thrilled i was about that. so anyways, we got to the bus station, lined up for the bus, and was asked by the bus driver for our documents. i handed him my passport and the paper i have to claim my chilean ID. what i didn't have was this random little paper they gave me at the airport without telling me it was important. ruuhhh ohh. only laura and ellie had actually brought that piece of paper and the rest of us were all ready to go back home and try and figure something out when the bus driver said "ahh no we'll figure it out. get on the bus." i was a little nervous that i would have to drive about 3 hours to the border only to get denied. but no! the driver actually made a special stop for us on the way there at the policia internacional. the office was in the middle of the andes mountains and when the bus stopped the driver made the four of us get out of the bus and RUN to the office. it was pretty much a border scene from a movie and i found the whole thing pretty hilarious. after speaking to the police, we got clearance and RAN back to the bus again. the bus ride took us over the andes and it was really pretty. seeeeee:

so then we got to the border where i got hit on by the border official and then i stood there while there was pointing and talking about me being bonita y linda. awkward. but we made it across the border and to mendoza. our hostel was actually really nice despite my first view of it being this absolutely gigantic man wearing nothing but aladdin pants. that night we had a good and cheap dinner ($5 for pasta, a drink, and dessert) and then went to the parade.

the reason for the parade was that this was the weekend of the festival de vendimia, which is the grape harvest festival. and this parade was CRAZY. there were tons of people there of all ages and it was really the older people who were pushing to the front. we couldn't really figure out why they were so excited until one of the beauty queens on the float threw a melon at us. they were throwing fruit, some pasta, wine, soda, and bits of meat off the floats. definitely unexpected but definitely really cool. it was really fun to scream "ACA!! ACA!!!" with the rest of the crowd as all the floats with beauty queens passed by.

i also enjoyed some cotton candy.

the next day we got up to go to another parade. this parade lasted FIVE HOURS! after the first hour we decided that instead of waiting for the parade to pass, we would just walk up it. so we walked all the way up to the beginning of the parade which was in a park where i made my first artesan purchase (handmade leather coin purse for $2...score). then we walked back and had lunch. at lunch john, marc, laura, kelsey and i split two bbqs...and these were quite the bbq. along with the more traditional fare of chicken drummy and ribs, there was tripe, kidney, and blood sausage. sick. i know some people like those parts, so i tried it and honestly ...gross! miscellaneous body parts always tend to be a bit chewy for me, and i've seen the process for making blood sausage and there was no way i could have liked it even if it tasted good (it didn't).

after lunch we got some helado and then went to another artesan market where i got a couple super cute pieces of jewelry for a total of $8. for whatever reason, mendoza was crazy cheap. i spent less than $75 there all weekend including the hostel.

that night we headed to the cerros (hills) in order to watch a concerty thing/beauty pageant that's a huge part of the festival. we brought with us some cheese, bread, manjar (mmmm), and wine. it was really fun (even though we couldn't see anything from our spot) because it was clearly one of those things only locals enjoyed and it was really cool being a part of that atmosphere.

after we listened to the announcer reading off every single vote for the top beauty queen ("Maaaaiippuuuuu!!! Juuuunin!) we headed back to the hostel. the next day was a bit of a bust, although we did get to see a sweet though possibly mentally damaged turtle named jorge, before boarding the bus back to santiago.

and now for a random aside: elliot yamin is really really annoying. he's barely famous in the US so I don't know if you know who he is, but he's an american idol loser who was in chile for the vina del mar music festival. First he was complaining about the concert saying it was a waste for him to come to the country. Next, he is exploiting the earthquake in order to get press. and then i read some weird thing where he was pleading for people to come get him out of chile because he didn't want to make the "perilous journey" to mendoza. seeeeeeriously. really not important, but really obnoxious mr. yamin. mini-rant over.

aaannnd that's it. i signed up for two of my classes today (quite the disorganized process) and i have my first day of class tomorrow!!! ay wish me luck, i'm basically a freshman again.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

and my world was rocked...

well, the world knows what happened here today...but i'm going to begin with something more positive.

yesterday was laura's birthday. she turned the ripe old age of 20 and to celebrate, John and i began our day at the chilean version of the DMV. for about three hours. however, our chilean IDs will now be ready to be picked up, although after today i am not sure when they'll be ready. so anyways, after that we met laura and ellie at a mercado at los dominicos. this mercado was sooooo nice. and very expensive. there were tons of different pieces of lapis lazuli jewelry that at some point i'm going to splurge on as my gift from here because the bracelets are so beautiful and so different from anything i can get at home. after drooling over things we couldn't afford, we went and purchased tickets for our vina del mar trip for the weekend(which we had finally ironed out some of the details for) as well as bus tickets to mendoza, argentina for the next weekend. next, we walked around the las condes mall to again drool over things we couldn't afford and then headed off to la casa de laura for her birthday asado (remember i taught you this means bbq..haha). the bbq was...well a bit awkward at first but after a little bit we all got comfortable with each other and it was a really good time. We got to eat more choripan, home made guac and salsa, and yummy potato salad. then i helped laura's host mom light 20 candles for her birthday cake (nearly lighting my arm on fire in the process) and we enjoyed some yummy raspberry almond torta thingy. deeeelish.

normally at this point in a birthday evening, you would head out on ze town and discoteca it up. since we all had to get up at 7am though, we decided we'd hold off until tomorrow when we are vina. this turned out to be one of many accidentally lucky decisions.

so john and i got home around 1 and i went straight to bed so i'd be semi fresh for a day of vina fun the next day. mid sleep, however, i was just JOLTED awake. i'm not sure i can explain the feeling of being completely peacefully asleep and then wake up to everything around you moving. and it's not just shaking. it feels like the whole world is shifting. i think in my head i assessed that it wasn't too awful-my stuff wasn't falling all over the place and the walls weren't cracking so i pushed the doors of my wardrobe closed because the noise of them slamming back and forth was adding to the scariness of it all. this went on for about a minute and a half. when it was over my legs were shaking, although at the time i didn't register fear just mostly confusion. i immediately put my robe on and went downstairs to find everyone else huddled in the living room, pretty shaken. at this point, we had no electricity so no tv or internet. we stayed up for an hour or so until the aftershocks slowed and calmed and then i went back upstairs. we had no idea that we had just experienced tremors from an 8.8 earthquake. i wasn't even sure that anyone outside of chile would know that we experienced a tremor. wrooooong.

that morning i woke up at 7 to get ready for vina. since i thought it was just a minor santiago tremor, i went ahead and showered (in the dark). then i got a message from laura saying that homes in vina were partially destroyed...uh oh. this was clearly more than just a little tremor. luckily, at 7:30 our electricity came on and John, Santiago (the night watchman), and I watched the news to find out there had been an 8.8 earthquake 200 miles away from us...a much greater magnitude than what hit Haiti, though luckily it was farther off the coast and Chilean construction is much better. at this point i was really scared for a couple reasons. 1) my parents are going to FREAK out 2)are all my friends safe? I had friends in vina, pucon, and actually in transit at the time of the earthquake. luckily, everyone is safe and i was able to communicate with parents even though my phone company was down and wouldn't allow me to make calls. it was a long day of stressing out about everyone's safety...a feeling i've never had before, at least not associated with a natural disaster.

so...the lucky decisions we made were: 1)deciding to go to vina on saturday instead of friday. had we been there on friday would have been stuck there away from communication and where there seemed to be a lot more chaos. 2) not going out friday night. the most dangerous places to be were roads and bridges, which collapsed even in santiago. had we been out we could have been on the roads. my neighborhood in santiago is fairly new and therefore there wasn't much damage...when i walked outside there were smashed roof tiles and street lamps but nothing major. there were also people sitting outside of large apartment buildings, afraid the aftershocks would cause more damage to the buildings. unlike what the news may say, the entirety of chile is not in disrepair. however, there are SO many people here, especially near the epicenter, without homes, electricity, or running water. roads are closed, hospitals evacuated. so help out if you can.

overall though, i'm really okay. it was a long, stressful day and my thoughts go out to the families with missing or lost loved ones. i really hope this doesn't sound super melodramatic because i was here in safety today, and i really appreciate the messages i received from everyone. loves, steph.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"life" in santiago this past week nothing exactly newsworthy occurred but it was a really really fun week. as i mentioned, our little spanish class started and the last day is tomorrow. i actually secretly really enjoy going to the class because it's nice having something i have to get up for...and i'm also secretly excited to start class. i know i'm always secretly (or not so secretly) excited to start every semester and then disappointment follows as i realize that a school semester doesn't just involve learning but a lot of annoying crap...but i feel like this semester will probably just be a lot different. i'm also probably only having three days of class a week...schweeeeeet!!

so...activities of last week. we had a little BBQ (asado) at the dorm that was a lot of fun. laura, kelsey, marc, nico, and his friend ended up coming over as well and then the whole lot of us went to a discoteca until 4 in the morning...definitely still getting used to the late hours here. i think by the end of the semester i'll be used to that and all the dancing. i'm still an embarrassingly horrible dancer. all of the men are better than me, well except for maybe one guy here. so that's something i'll learn too.

saturday we were out late again for our friend, Silvana's, birthday. i've only met her a couple of times but she is just SUPER nice and her birthday was a lot of fun. we did some more dancing and laura, ramiro, and i did some karaoke (BSB-I want it that way), which people got really into. obvs.

this weekend we're trying to get to vina del mar...which is proving difficult. it seems all of our travel planning is difficult...haha. oh well. s'laters!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

a taste of the andes...and not the mint

alright so this time i am very unmotivated in writing this blog, probably because about 432897432 happened since last time. haha. i'll start with a week ago...

soooo, kelsey, laura, and i finally got a sort of trip planned: Valdivia! valdivia is south of santiago by about ten hours and a little west. it sits on a river and is super cute. so anyways, we took an overnight bus there and arrived wednesday morning. we got to what we thought was our cheap hostel...turns out this was a classy bed and breakfast and cost $90/night. ruhroh. but anyways, after we got settled there we headed over and walked around town a bit, saw the fresh seafood market and some lobos marinos (see ottery things, not sure exactly but they like to get out of the river and lay out next to the sidewalk...pretty funny). walking around valdivia was nice. it reminded me a lot of wisco and there were a lot less catcalls and carhonking. score! so after walking around a bit we decided to go to the beach in niebla. so we got our swimsuits on and stepped off the bus and...crap. no beach. some dirt. definitely a lake, though. that was pretty. our afternoon was unspolied, however, as there was also this little culural festival which included food, music, and artesan stands. we decided to get some empanadas (the cheese ones were delish, the seafood ones were...well...questionable) and we talked to this chilean family who was sitting next to us. i was distracted the whole time by the dad who had an uncanny resemblance to johnny depp, but it was an interesting time nonetheless. after walking around looking for a fort we didn't actually go in, we headed back to valdivia and enjoyed a nice seafood dinner on the lake. yumbo.

next day included the kuntsmann brewery which we were excited to tour...but the unfortunately don't actually give we just ate food and drank their beer instead. it was a fine trade off, really. after the brewery, we took the bus home and ran into one of the bartenders, named Juan Pablo, from the brewery and we started talking to him and went and watched an outdoor volleyball tournament which was actually way more fun than i thought it would be. that night we just went back to the hostel because the hostel was in a sort of shady part of town. sorry juan pablo.

alright, next day we headed off to pucon, which is about three hours away. then we hopped another bus up to huerquehue national park. the bus ride was a treacherous hour ride up a mountainside. fairly terrifying. so we got to the park, which is located in the southern andes. this means that the andes are smaller but covered in trees and absolutely beautiful. there were lakes everywhere. the first day we found one such lake and just laid there in the sun. amazing. the second day we did about an 8 mile hike to two of the other lakes and it was just so beautiful. getting there was a little scary as the trails are not maintained like they are in the US. this means there are tree roots everywhere trying to trip you, mud to make you slide, and very few handrails. awesome. the hike also made me realize i should probably exercise more than once every seven months...but ehh. probably not. here are some pictures of the beauty.

so that was really really awesome. back in santiago now and i've had three days of my "intensive" spanish class. not so intensive but really not bad at all. fun maybe in a weird way. or at least something today that isn't tourism. i'm actually quite exited for real classes to start and to see the campus with everyone on it. it's really pretty right now but really empty except for the stray dogs the school takes in that live there. (i love those dogs though b/c i know they are rabies free so i can actually pet them). also, more people have been coming to the dorms so that's been really fun. there are two people from my program who live here now and so far we have a really great group.

and that's it...i think this was exceptionally boring so sorry about that. but at least i took the effort to copy and past those pictures in...haha.