Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gross.

My computer decided it doesn´t want to work anymore. No idea how long I´ll be without one, so please forgive my lack of posts.

But anyway,

Feliz Año Nuevo!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mish-Mash

I'm too tired to organize my toughts in a creative and witty way. So here it is in boring numerical order. (The numbers have no meaning, just the order in which things popped into my head.)
  1. I MOVED!!!! Yesteday I moved into an apartment with two Brazilian girls. They are super nice. I'm sure I'll write more about them later.
  2. I am officially a teacher in quinto básico for next year. (That means 5th grade.) The students may have finished last week, but the teachers (myself included) have been busy with meetings, closing the grades, cleaning the room, etc. I am one of the lucky teachers who is changing rooms for next year. So I spent most of today packing up supplies to take upstairs. Fun times!
  3. Tomorrow is Christmas!! I know what you're thinking, that tomorrow is only the 24th. But ha! In Chile (and I believe all across South America) people celebrate Christmas a day early. Because we are just that special. I'll be going to my uncle's house to spend the evening with family.
  4. I officially have dual citizenship!! Yesterday I went downtown to pick up my Chilean passport and cédula, the latter being a Chilean ID card. Next week, one of my "adoptive mothers" is going to take me to the bank so I can finally open up a bank account. Which will be fantastic seeing how I just got paid again this week.
  5. In my new apartment there is a barbecue on the balcony. Behind the barbecue is the box it came in. The name of the barbecue? I'm so glad you asked. It's called "Beef Maker". For some reason, this amuses me to no end. And all this time I thought beef makers were cows.

Okay I think that is all. Well, I'm sure there is more but that is all I can think of for right now.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a Happy Christmas!!

(That's how they say it here.)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Javier

On Thursday I went to go see an apartment. The ad said it was only 2 blocks away from the metro, so I figured it would be easy to find even for someone like me who is directionally impaired. Boy was I wrong. First off that metro stop has four exits. It took me three tries to find what I assumed was the correct exit. After walking almost seven blocks in the wrong direction I came to the correct conclusion that I had no clue where I was. I was hot, frustrated and lost. So I did the only logically thing, I hailed a taxi.


This is where Javier comes into the picture. Javier was the taxi driver. I know this because after he asked me what my name was, I felt the only polite thing to do was to ask him for his name as well. (All in Spanish...be proud, people.) Anyway, as he drove me to the correct street he switched the radio to an English station.


“Against All Odds” by Phil Collins started playing. Javier first asked me if I liked the song. After I told him that I did (don’t hate, Phil Collins is a musical god) Javier kept insisting I sing for him. He even told me I had a beautiful voice (obviously Javier is a smart man). I tried as politely as I could to decline his invitation for me to serenade him.


Then, to make the cab ride even more interesting, Javier asked me how many boyfriends I have. Either he didn’t understand me when I said none, or he was just trying to be cute, because he started guessing. His guess? Four. (Who dates four people at the same time?!)


Anyway, Javier definitely ranks as the funniest cab driver I have met in Chile….so far. I’m sure there will be others.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Un Buen Día!

Today was the last day of school! No more students until March!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hello, Smog.

Having never lived in a big city before I never really knew what a pain smog was. It's like this nasty haze that floats above the city. And what's worse, it blocks the view of the Andes.

Anyway, here's is the view from my uncle's apartment in Santiago. He lives on the 19th floor. I'm not sure I could handle living on the 19th floor. That's about 15 floors too high if you ask me.


Isn't the smog lovely?



Here's the same view but obviously taken at night time.

Okay, I think that's enough blogging for one day. I'm going to go and enjoy the Feast of Not Having to go to Work Today.


The Birds

As you may recall, I like to take pictures of random animals. If you don't remember, then you are obviously not paying enough attention.

Outside the balcony of my aunt's house I noticed a bird was building a nest in a tree.


Then this past Sunday I saw the bird was no longer alone in the nest.

If you look real close you'll see that the mother bird
is in the process of feeding her chick.


And then today, only the baby bird was in the nest. I'm assuming the mother bird is out collecting food.
Again, you have to look closely, but the chick is there. If I could have gotten closer I would have. But in order to take this picture I was already standing half way up the ledge. Any further up and not only would I be an idiot, but it would be way too easy for me to fall over. And well, that would be a pretty pathetic end to my time here in Santiago.

Some Twin Action

I got really busy there for a few weeks with work stuff. So, now I'm going to make up for the lack of posts by bombarding you all with things that happened during this past month.

First up: My Uncles' birthdays.
And before you go accusing me of placing the apostrophe in the wrong place, you should know that my uncles are twins.

Tio Nacho and Tio Coto

Tio Coto's daughters (my cousins) live in Mendoza, but they came down for the weekend to celebrate. Here's a picture of them with my uncles:
Yup! They are twins too.
Ximena, Tio Coto, Tio Nacho and Maria Silvia



Okay and finally,
Here's one of all the cousins. That's Ignacio on the floor, you first met him here.



I hope you're keeping track of all the family members. There will be a quiz later.


Feriado

One perk of living in a Catholic country is all the holidays. Today for example is the Feast of the Inmaculada Concepción. Which I am pretty sure translates to the Feast of Not Having to go to Work Today. Certainly has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Candy Corn

I received some candy in the mail the other day. Being the nice person that I am, I brought it into work to share with one of the other 4th grade teachers. Here's pretty much how the conversation went:

Oh, my mom sent me some American candy in the mail.
What was it?
Well it's called Candy Corn.
I want to try some! I planted some in Farmville, but I don't know what it is.


I very much enjoyed the fact that she had only heard of it through FarmVille. I knew that game was educational.

After trying some and deciding it was delicious she did two things. First, she asked how it got its name (for which I actually had no answer*) and then she took a picture of it to send to her husband. I decided a picture wasn't enough, so I gave her the rest of the bag to take home so he could try it. I'm just that nice. (To adequately assess my level of nice-ness in this scenario, you should know that I really, really like candy corn.)




*In case you were wondering (as I am sure you were) candy corn was named so because the genius who invented it thought that it looked like a kernel of corn. Well a very large kernel of corn. Three times as large in fact. Thank you Wikipedia.

Charlie Hieronymus Pace

To say the boys in my class are obsessed with football would be a massive understatement. (Remember that football here is the same thing as soccer.) Anyway, whenever students are given free time to draw, the boys always draw pictures of football players from one of two teams: Manchester United or Real Madrid.

The boys are always arguing over which team is better. Of course, I have no way to provide an educated opinion on the matter. The students however, didn't know this. So when they asked me which team I liked better, the answer was simple.

Manchester United.

Why you may ask?

Charlie Pace* was from Manchester.




*LOST reference. If you didn't catch that, then shame on you.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Strike?

I take the subway and a taxi to work everyday. So when I found out the subway workers were possibly going to go on strike last Monday two things popped into my head:


1) I wondered if the subway workers were going to take to the streets to protest in song and dance like the news boys of New York in 1899 (Oh wait, that only happens in movies?)


2) Okay really that was the only thing I thought of. I can't help it that I am constantly waiting for people to spontaneously break into song and dance. (Preferably a song and dance I know, so I can join in on all the fun.)



So I’m not sure what happened with this potential strike. I never asked. I just kept taking the subway. (Is that bad?) (Everyone else was doing it too.)




Side note: If this post made no sense to you, you should be ashamed of yourself. And while you're reflecting upon your shame, rent Newsies. Or better yet, just buy it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Too Tired to Think of a Title

Even when I'm tired I can think up some amazingly, awesome alliteration. (Twice in fact.)

Final grades are due tomorrow at school so I've been incredibly busy. So busy in fact, I didn't even realize Hanukkah had started.

So this is my formal apology for not writing on my blog.

Okay, break's over. Back to work!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!


No this post has nothing to do with Christmas.

We've reached that glorious time in the school year where students get dismissed at 1pm (normally it's 3:15 or 4:00 depending on the grade). I can't tell you how happy this makes me. And don't forget, I've only been there for three weeks. I can only imagine how thrilled the regular teachers are who've been in school since March.

The school year ends on December 15th. I'll be filling in for at least one more week. Emphasis on the words 'at least'.

Not that I mind. More hours=more money=more traveling.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey

Happy Turkey Day!
haha. Get it??
Oh I crack myself up sometimes.


Anyway, just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Directions

People stop me on the street quite frequently to ask me for directions. This is funny for a few reasons. The main one being that I have a truly horrible sense of direction. So even if I understood Spanish, the chances of me being able to explain to someone how to get to where they wanted to go would be slim.

So of course I was really excited today when someone stopped me for directions and I was actually able to tell them where to go.

Okay, that's a lie. I had to point. I might not know enough Spanish yet, but I do know where the entrance to the metro is.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Skype Date!


Love these girls!!
The only thing missing was Bacon. (The cat, not the meat.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tarzan.

I left home 70 days ago. And for the first time I've really felt homesick. I guess it was bound to happen eventually. Maybe it's because the holidays are coming up. I actually forgot about Thanksgiving, since it's not celebrated here. And if my mom wasn't harassing me for my Christmas wish list I would have forgotten about that too. It's summer time here. Not really the season I equate with Christmas.

Today at school all fourth grade students went to a local stadium to practice sports. So I had over two hours with nothing to do. I spent the time cleaning up the classroom and hanging up my kids' artwork. Outside on the patio one of the second grade classes was having music class. So for 45 minutes they sang the same song over and over again. What song you may ask? Only the sappiest song ever. "You'll Be In My Heart" by Phil Collins. The song is even sappier when little kids sing it.

This did not help with the homesickness.

Though there is one thing that is going to help. My roommates from college are all getting together on Friday. One might think that this would make me miss home more. But I have a Skype date set up with these lovely ladies and I can't wait to see them. Even if it's just through the computer.

And if they don't cure my homesick blues, I'm sure a trip to Dunkin Donuts or Subway will do the trick.

Friday, November 12, 2010

First Week Recap

I started working this week and I can't remember the last time I was so happy it's Friday. First off, waking up at 6am sucks. But it will just be another thing I need to get used to.

Here's the rest:
  • Walking past a portrait of the Queen of England several times a day
  • Spelling things the British way (favourite, honour, theatre, metre...)
  • The metric system
  • Being called 'miss' by everyone (students and colleagues)
  • Writing in cursive (so far I've avoided doing this one)
  • Looking younger/shorter than half of the students (remember this is a K-12 school)

I'm sure there is more, but that is all I can think of at the moment. Now how about all the fantastic things about this school that I've already come to love:

  • The view of the Andes from the teacher's lounge (pictures to follow at some point)
  • The coffee/tea/cookies that are served during the first break (although I only actually enjoy one of those things, I'm sure you can guess which one)
  • The 45 minute lunch break (the middle school I was at last year had a 20 minute lunch)
  • The FREE totally edible lunch for the staff (complete with salad bar)
  • Free periods everyday while students study Spanish, music, PE.... (we're talking a minimum of 1.5 hours free per day...up to 3.75 hours...not including lunch and other breaks)
  • The kiosko on campus where you can by almost everything they sell at a 7-11 (minus all the things that require you to be 18 years or older)
Moving on. I've struggled a little with the students in my class. There are 28, very talkative, very hyper students in my class, all of which are very eager for the school year to end next month. Combine that with the fact that they have a sub, means they have been acting a little out of control. After a few days of struggling with them to get them to shut the eff up during their lessons, I finally had to resort to being the bad guy.

Today I introduced a new system where every time they do not follow my instructions or talk while I'm talking I put a line on the white board. Each line represents one minute they will lose during recess. I must say they were better behaved. Even so, for the first two minutes of recess I had 28 students glaring at me. That was a blast.

I will be at the school for all of next week. No one knows for sure when the teacher I'm subbing for will be back. So there is a chance they will need me to stay longer. I wasn't really thrilled when I heard this. But after being there for only 4 days I am happy to stay longer. All the teachers have been so incredibly nice and helpful. Plus, the more time I work now, the more money I'll make. Which has a direct positive correlation with the amount of time I will be able to spend traveling in the next few months.




Monday, November 8, 2010

Contract


Today I had an appointment at the my new job to sign my contract for next year. I was really excited to find out that I will most likely be teaching fifth grade. After my meeting with the bursar I was told the head of the junior (elementary) school wanted to meet with me. As it turns out, a fourth grade teacher is sick and will be out for two weeks. And guess who they want to fill her spot? Obviously it's me, otherwise why would I be writing about it. So I start tomorrow! From what I was told the students are working on the following things:

Language Arts: Writing informal letters
Social Studies: The Greeks
Science: The human heart

Not sure yet where they are in math, but I guess I will find out tomorrow.

At first, I was really hesitant to accept, mainly because I'm nervous. But this is a great opportunity for me to meet some of the teachers and learn how the school day is run.

Interesting side note: Here, there are three classes per grade. Barring any unforeseen complications, students remain in the same class, with the same group of students for grades pre-k through twelve.

So when they told me that if I like this group of students they will assign them to me for fifth grade, I was sold. It would be great to start the next school year already knowing a little about my students!

Now the fun part begins. I get to plan some fun games for tomorrow morning as a sort of 'let's get to know each other' activity.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Good News Again

On Wednesday I had a follow-up interview at a school I visited last week. After accepting and then declining a job, I was really excited to go on another interview. About 15 minutes into the interview I was offered a job! (In case you’re keeping track, that’s 3 interviews, 3 offers.) Of course I accepted the position. I will be teaching either 4th or 5th grade at a K-12 school that is a part of the British School Association. I’m not sure if that’s what it’s really called, but it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I have a job again!


This job greatly outranks both of the other positions I was offered before. Here’s why:

1) The school is actually located inside Santiago.

2) They offered me a lot more money.


I will be going back to the school on Monday to sign the contract.

And what’s even more important, is that once the contract is signed I can go back to planning my upcoming tour of Southern Chile.


See, I told you it was good news.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Explosión de Palabras

Today I had lunch at my aunt and uncle's house. My grandmother, who I haven't seen in 12 years stopped by. One of the first things she asked me was why I don't have a boyfriend. Then, during lunch she asked me if I was on birth control. To top it off, after lunch she wanted to know when I was going to get married and start having children.

My uncle likes to refer to her as "una explosión de palabras." An explosion of words.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

El Palacio La Moneda

Last week I went to El Palacio de La Moneda.

You should know I didn't take this picture.
I just never took one of the whole building.


La Moneda is where the President of Chile works. So yeah, it's kind of a big deal. The palace takes up an entire block in downtown Santiago. You should know by now, before I tell you what I did there, I will first give you a little history. It's more fun that way.


In Spanish moneda means coin. So as it turns out, La Moneda was originally built to serve as a mint (not the breath freshener, the place where coins are made). Coins were produced in the palace from 1814 until 1929.


Somewhere along the way, a president decided La Moneda would be a pretty nice place to live. This was around 1845. I’m a little fuzzy on the details (read: Wikipedia is a little fuzzy on the details) but sometime around 1950, the presidents stopped living in La Moneda. Now they just work there.


I’m sure many people believe September 11th is only a catastrophic moment in American history. Unfortunately they’re wrong. Twenty-eight years before the planes crashed into the Twin Towers (and the Pentagon and the PA field) Chileans experienced their own 9/11. President Salvador Allende died in La Moneda (cause of death unknown) during a military coup d’état on September 11, 1973. Part of La Moneda was destroyed as bombs fell on the palace.


I don’t mean to get all anti-American here, because that’s definitely not my intention. But just so you all know, Allende was a freely elected Chilean President. And the CIA of the US supported the military coup d’état that resulted in the death of a president and Chile subsequently being under control of a military dictatorship until 1990.


Let’s take a breath, shall we?

Okay. Moving on.


In 1981 La Moneda had been restored. However, some scars from the attack were purposefully left behind.


Here's a memorial for Allende inside La Moneda.
You can see the new brick and the old brick.


The palace has several beautiful courtyards, salons, and patios all of which I got to see on a private, one-on-one, behind the scenes tour. Try doing that at the White House. I doubt you’ll get very far.


My aunt, Tia Patricia, just so happens to work at La Moneda. She even knows the President (who by the way, I am determined to meet, given my connections). So when she offered to show me around I obviously didn’t hesitate.


One of the first places we went was the Patio de los Cañones.



Here is where flags are on display, commemorating the Chilean (and one Bolivian) miners.


Notice the one Bolivian flag on the right.

The note written by Jose Ojeda alerting rescuers

that all 33 miners were safe is also on display.


Inside La Moneda we visited several different salons. I’m sure lots of really important things happen there, but my aunt doesn’t speak English so I’m not really sure what goes on there. While wandering around we went to the kitchen (I’m sure that’s not on the real tour) and the chef gave me a glass of soda. Then we went upstairs to the second floor. After my aunt kindly asked the security guard, we were give the okay to look around a little. You should know the second floor is restricted from the public. It’s good to know the people I know.


Galeria de Los Presidentes on the second floor.
I never said the second floor was exciting.



On our way to the Plaza de la Constitución we stopped in the Presidential Kitchen. We even got to sample meringues. Presidential meringues. (That is definitely not on the real tour.)

Exiting La Moneda I snapped a picture with some guards.


The guy on the left clearly didn't know we were taking a picture.



There was a line of people waiting to take their pictures in front of the capsule that rescued the miners. I’m not one to cut lines. But because I was with my super special aunt we were allowed to go to the front of the line. However, the lady who took my picture in front of the capsule managed to only take a picture of me....without the capsule. (That takes talent.) So here's a picture from the other side.


La Capsula FENIX II



And here's a close up of the capsule.
You can see the oxygen tanks still inside.



After seeing the capsule we made a quick trip to the Presidential Garage. I don’t know if that’s what it’s called. I just made it up. But we got to see the President’s car. I’m not a car person so this part was the least interesting.


Anyway, that about sums up my trip to La Moneda. I think I’m going to go back for the English tour to figure out the significance behind all my pictures.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Whole Lot of Barrons

One of the benefits of living in Santiago is that there are a whole lot of people related to me. Let's meet a few, shall we?

From back to front, Francisco, Juan Pablo, Constanza, Me,
Tia Patricia, and her sister, Tia Anita.

All part of the Barron family. And that's not even the half of it. There's more.



Here is my cousin Ignacio...

...and his dad, Tio Nacho*.

And there are more members of the Barron family I haven't even met yet.




*Nacho is a common nickname here for the name Ignacio. How fun is that? They share a name with an orange colored Dorito.





False Alarm

Sorry for the premature post about the job. Unfortunately I had to turn it down. I'm really disappointed because it seemed like such a perfect position. However, yesterday I went to visit the campus with my aunt and the school is way too far away from where the affordable housing is in Santiago. Also, without a car there would be no way for me to actually get to the school. So not being able to actually show up to work would make it hard to work there.

So now I'm back to square one, or whatever the expression is. Luckily, I've been told that native English speakers are like a hot commodity here. So my chances of finding another job are pretty good.

But still, it's a pretty big disappointment.

I still like owls though.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Like Owls.

I got a job today!! Starting in March* I will be a full time 6th grade teacher at an international school in Santiago. (Unless of course I get another, more fabulous offer.) Starting next week I'll be going to the school for one month to observe and meet the staff.

Admit it. I'm pretty awesome.






*Here, the school year runs from March to December.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Will Work For....Money.

One of my main goals while staying in South America is to find a job. Not just any job. A job where I can finally make use of that Master's degree I worked my butt off for.


Two weeks ago I had an interview in a little town called Curicó, located about two hours south of Santiago. I was a little nervous the night before so my mom gave me this invaluable advice:



I had little to worry about because after five minutes, the lady informed me they would be sending me an offer. I couldn’t believe it. I was actually being offered a job….teaching! The only downside was Curicó itself. The town was in the middle of nowhere. Well, more accurately, it was in the middle of other equally small towns. Not exactly the best place for someone my age. So I decided to be gutsy and turn the job down.


Luckily, I have two interviews set up for next week. Both schools are in Santiago. Hopefully one (or both!) will want me, so I can accept an offer and move on with my life. Which at the moment involves planning a trip to the wonderfully beautiful Lake District of Southern Chile. Researching different places to travel to is much more fun than going on interviews. Mainly because you can’t go on an interview in sweatpants.

Santiago

I've been in Santiago for a few weeks now. And I can't even claim to have seen a fraction of the city yet. But I will admit, that I have been very surprised with what I have found.


I came to Chile adamantly declaring that I would never live in Santiago. No way would I ever stay in such a big city. However once I arrived, I doubt it even took 30 minutes for me to change my mind. It’s not quite as hectic as I imagined it to be.


Just like New York City, Santiago is split up into different areas. The part I’ve been staying in, Las Condes, is very pretty. It's mostly made up of apartment buildings and sky scrapers. Here’s a sampling of some of my favorite buildings so far:





Just kidding about the last one.



Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Post for Liz

One of the downsides to moving over 5000 miles to the south is that I don't get to see two of the greatest people get married.

So congratulations to a fabulous couple who just so happens to be getting married TODAY!


Wait, no. Not those guys. But these guys.



Jim and Liz are probably the funniest people I have ever met. And I couldn't be more happy for them.


And Liz, I'm pretty sure this should have been your wedding cake. It goes right along with the American Gothic themed engagement picture.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

¡Hola Chile!

Traveling from Mendoza, Argentina to Santiago, Chile, you have a few options. Two of which are traveling by plane or bus. The main difference between these two options is time. Traveling by bus takes about seven hours longer than traveling by plane. It’s also cheaper.

I did not decide to travel to Chile by bus purely for financial reasons. The main reason was the scenery. When you travel from Argentina to Chile you cross the Andes. You know, that giant mountain range that runs as the dividing border between the two countries. Let’s talk a little about the Andes, okay? (I don't really care if you don't want to. It's my blog. And I like geography. So deal with it.)

Not including underwater mountain ranges (yes, those exist) the Andes are the longest mountain range, at roughly 7,000 km long. That’s about 1,000 miles more than the width of the US. So yeah, they’re pretty long. Its tallest peak, Mt. Aconcagua, at over 6,900 feet is the highest mountain in the Americas. Actually it’s the tallest mountain outside of Asia. It is located in the Mendoza province of Argentina. And if you are seated on the right side of the bus, you are able to see spectacular views of Mt. Aconcagua as you drive to Santiago.

Well, as it turns out, Mt. Aconcagua is pretty ugly this time of year. So here's a picture of a chicken in a jogging suit instead.


You may think that 7.5 hours on a bus is a long time. And you’re right, it is. But at least the buses that make this route are incredible. First off, they are double-decker buses. Which, in my book, automatically makes them super cool. I had a window seat (on the right side) and was pleased to find out that half the seats on the bus went unsold, including the one next to mine.

Before the bus even departed from the station, the attendant walked by and gave everyone an alfajor. Soon after departure the first of two movies began to play. My only complaint with the bus was the fact that listening to the movie was not optional. Overhead speakers projected the dialogue. So if you don’t plan on watching the movie, you better hope you packed some headphones or earplugs.

The movie that was chosen to keep the travelers entertained was called “Fireproof.” Once I realized that is was religious propaganda, I decided to tune it out. Though I might add, before I stopped watching I did see the main character break his computer with a baseball bat to eradicate his temptation to watch porn. That Kirk Cameron is one mighty fine actor.

About three hours after leaving Mendoza we arrived at Los Libertadores. This is the where you pass through the Chilean customs. Everyone got off the bus and proceeded inside. I was a little nervous because my Chilean passport had not arrived in time for me to leave. As an American traveling into Chile there is a fee of 140 USD. I had heard this fee was only imposed to those arriving by plane, but I still had my doubts. Luckily, I didn’t have to pay.

Los Libertadores

After passing through customs, all the luggage was removed from the bus. We moved into another room as we watched our luggage go through xray machines. Any personal bags we had with us were put up onto tables. At first I wondered why this was necessary. Then the dogs were brought in to smell every bag. I’m not sure if the dogs are used to only find drugs, or if perhaps, they are sniffing for any of the numerous items that you are forbidden from bringing into the country. This includes, but is not limited to, dairy products, meat, nuts, seeds, flowers and honey.

¡Bienvendos a la Republica de Chile!


Once the luggage was placed back on the bus, we were able to reboard and continue on our way. The bus attendant came around and handed everyone some snacks and a packet of powdered milk. Then came the fun part. While the drive up to Los Libertadores from Argentina is gradual incline, once you cross into Chile you get to travel down the Los Caracoles pass. This is a steep decline with a series of hairpin curves. To make things more fun, there are no guard rails. It’s crazy to think that truckers make this drive several times each day.

This picture doesn't really do it any justice.


Closer to Santiago we began to pass the Rio Blanco. Interesting choice of names, because while it may be a river, it is definitely not white. Everything was so green. It was a drastic contrast to the Argentine side of the Andes, which was almost completely devoid of color.

The Rio Blanco

So that about sums up my trip from Argentina to Chile. I can’t fully express how happy I am to be in Chile. Especially now, with the miners being rescued. As I’ve been writing this I’ve watched the last five miners being rescued, with number 28 about to surface right now. The vibe in this city, and I suspect all across the country, is one of relief. It’s pretty incredible.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Daily Lecture

Tomorrow will make it one month since I have arrived in Argentina. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.


1. Good shoes are essential. Wait. I take that back. Great shoes are essential. Just because a worn out pair of Converse are comfortable to walk from your house to the car, doesn’t mean they will be comfortable to walk twenty blocks (uphill...both ways). I’ve already given up wearing flip flops.


2. Don’t ever leave the house without toilet paper. I have yet to see a bathroom in public that actually has toilet paper. I’m not saying I always choose the stalls that are out of paper. I mean they don’t even have dispensers. So like I said, always carry toilet paper. Unless of course that sort of thing doesn't bother you. (Gross.)


3. People are, of course, entitled to their own opinion, but it still may be a stupid opinion. It's okay for someone to share their opinions with you about topics like abortion, gay rights, or divorce, but it is best not to be the one initiating the conversation, especially when you have the feeling that it might create an uncomfortable situation. Sometimes it is best to keep your opinions to yourself. However, once a person begins to spill derogatory comments, then I strongly believe you should stand up for what you believe in.


4. When trapped in car with two children under the age of nine, it pays to play smart. Make sure you pick the appropriate time to introduce them to the most wonderful game of all: The Silent Game. It helps to add in some “oohs” and “aahs” to get them excited about the game. Also, it can’t hurt to offer a special prize to the winner of the game. Guys, I’m talking from experience here. I may hold the record; those two children stayed quiet for 1 hour, 8 minutes, and 53 seconds.


5. Never promise a child a special prize without actually having one. You might forget. They won’t.



I'm sure there will be more to this list. Of course I'll try to impart my little pieces of wisdom as they come.