Monday, January 31, 2011

Greetings From....

Starbucks!

I know, I know. It's not very exotic. But it does have free internet. And I have lots to write. So here we go...

First off, I am going on my first ever solo traveling adventure. On Wednesday evening I will board a bus. Nine hours later I will arrive in Pucon, a small town at the base of a volcano in the beautiful Lake District of Southern Chile. And really, I couldn't be more excited.

Now it's time for some updates. Not including this post there are three more posts full of updates for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Directions for Use:

I’ve always chuckled at the absurd instructions for different items. Is it truly necessary to be instructed not to use the iron or microwave in the bath tub?

Anyway, I was eating some peanuts and upon glancing at the package I saw this little gem:



Notice in the middle it says Usos: como snack, en colaciones, cócteles, aperitivos, repostería y gastronomía en general.

Let’s see if I can translate. Uses: as snack, meals, cocktails, appetizers, for baking and gastronomy in general.
Well geez, good thing there were directions. Otherwise I would have had no clue what to do with the peanuts.

Lost Connection

In Chile everyone is issued a number called a RUT. Essentially it is like a social security number. Mine just so happens to be comprised solely from Hurley’s lottery numbers. If this reference is not immediately clear to you, then I truly feel sorry for you. But I will enlighten you nevertheless.

Once again, I am referring to the greatest show ever created. Maybe you have heard of it. It’s called LOST. One of the mysteries at the center of the show is a series of numbers: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42.

So these are the numbers in my RUT. Some of them are even in the correct order. Even more odd is that Hurley is portrayed by actor Jorge Garcia whose father just so happens to be Chilean.

Coincidence??

Absolutely.

Cops, Banks and New Sheets

The Cop Story:

About three weeks ago we had a party in our apartment. No more than 15 people, so realtively low key. I met some amazing people and we all had a blast. Well not all of us. Our neighbors upstairs were clearly pissed we didn't invite them and decided to report us to the police. (I'm sure the the drunk kids on the balcony and the loud music at 4am had nothing to do with it.)

Obviously next time we'll invite the neighbors to keep them from calling the cops on us.


Here's some of us. None of the girls are my roommates but both Vickie (the girl in front of me) and Karin (the girl standing) used to live in my apartment but have since moved away.


The Bank Story:

I know I really left you all with a cliff hanger about the challenges of opening a bank account here. And in case you were wondering (as I’m sure you are), I had to go back to the bank two more times. The first was to actually make my first deposit. Then about a week later I had to go back to get my debit card and checks. Which by the way, the guy handed me without so much as a glance at my ID card. So that is a total of 4 trips to the bank to open an account. Though to be fair I could have avoided one of those trips if I had been more prepared.


Then, in order for my debit card to work I had to wait 24 hours after picking it up before going to an ATM where I was instructed to change my PIN. Another 24 hours later and I was finally able to withdraw money.


The New Room Story:

Also about three weeks ago I went to the mall with Karin. She helped me pick out new things for my room. I wanted to get a comforter to help make my room look more like, well, a room. Of course everything is green, from the lamp to the sheets. And I'd like to take the time to give a little shout out to a new reader, Alice, who sent me a wonderful care package for Christmas. Inside was, among other things, the coolest pencil holder I've ever seen. If you look closely, you can see it on my night stand. So, thanks again Alice!


And I'm pretty sure this is the cleanest my room has ever been.





Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Yes, I'm Alive.

Still no internet.

Not sure when it will be fixed.

Bulk updates to be posted soon.

I promise.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Feliz Cumpleaños!

I got my computer back last week. Now the only thing keeping me from being able to blog on a more regular basis is the internet. We have been waiting for almost 2 weeks for the internet company to come but clearly they have more important things to do. So again, I apologize for the lack of posts.



I have two very important things to tell everyone.
First, today is my brother Eric's birthday.
And second, his daughter Ella is the cutest almost 2 year old ever.


Happy birthday Eric!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Quick Update

I should be getting my beloved Macbook back this week (should being the operative word). Without getting technical (because that's boring) whatever the issue was with my laptop, it was a common one. So Apple, being the wonderful people that they are, released a statement last year saying they would repair the computers for free.

Yes, for free.

Like I don't have to pay anything.

So in the mean time, I've had to resort to recording my blogs the old fashioned way: with a pencil and paper. As soon as I get my computer back I will shower you with frenzy of posts with topics ranging from Lost connections, to instructions for consuming snack foods, to 4am police visits. But not necessarily in that order.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Disconnected

We certainly seem to live in the age of total computer dependency. Well it appears I do at least. While I could go without a computer in the US for say, 3 days, before going crazy, here it is a different story. My computer is my only means of communication with family and friends in the States. So to put it not so eloquently, it sucks.

Still no word on what is wrong with my computer, when I´ll get it back, and even more importantly how much it will cost. Luckily my roommates have let me use theirs. Today has been the first time I´ve had a good chunk of time to update my blog. I´m going to separate each story into its own post otherwise it will be a four page long post, and that seems a little too long. I´ve also posted them backwards. So not including this post, there are four more new posts (yes, I expect you to read them all).

So without further ado, here are just a few things that have been going on with me.

Feliz Navidad

I started my Christmas celebration at my Uncle´s house in downtown Santiago on the 24th. It was a fun evening filled with family, good food, and presents. Once the clock struck midnight we began the exchange of presents. I stayed at my Uncle´s house until 1:30 or so. I was exhausted but eager to get back to my new apartment. My roommates were hosting a party for locals and foreigners they have met through Couch Surfing.

Quick side note: For those of you who are not familiar with Couch Surfing you can do one of two things. First, check out their website, conveniently named CouchSurfing.com. Or, you can continue reading and I´ll explain it to you because I am just that nice. The Couch Surfing community is composed of a few types of people.

1) Travelers from around the world looking for a couch to crash on while in a new city.

2) Wonderful locals who are willing to take in the above travelers for the night.

3) People who are interested in meeting others from around the world.

Additional side note: I once read a blog about a girl from New York who couch surfed across South America for several months.

Okay, back to my roommates. Paula is involved with couch surfing. Through her involvement she has met a group of people living in Santiago, both Chileans and foreigners. They plan get-togethers, parties and other excursions across Chile. It´s quite nice really.

Anyway, Paula and Julia (my other roommate) were hosting a Christmas party for locals and foreigners, many of who are a part of the couch surfing community. So that is how I found myself spending the wee morning hours of Christmas (until 5am!) with people from nine different countries. Which countries? Well I´m so glad you asked.

1. Chile

2. Colombia

3. Brazil

4. Canada

5. Germany

6. England

7. France

8. Eritrea*

And of course I was there to represent the US, making a grand total of nine countries in one apartment. I´m not sure I can remember the last time I had that much fun. I really enjoy meeting people from around the world. And it definitely helps being around people during the holidays who are away from their families as well.

*In case you´re wondering, like I was when I heard the name of this country, Eritrea is in Eastern Africa. It is bordered by Sudan to the west and Ethiopia to the south, with the Red Sea running along its northeastern border. You´re welcome.

Banks

Now that I have my Chilean passport I can finally open up a bank account. I worked at a bank in Rhode Island for just over two years, so I am very familiar with the process of opening up an account in the US. Trying to open one here has been exactly the opposite of what I´m used to. This story is three-fold.

Fold one: I arrived at the bank with one of my coworkers who came to help with the language issue. After I filled out all the paper work, signed ten different pages (for once I am not exaggerating), and gave my thumb prints on half as many pages, I learned I was still not able to open an account. Why? Because they needed a copy of my teaching contract. Mind you, this has nothing to do with the fact that I am a foreigner. I have dual citizenship, so showing proof of employment is the case for all Chileans. Of course I didn´t have this with me. Additionally, they needed receipts showing the school had paid me. This one baffled me a little. At the top of my paychecks it clearly says the name of the school. But they needed more proof. So, we left. I told the banker I would return with the paperwork the next day.

Fold two: On my second trip to the bank I turned in all the necessary paperwork. This time I was without my trusted translator, so when the banker returned from making copies and told me I was all set, I was once again confused. In the US, or at least in the bank I worked at, you can´t open an account with no money in it. So when I explained to the banker in broken Spanish that I had cash and checks to deposit, he told me to come back in 2 days. I said thanks and left but in my head I was screaming ``WHAAAT?!?!´´.

I know I told you this story was three-fold, and that you´re eagerly waiting to read the final fold of the story. But you see, the last part has not happened yet. My third, and hopefully final, trip to the bank is scheduled for tomorrow. The only frustrating thing is that each time I have gone to the bank and not been able to deposit my money, I have been forced to return home with two paychecks and pesos in the amount of the equivalent of $1000 USD. Not exactly the kind of things you want to be carrying on the busy Santiago metro. But hopefully tomorrow I´ll finally be able to make my deposit.

Language Mishaps

When speaking a foreign language obviously mistakes will be made. Sometimes these mistakes are more comical than others. I heard two such examples in one day and knew immediately that I must share them with you good people.

Before I tell them to you, I want to point out how grateful I am that I have met people who are more than willing to talk to me in English.

Okay here´s the first one.

``I need to make sure there are 30 hookers in my classroom´´

Perhaps I should explain a little. In our classrooms there are hooks, not hookers, where students can hang up their backpacks. Funny how changing the ending of the word drastically changes its meaning.

Okay and the second one.

``The river has turkey colored water.´´

This one really amused me. Like a lot. Mind you, he meant to say turquoise. In his defense, the words are incredibly similar.

Anyway, I am sure that I will make many mistakes. I´m sure I already have. However, none of mine have been even remotely as amusing as these two gems. And yes, of course I will share with you my mistakes as I make them.

Dunkin Donuts

When I was in Spain four years ago I found a Dunkin Donuts in Barcelona. The donuts there were frosted with neon colored goo. I don’t know about you, but fluorescent green and vivid pink are not colors of food I find particularly appetizing.

Every time I walked past a Dunkin Donuts here (every morning on my way to work) I convinced myself the donuts here were going to be covered in obnoxiously bright colors and therefore inedible.

Oh how wrong I was.

I finally caved and went to a Dunkin Donuts. In all honesty, I only went because I was out walking around with Paula and she wanted a coffee. Of course, once we were inside it was impossible to say no to a donut. First off, the donuts are decorated in normal frosting colors. And the decorations are sometimes on the verge of being miniature masterpieces. Okay maybe a bit of a stretch, but they are certainly pretty, with swirls in coordinating colors.

But once I found out that there were donuts filled with manjar (dulce de leche) I stopped caring about the frosting. While there are many choices of donuts with manjar, I opted for one that was sans-frosting, but rather rolled in cinnamon sugar. Unfortunately, it was insanely delicious.