Tuesday, March 29, 2011


On Sunday, Mike and I went to my uncle's house. First we stopped at the grocery store to buy my aunt some flowers. As we were walking I told Mike how on Sundays I always run into hoards of Americans looking around for something that's open. (You should know that on Sundays everything here is closed.) So of course, as I was telling this to Mike, we walked past a trio of Abercrombie & Fitch clones.

And sure enough, they stopped us and asked us if we knew of a place that was open to eat lunch.

I don't think they liked my answer when I told them the Pizza Hut they were standing in front of was pretty much the only place open.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Oh Mar, Oh Lago, Oh Rio

I apologize for the lack of posts. But really if anyone is to blame it’s my friend Mike. He arrived Thursday from Mendoza. So naturally this post will begin then. Before I left for the bus station to pick him up, Maca, a co-worker/friend called the bus company to ask if it would be arriving on time. The response she received is important, so pay attention. Who ever she spoke to (clearly someone who, in the words of Joe, would be a prime candidate for a job as a Walmart greeter) told her that the bus was only 15 minutes late.

So I arrived at the station at 6:30, which was the time he was scheduled to arrive. I knew it would be a few minutes late, but I was excited to see my old college friend, so I was in a bit of a rush to get there. As 7:15 rolled around and Mike was no where to be seen, I was got a little anxious so I walked into the terminal and approached the desk for his bus company. I asked (in Spanish) if his bus had arrived yet. I must have spoken to the same person as Maca, because he informed me the bus had already arrived. Mind you, at this point the station was a bit slow, and there was no way his bus could have arrived without me seeing it.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m a bit of a worrier. So of course I was a little more than worried that my friend had failed to show up. I called Maca and told her the little predicament I was in. She told me to find a security guard and to hand him my phone and she would talk to him. Luckily there was one right near by, and thankfully he was incredibly nice. Maca spoke with him and explained the situation. He spoke a little English and with my broken Spanish we were able to communicate. He went to speak with the bus company, who not surprisingly gave him a completely different story than they had given me. Not only had the bus not arrived, there was a four hour delay at Los Libertadores, the border crossing between Argentina and Chile.

Clearly I was in for a long evening. Luckily for me I had Omar, my trusted security guard. In the beginning of the evening it was a bit slow at the station so he kept stopping by to chat. He told me, in great detail, about his few friends in the US. So, Javier in Tampa and Pablo in Chicago, if you’re reading this, Omar says, “Hi!”

And if you’re wondering about the title of this blog post I’m about to fill you in. Omar told me how one of his friends jokes around with him because of his name. Mar, lago and rio in Spanish mean ‘sea’, ‘lake’ and ‘river’, respectively . So they call him Oh Mar, Oh Lago, Oh Río. Get it?

Every time a bus would arrive from Mendoza, he would come find me and we would go watch the passengers disembark. But there was no Mike. (At least not my Mike.) So I went back to waiting. Things got more chaotic as the night progressed. The majority of people traveling in Chile choose to do so in the evening, since the trips are usually pretty lengthy. So the bus station became jam packed with people, making it even harder to watch for buses, and passengers named Mike.

Around 9:30 I began to pace back and forth, simply out of boredom. This attracted the attention of an old man who was waiting for the bus. He struck up a conversation with me. And the only reason I’m mentioning it here is because I was actually able to have a conversation with someone in Spanish.

Finally, around 10:15, Omar came to let me know another bus from Mendoza was about to arrive. We were standing watching the bus pull in, when I noticed a familiar face waving at me from the second floor of the bus. And then I grimaced as I read the name of the bus he arrived on, “El Rápido”.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rubber Bands

It started last week. A few of my more mischievous students began asking me for rubber bands. They insisted they were to secure their loose colored pencils so I believed them. Then I began noticing more and more students with rubber bands. But they were not playing with them during class so I disregarded it. Then early this week during recess some of the students stayed in the classroom. They had split into two groups and were hiding on opposite sides of the room behind chairs and using the rubber bands to fling little pieces of folded paper at each other. Not one to enjoy raining on their parade, I told them to stop purely for safety reasons.

Now we come to Thursday. While writing on the white board during science I saw in the reflection that a student was throwing something. Of course, I couldn’t see which student it was but I had my suspicions. As we moved onto English while I was correcting a student’s work at my desk I saw another student use a rubber band to fling a piece of folded paper.

I stopped the class and asked the students to give me all their rubber bands. I was completely shocked when no one argued and they all willingly gave me the rubber bands. I was even more shocked when each of the guilty students started handing me not one, but a whole collection of rubber bands. Then I told the students to hand in their supply of folded papers. This is when things got interesting (for me, probably not for you). Students had entire pencil cases full of these ridiculous papers. Mind you, throughout this entire process I wasn’t mad. Quite the opposite. I thought it was amusing, probably not the right attitude. But it was hard to be mad because the students were not fighting me when I asked them to turn in the supplies. When I went to return the rubber bands to the supply closet, I took out a bag holding hundreds of rubber bands. Once the students saw how many rubber bands I had in the closet, some of them got up and swarmed me with that zombie look in their eyes, while chanting “rubber bands!” Really the whole thing was quite amusing.

On Friday students were asked to write a haiku. One of the guilty students from the day before came up to me to show me what he had written. I committed it to memory with the intention of posting it here.

Rubber Bands

I love rubber bands

Rubber bands are the most fun

We use them to play

I took home some of the confiscated paper,
just so I could take a picture and post it on here for you fine people.

Monday, March 14, 2011

P is for Prefect

I met with my boss today to discuss the process of electing the student government for my class. It's a new concept for both my students and me. Starting in quinto básico (5th grade) each class will elect a president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. I'm quite excited about the whole thing. Mr. Boss Man told me that it will be set up following the actual Chilean voting procedure. So I'm sure I'll learn a lot as well.

Anyway, as we were discussing things, he told me that each grade is assigned a prefect. My immediate response? "Oh, just like in Harry Potter."

I don't care what the assigned prefect's name is. I'm going to call him (or her) Percy.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag)

Also, I need to go back to carrying my camera with me at all times. Yesterday I missed the most amazing photo opportunity. There was an old lady sitting on a bench near my apartment feeding pigeons. And instead of tossing the bread onto the ground, the pigeons were sitting in her lap eating the bread right out of her hands. Almost ten of them. I guess she never got the memo that pigeons are diseased rats with wings. She looked very similar to the Central Park pigeon lady from Home Alone 2.

I Was Robbed

When I woke up this morning I was under the impression that I had been given an extra hour because of daylight savings time. But the daylight gods were only messing with me. It seems that even though my trusted Apple products adjusted to the time change, it was premature. The official date of daylight savings time is April 2. Thanks alot Apple. I just got robbed of an hour of my day.

Week Two

I usually dislike Sundays. Only because you’re mere hours away from having to return to work. But this morning I woke up to a wonderful surprise. It’s daylight savings time! And the good one where the daylight gods return the hour of sleep they stole from you six months ago.

Another week of classes has ended and thankfully it was less stressful than the first. I still have a lot to prepare for. But rather than stressing about that while at work, I instead spend my time decorating my classroom. It might not be the best use of my time, but it is certainly more fun. I’ll bring my camera next week so I can take pictures.

In other news:

1. Empecé mis clases de castellano la semana pasada! In case you were wondering, Castellano is the word they use for Spanish, rather than Español. And here, they don't capitalize languages. Anyway, I started my Spanish classes this past week! A friend of a friend is teaching me. We meet two days a week for two hours at a time.

2. I’ve been in South America for 6 months!! To celebrate, here's a picture of a pig wearing galoshes.

This is a miniature pig. I want one.

And in case you were wondering, those boots
previously belonged to a Paddington Bear.

3. My niece, Ella turned 2!

Here she is at Halloween.

4. Last weekend I was excessively thrilled to find nutmeg in the grocery store. My favorite find of this weekend? A Brita water filter. I had never seen them here before so I sort of assumed they didn’t have them. But on Saturday, my friend Karin suggested we go to Jumbo. For those of you who don’t, Jumbo is basically a Walmart on steroids.

The place was huge. The only downside was that half of the population of Chile was there. (Yes, that was a hyperbole.) Exaggeration or not, there certainly were a lot of people there. But I left with a Brita water filter so it was totally worth all the invasions into my personal space.

Okay it’s lesson planning time. I guess I better get used to this.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Nuez Moscada

Few people will appreciate this post. But that is only because most people are not aware of my absolute obsession with nutmeg. I mean, I love nutmeg so much I'm actually writing a post on my blog about it. And I promise you it has nothing to do with the fact that a large enough dose of nutmeg can cause hallucinations. (Especially because I just became aware of this while browsing on Wikipedia.)

I've always loved nutmeg. I've also always loved pasta with béchamel sauce. And you should know that my mom makes the best béchamel sauce. But hers is the best because after she added a dash of nutmeg I would always go and add more. Because one dash of nutmeg is never a sufficient amount.

Anyway, there are only two spices that I miss from the US. One of course is nutmeg and the other is crushed red pepper flakes. So try to imagine my delight when I found nuez moscada (that's Spanish for nutmeg) at the grocery store. I have absolutely no idea how much I paid for it because I instantly threw it into the cart with no regard to the price.

So this concludes my post about nutmeg. I'm sure once I find crushed red pepper flakes (or someone mails me some...hint, hint) I'll post about that too. I'll try to make the red pepper flakes post more interesting. No promises though.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

1 week down, 40 more to go

Well it seems I have survived my first week as a fifth grade teacher. Though it has definitely been an exhausting and stressful week.

Our school is in the process of a fairly large renovation. Part of this includes expanding the casino. I should probably point out here that the casino is the same thing as a cafeteria. The expansion of the casino was not finished in time for the March 1st start date. Without a casino the students cannot eat lunch. No lunch means that for the first two weeks of school, students are being dismissed at 1pm instead of 4pm. I still have to stay until 4, but as a new teacher I was happy to find out that my first two weeks of teaching would be three periods shorter.

For the first few days, I was busy handing out supplies, assigning class helpers, going over class rules, and reviewing what was learned (and subsequently forgotten) last year. The kids have been great so far (all 28 of them). These are the same students I worked with at the end of the last school year. And I think we're going to have a lot of fun this year.

I was also asked to sub for one period (45 minutes) in a 7th grade social studies class. The kids were amazing and incredibly helpful. Especially because at their level, social studies is taught in Spanish.

Next week I will begin the new units for the first term. Which means I have a busy day ahead of me filled with lesson plans and lots of caffeine.