You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2007.

This tiny town in southern California is truly delightful.  I enjoyed spending time with Wak Pak (Jackie), one of my oldest friends.  The weather was perfect, there was a yummy store called Cowboy Cookies, and we went to the beach.  My camera is in a white Ford pickup across town, so I can’t upload the one picture I took at Morro Bay.  It was lovely though. 

Quotes from Wak Pak:

“Take a picture of me hugging this palm tree.”

“I just interupted myself”

“I don’t weigh kilos–I only weight pounds.”

“Jorge–yeah.  I don’t know, it reminded me of a kind of meat.”

“Oh.  I’m dripping water on myself.”

“Is jelly bean one word?”

“Shut your face.  Good night.”

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Estoy en EE.UU.  Hace dos dias que estoy aca.  Disfrute mi tiempo en chile y argentina muchisimo.  Espero que vuelvo de nuevo algun dia.  Aprendi mucho y no solo cosas de castellano.  Muchas cosas del mundo.  Estuve triste irme de sudamerica y cuando me despedi a mis profesores.  Tambien, cuando me despedi a mis alumnos y tia luci y mis companeros. 

Me alegra que ustedes sean bien y yo pueda verlos pronto.  Todavia, yo he encontrado tres personas que puedo practicar mi espanol.  Ellos han estado muy amiable.  Esta es otra razon que me gusta California.  Necesito practicar mas y conocer mas personas de mexico.  Me encanta lo que los mexicanos hablan.  Es mucho mucho mejor que chilenos y argentinos.  Solo dos veces que yo hable espanol cuando queria hablar en ingles.  Es un poco divertido.

Les amo, mi amores.

It is the end of my sixteenth week.  I leave my South American home tomorrow.

There are at least five of you picking me up at five different airports across the country over the next few weeks.

If you forgot what I look like, take the tall blonde girl who can sorta speak Spanish home with you.  I got a choppy hair cut with my choppy Spanish a few weeks ago, so if you need a picture, email me, and I’ll send you one.

I’m very excited to be coming back, but I am reminded of the things I truly enjoyed while I was here.  This is my short, incomplete list.

THINGS I’M GOING TO MISS:

  • Raspberry Juice
  • Explaining things like Gumby or phrases like ‘I’m going to rock it old school’ to Europeans
  • My English Class in La Cisterna
  • Free time
  • The capacity to listen to my iPod
  • Questions like ‘¿como se dice crashed and burned?’ or ‘¿como se llama tazer?’
  • My profesores
  • The fruit and vegetable store that is between my house and the school
  • Finding all the places that only my feet can take me
  • Pie de limon y tres leches de galleteria muy cerca a mi casa…que rico
  • My friends from around the world
  • Finding success in failure, South American style
  • My room and the antique key that opens it
  • Conversations with Tia Luci
  • The Plaza de Armas de Sudamerica
  • The two mountain ranges
  • Avocados
  • Ferias and the conversations they offer
  • The possibilities to explore
  • Sending you pictures like these

Valdivia

The fish market with lobos marinos eagerly awaiting for snacks.

Will I talk to you before you get back to the estos unidads?   -my mom, trying to say the United States (estados unidos) in Spanish

”There is a valid moving object out there.”  -my mom, on why Chromie was looking out the window

 ”I’m ready for you to come home.  Then after about a week, I’ll be ready for you to leave.”  -my mom, on my return to los estados unidos

”Is it ‘God Bless America’?”   -Cheryl, her guess as to what Texas’ state song is

Remember the Texan I told y’all about not too long ago?  Yeah.  Now, his sister is in my class (she is not the one who says like all the time).  Today we got into a lovely conversation about gun control.  Her and I both learned how to shoot when we were young and find it completely normal that we had guns in our respective homes when we were growing up.  The girl from Holland found this unfriendly and imposing.  The guy from China thought it was funny.  The yankee was bothered.  It was a civil conversation.

During our break, these two Texans and I had a marvelous conversation about freedoms that we have in the United States and how, as Texans (particularly the freedom to bear arms), we take them very seriously.  We decided that we liked the Chilean flag because it reminded us of our own.  We think guns are good for self defense, for sport, for practice, for hunting, and for exercising our civil liberty.  We think it ludacrous that someone would even suggest that guns kill people, because we know you don’t need a gun for this–which by the way was pointed out by the girl from Holland.  She didn’t like guns because they were dangerous.  As for self defense, she is going to kill an attacker with a table, much like the one we were sitting at.  I was asked about A&M and for the first time in a while I got to speak of my university like I used to.  He ended the conversation with ‘I love Texas’ and we all walked away proud and in agreement.

I’m going to go listen to Cowboy Bill by Garth and you ought to do likewise.

I don’t even know how to begin this story, so we’re just going to dive in and hope for the best.  A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to go to Valdivia, but I talked myself out of it.  It is ten hours away and a little pricey (compared to other destinations).  Then, the man I met on the bus going to Mendoza showed me some pictures and talked me into it.  I looked up prices again and talked myself out of it.  Then, last Thursday, I went to buy a bus ticket for Chillan (a town six hours away, by bus), but the line was too long for me to wait in.  I went to class on Friday and my teacher talked me into Valdivia again.  So I thought about it, went to the ticket office, and bought a one way ticket to Valdivia.  I didn’t buy a return ticket because I wanted the option to stay the whole weekend or maybe stop in another town on the way back to Santiago.  It was late on Friday night when I was at the bus terminal and I was pretty grumpy, as I didn’t sleep well the night before and I was tired.  There was this little girl screaming about twenty yards away and I more or less made up my mind in that moment that I was never having kids.  Her mom put her down, she immediately stopped crying, waddled over to me, and smiled the biggest smile I have ever seen.  So maybe kids aren’t so bad.  Anyway, I got on the bus, fell asleep, woke up a few times in the night, and then it was morning.  At some point we stopped because there was a mechanical problem, we waited about 45 minutes, changed buses and then after a long trip, I arrived in Valdivia around ten in the morning.  The lady in the tourist office (in the bus station, which is the best idea ever and Viña is the only other place that I’ve found that does this) gave me some excellent information and I went on my way.  First thing was first, I needed to find a hostel.  If I couldn’t find one, I was going to go to Chillan in the afternoon, but I knew I wanted to spend more time in Valdivia and that would only be possible if I stayed the night there.  So, I found the most charming hostel yet, with a friendly staff, and a little perrita that made me want to see Emmitt.  I met three people from Germany, one of which had gotten a speeding ticket in Lubbock, Texas, which is where, in fact, I was born.  So, it was raining in Valdivia and I accomplished my primary objective later in the afternoon.  There was also an incident with an umbrella which is just too long to include right now…ask me about it next time I talk to you.  There are really big rivers that converge in Valdivia before they head for the ocean and it is a very lovely place.  The rain made my pants and shoes very wet, but it was okay.  The next morning I left for Chillan.  This was almost a failure.  When I got to Chillan, the bus dropped me off in a very obscure place and I couldn’t find my way.  I had a little map, but the streets didn’t have signs (a common problem in South America) and it was a little sketchy.  The sky was dark, it looked like it was about to rain, and I was very close to giving up.  I probably would have, but I really wanted to take the train back to Santiago and I needed to find the train station.  I have been traveling by bus the past few months and I don’t think I’ve traveled by train.  I was determined to do so.  I really don’t know how I found my way, but I guess when you walk enough you eventually find things.  So.  I completed my three main objectives in Chillan and then I got on a train.  An older gentleman sat down next to me and promptly fell asleep and I only had to think to myself that this whole weekend didn’t go so smoothly and I didn’t even have an older man friend to tell you about.  The train went northbound, I absorbed the whole experience of riding in the train and came up with a long list as to why the train is my favorite mode of transportation…so long as there isn’t a fiery red Corvette available.  I would tell you all about this list, but about three hours into the trip, something happened.  There was a very very loud noise on top of the train, the main cabin lights went out, the train came to a stop, and the people around me look very scared.  I looked at the top of the train, waiting for something to come through the roof or waiting for it to cave in, but neither ever happened.  The old man next to me looked as calm as ever.  A little before this incident, I had asked him about the time, and we became friends.  He spoke English like a refined Brit, he is a medical doctor, and more friendly than I had first anticipated.  We talked about politics, for the first time, I dared to ask a Chilean about his opinion about Pinochet, and he asked how I was doing with Spanish.  I told him that I have a very hard time understanding Chileans.  He then did something very comforting.  He said something, in Spanish, and I understood everything.  Then, he said the same thing in Chilean, and I didn’t understand a word.  He told me they speak a very special form of Spanish.  I agree.  Anyway, after the accident, he sat there very calmly, told me that there had been an accident, and that we would be sitting there for at least two hours.  Interesting.  About an hour later we lost battery power and we sat in the dark, waiting for another train to come pick us up.  They informed us that the electric lines that are used to power the train, contain copper (a very valuable commodity) and someone had cut the lines to steal the copper.  Lovely.  About an hour later, the other train arrived, we transfered trains (which you need long legs to do so gracefully), and I arrived in Santiago about two and half hours later than I was supposed to.  The metro does not operate at one in the morning, so I had to take a cab.  The train station is not in the best part of town and it was important that I get home.  I was pooped.  I’m pretty sure the cab driver stole $20 from me, but he took me home in one piece. 

I have a new class this week.  It is okay.  There is one girl, who seems nice enough, but is as valley girl as it gets.  You can tell she says ‘like’ in English between every other word she says, because she does it when she speaks Spanish too.  I wonder when the teacher is going to tell her that ‘like’ is not a Spanish word.  I hope the teacher doesn’t wait too long, because it’s distracting.

In other news, I’m missing football.  My mom said the Ags won (in a way that is not uncommon when they are playing a team that should be an easy win) by giving up a good lead for a stunning win in 3 OT.  There was a woman in Chillan selling olives outside of a super market wearing a Texas A&M hat.  Random, but interesting.  Additionally, Mr. Tony Romo threw for 345 yards in the season opener.  Good job, Mr. Romo.  I look forward to watching that arm in less than two weeks.

My babies–you know the ones I used to watch on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings in Buffalo?!?  With the help of Ms. Becky they sent me a picture.  It’s beautiful.

So, to sum everything up, I am safely back in Santiago.  After the transportation issues I’ve had I don’t know if I’ll attempt to go anywhere else.  September 18th and 19th (Tuesday and Wednesday) are their Independence Days here.  They have also declared next Monday a holiday, so the festivities are to last from Friday evening until Wednesday evening.  This is a good way to end a very interesting and surprising journey. 

I promise. I didn’t do it.

How are y’all? 

I made it back to Chile and Argentina was quite good.  This would not be one of my adventures without older men, right?  So.  It started with the man on the bus.  I assumed he was Chilean (because we were leaving from Chile), but when we were talking, I couldn’t figure out why I understood him so well.  It’s because he is Argentine.  He is 47, lives in Mendoza, but works in Santiago.  I didn’t understand a lot of what he said, but he was still very friendly.  He helped me when we got to the border too.  When I went to Argentina last time, I had properly left behind some dumb little piece of paper that you apparently need when you leave Chile.  I had it with me this time, but he told me what line to go through when we were waiting at the border.  He told me my Spanish was good, but he probably thought I understood everything he said.  I asked him where I should go for a good steak.  He said Don Marios.  Mendoza was a city, not a little town as I orginally thought.  There were many hostel options awaiting me and I chose the one that was $7 a night, that was close to the bus station, and to the city center.  The old man who owned the hostel thought I was friendly.  I asked him where I should go for a good steak.  He said Don Marios.  On Saturday evening, at 9:15pm (only fifteen minutes after they opened), I got in a cab for Don Marios.  I was ready for the steak.  I arrived, was seated, and was given three menus.  One was the wine menu (Mendoza is situated in a valley on the east side of the Andes proper for the cultivation of grapes), one was the food menu in Spanish, and the other in English.  I didn’t even open the one in English…that’s also because I knew I wanted Bife de Chorizo a punto.  However, I needed to elect a salad.  I chose one that was soley comprised of palmitos, nueces, y paltas (hearts of palm, walnuts, and avocados).  It was lightly tossed in olive oil and was the perfect compliment to the steak.  The waitor came over to take my order, I placed it, then he looked at me and said ‘the steak is big.’  I’m not going to lie.  I was a little offended.  What do I look like, a lightweight?!?  I told him ‘esta bien.’  In other words, bring it.  Well, he showed me.  He brought me a steak the size of a brick.  I’m not kidding.  It was massive.  I wasn’t offended any more.  It was as good as I hoped it would be.  Yo disfruté esa comida mucho.  Fue riquisimo. 

Chilean Side of the Andes, Argentine Side of the Andes (the desert side), and On the way home.

There has been this guy in my class for the past couple of weeks from Texas.  If you think I have Texas pride, you haven’t seen nothing.  It’s a little funny.  It’s important that we talk in class, as to practice the Spanish, so our teacher had us talking about our state.  He starts talking about how it is the best state and how great it was.  I added my bit about how big it is and how many people lived there.  Our teacher promptly said, ‘wow, it sounds like it could be its own country.’  The other Texan and I looked at each other like it was the most logical and intellegent conclusion one could make.  Por supuesto.  Anyway, this week in class, we started in with our Texasness again.  I said something along the lines of football being the ‘national’ sport of my country, Texas.  Then, she asked him about the particulars of his country, Texas.  It’s a bit fun.

Hasta luego.