Wednesday, May 20, 2015

When in Chile, Aprovechar // Take Advantage & Enjoy

Welcome to the re-count of my journey to a country full of delicious beef, immigrants from all over, unique wine blends, a nine mile stretch of sand and beautiful waters, and a place where, if you do not have a cup of mate tea in one hand and a hot water thermos in the other, well then you are not from URUGUAY. 
Here is a panorama shot of the boardwalk that lines the entire coastline and city
My friend Ozie and I ventured across the border of Chile, right over Argentina (because ain't nobody got time to pay for the $160 reciprocity fee Americans have to hand over when they enter the country) into the land of the little known Uruguay. Because remember- I am the child who books plane tickets to places I know nothing about. What did I learn? I'm glad I didn't study abroad there- because I would have had the strongest accent I have heard thus far- but I am happy that I visited because the weather was WAY better than it would have been in Santiago (ie: it's starting to get colder and I have just not been able to get used to this whole 'there's no heat in the house' thing). AND good food, wine and ice cream are three things that I am happy to enjoy in any country(: You can't really compare Santiago to Montevideo because there are too many differences, but I will say that Montevideo was better kept (like the buildings were well maintained and appeared nicer than the building and streets of Chile), obviously it was on the beach and I will also note that the architecture there was much more sophisticated and nice to look at. 
Photo creds go to Ozie
The people there were friendly in the sense that people were always interested in talking to Ozie and I, making us feel welcome, making sure we like Uruguay and they were just generally interested in learning more about us as people. While Chileans have a bad habit of staring and trying to figure out someone's story or background, Uruguayans were open about their curiosity. At virtually all of the restaurants we went to, we ended up making conversation with either the waiters or the people surrounding us (in fact at one restaurant the waiters took turns coming to our table just so they could talk to us lol). They wanted to know why we were there, why we were studying spanish, what we thought of Uruguay and where we were from in the states. 
A cute little whole in the wall we found after we checked the prices to eat at the Mercado del Puerto...yeah steak is not worth $35
People told us about the problems Uruguay has been having with jobs, unequal education and the amount of immigrants that come due to the depreciated worth of Uruguayn pesos (so they can pay back loans, etc. in their country faster). It was nice to feel welcome and not like a blatant foreigner that gets stared at day after day on the streets of Chile. Anywho- enough hating on Chile, because let me tell you, there were definitely things that I missed! For one thing- their bread was just not good. It was weird, dry and NOT FRESH (I have been so spoiled in Chile and I may just lose a part of my soul when I return to the states and inevitably end up buying pre-packaged bread...because even though I say now that I want to make my own bread forever more, everyone knows that just ain't realistic). I just can't even think of how I could describe it- it was flaky, but not buttery like a croissant, it came in a cube shape that you peeled apart and it was dry, white and just nothing in comparison to what I am used to. And no that I realize that google can't help me out on this one I regret not taking a picture of this stupid bread! 
You can look at our selfie instead(;
Lemme just recap the food situation as a whole real quick so I don't spend too much time on it..cause you know how I do. The lineup went a little something like this- baby beef steak
(still not sure which part exactly this is but it was good, and I can only pray that it really wasn't a baby animal..),
Brotola and Bachetta (types of white fish- the Bachetta was cooked whole and served with the head (how's that for adventure!), 
This was the Bachetta...mmm
chocolate lava cake with passionfruit ice cream (I have a newfound love for passionfruit flavored things- Chobani does good, but this ice cream may win), Entrecot (another steak, filet type thing), Media y Medias (half wine, half champagne),
 lots of pumpkin, Tannat Uruguayan wine (Daddy- a case for my birthday please!), 
and SO MUCH ICE CREAM- per usual(; Honorable mentions go to: Banana Split (my favorite South American flavor thus far that consists of banana ice cream, dulce de leche and chocolate chips),  Maracuya (passionfruit), and Café (it's so hard to find coffee ice cream here!). 
Shameless Selfie- I got three flavors the last night..because YOLO
The first day we took a tour of Punta al Este, Uruguay, a mere two hour drive in a tourist bus full of middle aged Brazilians, a peppy tour guide, Ozie and I. The tour included stops at Piriápolis (a cute little town with a cool chair lift thing that gave you a panaramic view of the hill overlooking the beach)
A stop at the Museo Ralli that was filled with quirky art and was constructed by hand (no straight walls, lines, schematics, etc.)
Also by Ozie
And lastly to the weird but cool sculpture of a hand in the sand on the beach
It was a nice tour and although we were the only youngins' the history was interesting and it was nice to get out of Montevideo for the day because honestly there wasn't that much to do there anyways. We passed most of our time walking around and exploring, eating, checking out the market and taking pictures of the plazas and statues. 
So...Ozie and I thought we had struck gold when we had the four person mixed dorm room at the hostal to ourselves for the first two nights. For nineteen US dollars a night a bunkbed filled room to ourselves seemed like a steal. Even though the breakfast was just that weird bread, butter, jam, cereal, "yogurt" (In South America yogurt is more like slightly thicker milk with tons of sugar and a fruit flavoring), and on some days there was fruit- yeah this is your typical hostal breakfast, because in reality South America doesn't do breakfast. they just don't- its a tragedy really. So back to the story...let's start with night #3: the adventure of Saturday night/Sunday morning. Ozie and I made plans to do the South American style club, bar hopping thing. We planned to leave the hostal at midnight and hit up some bars and then head to the clubs afterwards because that's just how they do here. PARTY ALL NIGHT. In the midst of this master plan we encountered a slight bump in the road. We discovered that we had roommates. Cute boy roommates no less(; Miraculously (and with no help from my less than perfect spanish) Ozie and I coaxed our new friends to accompany us. Eric and Nicolas shared a beer while Ozie and I opted to try out a typical Uruguayan liquor- Uvita (it was sweet, but strong, served on the rocks and it had an aftertaste of honey, which I guess is a good thing). Eric was a Mexican geography student that was studying abroad at the time in Buenos Aires- where he met Nicolas, an English (from England) med student who took a year off during his schooling (apparently that's a thing there!). They were great and it was nice to have some new faces, practice my spanish and get to know other people from all over the world.
Our next stop was the club- alright grandparents- I'm sorry now but I am sparing no details- we went to a gay bar. Not on purpose, but let's be real- even when we found out, with the great music there was no reason to leave. That is- there was no reason to leave until Eric lost his phone, Ozie and I traded our roommates for new (straight- yes there were straight guys there...) dance partners and after we danced for about an hour or so- we found out that for some reason you had to pay TO LEAVE. I guess that's what happens when there is no cover..anywho. Ozie and I peaced out and left Eric (with Nicolas of course!) to attempt to find his phone (there was no hope and we were hungry). We proceeded to get in a cab, got dropped off at the local street vendor, ate our choripan (chorizo hot dog type thing), walked home (the streets are safe and we were only 3 blocks away so please stop worrying) and passed out in our lovely bunk beds. 
The park we passed through on Sunday
Unfortunately our luck ran out, dried up or perhaps got stolen by a leprechaun because the fourth night was painful. Our Colombia roommates were so sweet- a young couple passing thru Uruguay just like so many others. However their disposition did not dictate their sleeping habits (or should I say horrors). This man snored like a rhinoceros (maybe they snore, maybe not). I have never heard anything like this- not even you dad! It was just about as loud as me putting my headphones in and turning up the volume all the way. Yeah, I was not having any of it. At 4:30am I proceeded to leave the room and sleep in the lobby where the person at the desk was already setting up for breakfast. Although there was light and it wasn't the best set-up I fell asleep and slept away the angry sentiments I had towards this guy. Especially when the cute guy that works at the hostal came over and put a blanket over me....
We spent the last day bike riding along the 9 mile 'rambla' // boardwalk to one of the famous Montevidean beaches named Pocitos. Then we headed to a Tango show where we learned that Tango is not only dancing, a big part of it is music. So therefore we enjoyed the live performance of some great vocalists along with the chance to people watch the elderly community of Montevideo because apparently the tango club is where they spend their sunday nights(;
The females do all the work in the Tango! So many complicated leg raises and such
The lady at the front set us in the front row along with some friendly regulars who chatted to us about Uruguay and made cute small talk (how can you resist the charm of old people really). Although I will say the older women here do try to rock the blue eyeshadow...
Like I said before, we ended our four day journey off right with a steak, good wine and my triple ice cream cone(:

Until next time Uruguay!


And no one even tried to contact me to make sure I was okay. What is this life. Isolation? Ignorance? 
Here's the info: 
Lunes, 11 de Mayo de 2015, 21:38. Un leve sismo se registró en la Región Metropolitana. El movimiento tuvo una magnitud 3,5 y el epicentro se ubico a 18 kms al oeste de la localidad de Farellones. // Monday, May 11th, 2015, 9:38pm. A minor earthquake was recorded in the Metropolitan Area. The movement had a magnitude of 3.5 and the epicenter was located 18 km to the West of the town of Farellones. 

I realized I never published it's gonna be a short one. Let's see- there was an earthquake, we had a Mother's Day feast of pork tenderloin, celery/radish/avocado salad, pebre (you should know what it is by now), rice and boiled cauliflower. Wow now that I write that down it seems quite random but the pork tenderloin was pretty good and Mama shared some vino with me so overall it was a good day(:
oh and here is a fun fact I don't think I ever mentioned: Chileans use shelf stable milk...which is fine, until Camila finishes the carton and then doesn't put a new one in the fridge and I have to use warm milk in my cereal....

Last fun fact? The beautiful colors of the sunrise and sunset are actually produced due to the contamination/pollution in the sky. How strangely, yet sadly beautiful. I'll leave you with this-

The Uruguay post is coming soon(:

PS- mom if you are reading this again...I made the correction for YOU!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Sometimes Chileans do weird things

Like using hand soap in the shower- slightly annoying. There is never hand soap by the sink because people (obviously Mama or Camila or all of the above) keep putting it back in the shower. It's like a typical gel/liquid pump of hand soap too, not the kind I would imagine is the best to bathe with..To each his own. While I'm at it- I may as well mention that there is also no hand towel- perhaps because they never really have to use the bathroom and thus wash their hands in this bathroom....but for Ms. I have to pee every hour it is quite the problem.
Numero Dos= the other day when I was on the bus I saw a middle aged lady across the aisle putting on her makeup on the bus- no of course that's not the weird thing- the weird thing was that she was curling her eyelashes- with a SPOON. I kid you not. Half the time I see things in public I have to remind myself that although study abroad has been like a dream, I am in fact awake- like when I saw a mother holding her kid (maybe 2 years old) over the grass on the side of the sidewalk so that she could pee on the grass. I actually saw this on two occasions so I would say it's safe to say that this was not a one time thing.
Numero Tres= Chileans do strange things with their dranks, like mixing white wine, grenadine, pisco (Chilean brandy) and PINEAPPLE ICE CREAM all in one drink. And they call it a terremoto. Come on mis amigos- what does that one mean? They literally have created a drink and named it after a natural disaster that ceases to evade their land- an earthquake. It is named with good reason- these tragos (chilean word for drank) are damn strong. Actually let's be real- all of the drinks made here are much stronger. When you order at the bar they make the drink in front of you and I always just watch them pour pisco straight out of the bottle for a good 10 seconds- I'm talking like maybe 2+ shots in every standard drink. And drinks aren't even that expensive. In fact you don't want to know how much I paid for my very first terremoto at the Universidad de Chile party I somehow found myself in the midst of this last friday- A dollar and a quarter. A US DOLLAR and a quarter. It is wasn't half bad! The key is to mix the pineapple ice cream in real good so that you can't taste the cheap white wine. 
Let's back it up a little bit and lemme give you the low down on how I ended up imprisoned in the courtyard of the Law School of Universidad de Chile. 
It all started when I made an executive decision to get to know my U.Chile mentor a little better since I have a plane ticket and plans to visit her in two weeks. So when she invited me to go to a carrete with her- she conveyed this as being a casual, "I'll probably just have one beer with my friends and then leave" type party- of course I said yes. I mean why not pre-game the birthday party I was going to hit up later. Yes parents and family. I did just say pre-game. Sorry if that is too much- but the best stories are likely to come from my experiences in Chile when I am potentially have a blood alcohol level of slightly higher than 0.0 (only slightly!) Anywho- I invited Hannah to come with me because when you get invited to a Chilean event you typically need backup- a small talk buddy, escape buddy or a "what the heck did that Chilean just say to me" buddy. 
We were smiling before we discovered we were being held prisoner...
We met up with Andrea at a metro stop near the law school and walked over with her friends to wait in line for this shin-dig. Um what did I get myself into? There's a line and a cover....alright. 
Once again Hannah had the brains to document this experience and thus I stole her pics- again
There was an entire courtyard filled with Chileans, booze, cigarettes and great music. While I could done without the smokers- seriously Chile, have you heard of lung cancer? Every 16 year old and their mother smokes in this country (but actually)- in no time everyone was dancing. Andrea asked me if we have parties like this in the US. lolz- no Andrea, our universities don't sponsor parties every friday (apparently there is a carrete at one facultad or another just about every single friday) where students bring in alcohol, dance in the courtyard to a DJ and sell their own mixed drinks, tequila or jello shots for dirt cheap. Nah- that doesn't really happen that often at Tulane.

Hannah and I had our terremotos, took a jello shot and got enough pisco sour spilled on us that we determined it was time to peace out. Funny story. I never thought exiting a crowded party would be something that a security guard would try to prevent. Apparently there were so many people outside of the gates trying to get into this party that they were afraid if they opened the gates to let those of us who wanted to leave, then all the stranglers would rush in. It only took 30 minutes, a desperate search for another exit and some girl's temper tantrum (she screamed and jumped up and down a couple of times saying that she needed to be let out AHORA) before the guards agreed to raise the metal garage door "only a meter! only open it one meter high". We all darted out and claimed our sweet victory. And that is the story of how I escaped La Chile Party Prison. 
When you have 20 minutes to kill while the guards decide if they want to let you take selfies
I returned home, sobered up (not that I was drunk- I merely think it is quite funny that I sobered up in between parties, I think that is the first time I have rallied after one event involving alcohol and moving on to the next) ate some pasta, and google mapped how to get to my friend's birthday party. One bus, three metro stops and 25 minutes of walking around being lost, Hannah, Andrea and I finally found the apartment. 
Can you guess which one is which?
I had a great time talking to my Costa Rican friend (I met him a Mier-Po) and his Argentinean friend that tagged along. The best was that his friend Nicolas had a Scottish accent (He took english class in Argentina that were taught by Scottish teachers or something like that). I will admit we talked almost exclusively in english but they insisted that it was just faster that way. While some people insist that their spanish improves when they are drunk- I beg to differ. 

Until next time loves