Tuesday, March 31, 2015

This is not the one about my crazy adventure in Caleu...

If you stumbled upon my friend Hannah's blog

then you know that she and I had a pretty epic adventure in Caleu, Chile this past weekend. Unfortunately for you- I'm not ready to write that post because I want to first remember a few things I had written down for a more general blog post...you can read about Caleu when I get back from my epic trek part 2.0 to Patagonia, next Tuesday that is....if you can't wait- you should check out the link above! It is incredibly accurate and has some nice photos.
Until then, here are some anecdotes for your entertainment and for my keepsake(:
First things first I just want to note that I added a tremendous amount of photos to the previous posts if you wanna check those posts out for some nice visuals- in case you don't have the (face)book up and running(;
Now- for the random stories, I will begin with my trip to "La Veja" with Mama, Camila and her friend. We drove up to this enormous market of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, spices- aka: where Carly will go to heaven and rest in peace. Luckily I had previously been once, so Mama did not have to witness my awe and overwhelming desire to walk down every aisle. This place is HUGE- I'm talking the size of a super target- the kind that has the pizza hut, starbucks, etc in the front! yeah- that place is paradise. 

As you can see- we have pupmkin squashes at least two times larger than my pumpkin head- I mean, use that car for a size reference if you don't believe me! 

Can you spot the "tunas" - remember those cactus fruits I told you about?

The sign next to this one (with the strawberries) let the world know that if they went anywhere else for strawberries that they would just be disapointed...I tried to take a picture of that stand but- it seems like the Chileans were taking that statement pretty seriously- including my Mama(;

Last but not least is a supply of carrots fit for a king Carly

Sometime later that week (remember- I am quite behind on this blogging thing) I decided to treat myself to a Starbucks latte(: 1950 Chilean Pesos later, I effectively ordered a decaf, skim milk latte with Vanilla syrup- too bad it was for "Corny"...

Another day that week- brace yourselves....IT RAINED! I survived my first (and probably one of the very few) rain storms that provided a beautiful clear view of the snow capped mountains that are usually hidden behind the haze. This picture doesn't even do it justice, but just imagine the Colorado mountains juxtaposed against a metropolitan city- it's quite the contrast.

Ill leave you with a fun anecdote I have to steal from my fellow CIEE student (from my study abroad program). He was telling us that his Mama kept saying that he did not eat enough food and that he needed to eat more (that's not the first time I've heard that one...). His host brother then proceeded to roll his eyes and utter the classic line- "Mom, we're just not like the other people. We're different!" Lol, I hope you get that pop culture reference. I don't even think it's from a specific movie but it just about sums up my life here in Chile. There is a serious struggle to eat all the food they expect you to eat here...so much bread...so little stomach...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

When it takes you 2 hours to read nine pages in Spanish...and you still have 14 to go

Life is great! I went on a tour of a vineyard, celebrated my host sister's birthday with some delicious chicken (that was then left out all last night....) and even got invited to her birthday asado (barbeque). Homework is where the real struggle has been. You know, besides public transportation that is. I have 14 pages of reading ahead of me, but hey, so far I have learned that the US exploited Mexico and all of it's territory in the 1800s- how's that for a history lesson- one I don't even remember covering in my US History classes. Nevertheless, reading is getting easier and I figure that understanding all the details is going to be impossible if I have to read so much in so little time. Luckily Ceramics doesn't come with HW and my Spanish HW is about as straightforward as high school (busy work, but doable).
So the weekend started with a lovely trip to Quisco, Chile- because my weekends start at 10:00am on Fridays- when I get out of class and run to my metro station so that I can catch the next bus to the beach! Unfortunately my friend Sophie and I had to be back by 7:00pm for our lovely 'emergency meeting' where we discussed what to do when there is an earthquake (because I was just so confused about that before right?). The beach was so beautiful, with clear blue waters, white sand and not too many people. While everyone else in Santiago was suffering through what may be the hottest day of the year- I'm talking like 95-100ºF- my friends and I enjoyed the lovely weather of Quisco- maybe 80 degrees with a breeze and the refreshing cold ocean (way to cold to get in, but bearable if you wanted to authenticate your beach trip by dipping your feet into the ocean for a bit). 

We spent about 4 hours on the beach, with the adorable company of this pup- who decided that my friends and I were the best looking cuddle buddies on the beach. He literally came up to Selden and began to rub up against her and then proceeded to fall asleep right beside her (undoubtably utilizing her for shade)- It was precious.

(photo credit goes to my goregous friend Selden Hunnicutt, she goes to Vandy daddio!- Quite the southern girl)

I managed to re-apply sunscreen just enough that I accumulated more freckles, minimal sunburn (my scalp evades me everytime..) and postentially a sun-kissed glow (but let's be real- sun kissed is a relative term- as my Mama keeps reminding me "¡Tú estás tan blanca! ¡Te aseguras que aplico suficiente bloqueador del sol!" // "You are so white! Make sure you put on enough sunscreen!") Thanks Mama...
After sitting through the boring emergency meeting, listening to my Mama talk about me afterwards to the other host mothers  (I can't decide if she likes that enjoy cooking, but she seems surprised and tells everyone- I'm thinking she doesn't mind because she did mention how she still has to make Camila a lunch...but that I make my own(; ) and then coming home to binge watch more Orange is the New Black, I passed out in bed- because laying on the beach and taking the bus is exhausting work!
The next morning commenced with a last minute planned trip to tour a vineyard. I didn't know anything about the excursion besides the fact that it wasn't too expensive and it included wine tastings and another souvenir wine glass- of course I was in. We took the metro to the southern most station and then hopped on a bus that took us five minutes down the road to the Vienyard of Concho y Toro, the infamous vineyard of Castillo de Diablo (which in Spanish translates to the Fortress of the Devil). According to legend the proprietors of the land became furious when their wine began to mysteriously disappear, so they spread a rumor that the devil haunted their cellars. Since then, not a bottle of wine has stolen. They had a engaging little film presentation to explain that one. 

They are the largest producer of wine in Latin America and have an extensive list of products. I think I tried 10 different types of red grapes on the tour- this was my favorite part! They had the raw grapes in the field to try- from what I can remember they had Carmenere, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and so many others I hadn't even heard of. After pursuing the fields and checking out the wine barrels- came the best part of the tour- tasting the wine of course. First up was a Sauvignon Blanc, not my favorite. When she asked us to swirl the wine and smell it my first scent was grass- ew. Next was a Carmenere which I have found tastes much better with food, it was okay- but not my favorite red. I much preferred the last wine- their Reserva Privada of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. 
Another interesting thing I learned- this wine tasted better when we warmed it up with our hands by placing the glass in our palms. It took on a much smoother finish. 
After the end of the tour we munched on our handpacked lunches (the best way to save money!- I still think I look like a noob carrying around a lunchbox though...) and returned home. I tried to sleep- but instead I binge watched more Orange is the New Black- I can't help it!
That night the birthday festivities began. Beginning with my friend David, I met up with a couple of friends at his house for a nice spread of cheese puffs, saltines, potato chips and cookies (the typical varieties of Chilean junkfood). After hearing about the night before (it was another one of our friend's 21st birthdays- I missed it cause ya know...sleep) Hannah and I made our way to Camila- my host sister's birthday asado. Accordingly- so I wasn't the the only gringo, she said I could bring a friend. Hannah and I chatted amongst ourselves and made small talk with some of her friends who wanted to practice their english (this happens all the time...usually I insist that they must at least let me respond in spanish). At this point in time I feel like my spanish is plateauing, it's difficult when we (everyone in the program) all speak english to each other, and even though my brain needs a break from listening to spanish all day- it would probably be better for us to converse in spanish all the time- we shall see. 
Even though the Asado started at 10:30 there was food- the Chilean favorite- Choripan! (Chori for chorizo/sausage and Pan for fresh bread). It's like a shorter, fatter hotdog that you eat with pebre- the Chilean Pico de Gallo. They were so good and after two Piscocolas (Pisco- Chilean Brandy (my new favorite liqour!) and Coca Cola) Hannah and I devoured two of them each. Little girls, big stomachs(; 
<3 Carly

Friday, March 20, 2015

Today like all other days...

Despite the implications of the title of this post- the following are things that may not happen everyday, but nevertheless, are things that I have almost become accustomed to- most prominently, the absurdity of the things that seem to happen here.
Today, unlike other days- my host mom asked to 'borrow' 1000 chilean pesos (approximately a $1.50) to buy cigarettes
Yesterday, I pleaded with the bus driver to let me on the bus because I had insufficient funds and only a credit card with me (you have to reload your public transport card with cash)
This week, the power went out on the metro, I used a public restroom with soap that was conveniently stored in a water bottle next to the sink (lets just go with the fact that it was probably soap...) and I went to the beach for four hours. Good stuff.

Out of all of my woes I think the most important thing I have learned this week is that public transportation has been improperly generalized as being cheap, quick and easy. It is not cheap when you ride the metro and/or bus approximately 6 times a day (say you need to go three different places- and yes this does happen because I take classes at 4 different campuses..). Additionally it is not quick or easy if you ride it at rush hour- nor is it fun. Standing in a packed metro or bus without air conditioning with sweaty people all around you- sufficiently so that you don't even need to (nor are able to) hold onto anything. Especially fun when the metro stops and the power goes out...mmm nothing like stagnant metro air. 
Lastly- Although the metro will always get you from point A to point B, if you are on the wrong color, sub-color (yes there is an express track that runs during rush hour on certain lines that makes life that much more complicated- imagine red and green stops within a green line and a purple line- oye), or even the wrong direction- getting to your destination is most definitely going to take longer than the hour that you had previously allocated to your public transport travel time...That's right, even when I left an hour before my class started, I arrived at the metro station (via bus) when my class was starting....talk about a spectacle- not only was I the gringa- on Tuesday morning I was the LATE gringa....with blonde hair. Don't worry though- people come in late all the time and the teacher apparently likes me enough to ask me about the US's foreign policy towards Iran- which of course I failed to respond to in time and instead gave her a sufficient 'I have no idea look' before she answered her own question herself. 
Besides my lack of rapid-fire spanish my week was pretty good! I went to a ginormous fruit and veggie market (which I am potentially going back to this weekend with mama- it's the place she brings her suitcase to and proceeds to fill it with tomatoes, apples, avocados, you get the picture).
in case you didn't get the picture(;

I also finally had my first class at the Universidad de Chile- the class that the professor never showed up to. I survived the heat wave (I am now a certifiable expert at sleeping in minimal clothing and tuning out any noises that come from my open window). Today I hit up the beach at Quisco, Chile and tomorrow I have plans to take a tour of a local winery. What a life(;


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The green leaf lettuce...is to fry up with some eggs. Wtf Chile

So many things I need to write about. So little time. Here goes-
"San" hattan (see if you can figure that one out)
My Sunday was filled with a long- but informative and quite enjoyable (to be on a bike that is..) bike ride around the city of Santiago. It was a tad too lengthy and they advised us not to bring lunch- because apparently snacks would be sufficient. Close, but no cigar. Therefore the HANGER that ensued was no match for the epic confusion of why NOTHING was open because it was sunday. Come on Chile! Wake up! I believe you could say this is what happens when Chileans go out until 4am in the morning and sleep in the next day, eat lunch maybe at 2pm and then enjoy their time with the fam. This is no exaggeration, I swear my host sister came home at 4am a few weekends ago. The parties don't start til at least midnight up in this joint. 

Despite my growing hanger and of course...desperate need to pee, I resisted the (not so) tempting appeal of street food that seemed to be calling to my dear friend David. Don't worry we both survived- I just survived by examining my options and learning how to make my own sandwich from the corner shop's slightly sketchy looking turkey and fresh bread. David on the other hand satisfied his hanger with greasy piece of fried chicken, yum. If Chile is good at one thing, its make fresh, delicious bread (with no nutritional value...but what's new- iceburg lettuce, white rice, cookies and turkey anyone?). 
Speaking of nutritional value...quick side story, before I forget...
So that green leaf lettuce. Mama Isabel informed me that she purchased it to make a tortilla (egg dish from Spain- cachai?). That's right- she bought three heads of green leaf lettuce to wilt down and scramble up with 4 eggs. Anyone interested in Chilean food recipes? Here ya go. They like their food simple, bland (I'm sorry- I must have drank the haterade this morning..) and with always made with the same ingredients- think tomatoes, corn, rice and perhaps chicken. Luckily my mama doesn't make anything fried (yet) and I like I said, I can always count on a nice turkey sandwich or a yogurt(;
Two more food stories-
First, I tried a fruit which is referred to as "Tuna" which according to google is actually a Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit- It kind of tastes like a kiwi with a non-furry skin, kind of more like a melon flavor with huge seeds like a passion fruit. Maybe you should google it too(:
Secondly, yesterday Mama Isabel made a typical chilean dish known as "Pastel de Choclo" which means corn cake (it's more like a Chilean Sheppard's Pie if you will). It had ground beef, onions, chicken, olives and hard boiled eggs (I'm sensing a theme with the hard boiled eggs and olives- refer to the previous post and my description of a typical Chilean Empanada). Then you put a corn pudding type mixture on top and bake it in the oven. It was pretty good! Like I said they like their food incredibly bland (Mama despises black pepper and occasionally salts her food) so the dishes never really have much flavor but nevertheless, easy to eat. It's funny- my friends and I were reflecting on the fact that the food is never phenomenal here, I don't know if I would ever try to recreate anything back at home, because although some dishes are better than others- we are seriously spoiled with variety and flavors in the US. I guess it's mostly due to the fact that most dishes have simple, cheap ingredients like corn and potatoes which aren't on my list of favorite foods.
Before I turn this into a food blog...back to Lollapalooza! Once we were no longer hypoglycemic we proceeded to enter the lively music festival just a few blocks away. The magical music of Lolla included 

and some hippy, weed smoking reggae performer.

We had to take a picture to prove we were there!
In other news, I still don't know exactly what classes I'm taking- I'm currently milking an opportunity to get an old class of mine bumped up to the 4000 level so that I don't have to take this dumb International Relations class that starts at 8:30am, is on a friday (friday classes are a no go if you want to travel on the weekend- ie: NOBODY takes friday classes) and is full of students who enjoy sharing their discontent with American foreign policies (which albeit I just listed that as a negative aspect of the class- it is pretty insightful to hear their perspective). Hope that made sense. The other issue with my classes here is that my class at the Universidad de Chile was supposed to start last monday- then I discovered that it started this monday- until the professor was a no show. Typical.
As far as ceramics goes....I'll have to fill you after manaña- I have class bright and early- that's right- another 8:30am class.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


When I was writing my essays for my study abroad application I talked a lot about consumerism in the US and how I felt challenged in India by the absence of variety. I wrote about how I wanted to adopt a more simplistic lifestyle because I feel like I buy so many things I don't need. It was a lie. I don't think I could truly be happy living here for a long period of time. Judge me please- but I like pretzels, chobani, spinach and good coffee. Yes I could adapt- but after being raised in the US I am spoiled little princess. I am so used to living in a house where there is a constant supply of food- when people buy things they are almost out of and usually have small stockpile of pantry staples. When I'm at school I never run out of dark chocolate, yogurt or berries. 
On the other hand, when faced with some Chilean realities I have realized that I will be eating peanut butter sandwiches on white bread and salads with iceburg lettuce and the last tomato we have on Thursdays because Mama Isabel is not going to the store until Saturday. After she gives the house a good scrubbing, washes all the dirty clothes from the past day and makes sure that my bed is made, my floor has been swept and once again moves everything around. 
But I am there lovely guest. And I love Mama Isabel. Especially because today she went to the store and got all the good stuff! And this week I'm going to try one of two methods to address the running out of food issue- A) Pace myself B) hide my rations(; 
When I left the house this morning we had 5 slices of white bread, half a head of iceburg lettuce, granola, peanut butter, milk...and thats about it- no meat, eggs, vegetables- ie: no sustenance. Maybe she didn't realize I eat like I'm a growing teenage boy...she will learn.
On the bright side- today she got fresh strawberries, avocados, eggs, deli turkey meat, yogurt, cereal, broccoli, tomatoes, pears, grapes and GREEN LEAF LETTUCE
praise the lord. 

The second best thing that happened to me this beautiful Saturday (it's not 95 degrees anymore! It's only 88!) was  my trip to Paseo Cajon in the Maipo region of Santiago which is the more rustic, indigenous, mountainous region. Here's how it went down- because we all know by now that nothing here is going to leave you without a story-
It all started this morning at 8am- bright and early when we all met up at the house of the girl who planned this excursion. There were 22 of us and we all piled into two large vans (maybe a 12 and 9 passenger van). We drove for about 2 hours when we started driving on gravel road. In a stick shift car. This was when I decided it would be a good idea to say, "Wow, it would be hard to drive a stick shift on this hill." No joke- just after I finish uttering this statement of foolishness- the car starts rolling backwards. Now whether our driver had intended to do this or not- we were scared shitless. Casually rolling backwards down a gravel hill road was not on the itinerary. When the driver stops the car with the emergency break we all jump out of the car as soon as we get the doors to unlock. Next thing ya know this chick (the driver) opens the hood of the car and there is slight smoking action going on. She asks for our newly purchased mineral water (freaking buying water all the time is getting just about as old as paying to pee). After pouring a bottle of water on the engine she decides that we should let the engine cool down for 20 minutes. We make use of this time taking some incredible shots of the mountains and of course by climbing up some small rocks for a miniature photo shoot. 

When we finally make it up to the top, where there are natural hot springs, made my volcanic heat runoff or something like that. Not only are these 'outdoor hot tubs' natural and beautiful, they also apparently contain minerals that are good for your skin. Win-win. 
Whether or not the part about rubbing the clay from the bottom of the 110ºF+ pools was made up to make gringos look stupid- we participated in this fun activity as well(: Mmmm...smelly clay. 

On the way back from the hot springs we all some how passed out in the van despite the roller coaster style of driving we experienced on the way down- I was in the very back- not sure how I feel asleep, but nevertheless, the journey down the mountain was uneventful and it was nice to get some shut eye. 
Last but not least we stopped to get empanadas- and of course I frantically looked for a bathroom. By now I have perfected the smile and "¿Tiene un baño?" or if necessary "¿Hay un baño cerca?" (Do you have a bathroom and Is there a bathroom closeby?). 
Chilean empanadas! So yummy. There are some interesting combinations though. My favorites so far have been de Jaiba which is crab, onion, pepper and a corn mixture and then de Ave which is chicken, hard boiled egg and onion with spices. But Chile is most known for it's Empanada Pino which includes ground beef, onions, raisins and hard boiled egg. mmhmm. Don't order that one. Order the Napolitana instead- tomatoes, olives, ham and onions. Enjoy!


Friday, March 13, 2015

I'm sorry Mama, I don't want that chicken that was left out all night...

Oh refrigeration. I wish we could do without you, but meat is just something I'm not willing to risk it for. I love you mama, but I don't love Salmonella. It is kinda crazy when you think about the status quo in Chile. I think you could consider this a major metropolitan area, with all the same bells and whistles as New York City, Paris, etc. They have malls, supermarkets, public transportation, everything you need to accommodate the grand population. But what baffles me is the fact that the toilets can't handle toilet paper, the houses don't have air conditioning despite the rising 90 degree temperatures and even the lack of a trash can around here. I'm not complaining because I've had my fair share of roughin' it. I guess the juxtaposition of the growth and wealth of this city against the poor sewage system and lack of technology in households (such as hot water heaters, dishwashers, and stoves with pilot lights) was surprising to me. 
In response I've grown accustomed to the noises of the night (music, drunk arguments, car alarms, dog fights...ya know) in my sacrifice of leaving the window open so that my room no longer feels like a sauna- it makes it feel more like a hot yoga class- if you lie perfectly still you won't sweat(;
This recent heat wave has been pretty brutal, especially with all the walking around I do in the city to get to class and my bus. But I've embraced my sweaty look with a bun, a headband and a smile. 
In an attempt to maintain our glistening glows, on Wednesday my friends and I headed to a bar that teaches free salsa lessons :0 It was way better than the television I've been watching lately- Let's just say that mama has a strange infatuation with the history channel and therefore I have seen a handful of informational documentaries on the French revolution, Chilean indigenous people and the salt flats of the south. We started off with a nice and simple salsa instructional lesson. The local chilean men scouted out the lovely extranjeros of their choosing and somehow everyone got a partner. Luckily for me, my partner had attended a few of these sessions previously. He was straightforward, nice and didn't do anything creepy (that's always a plus). I didn't step on his toes and he didn't drop me so I'd say it went pretty well(; 

I counted my blessings when I took a breather during the next lesson which happened to much more SUAVE than our first glimpse into the lovely land of Latin dancing. I'm talking some nice hip rolls, sexy twirls and face to face interactions. I watched with interest and decided to join in later. Although I did end up swayin my hips to the beat of a more romantic tune, I left the sexy dancing to the locals.

Last but not least- this post needs some EduMacTional information. That is why I'm here...right?
The first day of class went- without tears! Mostly attributed to my beautiful discovery that my friend Sara was in my class. What a saint. It all started when I went to the classroom where my class had been listed on the original list (apparently an insufficient resource) and it was a political theory class. It took me approximately 10 minutes to confirm this because I tried convincing myself that maybe I was misunderstanding the professor...So now not only was I going to be 15 minutes late to my first class, I didn't know where it was and everyone was going to stare at me as I snuck in. Lovely. After a revelation, 10 minutes later- and slightly more knowledgable about where to find the schedule and what the heck the letter "S" in front of a room number means- subterreano, (also known as the basement- duh!) I found my room. The only gringa in the house- a blonde, late gringa. First impressions oye. 
I would consider my experience in Ceramics slightly more successful. Hannah and I made it to the classroom that we had previously scoped out (plan for success!). We did not however successfully plan to have materials ready to make our own clay. Out of a 5 kg bag of pulverized "pasta de ceramica." Yes- you read that correctly. Espanol has deemed clay to be referred to as pasta de ceramica. Alright. During the five hour class we proceeded to help our new found Chilean friend Andrea (the third Andrea I have met here!) make her clay. With our expert skills stored away, we set of to find our very own 5 kg of powder to trek across the city, mix with water and properly store our precious supply of clay. 
The beautiful art campus (bonus- it's right by my house!)
Today- in our free time on Friday (when everyone else went swimming..:/ ) we mixed up that pasta with some water and went to town. First supply of clay made! Unfortunately it appears to me that the next one is looming in our near future, as that 5 kg of powder didn't yield much. Maybe next time we can beat our finish time of ~45 minutes. Wooo competition. 
In case you were wondering I'll leave you with the classes I'm currently enrolled in (I still need to drop one of the polysci ones so I'll keep you updated).

International Relations of Latin America 
Latin American Politics
The Political and Economic Development of Latin America
Advanced Spanish 
-apparently I didn't score the lowest on the placement exam!!!! I'lll count that as one of my top successes of this week, in the running with my successful salsa skills, the adorable old man that helps teach my ceramics class and my plane ticket to Patagonia...more on that later.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

This is for those who see the glass half empty...

I would say I am pretty positive person. Please remember that as I once again use this blog to vent- 
It all started on monday morning when I was in the house alone (remember that my host mom and sister are virtually non-existent until about 6-7pm). So I'm sitting on the couch towards the front of the house when I hear a voice saying "Hola!". At first I just dismiss it because I hear noises of all kinds from our little neighborhood area we have with kids, dogs, cars, music...you get the picture- I'm good at ignoring things. 
So next thing you know the voice is coming from the kitchen and all I'm thinking is oh my god, someone is going to rob the house or kidnap me (in retrospect...why would they be shouting Hola! if they wanted to kidnap me...). Amidst my fearful thoughts I approach the kitchen and realize that there is a Chilean Carabinero (police officer) in the kitchen. After I am no longer scared to death- and therefore breathe- I try to remember how to say "what the hell is going on"- in spanish of course. He starts asking me where everyone is and who I am. I stammer something about Mama Isabel being at work and mention that I can call her (because I have no idea how else to get rid of this mysterious cop). I use my chilean phone to call her and as he is talking to her on the phone I notice there is also a women behind him taking notes on her little clipboard. All I can think is that Mama Isabel and Camila are in deep trouble and that I am going to have to move out because their house is about to be liquidated. Literally- this chick is noting the paintings on the wall, looking around and asking how many floors the house has. 
On the contrary- once Mama Isabel returns frantically from work, asks me a million questions about what happened, how the man got in the house and what he wanted- I learn that apparently they were looking for the dead beat dad. From what I understood, the dad still uses this house's address as his own and apparently he is trouble with the PO-lice. thanks chilean papa. I always wondered what you would be like. 
Come full circle, Mama is asking me how the heck the man and the women got in the house without my knowledge and I'm trying to figure out how to say- I left the sliding door in the kitchen open because its 100 degrees in here and I needed the breeze. This is no joke- the PO-lice just strolled right in to the house scaring me half to death- not to mention, totally illegal. She calls a lawyer, calls her ex and then proceeds to cry on my shoulder for a good 60 seconds. Talk about a great start to the week. 
Despite all this drama-rama (which I most certainly thought would put my in first place for host family incidents), after reading the latest blog post by Sara (my lovely and hilarious friend)- which you should also read here: https://ronburgundysburrito.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/will-the-real-slim-gringo-please-stand-up/ 
I realized that Chilean families are just like American families- dysfunctional and worthy of a telenovela. 

So now that you have the background info- I'll move on the lesser and greater parts of the week(:

Highlights included some overly crowded buses, my first hotdog (sans mayo- even though she made homemade mayo, it just looked too gross :/ Sorry Mama!), and INCREDIBLY HOT, long days. I've survived and will continue to survive- especially if I can vent here. I hope you find my stories as funny as I do when I re-tell them. I will add on to this week's chronicle mañana hopefully. Loves

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The COLCHAGUA VALLEY WINE FESTIVAL- aka heaven on earth for 5500 pesos

We arrived bright and early in Santa Cruz, Chile after a 3 hour bus ride from Santiago with a lovely "for peeing only" bathroom and a realization that in the south charter buses often become taxis for the locals. We stopped maybe 8 times to pick up a few straggles and then let them loose shortly after but nevertheless we made just in time to buy our copa oficial (my first ever wine glass! success) which included four wine tastes. And while that was certainly enough for me, I seemed to be the odd one out when the rest of mis amigos went for 8 glasses (oye dios). Spoiler alert- no one missed the bus, but there were some wine spills and tipsy purchases :0
Anywho, I started off strong with a nice red wine, a Merlot from a winery that I believe was owned by Lapostolle (I didn't bother remembering the names of all the ones I tried but upon looking at my program that one looks vaguely familiar...lol). 
And of course, to ensure that no one got schwasty too quickly, we accompanied our first glasses of wine with a nice stick of meat(: I went for the pork, but they had beef, lamb and chicken wings all on a stick for a mere 2 dollah. The afternoon went by quickly with 3 more wine tastings of a Chardonnay, a Syrah and a Sauvignon Blanc (very tasty here and much less sweet than at home!). I also had many a tastes of some other wines including some incredible reds from Louis Felipe Edwards winery (both the Carmere and Cabernet Sauvignon). 
I learned that the grape of Carmere was once a popular French grape that apparently died out in France. At first everyone thought they had lost their precious Carmere grapes forever, but coincidentally it was discovered that the same grape had been growing for years in Chile under a different alias and thus, Chile became the sole producer of the lovely and light red wine of Carmere. 
I wanna say that my Syrah was from Santa Rita (but that is probably wrong..) and that my Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc was from Casa Silva (I am more certain about this one). But hey, give me some credit because I did write down the names of them on my ticket but then my ticket got taken when I tried my last glass of wine, and tipsy me didn't notice til it was too late...no worries though, I don't think I've tried a bad wine yet here. For what it's worth I couldn't drink a whole lot of Carmere but I've heard it's better with food!
Other highlights from the festival included my slightly tipsy shopping which led me to try on about 3 headbands and 2 scrunchies, therefore guilt tripping me into buying a cute coral headband (hey no regrets!) made by someone in prison...a good cause, no? Additionally I had some really good 'banana split' ice cream and a few bites of a delicious empanada that had crab (interesting but good!)- called Empanada de jaiba. 

We grabbed the 7:30 bus back, and luckily no one was left behind. We did have two red wine stains on two lovely dresses, but it really could have been worse(; 

They found out I have big hands and I found out Mama smokes

It appears that it would have been imposible to have a host family sans smokers. And I will count my blessings because although my mama has now told me that smoking is her vice (at least I think thats what she said...) I rarely smell it and of course she smokes outside (maybe once a day). 

Nevertheless, everyday you learn something new- today the hot pollolo learned that I have mega hands. It's okay though because he is attractive and therefore you you can't say no when he tries to engage you in a conversation. So after asking me if I am a climber (interesting assumption based on my hand size....) he moved on to other things and I had to listen to him tell me all about his graphic design projects and urban legends about cemeteries and ghosts. Interesante.
Speaking of pollolos, I have to say that I think I've seen the youngest couple yet. They must have been freshmen in high school, with their neon clothes, matching boyfriend/girlfriend half-heart necklaces (yes, just like the BFF ones you saw in middle school- in this case, one had a female sign and the other a male...not the most attractive piece of jewelry i've seen as of late, but whatever floats their little lovesick boats..)
Lastly is a food note- of course. Today Mama Isabel made delicious chicken thighs by putting them on slice onions, drizzling them with lemon juice and then baking them in the oven on low heat for an hour, simmered in beer with the skins on...yum!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Welcome to Chile- where you pay to pee but the live showing of PDA is always free

So today I successfully flagged down one (struggle) bus and then missed another. Upon boarding the first struggle bus, number D03 I realized that although this bus was going to the right destination, I had no idea what reference point to use for when I needed to get off. This is why metro>bus all day every day. No constant jerking due to stopping and going, no confusion as to when the bus will stop or what the next stop is...i could go on. 

Anywho, I realized this was NOT the day to pick a new bus route to try, because of course I needed to be at the Chilean international police station at 7:30am stat to register my visa...We were warned several times that if we were late, we would be dealing with the DMV schenanigans of Chile on our own. And let me just tell you something- if you think the USA DMV is confusing and time consuming, well then kid- come visit me and I'll show you how it's done here.
So stop number one on the struggle bus was the frantic stop to get off the bus and just pay for a taxi to take me the rest of the way. On the buses round here you "empujar el timbre," to request a stop and from there I hopped right off and flagged down the cab. 
Stop numero dos was narrowly avoided by making sure I did not miss my number when it was called and by having exact change so that I could receive my registered visa and study legally in this lovely city. 
Stop numero tres insued later- after lunch and a walk throughout central santiago and the maket full of live fish and incessant pleas for us 'Americanas' to eat at their restaurant. This struggle began when we couldn't find a bus service that went to Santa Cruz for this weekend and our dreams of attending the Colchuagua Valley's very own wine harvest festival. Some companies didn't let you buy a ticket in advance, others only took cash- minor problems compared to the rest of my day, but nevertheless, one more hurdle to jump over. All in all we survived and guaranteed that at least the four of us had an actual ticket for the bus while our friends who we were once potentially going to purchase a ticket for- well, they may or may not be joining us...
The last and final stop on my struggle bus (and the last of my rant I swear!) was when I attempted to return home via metro and then bus (note- this was a route I actually had memorized! success). I was quite please when my bus (this one is number 403) came shortly after I arrived at the correct station, but that glee was short-lived when I attempted to flag it down and was promptly ignored :( Sad day. The good news is the bus comes about every 10-15 minutes so I was only delayed a bit. 

More lasting impressions from this week include my mama's delicioso Charquican stew type thing that she made with potatoes, onions, garlic, green beans, pumpkin and ground beef. It's kinda like a puree of pumpkin with potato chunks and green beans and meat. Sounds strange, but the best thing I've had yet. Although I am a bit concerned about the way we store food here...The stew was out all night on the stove and additionally I am almost positive my leftovers were just put back with the rest of the soup...lovely. I'll survive(:
Not that I haven't mention this one too before but...my mama cleans so much! She mops the kitchen floor daily, straightens up my room, re-makes my bed and cleans the bathroom every few days. This lady is super woman. She wakes up at 6am and doesn't get home from work until about 6ish in the evening to cook dinner, clean the house and put up with my neverending "cómo se dice esté en español." Gotta love her. Even if she uses verbs I can't understand, talks incredibly quickly and adds "-ito/ita" to the end of all words such as "Patio-ita" which apparently refers to the patio outside. On that note, the other day when I had no idea what she was asking me, (note- Chileans also often pronounce things differently, such as leaving off the "s" at the end of words... how people tell the difference between singular and plural things I'll never know) my host sister, Camila scolded her for using non-Catalan Spanish (traditional spanish that is taught in the state), arguing that I would never understand what she was saying to me if she kept this up. Camila is great at re-phrasing her mother's thoughts for me and in reality, Mama Isabel isn't that hard to understand, she's typically patient but her questions are rapid fire and come with quizical looks..
Last but not least I will attempt to explain the title of this post. I guess I forgot to include this struggle above but...the struggle of finding a public restroom- it's REAL. They do not exist and thus I paid once to pee behind a shower curtain (only 200 pesos) and then once again on my way home when I desperately purchased a water from a restaurant just to use their restroom. 1000 pesos later I returned home, made a sandwich, and cried...just a little. Sometimes when you are on your period you just gotta let it out. I'm all good I swear. In fact I was actually secretly thinking that it was strange how everyone else had mentioned they cried the first night because they were so overwhelmed, yet I never felt uncomfortable or homesick. I just thought I had struck gold with my amazing family or maybe I was just more independent and mature, but hey- everybody gotta cry sometimes. 

Although I'm not so good at connecting these short stories, I'll leave you with one last note about Chileans and their pollolos (boyfriends/girlfriends) who they just cannot keep their hands off of. It appears that Chileans young and old have decided that kissing in front of their parents would just be wrong and therefore instead the metro, park, street, school, etc. because their favorite way to demonstrate their love for each other. And I'm not talking hand holding, cute couple love. I've witnessed lots of kissing, caressing, you get the picture. Some theorize that it's because many Chileans live with their parents until they are 30 and thus they just have to make out in public to avoid an awkward interruption of their love moment. Logical eh?


Sunday, March 1, 2015

The excursions of the weekend

So far I have hiked up the hill of San Cristabal (on saturday 2/28), gone to the Plaza Nuñoa (which is approximately 10 minutes from my house) and went through the city to my "abuela's" house. 
The Krewe at the top of Cerra San Cristobal
Additionally I took advantage of the fact that on sundays some street lanes are closed for bikers, runners, walkers, etc. It was a nice way to run without traffic and it seems like a lot of Chileans take advantage of it to because there were a ton of people! I think Chileans in general are more conscious about health and exercise than Americans because not only have I seen many people using these strength training type "machines" in the park, but also I was having a conversation with my mama about nutrition and I think Chileans understand more about nutrition and health than most Americans. It appears that a lot of people buy mostly fruit, vegetables, meat and fresh bread and not so much prepared food. Also there are a lot of "light" foods offered and the chocolate cereal I really enjoy is sweetened with stevia!
Plaza Nuñoa!
A quick note on my mama's mother- I have to say after seeing my mama's mother (my abuela) who lives with my mama's brother who has some sort of mental illness I think, I am quite impressed with the life my mama has made for herself. My abuela lives with her son in a poorer area in Santiago and my tía (my mama's sister) also lives nearby. My mama went to the Jumbo today to buy groceries for all of them and it just appears that in general her life is much more put together than her siblings. It was also incredibly kind of her to go out and buy groceries for them when she works so much (7:30am-6pm) during the week and then cleans and cooks on the weekend for herself and my host sister. Oye. She is a superwoman and keeps the house so clean! She is slightly OCD as demonstrated by the fact that no matter how well I think I made my bed she always remakes it...can't decide if I should stop trying on that one or if that would be rude...who knows. 
I think that is all and I hope you've made it this far..especially after that last super long post(:

Notes from el fin de la semana

wow, a lot has gone down in these past few days...friday started off with some more orientation seeshs and then a placement spanish test (that I may have failed epic-ly...). The only thing worth mentioning about that is that there are dogs that just roam around the San Juaquin campus of PUC. Interesting...they walked in and out of the classroom the whole time and are super chill.
After the placement test we all agreed that we must have failed the exam and decided to head over to an "asado" (a chilean BBQ) at a local's house. Once we arrived we promptly drove to a "Jumbo" supermercado (imagine a super target but Walmart size!) to buy cervezas and hamburguesas. I actually settled on a chicken burger and red wine, but you get the picture(: There were many cute Chilean boys and it was a really good time!

I successfully took the metro to a stop that was near my friends house and thought I was going to make it all the way home without any problems until...we took a taxi. Simple enough right? Nah. Not for the gringos who apparently live on a street that exists in multiple areas. This is how it went down- My friend and I shared a taxi because her house is on the way to mine. She told the driver her address and he went on his way until we reached a street where she couldn't find her house (do understand that this was only the second time we had been home, and it was dark!). Of course, in the midst of this minor chaos, my host mom called...and I answered. Once she heard that we were quote "lost," she asked to talk to the taxi driver to straighten things out. Oye. My mama to the rescue. She got the driver to my house and then from there my friend was picked up, but only after the taxi driver mentioned to my mom that we needed  a stern talking to about knowing what our address is....psh, typical gringos. 

Next on the list is some quirks about mi casita (all chileans love to add the "ito/ita" onto the end of words even though that typically implies that the thing you are referencing is smaller than usual...). First, let me describe it to you. Off the street you go through a locked gate to a narrow street with small houses on all sides and our house is in the back corner. It is surrounded by another gate which you must open every time you need to take the car out. Oye. Then the front door opens with another key and leads into a small sitting area, a kitchen with a stove, oven, microwave and fridge (no toaster or dishwasher). In the kitchen is a small table with plastic white chairs where we sit when we eat. In the backyard is a nice little grassy area (maybe the size of small school bus) with some chairs and an outdoor couch. Then you go up a narrow partially spiraling staircase that leads the the second floor with my bedroom, mama's bedroom and a really small third bedroom. Lastly, on the top floor (kind like a loft) is my host sister's room. My room is very quaint and a little loud but its all good. I have a nice, large window and a closet that fills up one entire side of the wall, a desk without a chair (hmmm...), a lamp, a single bed and a small bedside table. It also has this hanging lamp/cloth "chandelier" type thing in the center of the room that is slightly annoying because I bump my head on it daily...nevertheless, me gusta mi cuarto mucho. Today (3.1.15) I finally finished unpacking my clothes and hung up some pictures on the wall. 
The view from my room- note to self...take a picture of my room..
Some other interesting quirks of my house include the fact that we have to turn on the hot water heater everytime we want to take a shower. This includes turning on the gas, sparking the pilot light, and then waiting for it to heat up enough to keep the gas on. Its fine, but its definitely going to take a while to associate taking a shower with first needing to turn that on...which is just about as difficult as having to put the toliet paper in the trash can...and not the toliet. Moving on- Before this turns into a 10 page essay I'll just quickly move through some interesting things I've noticed in general during my time here. First my mama takes the skin of her tomatoes...interesting. Also the bread is so fresh here that when you buy it at the grocery store in the deli type area it is warm!! They sell them in self-serve stations where you use tongs to choose the types of bread you want from different dispensers and then you weigh it and pay at the register. (The same for the veggies fruit- you have to weigh it before you bring it to the register and get a tag). On that note I should mention that they have "gourmet fruits and veggies" that you have to wait in line to order from behind the counter (just like meat in the US...crazy!). The last thing about the "Jumbo" supermarkets is that I think it is quite possible that they have more varieties of every type of food than in the US. While I never thought there would be more of a consumerism issue here, I swear they have about 40 types of hotdogs and perhaps 20 types of milk and eggs. 
Also concerning food, my recent diet has consisted of toast with turkey or ham and a yogurt with cereal for breakfast, an ensalada- either de corn, tomato, hard boiled egg, tuna and avocado or de lettuce, tomato and avocado. The first being the slightly strange one. While I've only had "once" (tea time) one time, we had tea, toast with butter and while my mama ate a dulce de leche spread on her toast, I preferred turkey. For dinner I've had chicken noodle soup, spaghetti with meat sauce and chicken with a salad. For dessert we've had chocolate ice cream, fruit and sometimes banana with peanutbutter. 
That's right- behind a glass counter!
Only a few more things I wanted to remember... 
An important thing I learned is that Chileans are very soft spoken and often when you are on the bus, metro, etc. you cannot hear any conversations or even when someone addresses you. Therefore it was a major embarrassment when I got on the bus and declared with excitement (I didn't even yell....) that there were our friends on the bus, I got many stares in response...oops. Note to self- don't be too loud. 
Last but not least, i wanted to mention the prevalence of English music here! When we went to the club they played virtually all english music (although I did find out that Miercoles Po is a fiesta mostly for foreigners) and they also play a lot of english music on the radio. So it should be no surprise that one morning I was getting ready for school when I heard the "Sugar" music video by Maroon 5 playing from my host sisters room.