Saturday, May 1, 2010


Comida Chilena=Chilean Food. And let me just start by saying: YUM.
Here's a little preface:I should tell you all that I am a vegetarian, and I know I'm missing out on that and all, but all the food I've eaten thusfar has been delicious. All my life I've been a pretty picky eater, and only in the last couple years have I started to be open minded about food (anyone in my family can attest to that). But I promised myself before I left that I would try everything that was served to me, with the obviuos exception of meat. And I did decide to be a pescatarian instead of a vegetarian when I left (that means I will eat fish). So far, I've stayed true to that promise, and I have been for the most part, pleasantly surprised by things that didn't appear too delicious at first glance.

The food in general is much less expensive than in the U.S. And Chileans eat a lot. During my first couple weeks, I always felt full, but I swear my family thought I ate practically nothing. Also, I should say that I totally lucked out, my host mom is a fantastic cook, in my opinion. And the plates are always presented beautifully, even when it's just me, Gaby, and my mom for lunch.
The meal times are definitely different here. On the week days I have breakfast at 7:30, since school starts at 8:00. Then, during recreo, our 20 minute break after two hours and before three more hours of morning classes, almost everyone has a snack. There's a little shack that sells everything from mints to ice cream, to juice and cookies, to fruit to grilled ham and cheese. So most students either bring something from home or buy something there to hold them over until lunch. Lunch is at 2:00 and we have 45 minutes. I live on the same block as the school, so my host sister, Gaby, and I eat at home with our mom. And then in the afternoon, I try not to snack. We usually eat once around 7:00. This is also just my family's schedule. It differs depending on the family. I have some friends who are also exchange students here who say that they eat three times in the afternoon, one being more of a snack with the family, one being more of a light dinner, and the third being dessert with tea or coffee.

For the most part however, breakfast is relatively small, with a large lunch being the biggest meal of the day. And then unless you are having a formal dinner with family friends or it's a special occasion, which is cena, dinner is more of the small, informal once.
For breakfast on the weekdays, me and Gaby both have cereal (I have oatmeal/raisin/almonds/honey mixture, she has choco-krispies) with yogurt. On the weekends however, we usually eat much later and with the whole family. Then on the table there's bread, cheeses, jelly, ham, tomatoes and then usually also whatever leftover dessert we have, like lemon merengue pie, for example. We also usuall have tea or coffee on the weekend while we eat. Then during schooldays, I eat an apple every day during recreo, trying to keep the doctor away and whatnot. Everyday for lunch, my mom has prepared something delicious for lunch. It varies, obviously. Sometimes its a very typical traditional Chilean food, sometimes it's homemade pizza. And she always prepares a small dessert for afterwards. Then, for dinner, which is the informal once, it is more of a grab whatever. My mom sets out bread and other small things like tomatoes or cheese or sometimes something sweet.
Typical Chilean dishes:
Like I said before, there's a lot of meat dishes which are eaten here, but I don't try. However, there's a lot which I do eat! Umitas are one of my favorite foods here. They're really simple, but delicious. Humitas are basically like tamales, I'm not sure exactly how they're different, but they taste different! Humitas are prepared in the corn husks, in boiling water. They're served in the husks and typically eaten with either a little bit of sugar or tomatoes and onions (I prefer the latter, but thst's just me). Also, Chilean empanadas are different than any empanadas I've ever eaten in the US, and I definitely prefer these ones. The usual kinds are cheese, ham and pino, which is diced meat, onions, olives, raisins and egg. The masa, or dough used for them is extremely good. And they're flaky and perfectly gooey and cheesey (I obviously haven't tried any other than cheese empanadas). Another extremely typical Chilean food is completos. They are basically really big hot dogs, but with avacado, tomato, mayonaise, plus chili peppers or ketchup or whatever you like. People eat completos a lot, whether it's at a party or just walking down the street. Palta reina is a typical apetizer. Palta is avacado and reina means "stuffed". It's avacado stuffed with a mixture made of tuna, mayonaise and lemon and served on lettuce leaves with lemon juice. Also, something I eat a lot is what they call tortilla vegetariana. It's basically chard(which is very typical here) or another vegetable, cheese and eggs, fried into a cirlce shape. Also, another dish that I eat a lot (yet I have no idea what it's called) is this mixture of egg, cheese, carrots, and usually some other vegetables. Also, there is a soup that I really like, made from lentils with some veggies.
Produce and prices:
Since Chile is such a long country, there are a lot of climate regions throughout the country. And therefor, produce is always fresh and cheap, even during the winter! For example, you can buy a kilo of apples at the supermarket for less than one US dollar. The other day when I went to the produce market with my dad, I acted like such a tourist and took pictures of everything because I was totally amazed by how beautiful and cheap everything is. And I pointed out that you could buy a pineapple here for about US$1.50, and so my dad just bought it for me. So for the most part, food is much cheaper here than in the US, with some exceptions, like gum, which is about 4 times more expensive (and yet the flavor doesn't last as long) and peanut butter, which you can find in the super market, but costs about US$8 for one normal sized jar. Also, as most of you probably know, Chile has a large wine industry in the South. So obviously, grapes are cultivated here. But since I am underaged, I obviously haven't had the oppurtunity to try the wine. Also, there are some new fruits and vegetables I've discovered here, for example tunas, which are a fruit that I still don't know how to call them in English. They have a hard skin that you peel and on the inside, they look and taste a little like a kiwi and have a ton of really hard seeds. Also while I've been here, I've realized I like things that I didn't in the US, including peaches and banana and mango, since they're all soooo fresh! However, I still don't like pears or cherries.
Some generalizations and things I've noticed:
I know I'm not supposed to generalize a new culture, by I'm really just summing up what I have personally noticed. Zuchini and carrots are used a lot here in the cooking, as well as tomatoes. Also, lots of salt. And that's not just my mom, it's Chilean cooking in general. For example, typically, when someone makes a salad, the dressing is lemon juice, oil and salt salt salt. Also, Chileans love mayonaise. They eat it like no other. With french fries, they use it like ketchup. And they use a mixture of mayo and lemon juice for things like corn or potatoes. I personally detest mayonaise, so it's hard to get used to for me. Also, it seems to me that usually Chileans drink whole milk. However, many Chileans don't eat the "insides" of their bread, like from buns or rolls, they pick it out. And when I asked a friend why, he responded jokingly, in english : "this part makes you fat!". Something interesting about eating, if not food, is that Chileans don't put their napkins on their laps, but keep them on the table, next to their plate, folded in half. My first couple weeks here I kept putting mine in my lap before I realized this (and sometimes I forget and still do), trying to be polite, and someone would just give me another paper napkin. So I would go through 2 or 3 napkins per meal. Also, the junk food is different here. For some things, for example Cheetos, they have the same brands, but the food tastes totally different. For others they have basically the same product, but its a different brand and tastes a little different (M&Ms=Rockets; Oreos=Dindons). Here, you can find cocoa, but it's not commonly used to bake, and it's generally not found in supermarkets but I was able to find it in a specialty baking needs store. But I have unfortunately yet to find brown sugar or molasses.
Desserts and other sweets:
One word: MANJAR. It's delicious. Manjar is this creamy dulce de leche substance, about the consistency of peanut butter and tastes a little bit like caramel. I think it's pretty common in most of South America and It is used in soooooo many Chilean desserts. There's solid manjar candy and even manjar ice cream. But people also just use it like jelly on bread. One common dessert is alfajores, which are two cookies with manjar in the center. The packaged kinds usually have graham cracker-esque cookies and are covered in chocolate while the homemade kinds are more like sugar cookies and have more manjar and are sprinkled in confectioner's sugar. Flan is pretty common here, but I'm not the biggest fan. Sopaipilla is a common dessert here too, but I haven't tried it yet...I've decided to buy one the next time I'm in the city. Mote con huesillo is also really common, you can find it being sold by street vendors like roasted peanuts in NYC. It's a cup filled with a sweet liquid made from peaches and with kernals of some kind of wheat. It's really yummy, but kind of hard to describe. Leche Nevada is antoher dessert here that I absolutely love. It's basically merengue covered in a vanilla milk. Yum. A favorite dessert here is lemon merengue pie, not traditioally Chilean, but it's common enough to include here! Also, people eat ice cream all the time. When I go into the city, I always feel like getting some because no matter where I am, in the streets, down by the beach, in the mall, people are always walking by with cones of frozen sweets. And if I'm out with my family, after lunch or just out walking, my parents always get everyone an ice cream to eat while we walk.

One last thing that I love about the Chilean food culture: it's not just about the food. It's about the company and the conversation. After dinner, we sit and talk for awhile, we don't rush off to the next thing.

When I get home, I hope to prepare some Chilean recipes for you all! I highly recomend coming to this country, if only for dinner.

Love always,
PS. The pictures are of the produce I saw at the market when I went with my dad.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

My weekend in Santiago/Curico

Two weeks ago I missed school on Friday, and went to the south with my family.

We woke up at 6 and left the house by 6:30. My host dad works in Santiago and he sleeps there during the week. So we drove into Santiago to the apartment. I was asleep for almost the entire time, since it was still dark when we left the house. We arrived to the city at about 8:00. We went straight to the apartment and my dad headed off to work.

Gaby, my mom and I got on the subway and headed the the "clinic". I think it's like a hospital/doctors' office combination. The reason I say this is because there's meetings with doctors, but you don't have to make an appointment, and there's also an emergency room. So we went up to the second floor, where Gaby needed to talk to the doctor about some pain she's been having in her arms. So we went to the waiting room, and took a ticket. At almost any place where there's a line, you take a ticket, like you would at the deli in the U.S.

After we finished there, we headed out again to do some errands. We went into a book store and bought the novel I had to read for my "leguaje" class. And then we were walking down the street and heard music. At first it was just drums and trumpets. We turned the street corner and saw at the other end of the street that there was a parade. So we ran to catch up. The music then turned into a full on marching band. It was actually a military band, marching to "La Moneda" for the changing of the guard. The band was pretty good, and had every normal marching instrument, plus a bassoon. I'm not sure how that man managed to march with a basoon, but kudos to him. We walked along side the band to "La Moneda" where the changin of the guard took place. It seemed pretty cool to me. My family says that it happens every other day, however it is basically for the tourists. I enjoyed watching it, anyway!

Afterwards, we went back on our way to shopping. I bought minutes for my cell phone, but that was it. We went into a store and bought some nice glasses and plates for my host mom's family, who we were going to visit. They live much further south and I think some of their glasses broke during the earthquake. So we got a new set of glasses and a new set of plates, I believe. Gaby got some more school supplies and after, we went to the pharmacy. We headed back to the aprtment to put down our purchases and sat down. Gaby and I promptly fell asleep.

When we woke up in a half-hour, we went to the super market, where there is also a food court. I ate a really yummy pasta dish with scallions and soy sauce, I think, at least that's what it tasted like. And a side of tomatoes. And an ice cream for dessert, of course! Chocolate and Lucuma soft serve, with strawberry sauce. So yummy. And we bought a few things to bring with us to the family.

We were running a little late, so we got a taxi to Gaby's orthodontist appointment, which was actually an appointment. It was just a check up on her braces, I think, so it only took about 10 minutes.

Afterwards, we still had some time to spare before my papa finished with work. So we ambled down the street, in and out of stores. We went into Casa Ideas, which is a store I love. It has home accesories but also lots of cool random things. Everything from shower curtains to bedroom slippers and photo albums to stuffed animals. That is where I found measuring cups during my first trip to the mall in Vina del Mar. This time I only bought some nail files and a new travel journal, since my current one is filling up quickly. When we arrived back at the aprtment, we headed up to the 25th floor. And then climbed up to the roof, where there was a great panoramic view of Santiago. There was also a pool, but we weren't there to swim. I took some pictures and then sat down at a table with Gaby and my mama while they read and I wrote in my journal. Then we heard from Papa, who was on his way, so we went back down to the fifth floor apartment to wait.

We hopped in the car and drove for two hours. I tried to be productive with the time and write in my journal, which takes a surprising amount of time. But I also didn't want to be antisocial, so I spent a lot of time singing along to music with Gaby. When we got off the highway, we arrived in Curico (there's supposed to be an accent on the o, I just don't have it on my keyboard). It seemed like a pretty city, but there was definately much more earthquake damage there then in my town, Curauma, since it it much closer to the epicenter. About every fifth house was basically rubble. And most houses had a big crack or two or a broken roof or windows. We drove to my mama's brother's house. He lives there with his mom, his wife and their two kids, Daniela, who is seven, and Gustavo, who is 16. I was introduced to everyone, and they were all super friendly. We all went to the back patio to chat for a while. After a bit I walked to the market with the other kids while the adults started preparing dinner. When we got back, the grill was fired up. I went inside and watched my first Chilean futbol game. My family's team, Universidad de Chile, or as they call it, "U", was playing. So I watched the begining with Gutavo before we were called outside to eat appetizers. Everyone else had these typical sausage like things with salsa and bread. I just had the salsa and bread. It is so so yummy here, with lots of fresh tomatos, garlic, hot peppers, cilantro, and I don't know what else, but whatever it is, it's great. We all talked and I explained some cultural things from the U.S, like peanut butter and Thanksgiving.

Afterwards, we went inside to eat the actual dinner. And I had some fish rather than the meat main course. Afterwards, we all sat down to watch the finale of some Chilean game show. But I was fading fast, which tends to happen. I get worn out from all the Spanish and then I can't keep myself awake in front of the TV. So I went upstairs to bed. But Gaby and Dany came up, I got a second wind, and we watched half of the Hannah Montana movie, in Spanish before going to sleep.

The next day I went with my parents, Gaby, and "la mita", my grandma, to Itahue, a small town outside Curico. On the way, we first stopped at a vineyard. I took lots of pictures, knowing mhy dad must be jealous, being a wine conoseur! We went to Mama's sister's house, and her other brother was there with his family, also. At this particular house lives the two parents and their three sons. And the other family had two sons. We(the kids) played UNO for a little while. And then some futbol in the back yard, which was big since we were in the serious campo, before lunch. Again, lunch was meat. There was a big fire pit roasting an entire carcass. I know I sound like I'm judging the culture. I'm not, I think that's gross even in the U.S. But I just chose to ignore it. But I just ate the rice and veggies. After lunch, I went walking with the cousins. We headed down the road to a river. Aparently there used to be a really pretty bridge, but it collapsed during the earthquake. So we skipped stones and talked there for a while. And two of the younger cousins went swimming in the frigid water.

Afterwards, Gaby and I hopped in the car and went 5 minutes down the highway to another house, this time of my dad's family. I'm not sure exactly who, since it was a realllllly quick visit. But Gaby and I walked down the road with some cousins to see the old church. I say "old" because it now isn't really a church, just a roof and two walls filled with rubble. And then I saw a really beautiful sunset/moonnrise over the mountains.

After we said goodbye to everyone, we returned to Curico. When we got there, we went out to the street wine festival. Which was more than just wine. There was tons of food and vendors and music. But it was insanely crowded, so we decided to eat somewhere else. We went to an "Italian" resturaunt. It didn't seem too Italian, but I enjoyed it, none the less.

In the morning, Gaby and I went with Dany and her parents to a big hill overlooking Curico, with a virgin statue. It was a great view. And we drove around Curico, while they pointed out lots of things. Then we all had empanadas before we left. I LOVE CHILEAN EMPANADAS. So delicious.

Anyway, we headed back to Curauma, and la mita came with us. The ride back was pretty non eventful. Except for right after the sun set, we went through this massive thick fog. It was extremely erie. And then the full moon (or almost full) came out.

Anyway, that's my trip to the South. I had fun. =D

Love always,


Monday, March 22, 2010

Colegio Alborada de Curauma....School!

So, my mom told me I should try doing my blog another way. I've kind of just been doing this chronologically so far. But I decided she's right. I think all my days are interesting, but also its a bit overwhelming trying to figure out what to write about. So I think I'll try to write my posts a little shorter, more often, and about topics.

So. School.

My first day at Colegio Alborada de Curauma was Monday the 8th. My first week of school was only half days. Which was nice, easing into it.

On the first day, there was an assembly for all the students and their parents. So after getting dressed in my first-day uniform (this is more than the normal uniform, since it includes a white button down, a blazer and a tie for girls), we ate breakfast and walked to school ("we" meaning my mom, sister and me). We walked into the gym, which kind of doubles as an auditorium, since it has a stage. We said "hi" to some people, and then Gaby walked me over to where my grade/class was standing. I met all the girls, and they were all very friendly. But there were so many new names, I didn't think I'd be able to remember any of them! Anyway, the assembly started, so it was time to be quiet. However, everyone, including the parents continued talking. So I tried to listen to whoever was speaking(a couple teachers/administrative people talked) but it was pretty difficult for me to understand much, because of the Spanish and all the background noise in Spanish. Eventually, the parents were um, dismissed, by one of the teachers.

Afterwards, we all went to our classrooms. In each grade, there is only one class. And most everyone has known each other since kindergarden, so they're all close. In my grade, there's 22 of us in total. I met our homeroom teacher. That's not what she really is, but that's the best comparisson I can think of. I had to intoduce myself to everyone, which was pretty awkward, but I knew it was coming. And at least I only had to do it once, not for 7 different classes like in Duxbury. Then, we all went around and said a goal for the school year. I know this sounds like a bad and unoriginal answer, but I said get better at Spanish, because at that point I was already insanely confused. Then, our teacher gave us each a lollipop. And each one had an inspirational saying on a paper attatched to it. We each had to read ours aloud and then give it to someone else. I was really nervous about who to give it to, but luckily a kid named Pablo(who is now my friend) gave me his, so I just gave mine to him.

Then I had my first history class. We made a big list of events in Chilean/world history. By the end, it had about 40 events, some I had previous knowledge of and some I was totally clueless about. For homework, we had to find the dates for all of these and put them in order on a timeline.

Then, at 1:00 I found Gaby and we walked home and ate lunch.

But this post isn't supposed to be chronological, but rather about school in general. So my schedule is like this:

School starts at 8:00. I have one class for two hours, then 10 minutes of changing time. Then two hours of another class before recreo, which is kinda like recess, for 20 minutes. Then a class for one hour. Then lunch at 1:55. Most kids eat at school, but I live on the same block as the school, so we walk home and eat with my mom. At 2:45 we have to be back at school for another class for an hour and a half.

Monday I have lenguaje (language arts, like an English class in the U.S), Philosophy, History, and Consejo de Curso. I'm still not quite sure what Consejo de Curso is. It seems like student goverment with the grade, maybe? And Mondays are half days, so we don't have to come back after lunch.

Tuesday I have history, math, languaje and orientacion. Not sure on that one, either. Then after lunch I have one of my electives. At first I chose debate. I figured that I would learn some other real Chilean opinions there, different from the U.S. And I wanted to take advantage of that. But I changed becuase of a few reasons. When I went to the class, I was the oldest person there, by a long shot. And it didn't seem like anyone was too excited to be in that class; I think some kids were there because it was the only available class. Also, I realized debating with my limited Spanish will be a realll challenge. And I'd totally be up for it if I weren't being graded. I need to pass all my classes, and I have to admit I'm the teeniest bit nervous. Granted, its only the begining, but its so hard learning in Spanish with advanced vocabulary and using analytical reasoning, etc. So I changed to gym. Here, gym is an actual class where you really exercise. It's intense. And in Chile I've been eating a ton and would really rather not gain weight, so I figure gym is a good choice. I'm kinda embarrassed to admit that I made this decision. But I think it's for the best. I hope.

Wednesday I start my day with Gym. Then, I was able to choose an extra history or an extra biology class. I chose History for three reasons. First, because science is really hard for me, and I'll have to take 2 science courses here anyway. Second, because the history here won't be the same U.S. history I'll be taking next year at DHS. And lastly, because I think Biology is probably taught from pretty much the same point of view and in the same way all over the world. Its pretty much straighforward facts. But history is facts with opinions built in. I think its nearly impossible for anyone to teach/record/learn history without some point of view. So in Chile, it's probably taught differently than in Duxbury. It seems like it will be interesting. At some point we're going to Valparaiso to learn some history in person, as a class. Then, after history I have Biology, then philosophy. And in the afternoon, lenguaje.

Thursday I start with my Music class, which is an elective. You choose music or art. Thusfar, its a pretty basic class. A little theory and a little playing. Learning rythms and whatnot. Then, I have chemistry. That ought to be interesting, since I didn't do too well in that class when learning English.... Then, Religion, in which we so far have not talked about anything religious. Then, another math class. And in the afternoon, math.

On Friday I have math, math elective (never thought that would be something I'd choose, but I'm actually enjoying math here), English and math. Then my afternoon class is orchestra. I realized just how much I miss Wind Ensemble during my first orchestra class. It was on the same day as the All State Festival. Bittersweet.

So all in all, school is really hard in Spanish. But my teachers without exception, are nice and helpful. And the same goes for most of my classmates. So I'm sure it will get better as time goes on and my Spanish improves.

Hope you're all doing well. I love comments =]

Love always,


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mi primer dia en Curauma (my first day in Curauma)

This first week in Curauma has been an amazing blur. Although I've been less than attentive with my blog, I've been writing diligently every day in my journal so I won't forget anything!

Last time I wrote, I finished with that I had arrived in Curauma. So I'll first expand on that.
When I first got to my house, I first sent a much longer email to my parents. I asked Gaby when they could call, and she said whenever. So that's what I told them. After I put my suitcases in my room, I went to the supermarket with Gaby and mi Papa. They were really sweet, telling me to get whatever foods I like. But I'm trying to eat everything and be open-minded. So I told them whatever. When it came time to get cereal, they asked me what I would like and again, I said whatever you like. So Gaby chose chocolate crispies. Ha, and I pointed out nutella, because I thought it was funny to see it here(not sure why its funny, but whatever). And then they bought it. Woops...

When we got back to the house, I met Fox for the first time. He is absolutely crazy. But also adorable. I'll put up a picture of him soon. Then I attempted to take a nap. But for the first couple days after the earthquake I kept feeling like there was a tremor whenever I laid down to go to sleep. It was really wierd.
When I woke up, it was time for dinner, which is called "once" and is really more like a snack. On the table for my first once was bread, cheese, ham, tomatoes, nutella, manjar (this realllly delicious condiment), yoghurt and juices. Pretty normal for dinner here. In the middle of dinner my parents called. I finally allowed myself to cry when I heard their voices. I honestly wasn't that scared or homesick after the earthquake. But I was worried that my family was worried. Ha I don't know. It was really nice hearing them all, Tim was there, too. They told me they'd received tons of emails and calls, thanks for your support everyone! But when I cried, Gaby brought me some tissues. She really is a good sister!

The next day I slept pretty lat. I had three nights with not much sound sleep before that. After breakfast I decided to unpack. When I finished it was time for lunch. Mi mama had prepared garlic mashed potatos and another thing. I honestly don't know what to call it. It kinda looked like the shape of an omelette, but it was made out of carrots, onions, spinach and yummy spices. I thought it looked gross, but tried it to be polite, and loved it.

After lunch Gaby and I walked to the video store around the corner. I probably looked like an idiot, getting so excited about looking at movie titles. But all the popular US movies were there, with different titles in Spanish. I thought it was cool that some were literal translations of the original titles (example: Marley And Me=Marley Y Yo) and some were totally different (example: Waitress was Recetas de Amor, or Love Recipes). We took a while, but finally chose those two in addition to Gaby's choice, Just My Luck.

Pretty soon, mi papa came home from work. He commutes to Santiago and comes home on Wednesday nights and the weekends. Anyway, he wasn't able to do anything that day because his office building was so damaged. So they took me to see the lake. We all got in the car and went about 10 minutes away to the lake, which is about 2,000 meters long. We walked down to a dock and mi papa took out the bread that he had brought. He dropped a crumb and about 100 carp started freaking out. There were soooooooo many of them. And they were all gobbling up the peices we dropped for them while we watched and laughed. Then we walked around the edge of the lake. There were people doing crew (which is apparently really popular on that lake), running, and just hanging out. It was a really nice day so and it looked beautiful.

We headed home and stopped by the larger supermarket on the way home. There I met some of Camilo's (my host brother who is on AFS is Norway) friends. They were collecting money and items for the relief effort for Chile and they were all really sweet. Then we went home and had some dinner. And after that, we watched Just My Luck. It had such terrible reviews that I think I was surprised by how much I didn't hate it, since the critics thought it was that bad. Then I went to bed, and was pretty wiped out by all the Spanish speaking.

Well I will finish all this at some point, but for now, that's it.
Love always, Sally

Thursday, March 4, 2010


This is the wooden lattice really close to my room, at the orientation camp. You can see many countries' flags behind it.
And next is some of us sleeping on Saturday night, the night after the earthquake, outside on mattresses.

These are pictures of the destruction we saw on the way to Santiago.

Here we are, the 11 AFSers from the US. the morning we left the orientation camp

There will be more to come with the next post I think!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

After the terremoto, travels

So, I literally just wrote all of this, but then accidently deleted it instead of posting it. I'm sufficiently annoyed. lsihdflihadfglahdfglhadfljdfglh

I'll try to clear my mind and just write it again, but that sucks. urrrrrrrrgghhhhhhhh

So, I'll start from Saturday night. We all had to sleep outside again, because the aftershock tremors were still happening. Actually, one happened when I was writing, about 10 minutes ago, which was pretty big. But they're much worse to the south. So a bunch of us cuddled up in front of my friend Viki's laptop and watched some of "Grease" until the battery died. Then, one of the AFS volunteers made an announcement that we were all going to wake up at 6 the following morning, to take busses to the AFS Santiago office. So, we all went to sleep pretty quickly after that.
In the morning, we all woke up and cleaned up. But the busses didn't arrive for a while. So we all talked and waited. When the busses arrived around 8:30, we loaded on. And we had to say goodybye to a few kids whose host families live near the camp, in Rancagua. That included Glen, a really funny kid from Seattle, so that was sad.
Once on the busses, we waited for a while before leaving. And one of the volunteers came onto the bus looking for me. Apparently, my host dad was on the phone. He had asked if I was okay so many times, she finally told him that he could ask me himself. So I spoke to my host dad! Or, rather, he spoke to me, and I tried to comprehend. But, my Spanish really isn't so good, and people all around me were talking. I sat with kids from New Zealand and the US, since we were on the busses alphebetically but country. We all showed each other music from our respective countries (Gin Wigmore is really cool). And finally, at 11, we took off. By the way, all these times could be totally incorrect, since I haven't been wearing a watch, only asking other kids.
We started out on the highway, but pretty soon we had to follow a detour onto a dirt sideroad. I guess there was too much damaged on the road. And we were able to see it. There were huge cracks all along the asphalt. And a bridge looked like someone had just came up and punched it. It was pretty insane. And we saw families sleeping outside their houses in tents. Lots of houses had collapsed ceilings or walls, and many stores had huge broken windows. It was all like a dream. The fog/dust surrounding us only made that feeling stronger. And we didn't even see the worst of Santiago...i think we kinda travelled around the city, not into it, to arrive at the office.
When we got there, we were allowed to change/use the bathroom/get something to drink/ read the newpaper. Then, we were again adressed by the AFS Chile president. He told us the situation, which we partially already knew: that there was a huge earthquake. Also, he told us that almost all of us would later in the day be moved to temporary host families in Santiago, two or three of is to a house. And that the Thai kids had been invited by their ambassador to stay at her house, the embassy (!). And that the five of us heading to the Valparaiso/Vina del Mar region would leave for our permanent families later that day!! He also told us the wireless internet password so we could send word to our families that we're safe (AFS had already done so, but it's more reassuring hearing it from your own child). So I emailed my parents and changed my facebook status. No sooner had I finished than did the adults tell us that the van to Valpo/Vina had arrived. So I got my bags and said my goodbyes and got into the van.
The ride was about an hour or so. I was with Maddy from the US, Marko from Austria, Henry from Germany, Jess from New Zealand, three of the AFS Chileans and a driver. When we arrived in Vina, I saw my first glipse of the Chilean Pacific Ocean! We all started to get our bags from the car and bring them into the house. And then, I heard my name. I turned around and there was my family, Gabriela, Berta and Abelardo (Mama y Papa). We all greeted each other with big hugs. I said goodbye to the AFSers and thank yous to the volunteers. And then, we got my bags and were off.
We went into Vina to a resturaunt right on the beach. We all had salads, except Gaby, who had a sundae. =) This was the beginnign of my only Spanish life, since no one in my family speaks English. Afterwards, I had a small manejar icecream. While I was finishing, everyone got up quickly and started leaving. I was really confused. But I guess the water looked like it was receeding and earlier, there had been tsunami warnings. So we walked to the car, and I asked what was going on. My family told me and I was soooooooo nervous. We were less than 20 feet from the ocean. Like I seriously wanted to run. Once in the car, we drove about a 1/4 mile before hearing on loudspeakers that it was a false alarm. i felt so much better and was able to enjoy the ride. We passes the presidential house, which looked like a palace to me.
We drove about 10 minutes to Curauma, the suburb in which I'm living. There is a super market across the street, and a mercado diagonally behind the house. The first floor has a living rom, with a TV, a dining room (which is basicallythe table with a door leading outside), a kitchen, a small laundry room with a small guest bathroom, and my parents' bedroom. The second floor has a computer and TV space at the top of the stairs, a complete bathroom, Camilo (my host brother who's in Norway)'s room, and the girls' room. To get to my room, you have to walk through Gaby's. But my room has a window, looking out at the neighborhood and down at the small back patio, where the dog, Foc, lives. He is absolutely insannnnnne. And in the front of the house, there's a big gate, which is typical here, and a small driveway, only enough room to park one car. And there's a small yard. And, my favorite place to write in my journal, the front patio. There's an outdoor couch and a table, and one of those shady tent-like things. It's absolutely amazing to be here.
This sounds super corny, but I don't care....In my church, the little kids say a prayer that goes like this:
"It is a blessing to be. It is a blessing to be here. It is a blessing to be here, now. It is a blessing to be here, now, together."
It's never felt more pertinant to me than in these last few days.
There's lots more to write, but I need to sleep also. So I'll write again tomorow, and try to catch up to real time.

Love always,

ps i just felt another small tremor...

pps These are my thoughts, not a formal essay. So I'm sorry if there's typos, but I'm not proofreading. Just tryping. Kind of like a filtered diary....but I love to hear your feedback!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

estoy aquiiii

Hey everybody, sorry it took me so long to wite a post, but it´s been pretty crazy, with being in a new country and having a big earthquake and all...

So, I think I´ll start in Boston. Leaving my parents was horrible. I cried so hard. I´m sure I looked like a fool, but I coudn´t stop. I fell asleep on the plane to Charlotte, where I had a layover before Miami. I had a slice of pizza and went to my gate, where they had just started boarding. When I got on and sat down, I was talking to a really friendly man, who wasn´t able to sit with his adorable son, but was next to me. And when I told him I was an AFSer to Chile via a Miami orientation, th girl sitting in the row in front of me turned around and talked to me. Her name was Tanna and she was going to the same orientation, and then to Brazil for a year. I talked to her before taking off. And when we landed, wewalked together to baggage and found the AFS representative. After a while, we found our bags and headed to the hotel within Miama International Airporttt.
We signed in and went to our rooms. I met my roommate, Emily, and another girl from Minnesota, Maddy, who´s also going to ViƱa del Mar. They were both really nice. I freshened up and went to the begining of the orientation with Tanna, who had come to my room.
We had name tags and all introduced ourselves toeach other. We were all from the US. 11 of us going to Chile, 9 girls and 2 boys. And 3 to Brazil, 2 girls and 1 boy. All of us, except Tanna, are going for one semester. The orientation was kinda tedious, but only because we were all so tired from traveling. But the woman leading it was really good. And we had two speakers, one woman from Brazil, and one from Mexico who had lived in Chile on an exchange. They were both really helpful and interesting. We had time for dinner and a bit of free time and whatnot before our 11 pm curfew.
In the morning, we had breakfast and again, had more orientation. With sleep, it was much more interesting =). We learned a ton, about rules, AFS history, how to be a good AFSer, what our goals are, and what to expect. Overall, it was really helpfull.
At about 5, we said bye to the Brazilians, since their flight was about 3 hours earlier than ours. It was sad, because all three were super nice. But we only had a couple hhours left before we had to leave. And we ate dinner and had an interbational scavenger hunt to do in the airport, and we all played cards and stuff. It was more fun than I thought was possible in an airport! At 8 we all got our bags and went to check them. We had to wander foreverrrr to finally check them at the third place. What a hassle, but as my mom says, there are people who have real problems. Which was definately proven this week...
Anyway, we got through security and everything, and went to the gate, which was all pretty easy, since it was a red eye flight at 11:45. But, it was delayed to 12:30. We walked around, played cardds, read magazines, etc. Not too bad, we were in good company.
When we boarded the plane, I was next to Maddy, and we ate dinner, which they gave us on the plane, niceeee. And everone took sleeping pills, but I didn,t want to, because they make me feel really gross and groggy when I wake up. So me and the only other kid who didn,t take them, Raleigh, sat next to each other. We were soooooo xcited. I slept off and on through the night, but not much. We landed at 8:30, two hours earlier than we were supposed to.
We all had to get through customs and then baggage claim, and then to immigration, which was scary. I had to speak in Spanish, and it was really important information, so I was super nervous. But I made it! We walked out of immigration, to the outer part of the airport, where therewas a unch of AFS volunteers, and kids from Thailand, Austria, Japan, France, and eventuallyFinland and Switzerland (at the camp there were also kids from Austrailia, NewZealand, Norway, Germany annnd I think that´s it). We all took a bus about half an hour away, to our orientation camp.
The ride was pretty fun, looking at all the billboards and stores and neighborhoods. I couldn´t believe that I was actually here, in Chile. It´s been so surreal.
The camp was beautifulllll. It had avineyard to the edge of it, and fields, and rooms with bunkbeds, and 3 small pools, and tennis courts, and i big dining hall, and two meeting rooms, and outdor patios. When we arrived we were allowed to swim, which was great, since it was about 80 fahrenheit. Then, we had a meeting with all the volunteers and we met the president of AFS Chile, which was really interesting. We were told we needed to prepare something for a talent show. So us, the Americans, decidedto teach everyone the song Waddly Acha..ha I have no idea how to spell it!
So then, we had another meeting, and we all wrote down our fears about the coming months on papers and put them in our pockets. And, we watched two of the AFS Chile volunteers dance the cueca, the national Chilean folkdance. Then, they asked if anyone wanted to try to learn it. My friends from the US knew that I dance, so they decided to tell me to. So I decided what the heck, why not make a fool out of myself, try somethng new, and have fun!! Ha, it was really hard, beccause I "learned" the dance by dancing it and trying to follow. It´s really cool. Irecmend trying to watch it on youtube or imitates mating chickens. =)
Then, it was time for dinner. The vegetaian dishes have been surprisingly yummy. After dinner, which was around 8:30, I think, we all put on warm clothes. Then, we went far out into a frield, where some people were building a bonfire. We were told that we shouldn´t have fears, and that this experience would be great. Then, everyone, with the other kids from thier countries, went up and threw the papers from earlier into the fire, with a scream. Ha embarassing, but fun.
Then, we went back to the patio and had the talent show. It was halarioussss. We all had dances or songs or other typical things from our countries. Afterwards, the Chileans put on music and we dancedddd, which was soooo fun. Our curfew was midnight, so at midnight, we stopped and went to bed.
And then, at 3:30 in the morning, I woke up to noises which I thought was a bulldozer (I don´t know, I was half asleep), and then the room strted shaking. And my trombone fell over with a huge thud. And I looked around, and the sheets to my be looked like they were rippling. It felt like it lasted forever (later, my host mom told me it was amost 3 minutes!). As soon as it finished, one of the volunteers walked into our room, saying it was an earthquake, and we all needed to quickly put on warm clothes and get outside. We did as we were told and gathered with our own countries. We were told we needed to sleep outside, because of the probable aftershock tremors. They brought out tons of blankets and we all cuddled up, trying to get to sleep. I swear, we looked like refugees, it was so scary.
At about 8 in the morning, the sun started to rise. We were able to eat some bread and yoghurt and juice. There was no electricity. We were finally able to see the extent of the damage at our camp, which wasn´t nearly as bad as the epicenter´s. Craziness. The wooden lttice at the patio was completely collapsed. And there was broken glass and no water for showers etc...
During the day, we all tried to get some peace of mind, even thought we barely had any access to the outside world.We, the students, couldn´t call or email or anything, but many of the volunteers could call their families, almost all of whom, I think, were safe. But it was all pretty confusing. During the day we all sat and napped and talked and played futbol and swam and read etc. And it went by pretty slow. It was pretty nerveracking.
Anyway, I realllly need to go to sleep right now, but I promise to write more and put up photos tomorow.
Love always,

Monday, March 1, 2010

I´m safe.

Hey everyone, I´m safe. I promise Ill wite moer abuot my first couple days later, but I´m about to go out with my sister. =)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My first real post. Placement. School. Conversation with mama!

I've been e-mailing my Chilean family, the Poblete Merinos, for the last couple weeks. As soon as I found out who I was placed with, I contacted them right away. I have a younger sister, Gabriela, who is 14, an older brother, Camilo, who is 18 and an older sister, Melisa, who is 17. However, Camilo is on an AFS exchange to Norway this year. And Melisa is away on AFS to New Zealand. So I will be Gabriela's unica hija, her only sister, for this semester.

My family lives in the small town of Vina Del Mar (sorry I can't figure out how to use accents or tildes on this computer, sorry!), which is right outside of Valparaiso. I only realized that I'm not in the city of Valparaiso, when speaking to my host mom. But Valparaiso and Vina Del Mar seem absolutely beautiful. Valparaiso is the biggest port city. It means "Paradise Valley". And althhough Santiago is the capital city of Chile, Valparaiso is where the national government meets. And Chile just elected a new president, who's a big change from their most recent president. So I'll be there to witness that! It's also a really historic city. And Vina del Mar is right outside it.

I've been chatting with Gabriela over facebook and she says that she's looking forward to me arriving, but she doesn't want to go back to "colegio", highschool. The school looks really cool to me. I've looked at the website. I even get a uniform, complete with blazer, plaid skirt, and knee socks! And the philosophy of the school seems really progressive. I'm so nervous about having to learn and be graded in classes taught in Spanish. At some point, I'm sure I'll get better, But from other AFSers, I've heard that the first two weeks are pretty bad in terms of the language.

I've been meaning to call my host family, but I kept coming up with excuses because I've been so nervous about actually speaking, not typing, in Spanish. However, since my Chilean family told me they'll be leaving for vacation at a lake in the South of Chile tomorow, I figured it was now or never.

So, I called. I dialed and was insanely nervous. And then, I heard "Hola?". And I just started to talk. At first, I was terrified. But Berta, mi mama, told me to be "tranquilo" and we just talked. She answered a bunch of my questions and was really helpful. And she seems really sweet. She kind of reminded me of my own mom, just being caring and helpful. And I'm sure my Spanish wasn't nearly perfect. But hey, I tried.

I'm so excited, but still so nervous!!! I only have a little less than a month before I leave for Miami. And there's still so much to do! That's all for now...

P.S. My school is "Colegio Alborada de Curauma" computer doesn't want me to post the link, but there's a great website.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Trying this website?

Right now I'm sitting in the DHS library during one of my free blocks. I have 3 full weeks of school left, and it's the begining of a new term. So instead of putting me in two random classes for two weeks, I have this time in the library. I can study, work on my blog, or anything else. But mostly, I'll be using the time to get ready for Chile. I'm not qute sure how this website works and I've never done a blog before.... but here it goes...