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!


  1. I like the First Parish reference. :)

    Be glad you're family doesnt speak English! I've heard that the language learning is overall faster when you don't have English to fall back on.
    Have fun!

  2. Thanks! Haa and I'm definitely happy that they only speak Spanish! It can be frustrating, but I'm sure that after a month, let alone 5 months, my speaking will have improved tremendously.

  3. Sally! i like freaked out when i read this! and then freaked out in a good way when i read:
    "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."

    that is SO powerful, i loved it

  4. Hey Sally!
    It seems like your having fun and everything is going well!
    I cant wait to hear about your school!
    Talk to you later!

  5. Hey Sally! Kate (Sage and Iris's Mom) here and I just wanted to say a few things.
    First- I am so relieved that you're safe and happy.
    Second- you are such an awesome kid, you're going to make that host family fall in love with you and want to keep you forever.
    Third- I just cried a little over that last paragraph. you rock. we miss you... especially your two little fans Sage and Iris

  6. Sally, we're so glad you are OK and enjoying everything about this experience! I love the prayer and I'm going to write it down to teach Joey! Have fun!
    Sherri, Joe and Joey

  7. Hi Sally, I'm back from a fabulous trip to South Africa. But..when I heard about the earthquake, I was so worried for you and your parents. I'm glad everything turned out alright. What a wonderful experience you are having. Even the earthquake!!!
    Have a great time.

    Love, Sarie