Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mish Mashed and Done

This is probably the longest I’ve worked on a post, but still no real proofreading like usual.  I just wanted to get it over with.   The stories are just in random order with no real correspondence, but all good memories that I want to remember.  So, some will be vague and some will be pretty clear and some might not make all that much sense here and there and aren’t ordered to well, but it works for me and it will work for the most part for you, and I think they should still be enjoyable to read.  Plus some good stuff at the end juts for kicks.
This last weekend started out with deciding to go to Santiago and then to a town north of it called La Ligua for a Danish girl’s birthday that I met this summer when she was staying with Kathrine.  Luckily for me, my counselor is cool with just about everything and so are my parents, so it was a quick organization before I could go.  I ended up traveling with 4 others, the Danes, Alex and Kathrine, and then two girls from the US, Jana and Cassandra.  Kathrine and Jana were going with my all the way to La Ligua and the other two were meeting up with kids from Santiago they had met the week before while traveling in the north.  It was a fun 7 hour bus ride to Santiago with everyone, it just sucked that I didn’t get to sleep at all.
At Santiago I got to meet a bunch of the kids they were meeting up with and of course, like with all exchange students hit it off right away.  They stayed for about an hour and then headed out.  Kathrine, Jana and I waited a little long and were off for La Ligua on a 3 hour bus ride.  I ended up sitting with Kathrine and we talked the whole time, more exchange bonding.  We arrived pretty late, but we ended up having a pretty decent amount of food at the house.  And for once meat that had been spiced up with more than just salt, which made it my favorite meat I’ve had here.  After eating we layed around for a while and eventually went to sleep.
I got up the next morning and ran around her neighborhood and outside it.  Outside the neighborhood was an area where you could drive around and a soccer field, all dirt, but people had taken the liberty to throw their trash out there.  It was gross, all the heaps and heaps of trash, just lying where people walk.  By the end of the run I was dead and actually tripped and fell twice within probably 3 minutes.  But, back to the house for breakfast and then to the beach.  They live fifteen minutes from the beach, and a beautiful one at that.  We wandered around, saw some fishermen, pelicans, and great rocks.  A few other spots and then back to the house to meet another exchange student and eat lunch.  Lunch was more of the great meat plus a different cut and a bunch of Chilean salads.  After lunch we laid around some more and then Kirsa, the girl who’s birthday it was, had to leave and set up and see her friends from school and told us to stay home.  So we decided to go for a short hike up the mountains behind her house.  We went up for twenty minutes or so, saw the whole valley and head back to wait until the party.
The party was a blast.  First we took all the food and drinks and set up pretty quick and all of them left to get some more stuff and I stayed to keep working.  I started talking to Kirsa’s friends and started making my way into the Chilean group there.  By the time the party started I was dancing, just me, trying to get others to dance.  So I wandered around and talked and whatnot and eventually got people dancing.  By the end of the night I think I danced with just about everyone, was in the center quite a few times, and was giving and getting hi-fives and what not to everyone.  I felt good for having made friends that quickly there.  It’s weird how easy it was there and it has been a few other places compared to LA.  Oh well, I had a great time.  When the party ended we walked back to the house and went to bed. The next day we went back to Santiago and Jana and Kathrine went home while I stayed until my bus at night so I could see Eliza, though I eventually changed my ticket to the next night so I could see Obama.
I got in touch with Eliza, a friend from home who is doing an exchange with a program that works with universities, and we met up at a metro stop.  I went to her apartment and met her exchange family and ate lunch.  She is living in an amazing location, right in the center, just a few blocks from La Moneda, the presidential palace, and from tons of other great stuff.  This is to say, I’m super jealous of her.  It was really great to see her though, having someone from home in general here, just like my brother, gives something to the exchange, maybe a verification that you are here, or maybe a part of home is brought to your new home.  I’m not sure what it was, but it really made me happy to see her.   We hung out, ate some more, talked and then went back to her apartment to get my bags so I could leave.  Once I got there  I realized Obama was coming the next day.  So, at 9:30 I called my parents, aunt and uncle, and changed my bus tickets so I could stay an extra night.  I made my way to my aunt and uncle’s house and met Cassandra, a girl from LA who was in still in Santiago too and wanted to stay, and went to bed.
The next day we got up, laid around and waited to get a ride to the metro.   On the way in and throughout the day I taught her the subway system of Santiago and how to use one in general since she was going to be coming back a lot.  We got to the center, bought our tickets and met a guy that Cassandra had met on the north trip a little bit before.  Then it was to see Obama at the Moneda.  We got pretty close, just on the other side of the street from the Moneda.  But the police started pushing up back a bit.  Then, more and a lot more forcefully, and eventually with fences and whatnot.   So we ended up like for blocks away and started looking for a place to get a view.  We finally found and area a block and a half away where we could see the President enter.  In the end I could only tell that he was taller and darker than everyone else, but that was about it.  And at one point I felt something move pretty hard in my pocket where I had my camera and I stuck my hand in and didn’t feel my camera, so I grabbed the shadiest looking character around me who shook me off kind of pissed.  I checked my pocket again and it was there, I don’t know what happened, but I was sure someone stole it. 
During this whole commotion we met some other exchange students who had come too and we went out to eat sushi, sidenote, I eat a ton of sushi now, whenever I can and I am going to learn when I get home how to make it.  After sushi we met up with Eliza and her friends and then slowly broke up until it was Cassandra, Steven, and me wandering around in Santiago.  After a bit Steven left and it was just Cassandra and me hanging out for 5 or six hours until our bus.  It was fun, just sitting and talking and eating.  She made me miss home a bunch, but it was worth it, just reminiscing and talking about how little time we have left here.  We went and bought some Chilean pants and then went to the bus station, and ended up talking with two Chileans for a while and then got on the bus and came home.
Next, Fiesta de la Chileanidad in Concepcion.  It was an artesenales (I don’t remember the word in English) festival with a bunch of stalls for homemade honey, marmalade, leather, pottery, etc.  I went to help my aunt and uncle with their honey stall.  My aunt ended up not coming because she was working on putting together a class about bees and honey with a friend. 
The fair had some of the best food I have ever eaten, in particular the longanizas, which are just sausages.  But hot damn, they were huge, homemade, and had every kind of sauce I could want.  I think I ended up eating four while I was there, which wasn’t enough.   I went each day to the festival minus one and stayed at Audrey’s house each night since it was so close to where my uncle was staying.  But, the festival was great, I got to see a great concert from a fairly tradition Chilean band, I got to know my uncle a lot better, and I got to visit people in Concepcion and see some more Chilean culture.  Plus I found a Chinese buffet which I am going to get to somehow in the next month or so, even if I take a bus out just to eat there.
It was weird though, for some reason that weekend I realized that something had clicked with my Spanish in the past month and I wasn’t having any problems talking to anyone, I was even helping sell the honey.   Another weird thing was the temperature.  When I had left LA to come to Conce it had been too hot to even sleep with a sheet on, then in Conce it was so cold that I had to have three sweatshirts on at night when I was outside and clothes on when I slept.  And then, when I got back to LA, I had to put another blanket on my bed, just after one weekend.  The weather here is really strange, even now, three weeks later, I am back to sleeping without a sheet on the bed, the tonight I have a feeling it is going to be freezing.  One last thing that is strange is daylight savings.  They are doing it later here so that they save energy, I’m not sure when, but sometime in April.
I got to miss the first two days of school, hang out in Concepcion, get to know my uncle and, I also hung out a bit with his sister and her son which was a lot of fun.  The son was 9 years old and a blast, always excited, especially to see me, and great for my Spanish.  I saw Ada, Audrey, and Jana, went to some parties with them and just had a good time relaxing in Conce.  All in all a good weekend, and one good enough to make me come back the next weekend.   Not that I wouldn’t want to, but I went with my family who were going to see my grandparents who were visiting my pregnant aunt and my husband.  So, more time seeing Audrey, Ada, and Jana and enjoying good food and nice cold weather.
I got back from the first weekend and started school, it wasn’t too bad, definitely not like last year, though at this point, a month in, it’s starting to kill me slowly.  I ended up going to a friend’s house one day with Kathrine and we made a bunch of chocolate and cakes and other crappy food, but all delicious.  It was hard for me to do though because I have been dieting pretty hardcore.  Nothing to unhealthy I think, but it has been working really well and I feel a lot better about myself, plus if I keep it up I could easily come back skinnier than when I got here.  But I didn’t even try to keep the diet that day, plus a few others.
Another short, but not too short story would be meeting the new girl and all the stuff we did.  First I met my aunt and uncle in Santiago at my other aunt and uncle’s house and stayed the night there to wait for the next day.  We got up, went to the airport and picked her up the next morning at 11:30.  We went around Santiago for a bit after dropping her stuff off at home and a bit of free time when I went running.   After we showed her around a bit we ended up going that night to my other aunt and uncle’s country house about an hour outside of Santiago.  We got their late, ate a big and went to sleep.
The next day was just a relaxing day.  Swimming, picking blackberries, eating, talking, soaking up sun, and of course I went for a run.   We got back to the house n Santiago a day later and then it was off to Cauquenes to see the family.
The whole drive, four hours, I fought with Vicente, the younger of the two sons of my aunt Veronica.   It was fun fighting, nothing serious, but the kid is crazy, he ended up trying to stab me with staples.  And when I said something later to his mom, she didn’t really do anything.  Not much happened in Cauquenes though, the same old same old, good food, farm life and town life.
Maxy, the new girl, and I ended up going to LA and hanging out for a while before we went to Pucon.  For the few days we were there we went out to a bar one night with some of the other exchange students and hung out for a while, nothing crazy, just a night to meet the others.  Then it turned out that my parent’s friend from Concepcion were coming back from Pucon and stopped at the house.  Great people who I always enjoy, and of course had a good time with them they were there.  Though, sadly, the mom got a call that her dad was in really bad condition at one point on the day before they were going to leave and decided to go home that night.  Later that night we got a call that he died from a hear problem.  The next morning we were supposed to leave for Pucon, but in the end went to Concepcion for the wake first.  But of course as is normal with Chileans, we left really late and put the whole day back getting us to Pucon at 2 in the morning.
In Pucon we were staying with some friends from Santiago who were staying at my Grandparent’s house.  When Chileans go on vacation they go on vacation, they do nothing except sit around and eat and sleep and relax, and nothing more.   When we were there, in the most touristy spot in southern Chile, with good reasons (mainly the landscape,  thermal pools, and extreme sports), we didn’t do anything except drive up to a lake one day for the beach.  It was kind of disappointing, but it was relaxing a I guess.  One night however my cousin, Maxy and I went to a bar to meet my cousin’s friend, and then to a disco.  We ended up meeting some other foreigners who were traveling and danced with them for a while and then went home.  Got up the next morning and drove back to LA stopped for a bit with the other family, and then we all went to Cauquenes.
Once more, not much happened except good food, this time better than usual because it was my Grandma’s birthday.  They have the best cake in Cauquenes of any I have ever had, and they had two, completely worth eating way to much of it.  But besides that, there was some horseback riding and soccer and then it was home.
Now we go back two weekends to when I went to Laja.  On Friday I stayed at home and when to a grill with my class and had a blast, easily the best time I have had with them.  Then on Saturday I went to Kelsey’s and celebrated her birthday a week later with her and a few friends.  We all went out to a little concert in Laja that they were throwing as a fundraiser for a girl who has leukemia.  For some reason, I get along so well with the people from her town, and smaller towns in general so much easier than I do with kids from bigger cities minus Santiago.  It’s strange, but always fun.  So, only one night with Kelsey, but still a lot of fun, almost as fun as the previous time I went with Alex, which I think I wrote about before.
Then, last weekend there was Santiago again.  Alex and I took a bus on Thursday night and got there on Friday morning and made our way to his grandparent’s apartment for the morning/day.  It turned out that he thought it was a lot, a restate a lot closer than it actually was and we walked from the metro station to the apartment with our bags.  It ended up being an hour and a half.  I should have taken this as a sign that he didn’t actually know how to get there from anywhere really, but I figured he could do it.  But, that will come into play later.   We ended up hanging out just me and him for the day until his kind of girl friend got there.  We hung out, ate some dinner, and then more people arrived.  We left the apartment with some things for sleeping since we were sleeping at a friend’s house.  We met up with even more exchange students and all hung out at a bar.  From there we went to a disco, which was either a gay disco or the most open disco in Chile.  It was a ton of fun, dancing with all the new people I met that night, and then eventually a little bit with some gay guys.  By the time we left there it was time to get back to the house we were staying at.  We took some taxies and stopped to get some food and then arrived around 5:30.  We were talking and two of the girls had to get to the metro so they could get home in time for stuff they needed to do the next day.  So at six we started walking to the metro.  We started early because we knew it would take a long time and we didn’t mind since we could just talk and hang out while we walked.  It was still dark and took us about an hour and a half to get to the station.  Then, after dropping them off, Alex and I decided to go back the apartment.  So with no sleep we started.  We asked a bunch of buses if they went near where we needed to go but none did.  So we just walked and walked and after a bit realized we were off track, what we thought was a little.  Alex kept pointing this way and that and we went from one street to another, to another and then back the original and did this way to many times.  Finally after three hours of walking we got a taxi to the nearest grocery story to his apartment, bought food for a big American breakfast and went back.  First we cooked the breakfast and ate and then slept.  That night we made our way to my aunt and uncle’s house and had pizza and watched a movie, then got picked up by the other cousin from Pucon who lives in Santiago, a few blocks away from my aunt and uncle’s and took us to his house since no one was home at the other.  We had more pizza and went to bed. 
Then on Sunday we went to the bus station and hung out all day, watched a movie and ate.  Which, I got Taco Bell.  I couldn’t have been happier except that the crunch wrap supreme I got was not supreme, it was tiny, probably half as big as the one’s in the use.  But oh well, it was delicious and made me happy.  We caught the bus that night and had a terrible ride.  It was the smallest, hottest, and most cramped bus I have ever taken, it blew and I had to go to school the next morning.
A few small things here.  Being in Santiago is great, just walking in a city, using the subways, being free and far away from supervision is great.  It just feels free and relaxing, nothing else.  My grandparent’s dog from LA died the other week when it got hit on the road.  They took it to the hospital, but a few days later it died.  Going out at night is completely different here.  At home it would be nine or ten and I would think, “Oh man, it’s getting late, we better go, not much time left”.  Now I see nine or ten and think, jeeze, we go a while.  Stuff normally starts around 1 or later with just teenagers, and when there are parents involved, a little earlier at like eleven, maybe ten.  I just think it is weird how my hours have changed and how little sleep I function on at this point.  I am going to get home and want to go out late while everyone else is falling asleep.

The last thing is that I honestly don’t know how I am going to live without some of the people that have come into my life here.  In particular Alex and Kathrine.  It’s crazy how fast I have become attached to them, but it just shows that time isn’t a judge of relationships.

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